An unidentified mother in Mississippi lost custody of her 12-year-old son last month because she withdrew him from public school on doctor’s advice.
Police actually came to the woman’s home and seized the boy away before the family was reconciled.
The tragic story began during the spring, when a doctor recommended the boy stay home from school because he suffered from migraines and a mass in his chest, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSDLA) reported. Staying in school could make the boy’s health condition worse, the doctor said.
Despite that, a prosecutor charged the mother with child neglect due to the boy’s absences, and in June a judge ordered the woman to send the boy to school or “provide a valid excuse for nonattendance,” HSLDA reported.
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But the woman, wanting to do what was best for her son and wishing to follow the doctor’s advice, chose what is known as a public-school-at-home program, which would provide her with special resources.
“But in August, police showed up at the mother’s home to take custody of her son—even though his doctor had provided letters excusing his absence from school,” HSLDA reported.
She only was able to get her son back with the help of two local attorneys. One of those attorneys, Steve Thornton, represented her at a hearing the day after her son was seized and helped reunite the family. The boy was returned.
“Failure to attend public school is not grounds for the state to take custody of a child,” HSDLA contact attorney Dan Beasley explained. “And here you have authorities trying to show child neglect when a mother is basically keeping her son away from an environment that is injurious to him.”
The mom currently is “working on establishing a homebound program” for her son, according to HSLDA.
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