By Yolanda Spivey
A Dallas couple who were known to home-school their children, recently won a small victory in court when they finally had their children returned to them after fighting a legal battle over the right to home-school.
Trevor and Christina Tutt who are Christians, have five biological children and three adopted children. They are in the process of adopting another child. Three of their adult children live on their own.
The couple’s seven children were removed from their home last November when one of the children, who has autism, wandered from their home. Although the child was returned back to the family unharmed, a police officer contacted CPS officials.
After an investigation, CPS found that there were no problems in the home. But the case worker stated, “Nobody in their right mind would want to stay home all day with so many children!” She then ordered Mrs. Tutt to enroll in parenting classes and to take a psychological examination.
Despite proving to CPS workers that she held a number of class certificates and paperwork stating that she was mentally sound, a judge ordered that the couples’ seven children to be removed from the home. The children were taken and held for two months under government custody.
Reports allege that government officials were “displeased with the family’s homeschooling,” and that the children were not being educated properly. They also felt that the children were brainwashed.
This shocked the couple, as they are known throughout their community to be committed parents who adopt special needs children. They were spotlighted in many media outlets over the years and publicly speak at adoption and foster care conferences.
At their first hearing, that lasted eight hours, the Tutt’s homeschooling was called into question again. Tim Lambert, president of THSC stated, “The hearing quickly devolved into a relentless attack on this family’s religious beliefs, community service, and right to home school their children—with no legal basis at all.” He also stated that the CPS attorneys berated Mrs. Tutt for not using a “state certified home school curriculum, although there is no such thing in the State of Texas.”
After a second hearing, a local judge admitted that there was no evidence of abuse or neglect and said that the Tutt’s children shouldn’t have been removed from their home in the first place. The first judge’s ruling was overturned.
Lambert asserts that the seizure was unlawful, since—as described in Chapter 262 of Texas Family Code—“removal from the home requires immediate threat of harm to children.”
Only four of the children were returned back to the Tutt’s. They are required to attend public school while officials conduct an “educational evaluation.” The other three children are still in custody.
The Tutt family felt that the main reason for the children being taken from their home in the first place was due to their choice to home school.
Lambert told Christian News Network, “This case exemplifies the new attack against parental rights and home schooling in which a family court judge who has a low view of parental rights believes he/she has the authority to decide what is ‘in the best interest’ of the children in question.” He further stated, “This is a grave new concern for families who are pursuing home schooling or some other decision for their children that society might find unorthodox.”