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We all know when we have corrupt court cases we are supposed to go to our state AGs and complain. But most of the time we just get a sigh and they’re not interested. In the case of Lisa Madigan, she not only sighs but says “we don’t do such things” when we know for a fact she is charged with such things. But then again, she’s not running I am told.
So take a look at what the John Oliver investigative team found out about state AGs
Kristopher Sharp – who spent years in Texas foster care – opens up about his experience and praises a recent federal court ruling in M.D. v. Perry calling for specific reforms to the state’s child welfare system. The case was brought by national advocacy organization Children’s Rights and Texas co-counsel Haynes and Boone, LLP and Yetter Coleman LLP.
In her Dec. 17 ruling against Texas’ foster care system, U.S. District Judge Janis Jack was scathing. For more than two decades, she wrote, the state has created a situation where “children have been shuttled throughout a system where rape, abuse, psychotropic medication, and instability are the norm.”
I was one of those children.
I was born in Dumas, deep in the heart of West Texas. I entered the foster care system shortly before my 10th birthday. My mother was an addict — meth being her drug of choice — and would routinely beat me when she was high. My father was a Vietnam War veteran who suffered from PTSD and lived in and out of psychiatric intuitions and halfway houses for most of my childhood.
When the state removed me from my family in the winter of 2000, I thought I would finally have the chance to escape the abuse I had become so accustomed to at home. Instead, I was thrust into a nightmare that was worse than anything I had experienced before.
Throughout the more than eight years I spent in Texas foster care, I lived in upwards of 25 different placements and went to roughly the same number of schools all across the state. For the most part, I lived in what is commonly referred to as “congregate care settings,” residential facilities and group homes that typically provide care to 12 or more children, but often housing 30 or more children at a time. Some are the size of prisons.
No matter their size, where they were located or how many children they were charged with caring for, each and every one of them was imbued with abuse.
Growing up in foster care, abuse is the only constant that exists. When I was 13, I was placed in a residential treatment facility in Denton. At that facility, I was molested for the first time by one of my caregivers there — and I was just one of many victims.
The most horrific thing was that I couldn’t tell anyone. At the now-closed facility, we were forced to go to school on the grounds, our phone calls were monitored by caregivers — often by the very person who was molesting us — and it had doors that magnetically locked to guarantee that no child could escape. I was 13 and living in a state-sponsored hell, and there was nothing I could do about it. That was our reality. That was Texas foster care.
By the time I turned 15, I had been beaten and raped more times than I care to remember.
The trend continued until I turned 18 and aged out of system in Houston. Overnight, I was homeless, on the streets with no family, no support and nowhere to turn. Eight years under the conservatorship of the State of Texas, and this was what it lead me to. I spent the next six months on the streets, sleeping on the roof of a shopping strip in Houston at night and relying on the street economy to survive during the day.
There’s no denying that the Texas foster care system is badly broken. Abused and neglected children are being taken from their families, thrust into a system that will almost certainly expose them to more abuse and neglect and then leaving them with little support once they reach adulthood. Instead of caring for these children, Texas has created a state-sponsored pipeline that leads them straight from foster care to the criminal justice system or the streets.
Judge Jack’s findings in this case support what advocates have been saying for decades: The Texas Legislature is vastly underfunding the state’s child welfare system, and our most vulnerable population is suffering because of it.
Although the state has appealed the ruling, the stage is set for what will prove to be a defining moment in the future of tens of thousands of children who will inevitably pass through the system at some point. Will lawmakers give them the tools they need to succeed by investing in their futures and adequately funding the agencies charged with caring for them? Or will they stay the course and continue to allow them to fall through the cracks?
Studies show properly home schooled children fare better on test scores and in graduation rates than public school kids. This judge is right on.
I recently heard of an Illinois case where a judge told a mom not to keep her kid out of Kindercare or she would sanction mom because “kids need to go to school.” Kindercare? Really? It’s daycare, not school, and learning at home with mom (who has a PhD) certainly has to be more enriching than Kindercare. Some Illinois judges are really idiots and just need to be removed from the bench. This is one. Illinois parents have the right to home school, esp. by parents who have advanced degrees, come on now. And the kid is not even in Kindergarten and her school is only daycare with no educational format by a certified teacher.
Parents have rights.
This mom was beyond words with this judge, so I am not surprised to find this article recently.
“The liberty interest of parents to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children is the most ancient of the fundamental rights we hold as a people,” Chief Judge Stephen Dillard said, adding such it’s “deeply embedded in our law.”
Georgia Court of Appeals Chief Judge Stephen Dillard, known for his friendly banter about the Oxford comma and college football with his 14,000 Twitter followers, has taken a trial judge to task for nothing less than what he called usurping the fundamental right of parents to raise their children.
Dillard wrote a 12-page special concurrence for a 10-page decision released Thursday reversing a trial judge who had ordered a mother to stop home schooling her youngest child and commanded the mom to enroll the child in a Montessori school instead.
“The liberty interest of parents to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children is the most ancient of the fundamental rights we hold as a people,” Dillard said, adding that the concept is “deeply embedded in our law.”
Dillard said this right “preexists government, and may not be interfered with by the State except in the most compelling circumstances.” He said no such compelling circumstances were presented in this case, in which the ruling below was reversed by a panel of three that included Judges Amanda Mercier and Sara Doyle, as well as Dillard. Mercier wrote for the majority.
“I concur fully in the majority’s thoughtful and well-reasoned opinion. As a result, it may be cited as binding precedent,” Dillard said in the first of his 24 footnotes, two of which took up nearly an entire page.
“I write separately to express my serious concerns with the court’s decision to summarily substitute its judgment regarding the child’s education for the mother’s without identifying evidence of the compelling circumstances necessary to interfere with her constitutional parental rights,” Dillard said. “In doing so, the trial court failed to give sufficient consideration to the federal and Georgia constitutions, both of which afford significant protection of a parent’s right to the care, custody, and control of his or her child—which undoubtedly includes the right to make educational decisions.”
Dillard went so far as to invoke the fictional “Big Brother” in George Orwell’s totalitarian tale “1984.”
“When state actors engage in this sort of Orwellian policymaking disguised as judging, is it any wonder that so many citizens feel as if the government does not speak for them or respect the private realm of family life,” Dillard asked rhetorically. “In sum, I take this opportunity, yet again, to remind our trial courts that, in making any decision or taking any action that interferes with a parent-child relationship, our state statutes are subordinate to and must be construed in light of the fundamental rights recognized by the federal and Georgia constitutions—which both include a parent’s fundamental right to homeschool a child.”
The appeal that sparked the chief’s ire is a long-running divorce and custody battle in Bartow County Superior Court before Judge Suzanne Smith. According to the appeals court, Brian and Stefanie Borgers were divorced in 2013. The mother was awarded custody of their three minor children. In the following years, the judge held several more hearings over child support and visitation issues, during which the father was critical of the mother home-schooling the children. After one such hearing, in June 2017, the judge expressed agreement with the father.
“The Court finds it to be a shame that the Defendant Mother has not taught her children to be independent,” the judge said in an order. She added her opinion was “based on the expert witness testifying that the children have issues in small classes as they have been previously home schooled by the Mother.”
The judge held another status hearing in August 2017, after which she issued the home-school order. Mercier’s majority opinion quoted the judge’s order citing the “court’s own beliefs as to the child’s best interest” and ordering the mother to “immediately enroll the child in school and ensure the child is not ‘home schooled.’ ”
The mother argued on appeal that because the final divorce decree made her the primary physical custodian and final decision-maker regarding the children, which included the authority to make decisions regarding the children’s education, the trial court’s order constitutes an “improper modification of custody in this contempt action,” Mercier said. Mercier said that the case was not exactly like others in prior rulings, but concluded that “where a child goes to school is a parental decision.”
The mother was represented on appeal by Joel Thornton of the International Human Rights Group in Rome.
“It’s a case of first impression. This judge was extremely hostile to home schooling,” Thornton said Friday evening. “My client is thrilled to have her right to choose the educational opportunities of her children upheld.”
The father was represented at the trial court by Samir Patel of White & Choate in Cartersville. Patel said by email Friday that the father chose not to fight the appeal because “it would continue the difficulty.”
Patel said the case involved many hearings, but no transcript, and so the appellate record is not complete.
“For example, a psychologist testified that home-schooling the children in this case would be harmful to the children’s welfare,” Patel said. “Certainly I think the court understands a parent’s right to educate her children in the way she sees fit, but the court’s concern in this case was … adequate supervision and whether the children’s home schooling would even meet the very minimal requirements prescribed by state law.”
Though that concern was not fully documented in the record, it’s not at all clear that it would have changed the outcome of the appeal.
“Indeed, this ‘cherished and sacrosanct right is not a gift from the sovereign; it is our natural birthright. Fixed. Innate. Unalienable,’ ” Dillard concluded. “Thus, regardless of a court’s personal feelings or perception of a parent’s fitness to care for or retain custody of his or her child, careful consideration of these bedrock constitutional principles and safeguards must remain central to each case without exception. And when this fails to occur, we will not hesitate to remind our trial courts of the solemn obligation they have to safeguard the parental rights of all Georgians.”
It will be interesting to see what has happened since his prior jurisdiction, the DC Federal Court of Appels received 478 complaints while BK was at that court and all were dismissed without an investigation according to Dr. Cordero.
See the study of the US judiciary and US federal judges at: