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BUFFALO, N.Y. — A single mother claims she was arrested and lost custody of her children after she opted to homeschool them, even though she turned in the proper paperwork.
The controversy began in December when Kiarre Harris filed paperwork with the Buffalo (N.Y.) Public Schools, notifying officials that she would be homeschooling. She was concerned her two children – in elementary school – were in a failing system.
“I spoke directly to the homeschool coordinator and she told me from this point on my children were officially un-enrolled from school,” Harris told 7 Eyewitness News in Buffalo.
But a week later, someone from Child Protective Services (CPS) called and asked why her children were not in school.
“I told them that my kids were homeschooled now and that I could furnish the documents if they need to see them,” said Harris, who showed the documents to 7 Eyewitness News. The district stamped the paperwork on Dec. 7, indicating the district had received it.
She thought everything was OK, but less than a month later, CPS, accompanied by police, showed up at her home.
“They said, ‘It’s too late now to show these papers. The judge has already made the order. We have to take your children.’”
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Harris demanded to see the judge’s order and told CPS officials and police that she would not allow them to take her children. She was then arrested for obstructing justice. The court summons was for child neglect.
She hasn’t seen her children in three weeks, the TV station reported.
Buffalo Councilman Ulysees O. Wingo Sr. called her arrest “utterly unacceptable.”
“Someone, somewhere messed up, and that someone needs to face the music,” he said at the council meeting Tuesday. “… Did anyone from the school reach out to the mother? We don’t know. It’s very important for us to look at the details and get all of the details.”
Franklin Redd, a representative of the District Parent Coordinating Council, said none of it “should have happened.” DPCC is the independent parent organization for Buffalo Public Schools.
“Someone along the way, anywhere in the process after Dec. 7, should have simply said, ‘Wait a minute, CPS should not be in here,’ the principal should have been circled back to and (told) these students were unenrolled,” Redd told the TV station.
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