Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hansen Family Update



The Hansen family is breathing a sigh of relief tonight after a tense, emotional five days.  Last Thursday, the Hansens received a summons from the Dodge County Attorney informing them that their 13-year-old son, Christopher, was being charged with habitual truancy and ordered to appear in court in just seven days.  Even though habitual truancy is defined in case law as “the willful unexcused refusal of a pupil to attend school in defiance of parental authority and in violation of an applicable compulsory school attendance law” and every one of Christopher’s absences was for medical reasons, the school social worker had turned Christopher in to the County Attorney for prosecution.  Not only did she turn him in, she failed to conduct the required family meeting in advance of throwing him into the juvenile justice system.  In fact, the social worker has never even personally met Christopher or his parents.

The legal summons served on Christopher was very ominous.  Not only was a guardian ad litem assigned, but even more shocking and frightening was that Christopher was Mirandized like a common criminal.

The last five days have been very tough for young Christopher, who suffers from serious illnesses for which he is being treated by several doctors.  In spite of being sick for 50 days this school year, Christopher has a 3.4 GPA!  He is a smart and sweet young man who has done nothing wrong and did not deserve to be treated this way.

Thankfully, late this afternoon the Hansens were notified that the charges against Christopher have been dismissed.

The NFF would like to thank State Senator Charlie Janssen for intervening in this case.  When Senator Janssen heard about this attack on Christopher, he immediately went to bat for the Hansen family and contacted Fremont Public Schools and the County Attorney.  Senator Janssen and his legislative aide, Chris, really went the extra mile for the Hansens and their assistance is greatly appreciated.

The NFF is also grateful that the Dodge County Attorney was reasonable enough to recognize that this child was not truant and did not deserve to be prosecuted.  The County Attorney was very kind and courteous during my conversation with him and his swift action to resolve this case fairly is appreciated.

As for Fremont Public Schools….well….let’s just say there are issues that need to be addressed from the top down.  We are pleased that the superintendent acknowledged his staff had made errors in this case, including providing the Hansens with inaccurate legal information and not facilitating the appropriate meetings prior to turning Christopher over to law enforcement.  We are also glad that the superintendent had the social worker contact the county attorney and request that charges not be pursued.

However, during my conversation with the superintendent, he repeatedly justified the actions of Fremont Public Schools by saying that although the law doesn’t require them to turn in sick kids, the law allows them to. 

Apparently the fact that Christopher is an excellent student who has kept up with his school work doesn’t matter—he was absent 50 days.  Apparently the fact that Christopher has three siblings in the school system who do not have attendance issues doesn’t matter—he was absent 50 days.  Apparently the fact that Christopher’s mother was in constant contact with the school about Christopher’s illnesses doesn't matter—he was absent 50 days.  The superintendent staunchly stuck to his position that Christopher was absent 50 days and they had every right to turn him over to the courts.

My response to the superintendent of Fremont Public Schools is:  Just because you have the right doesn’t mean it is right.

The stress and emotional damage visited upon this innocent child and his family were completely avoidable and completely inexcusable.  Another child has been betrayed by those who are entrusted with his care.  The relationship between the school district and this fine family has been irretrievably damaged.  Because there is no acknowledgement by the school district that their actions were wrong, there is also no guarantee that this won't happen again to Christopher or to other innocent children in the future.

But today the news is good—Christopher is free from these false charges.

Tomorrow we continue to fight.  We fight for the freedom to raise our families as we see fit.  We fight for our parental rights.  We fight for our children.

7 comments:

  1. Such a relief! But this family should never have become yet another victim of this over reaching law! The NFF continues to prove an important meeting place for those who fall victim to this law.

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  2. Thank you for keeping up the fight, Brenda, and the many others who are working to protect families and bring common sense and humanity back to the law. A huge thank you to Senator Janssen and his LA. I wish the Hansen's all the best in finding relief for their son's condition, and in recovering from this scary interaction with Nebraska's scary school attendance law.

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  3. I hope that school social worker has his/her resume up-to-date because I would think that will be needed. If not, it should be. They have rules in place and that school social worker did not follow them. As I have stated before, this kind of stuff is a bunch of CRAP! I think I heard on the news that Fremont Schools is getting a new Superintendent next year. Maybe with stuff like this happening under the current superintendent is why they are getting a new superintendent.

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  4. You wrote our story so beautifully Brenda! Thank you so much for everything, and thank you to all the support and prayers we have received over the last few days from this blog and the facebook page, it is just overwhelming how kind all of you are. Hearing your stories helped me realize that we are not alone. I too would like to thank Sen. Janssen, his aide Chris, the County Attorney and especially you Brenda! I think I can speak for everyone in saying WE LOVE YOU! We love your dedication and your passion to help families that otherwise would have no idea what to do, you are a very special lady and we will be here to help you fight this all the way. Thank you again and God Bless!
    The Hansen's

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  6. thank god for the nebraska family forum! thanks for all of your outstanding work !!

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  7. You wrote our story so beautifully Brenda! Thank you so much for everything, and thank you to all the support and prayers we have recieved over the last few days from your blog and the facebook page, it is just overwhelming how kind all of you are. Hearing your stories helped me realize that we are not alone. I too would like to thank Sen. Janssen, his aide Chris, the County Attorney and especially you Brenda! I think I can speak for everyone in saying WE LOVE YOU! We love your dedication and your passion to help families that otherwise would have no idea what to do, you are a very special lady and we will be here to help you fight this all the way. Thank you again and God Bless!
    The Hansen's

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