BUFFALO, N.Y. – A Buffalo mother who withdrew her children from public schools to homeschool them now faces child neglect charges, and her children have been removed from her custody.
Single mother Kiarre Harris filed all of the required paperwork with Buffalo City Hall to remove her children from Buffalo Public Schools in early December over concerns about the school system. She also filed the individualized educational program to homeschool her elementary school kids, which she did for several weeks, WKBW reports.
“I felt like the system was failing my children and that’s when I made the decision to homeschool,” Harris WKBW.
“I spoke directly to a homeschool coordinator and she told me from this point on my children were officially un-enrolled from school,” she said, adding that the department stamped the paperwork received on Dec. 7.
A week later, Child Protective Services called her home to inquire why her children were not attending school.
“I told them that my kids were homeschooled now and that I could furnish the documents if they need to see them,” Harris said.
In mid-January, Harris was driving by her home when she noticed several police vehicles at the multi-unit residence, one of which followed her for a short while before she pulled over. Buffalo Police presented the 30-year-old with a court summons for child neglect, and demanded to know where her children were to remove them from her custody.
When Harris refused to turn them over, officers arrested her for obstruction of justice. They also impounded her car and eventually located the children and placed them in the foster care system.
The problem, Harris said in a Facebook video recorded after her arrest, is Buffalo City Hall never notified her children’s former school that the kids were no longer enrolled, which prompted the school to contact Child Protective Services for excessive absences.
Harris had never previously been arrested or charged with a crime.
Interestingly, investigators took the time to comb through Harris’ social media posts to build a flimsy case of child neglect against her, but apparently didn’t bother to call City Hall to confirm her story.
“’Respondent recently posted a comment on social media ridiculing the school system and people who attend school or graduate from school,’” Harris read from a court document she received as evidence of her alleged neglect.
“First and foremost, I’m a high school graduate and a college graduate, so would it make sense for me to ridicule someone who goes to school? No. What I posted was that the school teaches people to be ‘smart idiots,’ people who cannot think outside of the box,” Harris explained. “They can think in the form of text book, what they’ve been taught, but they cannot think for themselves. … Which is actually very true.”
“But first of all, how is that indicative of me neglecting my children if I criticize the school system? Second of all, why is something I posted on social media being put in a court document unless I’m directly threatening to hurt someone?” she continued. “Furthermore, why am I being stalked on my social media? Why are y’all searching for my name and scrolling through my posts?”
“These people are trying to kidnap my children,” Harris said.
The single mother, who successfully supports her children on a low income, told WKBW it’s now been three weeks since she’s seen her kids, and she’s now fighting two cases in the court system – one for the obstruction charge and another to regain custody of her children.
“This should not have happened. 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,” said Franklin Redd, representative from the District Parent Coordinating Council.
The Buffalo Common Council is expected to address Harris’ plight at its Wednesday meeting, WKBW reports.