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"Home visits" and your legal rights and duties
Wed Apr 17, 2013 3:09 am (PDT) . Posted by: "Pestalozzi Trust" leendertvanoostrum
A long standing member of the Trust contacted us yesterday to ask for
The family use ACE to homeschool their children and, so far, it works well
Several years ago, they applied to register their child(ren) with their
provincial education department for home education. They ONLY made this
application, because ACE requires proof of such an application before
(ACE has always done this as long as I know. They seem less interested in
complying with the law than with pleasing whichever education officials
happen to be in power at the moment, operating on the apparent assumption
that whatever any education official says is "the law". ACE seems
unconcerned about whether the demands of officials are legal at all, and
about whether such demands are in the best interests of the children and
families who are their clients. Some of their representatives have called
this "Christian wisdom".
About twenty years ago their then owner, the late Dr Trevor Yoko and his
son - the present owner if I understand correctly - even gave me a stern
dressing-down for promoting compliance with the law instead of promoting
their views of "Christian wisdom".)
The family never received any response from the department to their
application, but they had the proof that they had applied, and were
accepted as clients by ACE on the strength of that.
Last month, after many years, the family were contacted by the department
and asked to submit a new application because the old one was "out of
date". The family complied with the request.
Yesterday, the mother received a telephone call informing her that
departmental officials want to inspect their home education at their home.
The mother contacted he Trust immediately, and we recommended as recorded
in the letter below.
We also informed the mother that the Trust, having been asked to act on
their behalf, will:
A. In accordance the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) and
the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA). obtain from the
department a detailed list of all the information that the officials intend
to gather by entering the family home.
B. Obtain form the department proof that the officials are duly
authorised to ask for each of the items of information that they want to
obtain. Any items of information that the family is not legally required to
provide will be removed from the list after consultation with the officials.
C. Obtain from the department proof that each of the remaining items on
the list (i.e., all information that the officials are legally empowered to
require) cannot be obtained by means that are less intrusive of the
family's right to privacy.
D. Any information for which such proof does not exist, will be removed
form the list, likewise discussing it with the officials.
Our experience is that there will be no items remaining on the list. At
best, if the officials insist, the family may need to post some records or
"evidence of work done" to the department. At worst, the parents may need
to meet the officials at the offices of the department or at a neutral
venue, producing such records and/or "evidence";.
See letter to Mrs X below (edited to protect privacy).
Kind regards, Leendert
Dear Mrs X,
Our telephone conversation refers.
As we discussed, we recommend the following action:
1. Wait until the department calls again (if ever).
2. If they do, firstly identify the caller by name, post held and the
office of the department in which this post is held.
3. Ask the official to send their request for an appointment in writing
(by post, fax or preferably email)
ask them to make the appointment through your legal defence fund at 012 330
4. Call the Trust at the emergency number: [082...*members only*] and
inform us of the events.
5. Forward any written requests for an appointment to the Trust at
6. Should any officials arrive at your residence unannounced, you would
act completely in accordance with the law if you DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO ENTER
YOUR HOME - unless you want them to out of your own free will (i.e. not
under intimidation) or unless they have a court order empowering them to
enter your home (a most unlikely event).
Your children have a constitutional AND statutory right to the privacy of
their home. (All children have a right to privacy. That means that the law
protects them from interference with their way of life, their good name,
their families and their homes.)
You have a legal duty to protect your children's right to privacy.
You also have a right to privacy of your own, and are protected form
interference with you life, your family and your home.
Unlike in the case of your childrens' right to privacy, you have no legal
duty to protect your own. You are free to relinquish your own rights to any
extent you choose. You are NOT free to relinquish your children's rights.
You may only do so if you are very sure that it is in their best interests
to do so, and then you may only relinquish their rights to the extent that
it is in the children's best interests to do so.
Your children's right to privacy, and yours, may be restricted by law under
some circumstances, but the constitution emphasises, and so do many
statutes (e.g. the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act) as well as
common law, that the onus always lies with the responsible government
official(s) to prove that:
a. Every aspect of the infringement of your children's right to privacy
is reasonable and justified. They cannot just decide to interfere in your
children's lives and enter their home without very good reasons, which they
must provide beforehand.
b. That they cannot achieve their legal, reasonable and just objectives
(if they have them) by less intrusive means.
That means that, when officials gather such (and only such) information as
they need to perform their authorised tasks, they must do so without
interfering with you and your children more than is reasonable and
Leendert van Oostrum