Tutt Case – Partial Victory

The Tutt family case continues after a hearing in Dallas Judge Tena Callahan’s court on January 7. The hearing went from 2 p.m. until 10:45 p.m., with a 10- and a 15-minute break. Let me begin this update with some corrections and point out that the Tutts and their attorney cannot speak with THSC due to litigation being in progress. We are receiving information from multiple people who attended one or both hearings in their entirety, as well as from public documents.

First, CPS and/or the original judge, Judge Graciela Olvera, did not assert that the children should be removed because they were being home schooled. In the December 16 hearing in front of Judge Olvera, a hearing to consider the return of the Tutt children, however, one could be easily confused on that point because so much time was spent by CPS attorneys attacking the family for home schooling and alleging that the children were behind academically, based on assessments by several school districts that were incomplete at that time.

Secondly, the Tutts are not currently foster parents. They were temporary caregivers through Safe Families, a ministry for children in need of short-term placement.

The initial removal order by Judge Olvera was given at an ex parte hearing of which the family was not informed and at which they were not represented. The CPS caseworker, whose affidavit was used as justification to remove the children, testified in the January 7 hearing that she was not present at the ex parte hearing and did not seek the removal of the children but sought only an order to compel Mrs. Tutt to comply with the request for psychological evaluation.

The caseworker testified that she believes Mrs. Tutt thought she was already in compliance, and so the caseworker made no attempt to communicate with Mrs. Tutt that she was not. The affidavit the caseworker filed ended with this statement: “It is my opinion that there is imminent danger and the children are at risk of serious harm if left in the care of their parents.” This is almost direct language from Texas Family Code 262.102 (1) in the emergency order section of the family code. While she testified at both hearings that the home was fine and that there were no grounds for removal, she did include statutory language to justify removal and then did not attend the ex parte hearing. THSC will aggressively seek investigation of this caseworker and disciplinary measures against her and her supervisor.

The guardian ad litem (GAL) representing the children, who had vigorously attacked the family’s home schooling at the first hearing, took a very different approach on the home schooling issue at the January 7 hearing. Perhaps this was a result of the information directed to her and other attorneys in the case by THSC regarding the legal status of home schooling in Texas. One observer noted, “The GAL was much, much softer on her approach to home schooling issues, almost not mentioning it at all, and even asked the CPS worker some questions that were very unbiased.”

Judge Callahan, presiding at the hearing on January 7, appeared to be much more judicious and reasonable and ruled that four of the Tutts’ children would be returned to them, and one would remain with his father (he is a child from a previous marriage), but the two children in the process of private adoption would remain in foster care temporarily. The parents of one of those children chose to exercise their intact parental rights and are working with CPS to reunite their family, which is a wonderful thing. The status of the remaining child is yet to be determined. While Judge Callahan seemed to be much more aware of home schooling’s legal status in Texas, she nevertheless ruled that the Tutt children who were returned to them would remain in public school during the psychological evaluation of the parents and the educational assessment of the children by an educational expert who is familiar with home schooling.

Judge Callahan did not rule out the option of home schooling in the future, but stated that she “wanted to make sure the Tutts’ children were not so far behind their peers academically.” We will continue to follow this closely and take whatever actions available to help this family regain all of their children and return to home schooling.

Judge Callahan also (thankfully) refused a request by CPS’s attorney to have Judge Olvera do the follow-up on the case. She also removed the overly broad orders for drug testing, etc., put in place by Judge Olvera and removed the requirement for parenting classes as well, based on the Tutts’ certificates of completion from parenting classes.

While we are grateful that some of the Tutts’ children have been returned to them, it is astounding that a judge is now saying, in spite of CPS’s acknowledgment that everything is fine, that the children will remain in public school while the parents and children are tested. Please continue to pray for this family. THSC will continue to work on this case and help with the legal costs. If you would like to help in that endeavor, you may make a tax-deductible contribution to the THSC Parental Rights Litigation Fund. In the meantime THSC plans to announce a campaign to seek the removal of Judge Olvera and the filing of judicial ethics complaints against her as well. Look for those actions in the very near future.


  1. Laura Smith says

    I am so relived that they have a different judge, but I will pray that God softens Judge Callahan’s heart, and give her wisdom to make the right decision. CPS is a dangerous force, and I had a personal experience with them, but God had victory. They did some damage, but it made us aware of how dangerous they are. Praise God they have some of their children! Will continue to pray for this family. Thank you for keeping us updated.
    God Bless!

  2. Alyssa says

    I was home schooled in Illinois as a child mainly for religious regions. I believe it is ridiculous that a judge could have the authority to tell a parent that they must put their children in a public school to make sure they “were not so far behind their peers academically.” The other main reason my parents kept home schooling as my siblings and I got older was because my younger siblings had developmental and/or learning disabilities. So really what I’m hearing is that if a judge decides a child needs tests to see if they are caught up academically, before allowing their parents to continue home schooling them, then those children who need that individual attention the most are pretty much out of luck because they would not meet their peers’ academic level.

  3. Tami Eggeling says

    Praising God for the return of the Tutt children.

    The ruling is ludicrous/outlandish. Can you imagine the chaos…if CPS had all the children removed from their parent’s who are currently attending taxpayer supported schools & are not at an appropriate academic level?

    Thank you…Tim Lambert & THSC for your concern & diligent work on behalf of all Texas home school families. May God bless you with strength & wisdom as you labor.

    • Stella says

      That’s even presuming that the “academic assessment” that was one on these children is even accurate, especially given that they were traumatically removed from their home and not allowed to see their parents, poked and prodded, and then “tested.” No way is that an accurate test result!

      • Mom for Freedom says

        That is exactly what I was thinking too! None of that testing should count, plus testing is not required there for homeschoolers. What about all the children who are severely behind in government schools? What are they going to do to their families or teachers? Absolutely nothing!

  4. stacydo says

    How traumatic for these children to have to be thrown into public school now in the middle of the year. This judge is just as bad as the other one! Wth?!

  5. Kim says

    Also curious, how is foster care so much better than being in a home where these children have been loved and nurtured? Another issue, one of the children who were in process of adoption has a parent that is “choosing” to reunite their family? Why was the child removed from that family? I agree with Tami as I’ve worked with students in private schools who have either cognitive or learning differences who are not at their peers’ level of academia, and what is the “NORM” for academic achievement? Not all of us are Albert Einsteins or Thomas Edisons – oops both dyslexics – hmmmm. I applaud THSC and will support the campaign directed to removal of an unworthy judge if not financially, definitely with prayer and supplication. These judges as well as the school districts need to be educated. Thank you THSC for protecting ALL parental rights, but specifically the right of parents to educate their children.

  6. Phillip says

    This case is important as it can be used as case law in future suits. Thank you for keeping us informed. I am happy to see that THSC will be going after judge Olvera for her civil rights violation, breach of law and ethics.

    My question is, if they removed the children due to under performing academically, will they remove all the under performing public school children? Of course not! Rotten Liberal Agendas

  7. Stacy Audirsch says

    Partial victory? There is no victory in this. The CPS worker should be immediately fired for gross negligence and fraudulent reporting. This could be you next. If it was your family would you call it a victory? This is sickening and frightening.

    • Tim Lambert says

      The “partial victory” is that they have four of their children back. I agree that accountability needs to be pursued and we intend to do that.

      • Mom for Freedom says

        They need a countersuit for pain and suffering and mental anguish! For them and their children! I still can’t believe they have to comply to a ruling that still isn’t apart of the law! What is happening in America where the law isn’t the law anymore?

  8. Sondra René Eisenman-Torian says

    This still an example of the waste CPS and the waste the family courts provide. Why in the hell is homeschooling still considered a bad thing, considering the overcrowding and the drop out rates are public schools really any better? What a bunch of polictical and socialistic hogwash. Parents have a right to educate there kids however …it not the governments reaponsbility. I used to think CPS actully had a place and needed reformation… not anymore it needs to be eliminated. Child abuse and neglect are criminal. Not a touchy feely gray area of opinion and civial litagation.

  9. Candice says

    My question is: are they realistically setting a precedent here? How many students are academically behind in the public school system? Moreover, how many children who have been displaced and are in foster care or other situations and in public school are academically behind? Is CPS going to remove all of those kids from their current homes due to low academic performance? I would not think so. This honestly does not make sense as a whole.

    • Tim Lambert says

      I have said for some time that the battle for home school freedom today is in the family courts and this case is more evidence of that. A criminal has more rights in court than do parents in a family court. Many judges view “the interest of the child” to be justification to do almost anything as demonstrated here.

  10. Holly says

    I still don’t understand why I never hear of a judge ordering public school kids to undergo testing because they suspect them of being academically behind. If they are behind, the judge should then order them to change to homeschooling or private school or charter school. Right?

  11. Linda Simcox says

    Folks, this is not just a Texas problem. I have Christian friends in another state, whose children are not homeschooled, but whose child was injured at the babysitter’s home. After taking the child to the doctor to see why he was limping, the medical personnel called and got their state’s CPS-equivalent involved. Although the evidence of where the child’s injury occurred has been clearly established, the state agency is making all sorts of threats toward my friends. The parents have discovered that the agency is replete with corruption and that the longer the case being brought against them continues, the more federal money the state agency gets. Therefore, there is no incentive to get to the truth! It’s costing them 1,000’s of dollars to protect their children and themselves. Christian families and home schoolers are under attack, folks! I’m praying for the Tutts now as well as my friends.

  12. Shannon Caraker says

    Thank you for the update Tim! We are going to pray
    This family through to victory. Thank you for all you do!
    Lord bless…

  13. Trisha S says

    It is unfair to test the children to see if they are “on grade level” and then use that as grounds to keep them in public school. If that is the case, they need to test every child in public school and see if they are “on grade level”. My guess is that a large percentage would fall into this category… What would happen to these children in public school that are behind grade level? Nothing…they continue to pass every child.

  14. Cindy Mech says

    What about children with special needs? Some learn more slowly and some develop faster later. The public school system is graduating ‘normal’ children who can’t spell, can’t construct a paragraph and have nearly no understanding of finance and budgeting. Bullying, drugs, violence, political bias and indoctrination, sexual abuse by teachers and corrupted ideology among peers are all readily available in gov’t run education systems. There are many more proven dangers there. Public teachers have been stripped of their God-given gifts of teaching to conform to a dictator system that is out of control, out of touch with truth, little, if any, caring or compassion for family struggles and real needs. Just look at our leader and the decline of this nation as a whole. If all children are not kept where they can be indoctrinated by the masses, it will be mre difficult to establish a dictatorial gov’t without rebellion. Statistics speak volumes! And, statistically, homeschool graduates far outrank public school graduates on college entrance exams. This information is activly being hidden from the public.

    • says

      To Cindy Mech: I really agree with you. A child with special needs has to have an environment that reduces stress. All of our children deserve that oasis in schooling. I thank God that Texas and THSC are preserving the RIGHTs of PARENTS to keep their children out of schools that care nothing for their welfare but are driven by bureaucrats seeking bloating their budgets.

  15. Virginia Phillips says

    This is a frightening ocurance to me. We have had ongoing struggles here in PA with CYS and their interference with my homeschooling my younger 2 while the oldest went to a public vocational school. She has multiple mental health problems and they felt the need to inform her she could refuse treatment, so she has creating a great deal of stress and disturbances for our family. She sliced her belly up 30+ times and went to school saying I did it in an attempt to move in with a boy. Instead of supporting us in trying to get her services they have decided that my homeschooling younger 2 and her behaviors meant that I was mentally unstable. What? These agencies need to go, and we are greatly looking forward to the increased homeschooling freedom once we get to TX later this year. Sad that we had to send the 16 1/2 year old to Job Corps and out of our home in order to protect our other 2 children and my 4 step children.

  16. Cassandra Mizhir Fessler says

    OMG! Will it EVER STOP?! I am the biological mother of three beautiful children and I have spent the last 6 years of my life devastated by NC Department of Health and Human Services (Wake County DSS), NC Judicial Standards Commission, et al.
    The system is so inundated with incompetent workers, back room schemers, blatant liars and hypocrisy that it was an impossible feat for me to have my family re-united following the inappropriate removal of my two youngest from my custody! They were then exposed to a plethora of mentally ill foster parents, sexually abused in the system, alienated from their biological family, and eventually milled into the adoption pool were they have been SILENCED although we were promised and OPEN ADOPTION and agreed as my last resort for ever having contact with my children again!
    My horrific experience with the North Carolina Division of Social Services is just now being EXPOSED and I welcome any feedback from others whose families have been unjustly torn apart! My oldest son (first marriage) was able to avoid being trapped in the system and he continues to live with me today and at the age of 20 can account for the blatant LIES and inappropriate reports by even the local newspapers who apparently thrive on ruining families versus assisting in uncovering the truth of their local Social Services…I am quite sure they too are in “bed” together!