Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fed Court Slaps Milwaukee Social Worker

Some folks think this is all a plot by Tommy Thompson (!!), who took campaign donations from the lawfirm representing the school.

(And you thought conspiracy theories were strictly the property of the Right....)

In any case, parental rights have been re-affirmed.

Two children who attended a private Christian school in Wisconsin were illegally strip-searched and had their constitutional rights violated by a state social worker, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled Monday.

In Michael C. v. Gresbach, the court said state worker Dana Gresbach violated the children's Fourth Amendment rights to freedom from unreasonable search when she entered Good Hope Christian Academy in Milwaukee, Wis., had the children pulled from the classrooms and told them to remove their clothing when she suspected the parents of spanking in February 2004.

...When Gresbach entered the school, she handed her business card to Principal Cheryl Reetz and told her she needed to see Ian and Alexis. Reetz asked the social worker if she could call the children's parents, but Gresbach refused to allow it, saying she would contact them at a later time. The principal then asked if she could remain in the room to observe the interview, but she was denied permission to do so.

...Gresbach's behavior is not a one-time incident uncommon among social workers. In Doe v. Carla Heck, the court addressed an eerily similar child abuse investigation where children's rights to freedom from unreasonable search were violated by the same state agency on the premises of another private educational facility.

"The problem almost always arises only in private schools," Crampton said. "Public schools, as agents of the government, routinely roll over and give social workers access to any student they wish to see, provide a room for them, and in short serve up our children on a platter, without bothering to contact parents," he said.

Gresbach claimed she was entitled to qualified immunity because her actions were reasonable under the Fourth Amendment; however, the court disagreed.

"We do not exempt child welfare workers from adhering to basic Fourth Amendment principles under non-exigent circumstances – to do so would be imprudent," the court stated. "… we do not believe that requiring a child welfare caseworker to act in accordance with basic Fourth Amendment principles is an undue burden on the child welfare system, particularly when it is necessary to conduct an examination of a child's body, which is undoubtedly 'frightening, humiliating and intrusive' to the child."

7 comments:

capper said...

Ms. Gresbach should have had the children strip all the way down. She should have had them taken to Children's Hospital or another medical facility to be examined by a doctor.

That said, there is also a state statute that states that schools have to cooperate with a child welfare investigative worker, including access to the child in a private area to be interviewed. I don't have time at the moment to look up the exact statute, but I remember having to carry copies of it around to show school officials, public or private. I will endeavor to find it tonite for your reading pleasure.

For the record, I also knew Ms. Gresbach. I didn't hold her in the same esteem as Ms. Heck or Mr. Wichmann.

Amy said...

For spanking them?

For Pete's sake...the State will do anything to strip parents of rights, won't they?

discalcedyooper said...

This whole matter is a particular point of frustration. There have been times I've been tempted to call CPS due to an alcoholic and neglectful parent. Then I pinch myself and remember that Wisconsin doesn't give a crap about alcoholism in the home and will do nothing. Then you see cases like this where social workers pursue cases like this. I guess I don't have a problem having the child inspected for bruises based on a complaint. In particular, I would hope they would be looking for bruising on bruising and other things indicative of abuse and not just a bruise. It just blows the mind. And I know so many parents who are fearful of child services coming in who are parents I would easily trust my own children with. Ugh.

Amy said...

And I know so many parents who are fearful of child services coming in who are parents I would easily trust my own children with. Ugh.


Yep. My son tripped and fell the other day (he's still getting his sea legs), and he had a scrape on his face. I wonder how easy it would be for someone to call CPS on us.

On the other hand, the people who lived below us in our old apartment building went for a WEEK AND A HALF without electricity, the mom constantly left the young children home alone, and many other things - we called CPS and NOTHING happened.

Go after the real abusers, please.

Dad29 said...

IIRC, in the case, the school was accused of corporal punishment--a spanking administered to one of the kids.

The parents AGREED that the school had that right.

But you can Google the case and it will be clear that Ms. Gresbach is an extremely aggressive caseworker.

capper said...

Still haven't found the specific statute, but I believe it was in Ch. 121.

Amy,

The referral indicated the children were struck with a plastic spoon. That is not spanking. That is abuse.

I'm starting to wonder if you people hate kids.

Fair Play said...

Dad29...I have read and reread this thread and I don't see any comments that would give me the impression that "you people hate kids" or that anyone is advocating for child abuse. It is completely outrageous that capper (once again) would go there considering he is apparently implying that he is or was a social worker. You'd think a professional would know better than to make such unfounded accusations on a blog. I really have to question him and the professional experience he continually touts, and I think everyone would be wise to do the same.