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Social Services document outlines neglect case against homeschooling mom

Posted at 11:42 PM, Feb 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-08 23:54:27-05
There's a chance that single mother Kiarre Harris will get her children back on Thursday, when her case returns to Family Court.
 
"They've been with strangers for the better part of a month for this," said Harris' lawyer Vanessa Guite. 
 
Guite is representing Harris in her fight to re-gain custody of her two kids. Last month, a Family Court judge issued a court order last month, citing neglect. 
 
Harris tells us she has been fighting to homeschool her children. She says she filed paperwork with the Buffalo Public School District in December and followed up in January. It was stamped and received, but a month later she says CPS and Buffalo Police came to execute that court order, removing her children.
 
We spoke with 7 Eyewitness News Legal Expert Florina Altshiller about this case. 
 
"The CPS Department is one that is often met with a lot of criticism," Altshiller said. "They're criticized because they don't move quickly enough, and often times children are abused and CPS bears the brunt of that. Here we have the exact opposite we have a situation where CPS moved very quickly, we don't know based on what reason. Now they're being criticized for moving quickly. It seems that they can't win."
 
7 Eyewitness News obtained a copy of the Social Services document outlining the neglect case against Harris. Five out of seven statements in the document indicate educational neglect, claiming Harris failed to send her kids to school, saying the children have had excessive absenteeism, and saying Harris failed to cooperate with school officials. Both Harris and her attorney say this stems from the homeschooling attempt.
 
"Most of these allegations are in some way related to the aspect of educational neglect," Guite said. "They try to spin that in the way of imminent danger and there's case law that supports that educational neglect is not imminent danger."
 
There is one report claiming Harris has a history of engaging in domestic violence or acts of violence including using a knife. A 7 Eyewitness News background check confirms Harris has never been arrested before this incident. Her attorney says she has never been to Family Court before this incident. 
 
"We all pray for a client to come in that really has a perfect case and they are just an angel and that's basically what this is. It's the most straightforward fight for justice you could ask for," said Guite.
 
"Based on the documents she has provided, indicating what appears to be compliance with the very instruction they offered her it's a little bit concerning that a neglect petition rather than a counseling session or correspondence or any sort of period of remedial redress be offered for her," Altshiller said.
 
7 Eyewitness News did leave a message for the County Spokesperson about this case, and we are waiting to hear back.
 
Harris is in Family Court Thursday afternoon.