Single Mother Says She Was Arrested for Homeschooling Her Children

Single mother Kiarre Harris said she pulled her children out of public school last December, after fulfilling the requirements of New York State law. But in mid-January, she was arrested without hearing charges or being read her rights.

“Basically, I’m charged with neglect because my children are not attending a school that they’re not enrolled in,” Harris said in a Facebook video she posted on January 18. She mentioned an upcoming appearance in criminal court, where “I’m being charged as a criminal for contempt of the court for obstructing an order to have my children illegally kidnapped from me.”

It’s no wonder that Harris described the New York State authorities as “terrorists.”

After her story was reported Monday by ABC News’ local affiliate 7 Eyewitness News, Buffalo Common Councilman Ulysees O. Wingo Sr. said on Tuesday it was “utterly unacceptable” that Harris was arrested for “educational neglect” due to her decision to homeschool her children. “Someone, somewhere messed up, and that someone needs to face the music,” Wingo said at a Buffalo Common Council meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Harris claimed to have filed the necessary documents to homeschool her children in early December. New York State law requires a “Letter of Intent” within 14 days of the start of a child’s education at home, as well as an Individualized Home Instruction Plan [IHIP], along with attendance records, quarterly reports, and annual assessments.

Harris provided the necessary documents to 7 Eyewitness News — dated December 7, 2016 (her Facebook video said December 5) — and the news station said the district acknowledged receiving her paperwork.

“I spoke directly to the homeschool coordinator and she told me from this point on my children were officially un-enrolled from school,” Harris told 7 Eyewitness News. A week later, however, she said Child Protective Services called, asking why her kids weren’t in school. “I told them that my kids were homeschool now and that I could furnish the documents if they need to see them.”

In the Facebook video, Harris told the harrowing story of her arrest. “Long story short, I’m driving — this was last week, Friday January 13,” she explained. Driving past her house, she saw police cars. She checked to make sure she had “everything legal and in order, not breaking any laws. I’ve never been arrested in my life. I’m 30 years old, never been arrested.”