Friday, November 28, 2014


With folks like these educating America's kids, what could go wrong?

Homeschool parents sue brute cops after they are tasered, pepper-sprayed, and have their kids taken away

A Missouri homeschooling couple filed a lawsuit last week against local police after two officers entered their home in 2011 without a warrant, pepper-sprayed them, verbally and physically assaulted them, shot the father with a taser, and threatened to shoot the family dog – all in front of their terrified children aged 8-13.

It all began when a child protective services caseworker visited the New Hampton home of Jason and Laura Hagan to investigate a tip about a messy house. When the social worker returned for a follow-up visit a few days later, the couple refused to allow her to enter their home.

The social worker immediately called the police for assistance. Captain David Glidden of the Nodaway County Sheriff’s Office arrived and things quickly turned violent.

According to court documents, Mrs. Hagan stood on the front porch and asked the captain how she could help him. But he grabbed her wrist and attempted to pull her off the porch. She managed to pull away and retreated inside the home.

Mr. Hagan then came to the front door after being on the phone with legal counsel and told the captain that he could not enter the home since he lacked a warrant. As Mr. Hagan turned away, the captain allegedly pepper-sprayed him in the back of the head. As Mr. Hagan turned around to face the captain, a burst of spray hit him directly in the face. The captain then turned the spray on Mrs. Hagan, who immediately dropped to the floor in agony.

According the court documents, the captain then kicked Mr. Hagan as he lay across the doorway, saying: “You going to move now boy?” He then shot the father in the back with a taser. Mrs. Hagan managed to shut the front door, but only to have the captain trigger the taser — still attached to the fallen father — three more times.

At that point Sheriff Darren White joined Captain Glidden and together they forced open the family’s front door and entered the home. Both parents were lying in pain on the dining room floor at that point. Mrs. Hagan attempted to hand the police the phone connected to their legal counsel, but one of the officers threw the phone across the room and slapped the mother in the face, knocking off her glasses. She was then pepper-sprayed a second time. Mr. Hagan was pepper-sprayed two more times as he lay on the floor.

“I came in here nice and polite, but you just stood in the door, so I had to spray you,” the couple remembers one of the officers saying, according to court documents.

“You said you wanted a court order, but I don’t need a court order. So now it’s come to this,” the officer allegedly said.

At one point the family dog was pepper-sprayed as well. As the dog barked hysterically, one officer allegedly said: “If that f**king dog doesn’t shut the f**k up I am going to blow her f**king head off.”

The couple were eventually handcuffed, led outside to the police vehicle, and thrown into separate jails. They were officially charged with resisting arrest and child endangerment, even though the Hagans say at no point during the home raid did police tell them that they were under arrest.

When Mrs. Hagan asked one of the officers about the fate of her children, he allegedly responded: “You were a rude, obnoxious b**ch, so I just took them.”

The children were taken into custody by the social worker who took them to a hospital where they were monitored for exposure to pepper spray.

The police raid did not stand up to scrutiny before a judge at the Hagan’s trial. He determined that police had violated the Fourth Amendment when they forcibly entered the home without a warrant.

“The State has not offered sufficient, if indeed any, evidence of an exception that would justify a warrantless entry,” he wrote in his ruling. “The court will not allow [an] exception to sanction warrantless entry into a private residence by pepper spray and taser. If the officer had a warrant in hand and such force was necessary, that is a different story, but those are not the facts of this case.”

The case was dismissed.

The parents had their children restored to them weeks later, but they did not regain full legal custody until five months later.

James Mason of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which is representing the Hagans, called the Fourth Amendment a “legal shield” that exists to protect citizens from government “mistreatment.”

“The Fourth Amendment strikes a carefully crafted balance between a family’s right to privacy and the government’s need to enforce the law. In most situations, government agents cannot simply force their way into a home. Instead, they must explain to a neutral magistrate why they need to enter the home, and they must provide real evidence to support that need.”

“This rule applies to all government agents. Court after court has agreed that there is no social services exception to the Fourth Amendment,” he said in a press release.

“When HSLDA takes cases like the Hagans’, we do not intend to show disrespect for law enforcement officers. We know that they have a difficult job. But there are rules, and they exist for a reason,” he said.

Through the lawsuit, the Hagans are seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees.


Forty years of comprehensives have put Tristram Hunt at the top

The Labour north London elite's hypocrisy for attacking private schools is staggering, says Allison Pearson

Tristy baby. He looks pretty but underneath he's a nasty little Fascist

The other night, I went to a feast at a Cambridge college. The hall thrummed with the grave rumble of mighty brains and the crystal and silverware sparkled in the candlelight. I asked my learned neighbour how the college was doing raising the number of students from comprehensive schools. His reply was shocking. So desperate was the college to improve its ratio of state-school undergraduates that it had actually started accepting some kids with Bs, and even Cs, at A-level.

These youngsters arrived in Cambridge grossly unprepared and were promptly sent for a year, at the college’s expense, to a local sixth-form crammer where they would be taught to write essays and to generally master all the things that privately educated high-fliers can do by the age of 16.

As a Comp Kid myself, I suppose I should have welcomed the news, but I was angry. Of course, it was very decent of the college to bend over backwards to accommodate applicants who hadn’t made the grade, but why couldn’t bright children from backgrounds like mine count on their secondary school to educate them properly in the first place?

How humiliating that poorer kids were now admitted on “potential”, rather than knowledge and flair. I was staggered that a Cambridge college, which exists to stretch minds of the highest calibre, was paying for teenagers to be taught the basics to compensate for a comprehensive system which has never matched the thorough intellectual grounding offered by grammar schools.

This country, which once educated boys and girls in those grammars to the highest level – far better than many of the fanciest private schools – was now engaged in covert affirmative action, to meet fair-access targets. What other choice was there?

Imagine explaining to a bright spark who won a scholarship to Cambridge from a grammar school in my part of South Wales in the 1950s that, in 2014, it would take noblesse oblige and extra tuition to enable a child like them to make the same leap.

Meanwhile, the admissions process is increasingly weighted against the privately educated kids who actually know stuff, but whose parents have paid their own money for costly tuition. Still, the kids that were spending a “gap year” in a crammer will register in the statistics as state-school applicants thus helping the university look more socially diverse. Huh?

You don’t need a PhD in moral philosophy to work out that something fishy is going on. And what solution does Labour, the party of the underdog, offer? Well, with the UK tumbling down the international league tables in literacy and numeracy, the big new idea of Tristram Hunt, the shadow Education Secretary, is… to attack our private schools. Yup, you know, those simply dreadful institutions with a worldwide reputation for unparalleled excellence?

The same evil schools, that is, where so many prominent Labour supporters send their own offspring to gain the selective advantage their party denies to children from less well-off familes. Baron Hunt of Chesterton, for instance, who was leader of the Labour group on Cambridge council in the early Seventies elected to send his son, little Tristram, to University College School in north London.

How can you possibly preach one kind of education as a Labour councillor then send your own child to an elite, fee-paying school?

Very easily, judging by how few of Labour’s north London elite has actually acted on their principles and enrolled their kids in the nearest state school. Not for them the exciting, multicultural challenge of the notorious Islington Green School, heavens, no! “I mean, we believe in diversity, darling, but Poppy’s got processing difficulties, so she needs to be at Dame Alice Owen’s.”

Dame Alice Owen’s, by the way, is the highly academic school in leafy Hertfordshire where Islington MP, Emily Thornberry, sent her son in 2005. Obviously, Emily, who was sacked from the shadow Cabinet last week after tweeting a photo of a council house in Strood, couldn’t run the risk of her sensitive offspring mixing with Child of White Van Man.

The hypocrisy is staggering. If you have to find something better for your own child then, at least, have the courage to admit that the system is not good enough for any child.

No such admission is permissible, sadly. For Labour took an education system that wasn’t broken and “fixed” it for ideological reasons. The tragedy is that getting rid of grammar schools only served to entrench class privilege. The wealthier went private or bought a house in a good catchmemt area and the poor got what they were given.

You know, I have had it with ideologues, from Anthony Crosland to Tristram Hunt, playing politics with a state education system of which they have zero experience. Would Tristram have become a top TV historian if he’d had to survive one of the shambolic comps a mile down the road from his Hampstead alma mater? I seriously doubt it. Yet this lucky man actually wants fewer kids to enjoy what he had!

There are subtle signs that the tide is turning. Addressing the CBI last week, Ofsted head Sir Michael Wilshaw said that pupils should be directed towards either an academic or vocational school halfway through secondary education. Sir Michael insisted he was not advocating “selection at 14” but “maximum opportunity at 14”.

Hmmm. Sounds remarkably like grammar school by any other name, doesn’t it? And about time, too.

Let me end, as I began, with a Cambridge dinner. On Saturday night, I will be toasting a friend of mine, the Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge and joint winner of the million-pound 2014 Brain Prize, given “in recognition of his pioneering research into higher brain mechanisms underpinning literacy, numeracy and and social cognition”.

Fifty years ago, Trevor, who grew up in a terraced house in south London and attended a superb grammar school, won a place to read Natural Sciences at Cambridge. No special favours needed. No noblesse oblige. No year in a crammer paid for by his college. Back then, the brilliant working-class boy had an education as good as any of his titled contemporaries, featuring proper hard science and mathematics.

Trevor tells me he doesn’t see kids from his background coming through much any more, though he reckons that nearly all of the best British scientists of his generation came from grammar schools.

Forty years of comprehensive school education and where has it got us? More Tristrams at the top of society and fewer Trevors in store. As an experiment in promoting greater social equality, I’d say it was a C minus. Wouldn’t you, Tristram?


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