Judge Graciela OlveraOn November 21 seven children from a home school family in Duncanville were forcibly removed from their home, in spite of no evidence of abuse or neglect, by order of Judge Graciela Olvera of the 256th District Court of Dallas County. Judge Olvera issued a removal order at an ex-parte hearing in which the parents were not represented nor notified.

On November 14 at the ex-parte hearing, Judge Olvera issued an order to remove the children from the Tutt home, in spite of the fact that CPS had acknowledged, “There is no problem here.” Under Texas Family Code, Chapter 262, removal from the home requires immediate threat of harm to children, but no immediate action was taken by CPS for a full week.

On the morning of November 21 three cars of armed constables arrived at the Tutt home and took possession of the children, not allowing their mother to put shoes on them and refusing to put them in their car seats. The constables told Mrs. Tutt that they were taking the children and herself to a meeting with a judge and CPS, a statement that was untrue.

On arrival at the local CPS office, the caseworker there informed Mrs. Tutt that her children were being removed by order of a judge. The caseworker would not tell Mrs. Tutt the charges and would not show her any paperwork. When Mrs. Tutt attempted to have her children placed with friends and family, as is standard CPS procedure, she was told, “We don’t do that anymore.” Mrs. Tutt cited the CPS Handbook, Section 4511, but was rebuffed, and the caseworker refused to allow any of the children to be placed with friends or family. Mrs. Tutt was told the children would be placed in foster care and that there would be a hearing on December 4 to discuss the matter further.

In the interim, the guardian ad litem appointed by Judge Olvera to represent the “best interests of the children” did her own “educational examination” of the traumatized children and concluded they were not being “properly educated.” Her descriptions of the children’s inability to count objects, say the alphabet, or spell their names were unbelievable to the Tutts’ many friends and family who had witnessed their academic ability over the years. The guardian ad litem also told the Tutts’ attorney that the children were being “brainwashed” to think they did not need education.

On December 4 a full hearing was scheduled for December 16. Judge Olvera dismissed the Tutts’ attorney’s concerns that she did not have jurisdiction over the case and responded to her request to move the hearing on this matter to another court by saying, “If you don’t like my ruling, you can appeal it.”

On December 16, in spite of protests by the Tutts’ attorney that it is not lawful to remove children or keep them in CPS foster care without evidence of abuse or neglect, the attorney ad litem recommended to Judge Olvera that the children remain in CPS care. No charges of abuse. No charges of neglect. No charges at all, in fact. There were simply the GAL’s concerns that the children were “severely behind educationally.”

According to witnesses in the courtroom, the hearing quickly devolved into a relentless attack on this family’s religious beliefs, community service, and right to home school their children—with no legal basis at all. Mrs. Tutt herself was on the stand for three full hours.

CPS attorneys berated Mrs. Tutt for not using a “state-certified home school curriculum,” in spite of the fact that there is no such thing in Texas. The guardian ad litem denigrated her for not submitting documentation of her home schooling to the state on a regular basis, including state-mandated tests. This, of course, is not only not required, but there is no way for someone to do so in Texas.

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