Anita Formichella is tired of hiding like a criminal.
“The sound of the doorbell literally strikes terror in my heart,” said Formichella, a bespectacled, middle-aged former school volunteer from Redding in her testimony to members of the legislature’s select committee on children on Tuesday.
For the past two years, Formichella said she has hidden in her house, shouting through the door when people knock because she fears the person on the other side might be a state social worker coming to take her children away.
Formichella isn’t a child abuser. She has never been cited for child neglect. She is a teacher. A home-school teacher. And therein lies the rub.
Within weeks of pulling her children from the public school system in 2006, Formichella received a letter from the local school superintendent requiring her to sign a form and submit more evidence that her children were being properly schooled. If she didn’t, Formichella said, she would risk a neglect investigation by the state Department of Children and Families. Formichella was frightened at first, then incensed.
“That’s a heinous, heinous thing to threaten a parent,” Formichella said outside the hearing room Tuesday. “And [the school superintendent] knew me!”