Conflict Timeline HSLDA vs Smith

This is a chronological time-line showing the major highlights of the events and when they occured.

Germany in Winter
  • 2003 Nov. – HSLDA agrees to raise funds for the Smith ministry in Germany.
  • 2004 Aug. – HSLDA’s Chris Klicka calls to tell Smiths that Mike Smith, president of HSLDA no longer wants to fund us on a regular basis because he is afraid of the IRS.
  • 2004 Sept./Oct. – HSLDA Leadership Conference in Spokane, Washington. Chris Klicka introduces Smiths to Gregg Harris and Doug Phillips who agree to invite us to America in Nov/Dec to introduce our work to their ministries who want to fund our work.
  • 2004 Nov./Dec. – Visiting Gregg Harris and Doug Phillips. These men were not so friendly as they were in Spokane. Doug had invited us to stay in his home in San Antonio for 4-days while he introduced us to perspective donors. However, when we arrived in San Antonio, Doug treated us very coldly.
  • 2005 May. – HSLDA stopped sending us money.
  • 2005 Aug. – I told Chris Klicka that I needed to find employment since HSLDA quite funding our ministry. James McDonald, owner and publisher of Homeschooling Today Magazine was looking for someone so I contacted him and told him I was interested in working for him. Since our children had by this time endured so much hardship in Germany due to we parents’ involvement in the homeschool movement, they wanted to return to America. So we told them that we would do this if HSLDA told us that they would under no circumstances want to continue to fund our ministry.
  • 2005 Sept./Oct. – HSLDA Leadership Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. President of Schuzh and attorney, Armin Eckermann and his attorney wife, Schuzh main attorney, decided that they needed to attend this conference in order to try to convince HSLDA to continue to fund the Smiths. Since HSLDA remained firm that they would no longer fund the Smiths, telling us that they could only give money to attorneys, we decided to fly on the Houston to meet the McDonalds to discuss my employment with their businesses (Magazine, Tea Shop, Books on the Path). They were very excited that I would join them in their businesses. I agreed to return to Houston and begin work on January 1, 2006. James told me that he would have a contract ready to sign then.
  • 2005 Dec. – While our family was in the air, on our way to Houston to begin my employment with James, Chris Klicka called James to tell him that the Smiths were not trustworthy people. That they were bad characters because they took money raised by HSLDA to fund attorneys taking homeschool cases in Germany and spent it on their own personal needs. Chris said that I was an unstable character so James should not tell me because I would make it public to the detriment of HSLDA and the entire homeschool movement. Chris told James to call Gregg Harris for confirmation of his story to James. James called and Gregg confirmed the story.
  • 2006 Jan. – I began work on January 2nd. Later James would tell others that I didn’t start until the 15th, thus not keeping my word that I would begin the 1st. This was not true and James had to admit it when I confronted him and showed those he was telling this to the proof.
  • 2006 Jan. – Payday arrived on January 15 and James said that he did not have enough money to pay me. I am a businessman and saw very soon that James was not a businessman. Since my sales were going very well, I knew I could make the magazine a success and so considered asking James if I could become owner. He had told me after I arrived to go to work that he wanted to sell the magazine and go fulltime into the church ministry instead. In addition to his businesses, James was pasturing a small Presbyterian church.
  • 2006 Feb. – On February 1, I broached the subject of taking over Homeschooling Today Magazine. James was quite agreeable. I asked James if I could talk to others about it so that I could begin to form business partnerships. I also wanted to reach out to others who might be interested to join me in this endeavor. James gave me his permission.
  • 2006 Feb. – On February 25, my wife and I met with James and his wife to further discuss taking ownership of the magazine. We wanted to reach an agreement and a possible time frame when the deal could be completed. James agreed to turn over the magazine to us within weeks. He first had to get the ok from the board of Homeschooling Today, which he said would not be a problem at all. We shook hands on the deal and the meeting was adjourned.
  • 2006 Feb. – The morning of February 26, I emailed HSLDA officials, Mike Farris, Mike Smith, and Chris Klicka to give them a heads up that I would take the magazine. I said that I would continue to use the magazine to promote HSLDA and PHC. Early in the afternoon, James called me in a very worried tone to say that now the word of my taking the magazine had gotten outside of Houston. So, I thought. What was the problem since James had previously given me permission to talk to others about it. But, I thought, who in the world told James? I did tell the father of a family who attended James’ church that I would soon be the owner of the magazine. He was a friend and I thought nothing of telling him. Anyway, I thought that it was possibly him who had told someone outside of Houston since he traveled a lot for his job. I never for a second considered that someone from HSLDA had called James. After all, they were my closest and most trusted confidents.
  • 2006 Mar. – Either I or an elder from James church called to arrange a meeting between us. It was during this meeting that I accidently discovered that something very amiss was happening around me regarding my employment with Homeschooling Today magazine. The portion of a telephone conversation between this elder and Chris Klicka caused me to be deeply troubled. When the call was ended, the elder would not tell me what it was all about. He would only say that I had to call Chris Klicka and make things right with him. Until then nothing I could say would be credible. (See Affidavit)
  • 2006 Apr. – April 7, we arranged to meet with Mike Farris to try to figure out what this was all about. Because we had discovered that we had been accused of embezzling donated funds, we thought it best to have someone in the legal field accompany us to this meeting so we invited a former judge to join us. We showed him what evidence we had so that he knew we were saying the truth.

    During this meeting Mike Farris excused himself and left for another room and had a conference call with Mike Smith and Chris Klicka. When Mike returned he was adamant that the money HSLDA gave to Schuzh was for attorneys from the beginning. He said that Chris had the evidence. Nothing we could say could change his mind. Now Mike Smith, Mike Farris, and Chris Klicka were corroborating and saying all three that we had embezzled donated money. When we left and were walking to our car, the judge said that these were very bad characters we were dealing with. We simply could not believe this. They had been our heroes in the homeschool movement.

  • 2006 May – Mike Farris promised that he would have Mike Smith conduct an investigation. This concerned us because we knew that Mike Smith and Chris Klicka were corroborating. But we didn’t voice our concerns with Mike Farris who we realized was not aware of what was going on at that time. On May 24 Mike Smith sent us his report. By this time the relationship between James McDonald and me was in a complete shambles and over. Mike’s report was a sham. (See Mike Smith Report)
  • 2006 May – The stress of this all happening caused my health to take a drastic turn to the worse. I began to cough uncontrollably. I visited the Veterans hospital for tests. My blood revealed that my PSA count was higher than normal, an indication that I could have prostate cancer. The doctor decided that I needed to have a biopsy done of my prostate gland. The results of the biopsy showed that I had prostate cancer. Now this on top of everything else – being accused of embezzling the funds of honest peoples money, people who had a complete trust in us and our work in Germany; job and ownership of a business ruined, a business that would have allowed us to salvage our home and retirement in Germany and also allow us to continue our work there – The anguish was now unbelievable. We had no money to pay for the next months lease agreement on our house. We had no money for food. We had nowhere to go. The only thing that saved us was our trust in God.
  • 2006 June – James and I discontinued our relationship. I called Mike Farris June 9th, to tell him that I had to come up with the months lease by tomorrow or else we would have to leave our home.

    Mike asked me how much I needed and I told him $5,000 to pay for the months living expenses. He called Mike Smith to discuss this with him and called me a few minutes later. He told me that HSLDA would give us $10,000 and that was all and that if we didn’t take it we would get nothing. He said that if HSLDA gave us $10,000 that we would have to release HSLDA from any and all charges we had against them.

    He said that if I sued, HSLDA would stall the courts for 3 years and then in the end we would get nothing. I had never mentioned a suit. He first forbid me to come to Virginia and then realized the absurdity of making this demand and changed it to forbid me from stepping foot on HSLDA property. I politely declined HSLDA’a $10,000 offer. The $10,000 would not even allow us to pay the bills we now had accumulated – the balance of our lease agreement alone was over $23,000.

  • 2006 June – We were given a little money from friends in the Houston area to travel to friends in Virginia. We stayed there until we found a place to stay in Michigan. There a missionary group took us in.
  • 2006 Aug. – I wrote to HSLDA asking for them to enter into a Peacemaker Ministries mediation agreement. They wrote back that they wouldn’t do that but that they had an attorney in Texas, an HSLDA attorney who would do it. They promised that he would be neutral. I agreed because I knew that I could prove our innocence and HSLDA’s guilt.
  • 2006 Sept. – We left for Michigan where a missionary group took us in. They knew who we were and we told them that I needed to take a break and do a natural cancer treatment. We did not know that they dealt with HSLDA on a regular basis. Before long their demeanor toward us changed.
  • 2006 Oct. – Mediation with HSLDA in Leesburg, Virginia. We shared documents with the mediation attorney so he knew that Chris Klicka was lying at this meeting. We demanded that either HSLDA satisfy us by giving us $500,000 to start our lives over again, or else allow us to work together with HSLDA’s liability insurance carrier to come to a deal, or else allow us to present our case to the HSLDA Board of Trustees. Mike Smith, who was also present at this meeting, told us that these demands were impossible. A few days following this meeting we received a letter allowing us to address the Board late in February.
  • 2006 Dec. – A Michigan homeschool couple who were state leaders met us at a dinner in a state representatives home. They recognized who we were and were very excited to meet us. They told us that they wanted us to address their group about Germany and would call us in a day or so. We never received their call. We can imagine that they inquired from HSLDA about us.
  • 2006 Dec. – One of our sons was at a homeschool function with friends and there met a pastor who had never seen him and inquired who he was. When our son told the pastor that he was a Smith from Germany, the pastor asked him if we were his parents. When our son confirmed this the pastor gave him his phone number and asked that we call him. Two weeks later we called and he invited us to have dinner with him and his wife. He invited me to address his church elders who were meeting later that evening. I addressed them and the next morning he called me to say that the church had made the decision to take us on as missionaries to Germany. It turns out that he was a friend of Mike Farris. Things only turned sour when he found out that we were in a bad standing with HSLDA.
  • 2007 Feb. – February 12, Chris Klicka called a leader in German to offer him and his organization money from HSLDA. The leader asked about the Smiths and Chris told him that we had disappointed him because we took the money that HSLDA sent to German families like his and spent it on their own personal needs.
  • 2007 Feb. – February 16, I presented our case before the HSLDA Board in Palm Springs, California. I brought along my entire family so that HSLDA would be made to see who they so harmed. The Board would not see our children.
  • 2007 Feb. – February 18, while on the way to the airport on his return trip to Germany, Klaus received a call from Camden Spillar, president of Home School Alumni that Klaus was being relieved from his duties as European tour organizer and guide and that Camden would assume this position himself. Camden accused Klaus of mishandling funds and therefore he was untrustworthy. These were the same charges that HSLDA had used against me. Since I had mentioned that Klaus was organizing this tour during my Board presentation a few days earlier it only makes sense that HSLDA mixed in with Klaus and took him down. Klaus and Camden had a good relationship up to that point. Someone who worked together with Camden said that Camden’s demeanor changed dramatically toward Klaus on the February 22.
  • 2007 Mar. – March 22, we received a letter from HSLDA stating that Mike Farris is planning a trip to Germany to meet with leaders, lawyers and families who need help. They asked us not to be present at his meetings and assured us that if anyone asks about our relationship going forward with HSLDA, Mike will simply say that he is exploring ways to assist us to return to our ministry in Germany.
  • 2007 Apr. – During Mikes visit, he told leaders that the Smiths were suing HSLDA to get rich and that they were no longer needed in Germany.

    Thanks to Mike Farris and HSLDA the homeschool movement in Germany is dead. I am 60 years old, lost everything and have cancer. I am in desperate need to find employment to allow me to take care of the basic needs of my family. My wife and children are hurting beyond anything you can imagine. We are needy and we feel betrayed by an organization that prides itself in acting after biblical standards and helping families.

  • 2008 Feb. – HSLDA told us that as long as we hold a suit over their heads they would not talk to us. I wrote to them that I would not sue and that if they would reimburse us for $200,000, a figure that would not pay our now accrued debts but that would allow us to get our feet back on the ground and pay for a cheap cancer alternative treatment. A few days later, they wrote back:

    The HSLDA Board met earlier this week. The Board considered your most recent proposal, in which you ask to be paid $200,000, and voted unanimously to decline it.

    As I have explained to you in the past, we do not believe that HSLDA has any legal or moral obligation to pay you money damages. We respectfully suggest that the time has come for you to set aside your efforts to obtain a monetary settlement from HSLDA.

    We wish you only success in all of your endeavors on behalf of homeschooling in Germany and pray for your health to be restored.

    I gave them one last chance. By now I am desperate for help. Since I cannot find employment, I needed a sum of money to begin my own business. I wrote and asked them for $100,000 and with that I would release them from everything. I told them that surely, neither they nor we wanted this all to end up out in the public. They gave my letter to a hired attorney who wrote back that I had broken the law because I had threatened them and could land in jail for up to 5 years. How cold hearted they have been against a family who had always upheld HSLDA and their mission to help families. Their position is that they have no legal or moral obligation to my family and me. They will enter into a Peacemaker agreement but not with any talk of monetary reimbursement.

  • We have tried to get HSLDA to do their Christian duty and reimburse us for the losses they have caused us. We continue to invite them to the Peacemaker table, which they still refuse if talk of money is involved. Now if they are innocent then what is the problem with talk of money? We lost our home, our retirement, my job, a business opportunity and I have cancer all as a result of HSLDA’s treacherous actions against us. I lived on Codeine for 1- ½ years to relieve a very bad cough so I wasn’t able to seek employment during that time. My children worked to support our family during that time, laying aside their educations. Now they too are in financial trouble.
  • I am not a beggar. I am looking to be employed and cannot find anyone who wants to employ me. The strain on my family and me is unbearable.

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