Thursday, March 12, 2009

Court Ruling Against Homeschoolers in North Carolina

A North Carolina judge has ordered three children to attend public schools this fall because the homeschooling their mother has provided over the last four years needs to be "challenged."

The children, however, have tested above their grade levels – by as much as two years.

The decision is raising eyebrows among homeschooling families, and one friend of the mother has launched a website to publicize the issue.

The ruling was made by Judge Ned Mangum of Wake County, who was handling a divorce proceeding for Thomas and Venessa Mills.

To read the full article go here.

The judge, when contacted by World Net Daily, explained his goal in ordering the children to register and attend a public school was to make sure they have a "more well-rounded education."

"I thought Ms. Mills had done a good job [in homeschooling]," he said. "It was great for them to have that access, and [I had] no problems with homeschooling. I said public schooling would be a good complement."

The judge said the husband has not been supportive of his wife's homeschooling, and "it accomplished its purposes. It now was appropriate to have them back in public school."

This ruling is of concern to me due to the fact that we homeschooled for nine years. I believe that parents are responsible to see that their children are educated, whether that be through public school, private school or homeschooling. For me, this means that if the public school is failing your child that you need to get involved and fight for your child or find other alternatives. That is what we did.

For a judge to say that the homeschooling the mother provided needs to be challenged is an infringement on the rights/responsibilities of parents and I'm afraid this case will set a bad precedent. It just smacks of children belonging to the state mentality. So often people spout about children needing to have a balanced education and social setting. The public school system does not even address religion/spirituality and the socialization that goes on in schools is not necessarily a good thing. When in life are you ever only around those of the exact age? Never. That only occurs in school. Are there times when children would be better off in school? Yes. There are homeschoolers out there that aren't homeschooling. I am not one of those that is against testing or having some sort of accountability. I just think that you have to be very careful where court rulings and bills about homeschooling are concerned.

The Mills are getting divorced due to the father's adultery. When we were living in Mississippi there was a gal in our homeschool support group that was in the middle of a nasty divorce. Her husband was a heart surgeon and she had previously been the VP of a company (I cannot remember what type of business it was... I think it may have been a company involved in research of some sort). She had a Bachelors, Masters and PhD in Mathematics. He was an uninvolved father who didn't want his kids homeschooled out of spite. We moved away before the case was settled and I don't know what happened.

Homeschooling is very difficult in many ways. Often times you have family members that are very much opposed. I cannot imagine attempting to homeschool without the support of my husband. What do you do in cases where a couple is divorcing? I do believe that fathers should have just as much say as mothers where their children are concerned, unless they don't pay child support. It seems to me, though, that in the case of the Mills that the judge has made the decision from an anti-homeschooling bias. These children have been homeschooled the last four years, are testing 1-2 grades higher and are involved in extra curricular activities. The combination of the trauma of their parents divorce and being forced into public school could be disastrous.

If this ruling makes you uneasy... check out


Two Dogs said...

Geez, what a waste of typing, Coffee Bean. The story PLAINLY states that the home schooled kids are testing two grades higher than their peers. This shall not stand in a country where equality is guaranteed. Those hateful, racist, religious, home schooled Tard-Billies cannot exceed the accomplishments of public schooled kids.


BLBeamer said...

I don't know the state laws in NC regarding homeschooling, but if the mother was in compliance, I suspect this will be overturned on appeal.

Coffee Bean said...

The danger with this case is that it is a divorce case. The father wants them in public school and does not want to pay for curriculum to continue homeschooling. We spent thousands of dollars throughout the nine years we homeschooled (usually around $1500 just for books, computer programs, supplies, etc. there is also the cost of sports, dance, clubs, etc.) Mr. Mills has admitted that his children have done well being homeschooled, as has the judge.

Mr. Mills makes $112K a year. Mrs. Mills has been awarded $1400 a month in child support out of which she needs to make the $1200 house payment in order to stay in the house. The judge also gave Mr. Mills the right to step in and take over the payments and take the house if she is unable to pay. That leaves her with $300 a month for all of the other needs of running the household. The Mills are getting a divorce because Mr. Mills has got himself a new Honey.

The sticky area here is that because it is a divorce case, it is easy to brush the homeschooling issue aside. However, this ruling also sets a precedent that can be used in other cases not involving divorce. The judge stated that the kids needed to be in public school to challenge what the mother taught, who happens to be a Christian.

BLBeamer said...

If I were defending Mrs. Mills, I would love to get those statements of the judge and Mr. Mills in front of a jury.

I agree it's a concern, but unless there are aspects of the case unrevealed here, I still think it will be overturned on appeal. But then I thought the Supreme Court would reject Kelo and McCain-Feingold, so what do I know?

Two Dogs said...

Every sane person in our country thought Kelo v New London and McCain-Feingold had no chance, we were wrong. Now, we are at the point that we must oppose everything that the fed passes because we don't need anything left to certain interpretation. Cuh-razee.

BLBeamer said...

Two Dogs, that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me: admitting I was sane.

Thank you, sweetie!

Coffee Bean said...

BLBeamer... LOL!!!

Hmmmmm... Two Dogs... can we start calling you Sweetums?

Two Dogs said...

My mama called me "Sweetums" once. ONCE.

Roland Hulme said...

You're one of the major inspirations for me changing my tune about home schooling. I wouldn't necessarily choose it for my own kids, but your kids (and the kids of a former colleague here) have been excellent examples of how right homeschooling can be.

Also, a bit of Two Dogs must have rubbed off on me, since I do think this is a freedom issue - parents do have the right to choose how their kids are educated, not the state.

But the husband's against it, so I think the judge's hands are tied in the matter. He can hardly support one parent's right to homeschool their kids if the other opposes it.

But it is sad and you wonder if the husband's really motivated by what's best for the kids, or scoring points against his wife.

Coffee Bean said...


You are most kind... my kids have been educated but we are far from a shining example of homeschooling!

Looking back on our homeschooling experience there really are some things we would do differently had we to do it over again. We would have homeschooled from the beginning and then put our kids in school in either 7th grade or 9th grade depending on maturity level. I have some pretty strong opinions in regard to homeschooling and different types of homeschoolers... the strongest of which, however, is that parents are responsible to make sure that their children learn and that they are the ones to decide how, when and where that learning takes place. It is unfortunate that some kids do fall through the cracks in the homeschool world but that is also true, and much more so, in the public school system.

As for the father... Clearly, his children's best interests were, and possibly are not, at heart seeing as he is involved with another woman prior to seeking a divorce. Marriage is hard and there are times when it is best for a couple to divorce. When there are children in the mix every avenue should be explored in repairing the relationship. Divorce is devastating to children... even when they are grown. I know. Both my husband and I are from broken homes... also homes where infidelity was an issue. Someone who enters a relationship with someone when the previous relationship is not finished is not thinking about their children but themselves. Even though the parents get divorced they are forever tied through their children and there will be times when they have to be together... graduations, weddings, etc. By going about things the way this father has he has dishonored the mother of his children and it hurts them in ways that only those that have gone through it understand.

For all we know this mother could have been a raving affectionless shrew who had no respect for him and put him down all the time. If this man truly had his children's best interest at heart and put them before himself, as parents should, then he would have divorced her before moving on and would have done some research on the effects on children of divorce and realized that too many major life changes at one time are not good and would have come up with a workable plan/timetable for eventually moving the children back into school taking each kid on an individual basis to consider what would be best.