Should homeschooling Christian parents be allowed to withhold education from their children because they believe the Rapture is imminent? The Texas Supreme Court — in true Texas fashion — just ruled in favor of the parents. But they didn’t exactly settle the issue.
The case involved Laura and Michael McIntyre. In 2004, they removed all nine of their children from a private school in order to homeschool them. But Michael’s brother Tracy said he “never observed the children pursuing traditional schoolwork” when they were supposed to be learning.
Tracy overhead one of the McIntyre children tell a cousin that they did not need to do schoolwork because they were going to be raptured.
It wasn’t until the McIntyres’ 17-year-old daughter Tori ran away from home so she could “attend school” that the family was more closely scrutinized. When Tori’s high school needed to know her level of education and what curriculum she had used so they could properly place her, administrators contacted her parents, who refused to cooperate. They argued that a previous Supreme Court ruling let them off the hook from compulsory, regulated education for their children beyond eighth grade.
A lawsuit resulting from that clash was temporarily resolved in 2014 when an Appeals Court ruled that the Supreme Court’s decision didn’t apply to this family:
The appeals court ruled that educational regulations did not prevent the McIntyres’ First Amendment right to “free exercise of religion.” The court said that 1972 court case which found that Amish did not have to send their children to school after the eighth grade did not exempt the McIntyres.
“No parents have ever prevailed in any reported case on a theory that they have an absolute constitutional right to educate their children in the home, completely free of any state supervision, regulation, or requirements,” the ruling stated. “They do not have an ‘absolute constitutional right to home school.’”
The family appealed the ruling all the way to the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court, which ruled yesterday in their favor.
The 6-3 decision was mostly argued on technical grounds — the justices didn’t address the issue of whether homeschooled kids have a constitutional right to an education — and the case will now return to the lower courts. But the central issue may not be resolved.
Attempting to investigate accusations of non-learning, school district attendance officer Michael Mendoza sought proof the children were being properly educated. That prompted the McIntyres to sue, arguing that their equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment had been violated and that the school district was anti-Christian.
The high court found that 14th Amendment claims were not a question for Texas’ educational code.
“Whether their constitutional rights were violated remains to be decided, but it is a question the courts — not the commissioner — must decide,” Justice John Devine wrote, referring to the state’s education commissioner, Mike Morath.
You might be disappointed that the parents weren’t punished for their negligence, but that issue was sidestepped for other legal concerns.
As far as homeschooling goes, Texas only requires that parents provide a written curriculum “designed to meet basic educational goals” in core subjects, but there’s no mandatory testing to see if the kids are actually learning anything.
It’s been said before, but preventing children from being educated is a form of child abuse. The parents have every right to homeschool their kids, but if they’re neglecting that duty, someone needs to step in. When the Rapture doesn’t come, those kids are going to need a way out of the hellhole the parents are creating for them.
(Image via Shutterstock. Large portions of this article were posted earlier)