Negligent and stupid

June 24, 2008

In addition to the “educational neglect” charge, there should be felony stupidity charge available for people like this:

Letting your child miss school is enough to land you a felony charge in Indiana – and up to three years in prison – as one Wabash woman has discovered.

Samantha O’Neal, 35, faces a felony charge of educational neglect because her fifth-grade son missed 10 days of school last year, six of them unexcused. He was tardy 28 times and, according to his teacher, sometimes arrived dirty, smelling of urine and without his homework. She has pleaded not guilty.

All the woman had to do was: 1. Notify the princple she was going to home-school her son.  2. Notify the Indiana Department of Education of her son’s grade level. 3. Get on with her life, letting her son do whatever he wants to, just like she’s doing now. Her son wouldn’t be any less neglected or any more prepared for life, but she would be off the hook legally.

Indiana has some of the most lenient home-schooling rules in the nation, which is to say, hardly any rules at all. And the few rules that exist aren’t very often enforced. There is no state-approved curriculum. No testing is required. Attendance is supposed to be taken, but there are no guidelines on how to do it. The “equivalence” of a public school education is supposed to be given, but that isn’t defined.

In fact, most people who home school are very serious about it. But given the state of the law, they wouldn’t have to be. Shouldn’t the people responsible for the felony neglect law and the ones responsible for the home-schooling law get together and talk? The state seems to be working at cross-purposes. 

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