Kansas grandmother of slain boy seeks home schooling reform
Posted March 20
TOPEKA, Kan. — The death of a woman's 7-year-old grandson is propelling her to become an advocate for reform of home schooling.
Judy Conway believes her grandson's father and stepmother used home schooling to prevent anyone from knowing how Adrian Jones was being treated, the Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/2mMyFlb ) reported.
Police found the boy's remains in the pigsty at the family's home in Kansas City, Kansas, in November 2015. Prior to his death, the boy had been kept in a shower stall, routinely beaten and starved. His father is scheduled to go on trial next month.
"It was like someone had torn my heart out," Conway said of learning about her grandson's death. "A big piece of me died that day."
Kansas doesn't regulate home schooling. State law considers home schools unaccredited private schools, and there are 30,438 registered unaccredited private schools in the state.
Families are required to report to the state the name and location of their home school and the name of the person maintaining records, said Dale Dennis, Kansas' deputy education commissioner. Note required are academic achievement reporting, accreditation, state assessments and enrollment information.
Conway wants Kansas to adopt some requirements, including background checks for those registering for home schooling and a flagging system for at-risk children.
"All I want is some oversight and accountability," Conway said.
Some advocates for home schooling believe the regulations would be unnecessary and intrusive.
"The situation, while tragic, wasn't a result of home education," said Kent Vincent, a board member of the Christian Home Educators Confederation of Kansas. "It was a result of abusive parents."
Others say more needs to be done. Rachel Coleman, executive director of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, said the state's current laws result in "a complete lack of accountability."
Coleman was home-schooled by her college-educated mother, who conducted pedagogical research and kept detailed documentation of her daughter's progress. Coleman said other children aren't so fortunate, and that regulations for responsible home school parents wouldn't be intrusive.
"What parents have to realize is that their children have rights, too," Coleman said.