Raleigh, N.C. — A judge in Wake County said three Raleigh children need to switch from home school to public school. Judge Ned Mangum is presiding over divorce proceeding of the children's parents, Thomas and Venessa Mills.
Venessa Mills was in the fourth year of home schooling her children who are 10, 11 and 12 years old. They have tested two years above their grade levels, she said.
"We have math, reading; we have grammar, science, music,” Venessa Mills said.
Her lessons also have a religious slant, which the judge said was the root of the problem.
"My teaching is strictly out of the Bible, and it's very clear. It is very evident so I just choose to follow the Bible,” Venessa Mills said.
In an affidavit filed Friday in the divorce case, Thomas Mills stated that he "objected to the children being removed from public school." He said Venessa Mills decided to home school after getting involved with Sound Doctrine church "where all children are home schooled."
Thomas Mills also said he was "concerned about the children's religious-based science curriculum" and that he wants "the children to be exposed to mainstream science, even if they eventually choose to believe creationism over evolution."
In an oral ruling, Mangum said the children should go to public school.
"He was upfront and said that, 'It's not about religion.' But yet when it came down to his ruling and reasons why, 'He said this would be a good opportunity for the children to be tested in the beliefs that I have taught them,'" Venessa Mills said.
All sides agree the children have thrived with home school, and Vanessa Mills thinks that should be reason enough to continue teaching at home.
"I cannot sit back and allow this to happen to other home schoolers. I don't want it happening to my children,” Venessa Mills said.
Mangum said he wouldn't talk with WRAL News Thursday about the details of the case because he hasn't issued a written ruling yet. He said he expected to sign it in a few weeks.
An estimated 71,566 students were taught at home during the 2007-08 school year, according to figures released by the state Division of Non-Public Education. The enrollment amounts to about 4 percent of students ages 7 to 16 in North Carolina – students in that age range are required by state law to attend school. About two-thirds of the schools classified themselves as religious schools.