Local News

Wake judge orders home schoolers into public classrooms

Posted March 12, 2009
Updated March 17, 2009

— 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.


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  • karen2 Mar 16, 2009

    The sad part of reading the posts on this topic is reading all the ignorant envy distributed by those who can't stand it that religious private and home schools beat the snot out of public schools in all academic categories.

    The mass exodus away from public schools to home schooling is being led by highly educated, often professional, religious parents, not extremist religious nuts. It is fast approaching 10% of all school age children nationally.

  • lizard Mar 16, 2009


    Change churches.

  • trafalgerfountain Mar 16, 2009

    My impression withe home-schooled kids that I've worked with at our church is that they are well behind the other kids in academics AND social skills.

  • gammasandi Mar 13, 2009

    So why hasn't the father had a problem with the mother's home- schooling the children before now? Sounds like the judge missed a few important facts. Believers in liberty, circle your calendar for the next election day for the judge!

  • tarheelras Mar 13, 2009

    A number of comments earlier in the day implied that the testing home schooled children are required to complete is invalid because "the parents are doing the testing."

    I don't know about most parents of home schoolers, but I pay an outside service to test my home schooled child.


  • Clover Mar 13, 2009

    It may be a divorce case driven by Child Support and Alimony reduction for the Husband.

    Divorce Courts must consider the circumstances of the Custodial Parent - almost always the mother - when children are involved.

    If the court determines that Home Schooling for the last four years is the norm and best for the children - then he will have to award more Child Support and/or Alimony to the Mother so she can maintain a home and stable environment for the children.

    You may be right. And considering that the husband had an affair, he is already in a week position.

    Sounds like he wants to make sure that his soon to be ex-wife returns to work so that his payments to the family will be less.

  • Killian Mar 13, 2009

    "If she isn't teaching the NDSCOC, then they do need to be in public schools."

    I'm not sure what the NDSCOC is supposed to be, but if you're referring to the NCSCoS, are you even aware that it changes every 5yrs? The state acknowledges that not everything that can be taught can be taught in the allotted time, so the focal points are highlighted for the teachers.

    Homeschooling parents are not required to teach to the NCSCoS, and neither are private or charter schools. So if you regulate home-school curriculum, you must also regulate the curriculum of the other schools that are under the NCDNPE. (NC Dept of Non-Public Education) That would unravel a bit too much in the private education sector. No way the lawyers for the private schools would let it happen.

  • Clover Mar 13, 2009

    Here's a woman that blieves in the bible and yet got a divorce.

    That judgmental comment proves the person knows little about this case. First off, they are not yet divorced. Second, the husband has admitted to having an affair. Judges don't normally side with the adulterous parent.

    From an N&O article:

    Venessa Mills and her supporters also counter that Thomas was a bad parent who committed adultery. In an affidavit, Thomas Mills admits to having an affair.

    "He wants to bring attention to home schooling to put less attention on his adulterous affair," said Robyn Williams...

  • teacher-mom Mar 13, 2009

    Life goes on- I think you are out of line here. The man has committed adultrey. This woman cannot help what her husband does. I do not know these people, but I would bet she was at home looking after the children while he was working and playing. I do not see how you can find fault with her. No one is perfect. I have news for you; you cannot stop a spouse from doing what he/she is going to do. He has probably found someone else and wants to minimize the costs of dereting his family. I know I could not stop my ex husband from running around. I stayed home and looked after our son while he was out having fun. Does that make me less of a Christian? Does that make her less of a believer? I do not know what she believes in. She is doing something right with those children.

  • teacher-mom Mar 13, 2009

    As I have been reading some of these comments I have been thinking back to my school days. I hated high school. There is nothing like walking down the hall and seeing another stabbed. There is nothing like walking into the cafeteria and having the BO overwhelm the smell of the food. I also wish I could have back the time that was wasted on pep rallies and awards days. Oh yes, I can see where these children will be better off in public schools. Maybe if they are lucky, they too can be bused to the projects...