Texas Court to Decide If Gov't Can Regulate Homeschool Curriculum

(Photo: Reuters/Rick Wilking)First grader Adam Kotzian (C) does a spelling drill with classmates in his classroom at Eagleview Elementary school in Thornton, Colorado, March 31, 2010.

Texas' highest court will decide whether or not a devout Christian couple can homeschool their children without proving to officials that they are teaching education basics.

The McIntyre family sought injunctive relief from the state supreme court over the El Paso Independent School District's demands that they release their homeschooling curriculum.

Charles Baruch, attorney for the petitioners, argued Monday before the court that the McIntyres were not obligated to detail their curriculum as the Texas Education Agency had already loosened such regulations over private and home schools.

"Around 20 years ago [TEA] announced they were done. They no longer would evaluate or accredit private [schools] and in response to that our legislature did exactly nothing," said Baruch.

"Very few years later TEA publicly announced it would not evaluate or review or have anything to do with home schools and in response to that our legislature did exactly nothing. There is a pretty clear legislative intent to steer clear of these types of schools."

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(Photo: Texas Education Agency)The William B. Travis State Office Building, which serves as the headquarters of the Texas Education Agency.

Baruch clarified that they were not opposed to some government regulation of the McIntyres' curriculum, but expressed concern at how much oversight the school district wanted.

"A school district never should start with the most intrusive thing," continued Baruch, saying the approach taken with the McIntyre family was "the most intrusive thing."

Some have speculated that the decision from the state supreme court on this matter could have grander implications, with one interested party observing the case being the Massachusetts-based Coalition for Responsible Home Education.

The CRHE directed The Christian Post to a statement made Tuesday by the organization, in which Executive Director Rachel Coleman argued that "Texas' homeschool law offers some of the fewest protections for homeschooled children in the country."

"School districts aren't given a lot of clarity or direction when it comes to safeguarding homeschooled children's right to an education," stated Coleman.

"Parents have many options for how to educate their children, but they don't get to choose whether to educate their children."

For several years, Laura McIntyre homeschooled her nine children at a business owned by her husband, Michael, and other family members in El Paso.

Legal issues emerged when Michael McIntyre's twin brother, Tracy, complained that the children were not being taught education basics and when one of their children ran away in order to attend school, according to Will Weissert of The Associated Press.

"The El Paso School District eventually asked the McIntyres to provide proof that their children were being properly educated and even filed truancy charges that were later dropped," reported Weissert.

"In court filings, the McIntyres say the district is biased against Christians and accuse its officials of mounting a 'startling assertion of sweeping governmental power.' Most of her children are now grown, but Laura McIntyre is still home-schooling her youngest."

The case first went to a trial court, which ruled against the school district over jurisdictional matters.However, an appeals court reversed this lower court decision.

CP reached out to the El Paso Independent School District, but a spokesperson said they could not comment on pending litigation.