The Story of Raylee Jolynn Browning: A Homeschool Homicide and Torture Case

A very tragic case coming out of West Virginia, which involves the hallmarks of a child homeschool torture and homicide case, is that of child victim Raylee Jolynn Browning, age 8.

Raylee was born in 2010, and it does not appear that her biological mother, Janice Wriston, was very involved in her life, something we see a lot in these cases, and discussed in the findings of the Knox Child Torture report. I frequently refer to this report when researching and writing about homeschool torture cases, and it is one of the very few such reports that have been done on child torture. The patterns of child torture cases are evident in all of the homeschool cases I have written about, and are also found in the Raylee Browning murder.

As an infant, Raylee went to live with her biological father, Marty Browning. The abuse started right away, with Raylee being seen for injuries at the hospital in 2011. It is unclear at this time if doctors ever contacted child protective services when Raylee was brought in with injuries. Marty’s girlfriend, Julie Dawn Titchenelle, and her sister, Sherie Titchenelle, were also involved in the girl’s life, and they all lived together in a home with Julie’s three biological children. For a while, Raylee was sent to public school.

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Raylee Jolynn Browning. [image of very young child, maybe age three, in the kitchen. She has blonde hair in pigtails.]
Raylee was likely a victim of medical child abuse, and was on 7 medications for autism and mood disorders. Authorities and doctors involved in the case believe these medications were unnecessary, and it is unclear if Raylee had autism and psychiatric disabilities or not. It does not appear that she ever got a real diagnosis. It is more likely that her caretakers used these medications to subdue and control her, and also so they could blame a disability for reasons why Raylee was injured, saying she had done it to herself.

As we saw with the Erica Parsons case, and as it also outlines in the Knox report, it is not uncommon for the non-biological child to be abused by the mother figure in the house. Women feature prominently in child torture cases. It is also common that the mother figure encouraged everyone else to abuse the child, singling the child out for torture, but not torturing the biological children. In this case, Sherie was the main caretaker of the four children in the household, and she singled out Raylee because she was not one of Julie’s biological children. Another child, who was one of Julie’s biological children, known only as V., was also singled out for abuse because she was of mixed race. Race is absolutely a reason that children are victimized, which we saw in the case of the Hart children. However, it appears that Raylee bore the brunt of the abuse in the house.

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From left, clockwise: Raylee, Dad Marty, Sherie, Julie.

Teachers at Raylee’s school noticed that she was bruised and hungry, and called Child Protective Services multiple times. Leading up to her death, Raylee was admitted to the hospital on several occasions. Raylee’s caretakers reported to doctors that she had a history of self-harm, and that was the explanation for her injuries. They tried to blame her so-called disabilities for the injuries Raylee sustained, including a broken femur, a common child abuse injury. It is not clear at this time if the hospital contacted CPS. However, doctors can usually tell if an injury is because of child abuse.

According to Raylee’s sister, V., Raylee was instructed by Sherie to lie to CPS and Raylee complied because she was scared. After a while, V. reported, Sherie pulled Raylee out of public school to homeschool her because she could not think of any more lies to explain Raylee’s condition. Pulling a child out of public school to cover abuse is very common, as is isolating the children from everything in their lives. In this case, Raylee was not even allowed to talk to the other children. According to the Knox study of child torture victims:

This social isolation typically involved preventing the child from attending school or daycare. Twenty-nine percent of school-age children were not allowed
to attend school; two children, though previous enrolled, were dis-enrolled by their caregiver and received no further schooling. An additional 47 % who had been enrolled in school were removed under the auspice of “homeschooling.” This “homeschooling” appears to have been designed to further isolate the child and typically occurred after closure of a previously opened CPS case. Review of these cases found no true educational efforts were provided to the homeschooled children. Their isolation was accompanied by an escalation of physically abusive events.

Homeschool was just more opportunity for Sherie to abuse Raylee, making her stand in place for hours and walk through the hallways of the house, instead of providing her with an education. Apparently, the other children in the house were actually homeschooled, and Sherie was part of a homeschool group. While the other children and the group were educated in the home, Raylee was made to either stand or walk the halls for hours. It does not appear that anyone from the homeschool group reported this.

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From left: Marty and Julie, who was a beauty queen. Right: Raylee.

The abuse of Raylee escalated to her death after she was withdrawn from public school, because now Sherie was free to abuse Raylee as much as she wanted without anyone noticing or reporting it.

Raylee and Sherie shared a bedroom, where Raylee was forced to wear a diaper, since she would often wet the bed (not surprising considering the abuse) and sleep on the floor. She was beaten with objects, according to V., a belt, a spoon and metal objects were used. A claw hammer was found in the shared bedroom, as was a sex toy.

Raylee was clearly hungry, and had asked cafeteria workers at her school for extra food. This is another pattern of child torture cases; it is very common that children are food and fluid restricted. In almost every case on this blog, children were starved. The Knox report says that 89% of the child victims they studied did not have enough to eat and 79% did not have enough to drink.

Not having enough to drink was what ultimately killed Raylee. Sherie decided to punish Raylee by refusing to allow her to drink any liquid for three days. V. reported that Raylee was so thirsty that she drank from the toilet. Shortly afterwards, Raylee went septic. This occurred around Christmas of 2018. Raylee became unconscious, and Sherie once again brought her to the hospital, where Raylee passed away. Doctors said that Raylee had been severally unwell for some time, a condition that should have been readily apparent to her caretakers, who neglected to seek medical help for her until the last minute. Medical staff called authorities to report that Raylee was in cardiac arrest, and her body was covered in bruises and lacerations. Sherie tried to explain Raylee’s condition by blaming her medications, then saying she fell in the shower, which is a very common “reason” given by child abusers to explain why a child is injured.

Police went to the home to interview the adults and everyone gave a conflicting story as to why Raylee had died and why she was covered in injuries. This caused police to become suspicious, and to start an investigation. During a search of the home, police found the hammer and sex toy in the bedroom Raylee shared with Sherie. Sherie could not explain why either of those two objects were in the room.

The medical examiner reported that Raylee passed away from an infection likely caused by drinking the toilet water, which led to sepsis. The medical examiner also reported that Raylee had a torn rectum. She was covered in bruises, burns, and lacerations.

In December 2019, all three adults were charged in Raylee’s death. Sherie, age 35, was arrested on one count each for death of a child by parent, guardian, or custodian, and child neglect causing death, both felonies. Julie Titchenelle, age 36, was charged with the same thing, and so was Marty, age 34. Julie at the time was the reigning Miss Oak Leaf Festival. Her title has since been stripped.

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Sherie Titchenelle [image of white woman with long brown hair, mug-shot style, against a concrete wall]
According to the Register-Herald, “An investigation by Oak Hill Police Department Detective Sgt. James Pack was reportedly hampered by a lack of cooperation from West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Child Protective Services, which had an open file on Raylee at the time she died. Oak Hill Police Department Chief Mike Whisman on Dec. 11 verified a Dec. 10 report by a Fayette official that CPS had not speedily submitted to police requests for CPS records on Raylee. When OHPD received Raylee’s files in November, officials said, they were not complete.”

This would explain why it is currently not entirely understood how CPS was involved, but it seems pretty clear that they dropped the ball with Raylee. Marty, Sherie, and Julie have all been released on bond.

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Raylee, a blonde little girl with a big smile and blue eyes.

Raylee’s Law

Unsurprisingly, this case sent ripples through the West Virginia community and appalled legislators. A new law is being sponsored by Del. Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio, known as Raylee’s Law, or HB 4440. This law would prevent people who have an open CPS case from homeschooling, and also prevent people who have a criminal record of violence or domestic violence from homeschooling.

The Montgomery Herald reports: “State law does not require home-school educators to report suspected child abuse or neglect. By contrast, teachers and public school administrators are mandatory reporters of child abuse. They face a criminal misdemeanor conviction of up to 90 days in jail and up to a $5,000 fine for failing to report child abuse or neglect. Those who fail to report a sexual assault face six months in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.”

And also: “State law does not require a home-school education cooperative or association to verify that member students were legally withdrawn from public school.”

While there are many more areas that need to be regulated when it comes to homeschools, this law is a good start for the state of West Virginia, and for other states to look to as an example. It is far too easy to pull a child out of public school, away from mandated reporters, and keep them isolated in the home, where abuse often escalates to homicide.

You can track the progress of Raylee’s law here: House Bill 4400

Please take time to call or email the West Virginia House to show your support: House Roster

We must be sure to honor Raylee’s memory and protect children in similar circumstances.

 

Washington State: Public Funds for Homeschooling Could Be Abused

For Immediate Release: The proposed measure could create perverse incentives by giving parents who homeschool up to $10,000 per child in unaccountable public funds

02/21/2020—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit organization that advocates for homeschooled children, is urging Washington lawmakers to oppose House Bill 2933, which would provide substantial funds to parents whose children are not enrolled in public school, including homeschooled children. “Providing homeschooling parents with large amounts of unaccountable public funds amounts to a cash incentive to keep children out of school,” says Dr. Rachel Coleman, CRHE’s executive director. “The potential for abuse or fraud is astronomical, but it is the children who will suffer the most.” 

Washington’s HB 2933 would give participating parents access to bank accounts containing the state’s per-pupil allotment for each student being homeschooled, or nearly $10,000 per child. Parents would be required to sign a form promising to only use this funding for education expenses, but their use of these funds would not be monitored. Coleman says she finds this very concerning. “When monetary support is provided directly to homeschooling families, it is imperative that expenditures be accounted for,” Coleman says. She adds that any monetary support provided directly to homeschooling families should be offered as reimbursement for approved educational expenses only, and not as unaccountable cash payouts. 

Lawmakers in some states have become concerned about abuse of other forms of direct-aid such as adoption subsidies, which have been criticized for incentivizing parents with no actual interest in children to adopt older children or children with disabilities in order to receive a financial payout. In some high-profile cases, children whose parents received substantial subsidies for adopting them have been found tortured or murdered (in the latter case, the parents often hide these deaths so that they can go on collecting the cash subsidies). “As difficult as it can be to acknowledge this, the sad reality is that not all parents have their children’s best interests at heart,” says Coleman. “When offering parents unaccountable public funds attached to keeping children out of public schools, lawmakers must be careful not to provide perverse incentives.” Coleman warns that HB 2933 could encourage some parents to take children out of public school to pocket the state handout, and not out of any desire to educate their children at home. 

Coleman warns the state’s homeschool law is already easy to exploit. “State law requires homeschooling parents to have their children assessed each year, but it does not require them to submit these assessments to an educational agency,” she says. “There is little in existing state law to ensure parents who say they are homeschooling their children are in fact doing so.” 

Coleman says her organization frequently receives emails from homeschooling parents who want support and resources from their school districts. “We understand lawmakers desire to support homeschooling families,” she says. “The needs of both homeschooling parents and homeschooled children are best met not by a cash handout, but by more holistic support.” 

Coleman points to Alaska’s district-run homeschool programs and Iowa’s Home School Assistance Programs as examples of public programs that provide holistic support for both homeschooling parents and homeschooled children. In Alaska, districts receive per-pupil state funding for homeschooled students, and provide parents with reimbursement for curriculum, tutoring, and other expenses and access to district-run resource centers, athletics, and enrichment classes. Iowa’s district-run programs operate similarly: they receive state funding, offer homeschooling parents access to homeschool resource centers, and give homeschooled children access to public school programs, classes, and other support services. 

“Homeschooling families benefit most from programs that provide both support and accountability,” says Coleman. “HB 2933 does not do this.” 

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education empowers homeschooled children by educating the public and advocating for child-centered, evidence-based policy and practices for families and professionals.

Wisconsin Bills Would End Homeschool Sports Gray Area

For Immediate Release: National alumni group is in favor of homeschool sports access

02/21/2020—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit that advocates for homeschooled children, is encouraging Wisconsin lawmakers to support Assembly Bill 779 and Senate Bill 705; both would ensure homeschooled children and children enrolled in virtual charter school programs have access to public school athletics programs. “Access to public school athletics benefits homeschooled students without creating problems for public schools or for other students,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE.

In 2015, the legislature created Wisconsin Statute 118.133, which requires school districts to allow students enrolled in home-based educational programs to participate in interscholastic athletics in the school district on the same basis as other students. However, Governor Scott Walker vetoed a portion of the bill that would have required the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) to change its eligibility rules, which require student athletes to be enrolled full time at the public school they represent. Gov. Walker’s veto created a legal gray area, requiring school districts to allow homeschooled students to participate in district athletics programs but allowing the WIAA to continue barring homeschooled athletes from competing on public school teams participating in the interscholastic competitions the WIAA oversees. 

AB 779 and SB 705 would amend Wisconsin Statute 118.133 to allow virtual charter school students, in addition to students enrolled in home-based education programs, to participate in public school athletics programs. “A growing number of children are educated at home through virtual charter school programs,” says Coleman. “These students have needs similar to those of children homeschooled independently.” The bills would also eliminate the current legal gray area by requiring the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association to change its eligibility rules to allow homeschooled children and virtual charter school students to participate in interscholastic activities by reinstituting the provision Gov. Walker vetoed in 2015. 

In 2016, CRHE conducted a survey of 150 homeschool graduates’ athletics experiences. Four in five respondents (80%) said public school athletics should be made available to homeschooled students. Some respondents noted that athletics programs outside of public schools were limited, especially at later grades. “Once I reached junior high age there were no longer any community sports available,” wrote one participant; another noted that public school athletics programs “are very often the only access for students like myself who grew up in underprivileged areas.” 

“Children educated at home benefit from participating in public school athletics programs,” Coleman says. “We urge Wisconsin lawmakers to eliminate the current gray area and bring homeschooled children and school districts together by passing AB 779 and SB 705.”

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education empowers homeschooled children by educating the public and advocating for child-centered, evidence-based policy and practices for families and professionals. 

Homeschool Group Supports Mississippi Subject Requirements

For Immediate Release: Homeschooling parents should be required to provide their children with instruction in the same basic subjects other students study

02/19/2020—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit organization that advocates for homeschooled children, supports a measure that would require all children in Mississippi, including homeschooled children, to study Mississippi state history and United States government at some point during grades 9-12. “Homeschooled children should have instruction in the same basic subject areas as other children,” says Dr. Rachel Coleman, CRHE’s executive director. “House Bill 188 does not require homeschooling parents to use state textbooks; it simply makes it mandatory for parents to provide instruction in subjects colleges already expect to see on students’ transcripts.” 

Mississippi House Bill 188 would require public schools, as well as private, parochial, and home-based school programs, to provide instruction in “the history of the State of Mississippi from the age of discovery and colonization to the present, with particular emphasis on the significant political, social, economic and cultural issues of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries which have impacted the diverse ethnic and racial populations of the state.” The bill explicitly does not require students to take any test to pass this requirement, and does not require homeschooling parents to use state-approved textbooks for these subject areas. 

Subject requirements for children who are homeschooled vary by state. “Currently, Mississippi has no subject requirements for homeschooled children,” says Coleman. “In Mississippi, homeschooling parents are not legally mandated to teach their children any specific subjects; parents could simply choose not to teach a child math, or reading. Mississippi law does nothing to protect homeschooled children’s right to receive an education.” 

Coleman says her organization recommends states create clear requirements regarding what instruction homeschooling parents should provide to students, particularly during the high school years. Some states already have such requirements. Pennsylvania requires homeschooled students to complete three years of social studies, in addition to their other requirements for English, mathematics, science, and arts and humanities. New York state requires homeschooled students to complete four units of social studies, including one unit of American history; one-half unit of government; and one-half unit of economics. 

“We oppose requiring homeschooling parents to use state approved textbooks,” says Coleman. “But we support provisions requiring homeschooling parents to provide instruction in the same basic subjects our society has determined all students should study, including math, English, and social studies.” According to Coleman, data from Kentucky and Virginia suggests homeschool graduates may be only half as likely as other graduates to attend college. “Requiring parents to provide instruction in the subject areas colleges expect to see on students’ transcripts will give students more options after graduation,” says Coleman. 

While HB 188 only mandates children study Mississippi history and U.S. government, Coleman says she hopes to see more robust requirements in the future. “We would like to see the Mississippi legislature require homeschooling parents to provide instruction in the same basic subjects every other student studies in school,” says Coleman. “We believe parents should be able to choose how to educate their children, but not whether to educate their children. Every state should affirm children’s right to an education.” 

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education empowers homeschooled children by educating the public and advocating for child-centered, evidence-based policy and practices for families and professionals.

Homeschool Group Opposes Arizona Bill Creating Fines for Truancy

For Immediate Release: The harder school districts make it for families to resolve chronic truancy, the more they push potentially unprepared families into homeschooling

02/19/2020—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit organization that advocates for homeschooled children, is expressing concerns about an Arizona bill that would allow attendance officers to impose a fine of $10 per day on the parents of students who are habitually truant. “Families whose children are habitually truant need support, not fines,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE. “House Bill 2021 risks pushing parents to homeschool through the use of a financial penalty.” 

Coleman says officials in multiple states have become concerned by a pattern where parents withdraw chronically truant children to homeschool them after the school district begins legal proceedings. Coleman warns that monetary fines like those proposed by HB 2021 could work the same way, especially for parents who may have limited means. “Homeschooling works best when parents choose it because they are attracted to it as an educational method,” says Coleman. “The more barriers school districts create to resolving truancy, the more incentives they give parents to homeschool merely to avoid penalties related to truancy.” 

There is evidence from other states that some families may use homeschooling to escape truancy proceedings. In 2018, Kentucky’s Office of Educational Accountability found that 62% of children withdrawn to be homeschooled were previously chronically truant from school. Attendance officers reported that they saw a spike in the number of families withdrawing to homeschool the week after they sent truancy notices to families’ homes. 

When asked what sorts of policies states should be adopting, Coleman points to Illinois Senate Bill 2332, which removes a section about imposing sanctions on the families of chronically truant children, replacing it with a section instructing school districts to create “a socio-emotional focused attendance policy that targets the underlying causes of chronic truancy.” 

“School districts should work with families, not against them,” says Coleman. “Parents who see truancy-related fines accruing are more likely to opt to homeschool, regardless of whether they are prepared for the commitment homeschooling requires.” CRHE urges states and school districts to adopt policies designed to address the underlying problems causing truancy, and not to penalize students or parents. 

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education empowers homeschooled children by educating the public and advocating for child-centered, evidence-based policy and practices for families and professionals.

Missouri Bills Would Let Homeschooled Students Play Sports

For Immediate Release: Alumni group says access to public school athletics benefits homeschooled children without harming other students

02/12/2020—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit that advocates for homeschooled children, is urging Missouri lawmakers to support House Bill 2273 and Senate Bill 875, which would grant homeschooled students access to public school athletics programs. Currently, the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) requires student athletes to be enrolled in an 80% course load at the school they represent, preventing homeschooled students from participating. This legislation would change this. 

“Access to public school athletics benefits homeschooled students without creating problems for either public schools or other students,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE.

“Homeschooled students who participate in athletics in their local public schools typically gravitate toward activities without a limit on participants, such as cross country running or tennis,” said Coleman. Critics frequently allege that allowing homeschooled students to participate in public school athletics programs takes opportunities away from other students; Coleman says the evidence for this is sparse. A 2012 survey of athletic associations in states that allow homeschooled students to participate in athletics at their local public schools found that this policy had not created problems for either students or schools. 

In 2016, CRHE conducted a survey of 150 homeschool graduates’ athletics experiences. Four in five respondents (80%) said public school athletics should be made available to homeschooled students. Some respondents noted that athletics programs outside of public schools were limited, especially at later grades: “Once I reached junior high age there were no longer any community sports available,” wrote one participant; another noted that public school athletics programs “are very often the only access for students like myself who grew up in underprivileged areas.” 

Currently, 30 states grant homeschooled students access to public school athletics programs, putting Missouri in the minority. “Granting homeschooled children access to public school athletics improves homeschool outcomes,” said Coleman. “We urge Missouri lawmakers to support the state’s homeschooled students by taking action on HB 2273 and SB 875.”

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education empowers homeschooled children by educating the public and advocating for child-centered, evidence-based policy and practices for families and professionals. 

Virginia Bill Would Let Homeschooled Students Play Sports

For Immediate Release: Alumni Group Says HB 226 Is Good for Homeschooled Students

02/12/2020—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, is urging Virginia lawmakers to support House Bill 226, which would grant homeschooled students access to public school athletics programs. Currently, Virginia High School League (VHSL) requires student athletes to be “regular bona fide students” at the school they represent, barring homeschooled students from participating. HB 2149 would change this. “Access to public school athletics programs benefits homeschooled students without creating problems for either public schools or other students,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE.

“By now, Virginia lawmakers are used to seeing Tebow legislation,” says Coleman, referencing the fact that homeschool athletics access bills have been introduced annually for nearly a decade without success. “We worry that conflict between teachers unions and state associations of homeschooling parents has made some forget where the focus ought to be: on the children.” 

Coleman says that homeschooled students who participate in athletics in their local public schools typically gravitate toward activities without a limit on participants, such as cross country running or tennis. So while critics frequently allege that allowing homeschooled students to participate in public school athletics programs takes opportunities away from other students, Coleman says the evidence for this is sparse. A 2012 survey of athletic associations in states that allow homeschooled students to participate in athletics at their local public schools found that this policy had not created problems for either students or schools. 

In 2016, CRHE conducted a survey of 150 homeschool graduates’ athletics experiences. Four in five respondents (80%) said public school athletics should be made available to homeschooled students. Some respondents noted that athletics programs outside of public schools were limited, especially at later grades: “Once I reached junior high age there were no longer any community sports available,” wrote one participant; another noted that public school athletics programs “are very often the only access for students like myself who grew up in underprivileged areas.” 

Currently, 30 states grant homeschooled students access to public school athletics programs, putting Virginia in the minority. “Granting homeschooled children access to public school athletics improves homeschool outcomes,” said Coleman. “We urge Virginia lawmakers to support the state’s homeschooled students by finally granting them access to athletic programs.” 

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education empowers homeschooled children by educating the public and advocating for child-centered, evidence-based policy and practices for families and professionals.

Hawaii Bill Would Let Homeschooled Students Play Sports

For Immediate Release: Alumni group says HB 2149 is good for homeschooled students

02/12/2020—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, is urging Hawaii lawmakers to support House Bill 2149, which would grant homeschooled students access to public school athletics programs. Currently, the Hawaii High School Athletic Association (HHSAA) requires student athletes to be enrolled in the public school for which they compete, barring homeschooled students from participating. HB 2149 would change this. “Access to public school athletics programs benefits homeschooled students without creating problems for either public schools or other students,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE.

HB 2149 would allow any homeschooled student who “meets the participation requirements and restrictions for an individual sport, including maintaining appropriate grade point averages, paying appropriate fees, and signing a release and express assumption of risk waiver” to participate on the team of the school they would have otherwise been required to attend. 

“Homeschooled students who participate in athletics in their local public schools typically gravitate toward activities without a limit on participants, such as cross country running or tennis,” said Coleman. Critics frequently allege that allowing homeschooled students to participate in public school athletics programs takes opportunities away from other students; Coleman says the evidence for this is sparse. A 2012 survey of athletic associations in states that allow homeschooled students to participate in athletics at their local public schools found that this policy had not created problems for either students or schools. 

In 2016, CRHE conducted a survey of 150 homeschool graduates’ athletics experiences. Some respondents noted that athletics programs outside of public schools were limited, especially at later grades: “Once I reached junior high age there were no longer any community sports available,” wrote one participant; another noted that public school athletics programs “are very often the only access for students like myself who grew up in underprivileged areas.” 

Currently, 30 states grant homeschooled students access to public school athletics programs, putting Hawaii in the minority. “Granting homeschooled children access to public school athletics improves homeschool outcomes,” said Coleman. “We urge Hawaii lawmakers to support the state’s homeschooled students by taking action on HB 2149.”

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education empowers homeschooled children by educating the public and advocating for child-centered, evidence-based policy and practices for families and professionals. 

 

Homeschool Group: Colorado HB 20-1144 Would Harm Children

For Immediate Release: Children have a right to safety, liberty, and dignity

02/10/2020–The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit organization that advocates for homeschooled children, is urging Colorado lawmakers to reject House Bill 20-1144, which would establish a “parents’ bill of rights.” HB 20-1144, which CRHE warns would negatively impact Colorado children, is sponsored by representatives Rod Pelton (R) and will come before the House State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee on Thursday. 

“Parents’ right to choose how to educate their children must be balanced with children’s right to receive an education,” says Samantha Field, a policy advocate for CRHE. “HB 20-1144 eliminates that balance.” Field says that under HB 20-1144, requirements designed to protect children, such as assessments that ensure that homeschooled children are being educated, could be seen as a violation of parents’ absolute right to direct their education. 

Field warns that the ramifications of HB 20-1144 could threaten more than children’s right to an education. “In the case of children being harmed, giving parents fundamental and inalienable rights subject to strict scrutiny means rights will be denied to abused and neglected children,” says Field. “Where is the right to children’s safety, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, dignity, or the demands of their own conscience? Where is their right to be prepared to contribute to society?” 

“Laws, in order to be effective, must acknowledge the reality that harm happens to innocents, and one of the Colorado government’s responsibilities is to protect its innocent citizens against harm,” says Field. “Not every child, not even every homeschooled child, has an idyllic childhood.” Field points to numerous cases where children homeschooled in Colorado have experienced severe abuse, including 7-year-old Genesis Sims, whose body was found buried in her parents’ crawlspace in Monument, Colorado, and a blind, autistic teenager in Longmont, Colorado, who was experiencing kidney failure due to long term starvation when his abuse was discovered. “A 2014 study found that 47% of school-aged child torture victims were removed from school to be homeschooled,” says Field. “These children need more rights, not less.”  

Field warns that HB 20-1144 would create a heavy legal imbalance between the rights of children and the rights of parents in the state of Colorado, leaving significant unchecked power in the hands of abusive parents that would prevent minor children from accessing help in a crisis. The impact on homeschooled children, she says, would be especially significant. 

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education empowers homeschooled children by educating the public and advocating for child-centered, evidence-based policy and practices for families and professionals.