Families who have chosen to homeschool their kids are getting increasingly concerned about the administrative fallout that may beset them following the horrific discoveries of abuse within a California homeschool family.
David and Louise Turpin of Perris, California, face life in prison after their children were discovered shackled to their beds and gravely malnourished. It was revealed that the family home had been registered as a school, with Father David listed as the principle.
The Massachusetts-based Coalition for Responsible Home Education, a nonprofit group that is involved in advocating for homeschooling reform, says a lack of oversight for homeschools allows such abuse to occur within the walls of family homes.
“The lack of oversight of home schools is what allows people to hide abuse,” Kathryn Brightbill, legislative policy analyst for the coalition told The Press-Enterprise. “We believe that the various states should introduce legislation to have annual contact with mandated reporters.”
In the wake of this horrific abuse case that has disgusted the nation, HomeSchool Association of California believes additional legislation is forthcoming.
“We know that many homeschooling families are feeling nervous due to the recent abuse case which has been in the news,” the directors said in a statement. “We do suspect legislation may be forthcoming that might try to regulate private homeschoolers. We do not know what form that proposed legislation will take and it is a complicated endeavor that is likely to take some time. We assure you that HSC will have a hand in fighting or helping to define any bills that are proposed.”
But in an earlier statement, legal team co-chair Debbie Schwarzer dismissed the idea of an annual inspection requirement for all homeschooled children.
“I’ve seen articles that suggest that private homeschoolers should be required to present their children for an annual inspection by teachers and a doctor. It’s an outrageous suggestion, one that amounts to suspecting all homeschooling parents of being unfit, of being capable of crimes against their children,” Schwarzer wrote.
“Obviously the overwhelming majority of parents who choose to homeschool their children do so with the best interests of their children as their top priority. They should not be subjected to suspicion by the state and gross invasion of their privacy through unwarranted intrusion into their lives. The state and society should give them the same benefit of the doubt that all parents are given, of acting in their children’s best interests until specific facts or circumstances suggest otherwise,” she added.
In general, very little information is collected from homeschoolers. There are 11 states that do not require parents to provide notice of homeschooling. Another 14 different states do not require parents to provide instruction in any specific subject and 25 states do not require any form of academic assessments.
But with the horror of the Turpin’s case still fresh in the mind of homeschooling officials, certain organizations argue this should change very rapidly.
“The current lack of accountability or oversight of homeschooling has negative consequences for thousands of homeschooled children. In some cases homeschooling serves to hide abuse, and in other cases parents shortchange their children educationally,” the Coalition for Responsible Home Education argued.
As of 2012, there were some 1.8 million homeschooled students in the United States.
“What happened in the city of Perris was tragic and it was horrific,” Californian politician Jose Medina told The Telegraph. “And I would like to try to do everything I can to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
“One of the reasons this went undetected was because the parents could keep the children hidden from the public.”
More disturbing details have been emerging in the case of the Turpin family. Apparently disillusioned with Christianity, the couple reportedly began experimenting with other religions and even having sex outside of their marriage.
“She thought it was cool that they had quit going to church, and that they were — didn’t trust the church anymore — and they were experimenting with different religions,” Louise Turpin’s sister, Robinette, told NBC.
“And at the time she told me that her and David, the older children were helping her take care of the younger children, so her and David could kind of sow those wild oats that they didn’t sow when she was younger.”
The pair began to go out drinking with her husband. At one point, the couple got in touch with a man online and met him in Huntsville, Alabama, so Louise could have sex with him, Robinette added.
“Louise no longer exists to me,” the sister added. “She and David are dead to me.”
Louise and David Turpin are being held on a $12 million each and are due back in court February 23.