Another child abuse case out of California has activists again calling on lawmakers to consider homeschool regulations they recently set aside.
Last week, prosecutors in Fairfield charged 31-year-old Ina Rogers with nine counts of felony child abuse for failing to stop her husband, Jonathan Allen, from abusing their kids. Police found nine children in filthy conditions after a 10th child ran away and called for help. Officials rescued the children in March but didn’t make details of the case public until they charged the parents. Prosecutors say the children, between 6 months and 12 years old, suffered puncture wounds, burns, bruising, and injuries consistent with being shot with a pellet gun.
Rogers told reporters who interviewed her before her arrest that she decided to homeschool her children because they weren’t getting the attention they needed in public school. But she never registered as a private school, the method California uses to track parents who teach at home. Anti-homeschool activists, as they did after the discovery of the 13 Turpin children, say officials could have prevented this tragedy if they had a mandate to check up on children who don’t go to a traditional school.
Earlier this month, homeschooling families rallied at the state Capitol to urge lawmakers not to support a bill that would have created a public registry of homeschoolers in response to the Turpin case. After hearing nearly three hours of testimony, lawmakers decided not to press the issue. One lawmaker who responded to a “thank you” letter from the Home School Legal Defense Association said he believed the legislative committee had “achieved the right outcome.”
Will that conviction hold as more details of the latest case emerge? Two key factors could influence future debate. First, Rogers claimed Child Protective Services investigated the family several years ago over an abuse claim and found it unsubstantiated. State officials have not confirmed or denied that. Second, Rogers and Allen didn’t follow existing state law governing homeschooling. What makes lawmakers think additional regulations would have brought them into line? —L.J.