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Abuse case prompts rethink of homeschool laws

Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 02/12/2005 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled

After the arrest of a man accused of abusing a daughter who had not been in school in five years, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano said she plans to examine the state’s laws on homeschooling.

The Tucson man, who’s name has been withheld to protect the daughter’s identity, was arrested Tuesday and accused of sexually abusing his 14-year-old daughter while holding her captive in his home for more than a year.

KGUN-TV in Tucson, an ABC affiliate, notes the popularity of homeschooling in Arizona, which legally requires only filling out a simple affadavit

“With no accountability and irresponsible parents, it’s easy to see how children can get ‘lost,’” said a report by the station.

Napolitano said of the case: “The homeschooling aspect is really one of the many aspects I think we need to go back … how could this happen in our town? How could this happen in our state?”

County School Superintendent Kim Fields acknowledged there are states with far stricter rules on homeschooling, with some requiring proof of curriculum, annual testing and professional evaluation.

But Fields pointed out there are children in public schools being abused.

“You can’t stop abuse by changing an education setting,” Fields said.

The suspect signed the required affadavit in 1999, according to KGUN, but the 14-year-old told police she never was homeschooled.

Would stricter laws have changed anything?

“We have 3,195 affidavits on file in this office of homeschoolers right now,” said Fields. “I don’t know how you monitor that.”

The Tucson Citizen reported five complaints against the father were filed prior to June 2001, but none were substantiated.

The complaints included allegations of physical and emotional abuse.

The girl was kept in a locked room in the family’s house and fed little while in a bathroom, the Citizen reported, quoting authorities. She weighed 97 pounds at 5 feet 6 inches tall.

The 14-year-old and the two daughters of the man’s girlfriend, ages 8 and 10, are in CPS custody.


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