By Sarah Jones
Texas families do not have a religious freedom right to home-school absolutely free of any regulation, a state court of appeals ruled last week. The decision is a setback for Michael and Laura McIntyre, who removed their nine children from a private school in order to educate them at home.
Relatives quickly discovered that very little education ever took place. The family ostensibly set aside space in a motorcycle dealership it co-owned with Michael McIntyre’s twin brother, Tracy, as a “classroom.” Tracy soon noticed that the classroom didn’t actually get used for its stated purpose.
From the ruling: “While the children would sing or play instruments, he never saw them reading books or doing arithmetic, nor did he observe any computers or other school equipment.”
Tracy McIntyre later overheard one of the McIntyre children say that “they did not need to do schoolwork because they were going to be raptured.”
The family’s oldest child was so desperate for a real education that she ran away from home in an attempt to enroll herself in high school. Without any academic records, the school didn’t know which grade to place her in; after testing, the 17-year-old was placed in the freshman class, far behind the rest of her age group.
Naturally, the school district intervened – and that’s when the McIntyres called upon the resources of the Religious Right. When confronted with a request for details about their curriculum, the family decided it was being unfairly harassed and requested help from the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a Christian legal advocacy organization founded and run by Religious Right figurehead Michael Farris. (Farris is also the founder and chancellor of Patrick Henry College, an unaccredited Evangelical college in Purcellville, Va.).