EL PASO, Texas – The homeschooling community was shocked this month when the Texas 8th District Court of Appeals ruled that a family that pulled their children out of school to home school them in 2004 had been under a legal obligation to actually teach them things.
“This is an absolute outrage,” claimed defendant Michael McIntyre. “I challenge this court to show me where in the Bible it says I have to teach my kids anything at all!”
Michael and Laura McIntyre removed their nine children from a private school in 2004, then used an empty room in the motorcycle dealership co-owned by Michael’s twin brother, Tracy, as a classroom. Tracy McIntyre testified that he never saw the children reading books, using computers, or doing math, that they spent all of their time singing and playing musical instruments, and that he overheard one of the children tell a cousin that “they did not need to do schoolwork because they were going to be raptured.”
When Mr. McIntyre confronted the parents about their lack of any attempt to actually educate their children, the McIntyres moved their school into a rental house. “Tracy and Mike had a disagreement,” confirmed Laura. “Tracy wanted the kids to learn how to add, subtract, read, and other secular stuff like that. But Mike and I just wanted our family to kick back and wait for Jesus.”
The issue came to the attention of the El Paso Independent School District when it received an anonymous complaint that the McIntyre children were not receiving an education. In fact, according to district attendance officer Mark Mendoza, one of the McIntyre children had actually run away from home in order to attend school at Coronado High School.
“She confessed that while she loved and respected her parents and their views, there was no way she was going to miss out on prom,” said Mendoza.
After Mendoza filed truancy complaints against the McIntyres in 2007, the couple filed suit, claiming that under the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Texas Education Code, the Texas Constitution, and the United States Constitution, their religious beliefs trumped any legal obligation to teach their kids, and that they were well within their rights to keep their children “as ignorant as dirt” if they wanted. The court disagreed.
“This is an attack on the entire homeschooling community of Texas,” said Ray Ballman, a board member of the Texas Home School Coalition Association- an organization which advocates and promotes home schooling from a Christian point of view. “Next thing you know, they’re gonna be mandating that parents teach their kids science, and from there, it’s a slippery slope to paganism.”