20 July 1999
To The Editor:
There is a procedure within the Vermont public school system where a school will carry a student on their rolls even though that same student is not in attendance, for whatever reason, of that school. I am told by a school board chair that after several months (sometimes as much as six months) the school will contact the state to inform them a child was not in attendance and then reimburse the state the funds which they provided for that student. But, what if a student has been carried on the school roll for 3 years (!) and has not been in attendance all that time due to his mother's decision to homeschool him? Once it is found out that a school has done so that would be quite a 'chunk of change' that school must reimburse the state, would it not? And with the hoopla these days over Act 60 and tight funding it is easy to see why any school would want to prevent a student from leaving their domain, especially a special education student that is bringing in thousands of extra dollars.
It appears this situation has happened within the Bakersfield Elementary School here in Vermont. A young mother by the name of Karen Maple made the choice to homeschool her son, Trevor, after years of intolerable treatment of her son by that elementary school and the school's repeated failure to teach him anything. Karen took Trevor out of school against the wishes of the school board chair's wife and the administration and started to
homeschool him. She has tried repeatedly to register him with the state department of education but even they insist he reenroll at the Bakersfield school due to pressure from Superintendent Mary Sherrer who knows how important funding is to this small school. Ms. Sherrer even informed Karen that she could homeschool only 'if' she keeps Trevor in special ed. which only means Bakersfield Elementary will still get its money from the state for Trevor but Karen will still have to teach him at home if she expects Trevor to learn anything.
In a letter from Ms. Sherrer to James Hughes, State's Attorney, dated October 2, 1998 she informs him that Trevor has not attended her school since the 1996-1997 school year and she insists that Mr. Hughes 'force' Karen to comply and make 'this case a top priority.' Ms. Sherrer writes 'this child has gone two full years and now well into the beginning of a third year without an education' but meanwhile Karen has been homeschooling him and Trevor's test scores keep rising.
Karen has been battling for her constitutional and God given rights to raise and educate her children as she sees fit and she sees fit to give Trevor every opportunity to learn and to thrive without the detrimental so-called special education program offered by the Bakersfield school. Karen is determined to protect her son and see to his education herself without interference from an uncaring school administration and one that chooses to ignore Karen's success so far in homeschooling her son.
Karen owns her own home on 10 acres of land and pays property taxes. She also has an 18 year old son and a two year old daughter. Karen is a nursing mother whom superintendent Mary Sherrer has brought down the wrath of Franklin County Court judge Michael Kupersmith, Social Rehabilitative Services, State's Attorney James Hughes, Director of Special Programs
Michelle Jewett, Bakersfield Elementary School Principal Jay Nichols (who informed me over the telephone that this was all a bunch of bull___t and he's never even met Trevor) and Department of Education's Home Study Consultant Natalie Casco who have all threatened to take Karen from her nursing baby and throw her in jail if she doesn't comply. They have also
threatened and have succeeded in taking her son Trevor and putting him into SRS custody. According to court docket 199-10-98 Frjv the court has ordered '-the child be detained' meaning SRS can come barging through Karen's door and take her son at any given moment. Gestapo tactics or what?! And all Karen intended to do was provide her son with a loving, nurturing
environment in which to get a solid education.
Vermonters have an opportunity here to see their hard earned tax dollars at work and can take comfort in knowing their money is being used to sever a determined mother from her children (including a nursing baby) and her property. Karen has no money for legal defense and must depend on the services of a public defender who has proven time and time again that his
interest lies with the states' actions. Many of these same hooligans are taking advantage of Karen's own lack of education to defend her children, her property and her constitutional rights.
I have before me the results of a Stanford test which Karen and her son were tricked and coerced into taking in April of this year. Since homeschooling her son for the last 3 years Trevor's scores have risen from below average to above average in many areas, including math, science and social studies. The Bakersfield superintendent, the juvenile court and the Department of Education's own Natalie Casco are all refusing to take these results into
consideration. In fact, it appears they were somewhat disappointed that Trevor did so well on this test because they can see for themselves if they would just leave he and his mother alone this young boy may actually finally get a decent education and finally heal the damage done to him over the years by the Bakersfield Elementary School's incompetence.
In a heart wrenching letter from Trevor addressed 'To Whom It May Concern' he pleads with these officials to leave him alone and let him get on with his education at home. He informs us that the best thing they could do for him is to help him gain 'more megabytes' for his computer or buy him a new one so he can continue to accomplish what the elementary school in his town
has denied him for years--a decent well-rounded education based on a solid foundation of facts and figures and not the social engineering going on at school. Trevor pleads with these administrators to stop their abuse that keeps him awake at night of his mother and family. Is their anyone in Vermont who could find it in their hearts and wallets to provide Trevor with
his wishes and to stand between him and an abusive system that seeks to pull him down?!
According to Tennyson Doane, chair of the Bakersfield Elementary School Board, he and his board are more concerned with the issue of truancy and whether or not he and other board members can be held legally responsible for a student's failure to attend school than for the fact that Trevor is finally learning something (proven by the Stanford test he was tricked into
taking) after his mother took charge of his education. Mr. Doane and I had a lengthy phone conversation on July 19 at approximately 9:00 pm and, although our conversation was cut short when his wife took the phone from him in a motherly fashion, we managed to discuss Karen's situation in length. It appears that Mr. Doane is like any other school board member I have
encountered. He, along with the other board members, are being kept in the dark by the school's hired administration. It was also at this time that Mr. Doane's wife informed me that it was her decision to not allow Karen Maple to homeschool her children because she felt Karen was not strong enough emotionally to handle the job. Say, what?!
It would appear that it is about time for our legislators and the public to step in to assist Karen with this legal battle she is having with the Bakersfield Elementary School, the Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union, the Department of Education (whom by the way have links to porno websites on their very own website under the guise of language arts!!!), the Franklin
County Family Court, the Franklin County State's Attorney's Office, and Social Rehabilitative Services. The people who work in these places are quick to pass the buck and those at the Bakersfield Elementary School and it's school board keep telling me they have nothing to do with this when I beg to differ. If they truly care about the children that we are forced under the threat of jail to send to them, as they claim they all care, then why are they pursuing this mother to the point of an SRS agent hounding her at a local store on the evening of June 8th and making unwelcomed physical contact with her in order to intimidate her?
It is time for our legislators and the public to show some guts and assist this mother in her fight for her constitutional and God given rights. If Karen fails in her plight then we all fail. We'll fail to maintain our freedoms and our right to be a parent without interference from greedy, ignorant and ruthless powermongers who hide behind bad laws that serve to advance their selfish cause.
Cindy E. Wade
Home Education Advocate & Truant M.O.M.