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Opening Arguments


This just has to be one of those "something else is going on here we can't decipher from the facts given" cases, because it doesn't make any sense as presented.

Lisa Ferguson and Molly Williams were facing felony charges of educational neglect for home-schooling their children without "providing any documented evidence" their children were being educated at home. A felony for lack of record keeping? The two eventually accepted a plea-bargained misdemeanor charges against the advice of a court-appointed attorney, who said the state's home-school laws are so vague that what an education actually amounts to can't even be determined. As it happens, the prosecutor seems to agree:

Allen County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Michael McAlexander said investigators believed Williams and Ferguson were not providing an education at home for their children. But he agreed that the state has no real standard or curriculum for home schooling.

It certainly seems the defense attorney is right. If the women had fought this, it's hard to see how they could have lost. Indiana's almost total lack of home schooling law has been the subject of much discussion in a lot of quarters, including our editorial page. If we can't even say what an education is, how in the world can someone be prosecuted for not delivering it? If there are no requirements for proving it (whatever it is) was provided (such as passing standardized tests), what's the point of keeping records? There's a reason this is the first such c

So what is really going on here? Do prosecutors know, or think they know, that these kids are being terribly harmed and have to be protected? Even if that's so, using a law that really isn't suitable seems hardly fair, and it could have some unpleasant unintendend consequences.

If we can agree that home schooling law is inadequate (and we probably should), let's get busy on putting a few more specifics in it. But unless more information than we now have is presented, this case is going to seem like a stinker.


Thu, 12/31/2009 - 10:52pm

As is always the case, "you get what you pay for" and in this case, the court-appointed "for free" defense attorneys appointed by the court could not get a case thrown out ... even with a sympathetic prosecutor.

So test the kids already to determine their academic achievement levels. Then if the kids fail, the parents will be charged with felonies, thus establishing a precedent to be used by all parents unhappy with public school systems.

Imagine the lawsuits and the FWCS teachers residing the the gray bar hotel!