State education leaders weigh options on homeschool issue

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State education leaders continue to take a closer look at homeschool regulations in the state following the death of Boone County teenager Kyneddi Miller.

Kyneddi Miller

State Board of Education President Paul Hardesty said Wednesday during an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline” all parties should get together and find middle ground.

“CPS, the legislature, the Department of Education, the homeschool community,” Hardesty said. “At the end of the day it has to be about the safety of the children of West Virginia, I don’s care where they are going to school.”

The 14-year-old Miller died earlier this spring. Her body was found in a skeletal state. She never went back to school after covid. Her mother told Boone County school officials in 2021 that she was being homeschooled but assessments were never submitted.

Hardesty said he agreed with comments Gov. Jim Justice made during his Tuesday media briefing—“If we don’t watch out, a lot of these kids are going to fall through the cracks and everything. We got to have a little oversight,” Justice said.

Paul Hardesty

Hardesty said homeschool is a “wonderful option” for parents who are doing it right but “for some who are living in abusive or bad situations it can be used as a cloak or a veil to hid bad behaviors.”

State School Superintendent Michele Blatt said some county school systems do try and follow-up on homeschool students whose families have filed no assessments. She said truant cases get taken to circuit court in some cases but it’s not a perfect process.

Michele Blatt

“We have students where their homeschool privileges have been revoked but when a county pursues that to the circuit court sometimes that lingers for months and months and months because our circuit court judges are also overwhelmed with a lot of other issues and truancy doesn’t raise to the top of their radar,” Blatt said on “Talkline.”

Neither Blatt nor Hardesty could predict how many of the 27,000 homeschool students may be in bad situations at home and homeschooling is being used as a cover-up. Hardesty said it’s probably a higher number than many people think.

Blatt said the state also needs more homeschool parents who are doing it right to turn in their assessments. She said that would provide better numbers to work off of.

“They’re not the ones we are concerned about. We don’t want to make this harder for them. But we also know when they are doing education right then an assessment or something being submitted shouldn’t be a large issue,” Blatt said.

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