A Texas court ruled last week that two loving, “Christian” home school parents who stopped teaching their children because they thought the Rapture was coming were not exempt from state education regulations.
The Eighth District Court of Appeals against Michael and Laura McIntyre, who removed their nine children from a private school in 2004 to homeschool them. Michael McIntyre’s brother Tracy testified that the parents used empty space in a motorcycle dealership the brothers co owned as a classroom, but that he never saw the children reading books, using the computers, or doing math. Instead, the children played musical instruments and sang.
“Tracy overhead one of the McIntyre children tell a cousin that they did not need to do schoolwork because they were going to be raptured,” according to court documents. After Tracy confronted the parents about their children’s education the school was moved to a rental house.
In 2006, El Paso Independent School District met with the parents because of an anonymous complaint that the children were not being educated. In fact, one of the children ran away from home to “attend school,” according to District attendance officer Mark Mendoza. The girl, Tori, was enrolled at Coronado High School. When the district attempted to contact the parents for curriculum information so that their daughter could be properly placed in Coronado, the McIntyres refused to cooperate.
Mendoza filed truancy complaints against the parents in 2007, and the couple filed for injunctive relief based on the Texas Education Code, the Texas Constitution, the United States Constitution, a 1992 court case that said the Amish did not have to send their children to school after the eighth grade, and the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The court ruled that the regulations did not infringe upon the McIntyres’ First Amendment right to free exercise of religion.
“No parents have ever prevailed in any reported case on a theory that they have an absolute constitutional right to educate their children in the home, completely free of any state supervision, regulation, or requirements,” the ruling stated. “They do not have an ‘absolute constitutional right to home school.’”