Ohio

Eye on Education

Dayton Daily News: School District Failed Disabled, Homeschooled Teen Makayla Norman Who Died of Neglect

Makayla Norman was 14 years old when she died. She had cerebral palsy and couldn’t walk, talk or take care of herself. In 2004, her mother withdrew her from the Dayton Public Schools to homeschool her.

Since 2004, Dayton Public Schools was supposed to track Makayla’s homeschooling education.

But the Dayton Daily News reports that “school officials admitted they violated their own policies, failing to follow up on Makayla’s progress during her final seven years.”

Makayla died of nutritional and medical neglect in March. Her death has been ruled a homicide and her mother and several caretakers have been indicted in connection with her death. From the Dayton Daily News:

When 14-year-old Makayla Norman died March 1, her 28-pound body was infested with lice, covered in bedsores, her skin caked in dirt, according to testimony during a court hearing Tuesday.

When we reported on homeschooling earlier this year, an Ohio Department of Education spokesperson said it’s up to local school districts — not the state — to work with homeschooling families:

The district does need to know who is living within their district who is of school age. …That’s one thing that’s important to note and notifying that district to say, ‘I have three children but I prefer to homeschool them. And then they can also talk to their district about resources, and that’s an important thing as well. But in terms of the oversight that the Ohio Department of Education has, it’s very little.

According to the section of the Ohio Administrative Code that deals with homeschooling, parents are expected to notify their local school superintendent every year. They’re also supposed to assess their child’s progress annually and send a report to the local superintendent.

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