Eye on Education

After Death of Home-Schooled Girl Makayla Norman, Ohio Legislature Unlikely to Make Changes

U.S. Congress

Mike DeWine is Ohio's Attorney General.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and House Speaker Bill Batchelder told homeschooling advocates they see little need to change state laws regulating homeschooling in response to the death of a 14-year old Dayton girl who was homeschooled and starved to death in her home, the Home School Legal Defense Association says. (H/t to Innovation Ohio’s Stephen Dyer for pointing out the report.)

Makayla Norman, who had cerebral palsy and couldn’t walk, talk or take care of herself, was withdrawn by her mother from the Dayton Public Schools in 2004 for homeschooling. The Dayton school district was supposed to track her 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.”

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine initially told the Springfield News-Sun that hearings should be held on what went wrong in the Makayla case:

“There needs to be some accountability for the school district for losing track of this child,” DeWine said. “Do we need different laws? Do we need different enforcement?” DeWine asked.

But in an April 17 meeting with Home School Legal Defense Association and Christian Home Educators of Ohio lobbyists, DeWine said he has “no intention of contacting the legislature about the issue,” according to the Home School Legal Defense Association.

House Speaker Bill Batchedler also told the advocates that “The legislature has no interest in making changes to the current framework,” the association says.

Current state law requires homeschooling parents to notify their local school superintendent every year. They also need to meet certain qualifications, including the number of hours spent educating their children (at least 900), and they must assess their child’s progress annually and send a report to the local superintendent.

Homeschooling advocates say cases of children homeschooled to conceal neglect or abuse are rare. But, as CBS News reports, ”it’s hard to know how widespread abuse might be because the government doesn’t keep track.”

And when the Akron Beacon Journal took an in-depth look in 2004 at homeschooling, they found that home schoolers may be no safer in their homes than other children:

After comparing the number of deaths with FBI crime statistics, the newspaper found that the number of home-schooled children killed by a family member raises questions about some homeschool students’ safety within their homes.


  • polarbear7

    Why would anyone ever believe the home-schooled are safer than other kids in their homes anyway? How naive the religious simpletons are! And it’s no surprise the Republicans will not demand more home-school oversight. Home-schooling is their best place for teaching bigotry.Home-schooling is self-regulated. But because 99% is based on fear of others, alot of ignorance and intolerance, the Republicans who lord over poor, anti-intellectual states like Ohio, will always protect it from even minimal scrutiny.

    • Gfamof7

      You are obviously more interested in personal attacks then real facts. You have absolutely nothing to back up anything you say. In fact, as a result of your obviously biased viewpoint, you expose yourself as the ignorant, bigoted, intolerant simpleton. I live in Chardon, Ohio and I homeschool my 5 children here. I wonder, are you familiar with this place? I tell you this, my kids were A LOT safer at my house than other kids
      on FEBRUARY 27 2012 and NO ONE can tell me otherwise!

      • polarbear7

        Oh yes, what was your “reason” prior to the shooting? Your kid is more likely to die of a gunshot wound at home if you keep guns and i bet $$$ you do. Further, you are bigoted if you must hide your kids from reality. What happens to their mis-educated minds after grade 12? And what is “intolerance” if not the unwillingness to tolerate the world outside ones closet? I pity kids forced inside by parental ignorance and simple-mindedness. That fairy tale shatters; then what?
        Chardon has an incident and you decide to forever totally label the place. Doesn’t get much more “simpleton” than that. People have been shot at church, work, restaurants, stores, playgrounds, sitting in cars; do YOU know of that? Of course you do; but try another lame excuse for homeschooling. I’m not buying yours!

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