PURCELLVILLE, Va. — A nationally-recognized homeschool organization has filed a friend of the court brief in support of a mother who had been homeschooling her children until she was recently ordered to send them to school to socialize.
Therese Cano of Florida has been in an ongoing child visitation battle with her husband, and during the process of arbitration, the court had appointed a psychologist and a guardian ad litem to oversee the matter.
During a recent hearing, the psychologist testified that the children, who were being homeschooled by their mother, were doing well academically. However, the guardian ad litem told the court that her “gut reaction” was that the children should be sent to public school where they could socialize with others.
As a result, the judge ordered that the children attend public school and lectured Cano about keeping them at home.
“When are they going to socialize?” he asked the mother, according to reports. “Is homeschool going to continue through college and/or professional schooling? At which point are these children going to interact with other children, and isn’t that in their best interest?”
Cano’s husband, Alejandro, had raised no objection to the way the children were being schooled.
Therefore, following the ruling, Cano contacted the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and explained her story. The organization then decided to file an amicus brief in support of the right to homeschool and to prove that homeschooled children receive adequate socialization.
“It is truly unfortunate that after decades of homeschooling parents are still fighting a battle against ignorance and ‘What about socialization?’ ” Jim Mason, HSLDA’s litigation counsel wrote in a report about the matter. “We see this as an excellent opportunity to educate judges in Florida about homeschooling success.”
“Numerous studies and surveys have shown that children who are homeschooled thrive educationally and socially both during and after their compulsory-education years,” the organization wrote in its brief. “As one researcher concluded, “Despite the widespread belief that home schooling is socially isolating, the research documents quite clearly that home-schooled children are very much engaged in the social routines of their communities.”
“Every mother who homeschools her children is familiar with the unfortunate myths that arose about socialization and academic preparation,” it continued. “On all counts homeschooling meets the standard set by public schools, and virtually all of the research demonstrates that homeschoolers far exceed that bar.”
HSLDA worries that Cano’s case could set a precedent for—or at least be an influence on—other cases across the country. Therefore, the organization seeks to have the ruling overturned.
“The Guardian ad Litem’s ‘gut reaction’ was simply wrong and the trial court erred by relying on it,” HSLDA concluded in its brief. “The unfair, unsupported bias against homeschoolers should not be allowed to persist in the lower courts of this state. The trial court’s order placing Appellant’s children in public school should be reversed.”