Texas high court sides with family who let kids skip schoolwork in wait of 'rapture'

After Lone Star State parents had their 14th Amendment claim tossed out by an appeals court, the state Supreme Court granted victory on a technicality.

Nellie Doneva/The Abilene Reporter-News/AP
Kids leave school on the last day of classes at Jackson Elementary School, May 26, in Abilene, Texas. The Texas Supreme Court on Friday sided with a Texas family, not pictured, who had been accused of denying their children an education because they were going ‘to be raptured.'

The Texas Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a family who were homeschooling their children but not teaching them, since they believed they would soon be “raptured.”

The Lone Star State’s highest court voted 6-3 in favor of the family on a technicality. Laura and Michael McIntyre claimed their Fourteenth Amendment right had been violated when the El Paso school district attempted to discover whether their children were learning. The district had also filed charges of truancy, but later dropped them.

At the heart of the issue is the question of where to draw the line between individual parents' liberties to educate their own children and requirements designed to ensure that homeschooled children are learning at an acceptable rate. While the court ruled in favor of the family in this specific instance, they did not address the more fundamental issue, a development that could be important as the number of Americans choosing to homeschool their children rapidly grows.

Ms. McIntyre started educating some of her nine children about 10 years ago in the empty office of an motorcycle dealership in El Paso, Texas, where she worked with her husband.

The McIntyres sued the El Paso school district, but an appeals court ruled against them. Late last year, the case went to the state’s unanimously Republican Supreme Court.

Ms. McIntyre said in court documents that she had taught her children the same curriculum used in the district’s private Christian schools prior to when she first started homeschooling from the motorcycle dealership in 2004.

Texas has a nationally disproportionate number of homeschoolers: around 300,000, or roughly one-sixth of the national total, according to The Texas Home School Coalition.

Twenty-four states have rules that insist home-schoolers take some kind of assessment, usually via standardized testing or portfolios. Only nine states require that test scores are turned in for review by state bureaucrats.

The justices referred the case back to lower courts saying the broader constitutional questions about correct homeschooling weren’t related to educational policy.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

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