Josh Powell said the oversight in the home-school statute is along the lines of, “‘Can you read? Okay. Can you count? Okay.’ No one can reasonably claim a religious objection to fundamental literacy.”
He said the exemption can be a way to avoid the work required to document progress. “I think it’s a cop-out.”
‘Up to the parents’
Finally, Josh Powell took a further step. After talking with Block, he wrote to the Buckingham County School Board again, telling it that he had siblings who wanted to attend school and that by law, officials must consider their views as well as his parents’.
It said no.
The School Board’s attorney has assured them that they are complying with the law, said Superintendent Cecil Snead.
“I don’t want to make that judgment — I think that’s up to the parents. The law says to excuse from attendance a person who with his parents has an objection,” he said. “I think the intent is ‘with the parents’ blessing.’ ”
If it just said that any person who is opposed shall be excused, he added, “I might not have any children in school at all.”
Clarence Powell said he thinks that as the children age, and as there are fewer at home to educate, things will improve.
“There are some issues, but I don’t think those issues merit abandoning this call, this conviction,” he said. He is proud of his children, including the character development he said their home education has helped instill in them.
Josh Powell worries that he’s running out of options to help his brothers and sisters and others.
“Who knows how many of these families are out there? I don’t think my family is the worst-case scenario,” he said, because he thinks his parents are trying to teach all the children well. “It’s the isolation that allows it to exist. Unless you go to that small-town church, you don’t know these children are out there at all.”