Home-schooling advocates gathered at the state capitol Wednesday to speak out against a report suggesting Connecticut needs a stronger safety net for home-schooled children at risk of abuse.
The Office of the Child Advocate suggested stronger regulations are needed for children pulled out of public schools in their investigation report into the death of Matthew Tirado, a 17-year-old autistic boy, who died of malnutrition and child abuse at the hands of his mother, Katiria Tirado.
According to the report, she was able to withdraw her 9-year-old daughter from Hartford Public Schools for home-schooling, despite the family’s lengthy history of abuse and neglect allegations with the Department of Children and Families.
The report also found more than a third of children withdrawn from six Connecticut school districts are from families who have histories with child protective services.
Lina Schlotter, who home-schools her 9-year-old son Tucker, said the statistic does not factor for parents whose children were never enrolled in public school. “I’m not part of that study, she didn’t account for me,” she said.
She said that the state should look elsewhere to tighten the safety net for children at risk of abuse. “There’s doctors who can also report on that. There’s neighbors and family that can report on abuse,” she said.
In a statement, the Office of the Child Advocate said they support the rights of parents to direct their child’s education, but said that they must also, “be concerned for the rights of children who are voiceless and vulnerable to abuse and whose parents seek to withdraw them from school not to educate them but to hide them from public view.”
The Office of the Child Advocate is currently conducting further research in eighteen Connecticut school districts.