A Texas court ruled this month that parents who allegedly stopped homeschooling their kids because they believed Jesus Christ was returning to Earth were not exempt from state education regulations.
According to a ruling last week by the Texas Eighth District Court of Appeals, Michael McIntyre and Laura McIntyre removed their nine children from a private school in 2004 to homeschool them.
Michael McIntyre’s twin brother, Tracy, testified that the parents used empty space in a motorcycle dealership that he co-owned as a classroom. But Tracy said that he never saw the children reading books, using computers or doing arithmetic. Instead, the children were seen playing instruments and singing.
“Tracy overhead one of the McIntyre children tell a cousin that they did not need to do schoolwork because they were going to be raptured,” the court document noted.
After Tracy confronted the parents about the curriculum, the school was later moved to a rental house.
In 2006, El Paso Independent School District met with the parents about an anonymous complaint that the children were not being educated. District attendance officer Mark Mendoza later confirmed that one of the daughters, Tori, had run away from home to “attend school,” and was enrolled at Coronado High School.
But when the district attempted to contact the McIntyres for curriculum information so that Tori could be properly placed at the school, the parents refused to cooperate.
Mendoza filed truancy complaints against the McIntyres in 2007, and the couple filed suit for injunctive relief based on Texas Education Code, the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (TRFRA), the Texas Constitution, and the United States Constitution.
The appeals court ruled that educational regulations did not prevent the McIntyres’ First Amendment right to “free exercise of religion.” The court said that 1972 court case which found that Amish did not have to send their children to school after the eighth grade did not exempt the McIntyres.
“No parents have ever prevailed in any reported case on a theory that they have an absolute constitutional right to educate their children in the home, completely free of any state supervision, regulation, or requirements,” the ruling stated. “They do not have an ‘absolute constitutional right to home school.’”