J. Michael Smith, Esq.
Michael P. Farris, Esq.
Judge Orders 3-Year-Old into Day Care for “Socialization”
May 6, 2011
Four children ages 9, 7, 5 and 3 from a homeschooling family in Notre-Dame-des-Bois in Québec, Canada have been ordered into public school for socialization. The Roman Catholic family, who have been homeschooling their children for four years, were reported to the youth protection services (YPS) for neglect and had a four-day trial in November 2010. The judge in the case, Judge Nicole Bernier, ordered that the children remain in school or in day care until YPS officials approved a plan for socialization. However, because of apparent bias against homeschooling and these parents, this is unlikely to ever happen.
HSLDA of Canada, a sister organization to HSLDA, has invested significant financial resources in the family’s defense. In a press release, Paul Faris, president of HSLDA of Canada, expressed dismay over the outcome.
“This is a shocking decision,” said Faris. “Even more concerning is the judge’s decision to order the younger children who were not of compulsory school age into day care for socialization.”
Faris believes the family was denied a fair trial.
“The judge refused to hear expert witnesses and evidence regarding the value of homeschooling over public schools,” he said. “Unfortunately the judge placed excess weight on protective service experts who found that one child’s hearing impairment ‘indicated’ that the parents could not be trusted and therefore all the children should be enrolled in public school programs.”
HSLDA President J. Michael Smith agreed.
“It’s incredible that a judge in Canada would order three-and-half and five-year-old children into public-funded day care for socialization reasons. From what we know of this Catholic family, they have worked very hard to provide an adequate education for their children which included opportunities for social interaction with others. We are gravely concerned with this decision,” he said.
HSLDA of Canada is appealing this decision. Faris noted that this year HSLDA of Canada has spent more money than any other year in defending homeschooling families.
Canadian homeschoolers are not alone in having to defend themselves against government officials with a bias against home education. HSLDA Director of International Relations Michael Donnelly noted that homeschoolers in other countries such as Sweden and Germany experienced similar difficulties.
“There is homeschooling freedom in most of Canada. However, it appears that Québec is more like Germany or Sweden when it comes to homeschooling regulations,” said Donnelly. “This judge’s decision reads like one from these countries that are repressing homeschooling. The philosophy represented by this judge’s decision must be resisted.”
We are asking our members to stand with us in support of HSLDA of Canada and this family. Investing in the defense of homeschooling freedom internationally is important. Those who would like to may support this family and the rest of our work supporting homeschooling freedom by making a donation to the Home School Foundation’s International Fund. It is our intent to stand behind HSLDA of Canada, this family and other persecuted international homeschoolers financially and with other support.
To give in support of this family and others like them, visit the Home School Foundation’s donation page and select “International Homeschooling Fund.”
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