NJ couple abused kids by taking them out of school, courts say
A 9-year-old boy couldn’t recite the alphabet or write his last name. And his 11-year-old sister’s idea of a school textbook involved coloring with crayons.
Their lack of knowledge was the result of being kept out of school for at least three years by their parents, who claimed they had been homeschooling the children, state officials said.
A Family Court judge in 2016 determined that the parents — who are not named in public court documents in order to protect the privacy of their children— had abused or neglected the siblings.
The mother appealed but lost in a decision released Friday.
The state Division of Child Protection and Permanency began investigating the family in 2015.
The girl told a division investigator that she thought she was in the 8th grade and had been learning English, science and math at home. When she was asked what kind of math, she replied: “Time tables.”
In addition to not knowing the alphabet, her brother thought 10 + 2 equaled 6.
Officials said the parents, who were separated, were uncooperative with the investigation and the mother took the kids to Georgia and lied about enrolling them in school there.
After the court’s abuse and neglect finding, the mother appealed, arguing that the court relied on the state’s criminal truancy law even though the case was a civil matter.
The truancy law makes it a misdemeanor offense for parents who do not send children to school to provide an equivalent education elsewhere.
The appellate decision on Friday also noted that state law defines an abused or neglected child as one whose parent or guardian has failed to provide, among other things, an adequate education.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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