Should a Divorced Parent Be Able to Veto Home Schooling?

Filed under: In The News, Religion & Spirituality

Can a divorced parent say no to the other parent home schooling their child? Credit: Getty


Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is not entirely human. She is a (dramatic pause) sorcerer.

This is a bad thing.

Women are not supposed to be sorcerers. They are supposed to be docile and submissive. This one reason a woman should never, ever, be president.

Such opinions trouble Martin Kurowski of Meredith, N.H. He worries about how Amanda, his 11-year-old daughter, is being home-schooled by her mother.

Brenda Voydatch is a fundamentalist Christian who holds what Kurowski feels are some pretty wiggy views. But what can he do?

Can a divorced parent veto home schooling by the custodial parent?

That is the question before justices of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. And whatever legal precedent they set could have far-reaching consequences for divorced parents fighting similar battles across the country.

Voydatch's relgious views aside, Kurowski is concerned his daughter is growing up in a socially isolated environment without anyone to challenge her mother's opinions.

A lower court was convinced. In 2009, Amanda was ordered to attend public school. Her mother appealed the decision to the state's high court.

Religious groups and home-school advocates having been lining up behind Brenda Voydatch.

"If the trial court's unqualified opinion were allowed to stand, this case could become a model for other courts around the state to follow. This result would harm home-schoolers across the state and potentially across the nation," the Christian Science Monitor quotes from a brief submitted in support of Voydatch by the Home School Legal Defense Association in Purcellville, Va.

Voydatch and her supporters say the father, an Episcopalian, is prejudiced against her more fundamentalist Christian theology. Many of Voydatch's controversial opinions are reflected in educational material she obtained from Bob Jones University, a fundamentalist Christian College in Greenville, S.C.

"The court's ruling puts all New Hampshire parents and children of faith at risk of losing their constitutional rights whenever one parent is simply willing to claim that a former spouse is too religiously rigid, and that rigidity affects the first parent's relationship with their child," Voydatch's brief says.

Kurowski's lawyer, Joshua Gordon, argues this is simply a case of two parents who have religious differences. Both parents' views should be respected, he tells the Monitor, and sending the girl to public school is a reasonable compromise.

The moral of the story seems to be that divorced parents need to have a clear and unequivocal parenting plan.

Brenda Voydatch's attorneys argue the burden is on Kurowski to prove Amanda is being significantly harmed, for the court to order a modification of the original plan.

However, if the five justices decide the plan is too vague, they can compel Amanda to attend public school if they feel it's in her best interest.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.