A New Hampshire judge has ordered a student has who has been home educated by her mother to attend public school. 10 year-old Amanda Kurowski has been required to enroll in public school as a result of a parenting dispute between her divorced parents.
Amanda's parents, Martin Kurowski and Brenda Voydatch, divorced in 1999. While Amanda's mother
was awarded primary custody of Amanda, the divorce settlement called for both parents to share educational decision-making responsibility. Amanda' mother has homeschooled her daughter since first grade, but her father wants her to attend public school.
Judge Lucinda Sadler adopted the recommendations of Amanda's guardian ad litem, an attorney appointed by the court to supposedly represent Amanda's interests. The attorney concluded that Amanda's
"interests, and particularly her intellectual and emotional development, would be best served by exposure to a public school setting...Amanda would be best served by exposure to different points of view at at time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior."
The guardian ad litem further stated that Amanda lacked "youthful characteristics," and that she appeared to "reflect her mother's rigidity on questions of faith."
The court order further stated that "a child requires academic, social, cultural, and physical interaction with
a variety of experiences, people, concepts, and surroundings in order to grow to an adult who can make intelligent decisions about how to achieve a productive and satisfying life."
The family court judge also questioned whether Amanda's religious beliefs were really her own. She said, "It would be remarkable if a ten-year-old child who spends her school time with her mother and the vast majority of all her other time with her mother would seriously consider adopting any other religious point of view."
The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a Christian legal defense organization, has asked the judge to reconsider her decision.
John Anthony Simmons, an attorney for ADF, said that
"parents have the fundamental right to raise their children according to the dictates of their conscience."
"It is not the proper role of the court to insist that Amanda be exposed to 'different points of view' if the primary residential parent has determined that it is in Amanda's best interest not to be exposed to secular influences that would undermine her faith, schooling, and social development."
During the court proceedings, it was determined that Amanda was excelling in her schooling, and that she was using a curriculum approved by the school district. Amanda routinely took standardized
tests, and attended her local public school for art, Spanish, and physical education classes.
Mike Donnelly, an attorney for the Home School Legal Defense Association, called the ruling "inappropriate and unreasonable." He said the judge's decision appeared to be "hostility against home schooling or religion--or both."
While there have been a few other cases where homeschool students have been ordered into public schools in disputes between divorced parents, this is the first instance in which a court has flatly declared that a student's faith is a detriment to their proper growth and development.
Please be praying for Amanda and all children in Christian families, that the government will not deny them a Christ-centered education that teaches them God's way to "achieve a productive and satisfying life."