Amanda Kurowski is a 10-year-old homeschooled girl who performs well academically and is socially well-adjusted. But her strong Christian beliefs were reason enough for a New Hampshire court to order her out of homeschooling and into a public school.
The daughter of divorced parents, Amanda has been homeschooled by her mother, Brenda Voydatch since first grade. Her father, Martin Kurowski, is opposed to homeschooling, arguing that it prevents “adequate socialization” for Amanda with other children. He requested that she be placed in a government school.
In the process of renegotiating the terms of a parenting plan for the girl, the Guardian ad Litem – who acts as a fact finder for the court – reported that Amanda was found to “lack some youthful characteristics,” partly because “she appeared to reflect her mother’s rigidity on questions of faith.”
The GAL concluded that Amanda “would be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior and cooperation in order to select, as a young adult, which of those systems will best suit her own needs.”
Although there is no dispute that Amanda is excelling academically and is generally interactive with her peers, her religious beliefs were seen as being held a bit too sincerely, Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney John Anthony Simmons explained to The Christian Post. “What this has become is an assault on the child’s faith,” Simmons said.
Judge Lucinda V. Sadler approved the GAL’s recommendation earlier this summer and ruled that it would be in Amanda’s best interests to attend a public school in the 2009-2010 academic year.
“[E]ducation is by its nature an exploration and examination of new things,” the court order reads. “[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.”
Sadler stated in the order that the court did not consider the merits of Amanda’s religious beliefs but only the impact of those beliefs on her interaction with others. And while the court is “extremely reluctant to impose on parents a decision about a child’s education,” Sadler noted that there was an absence of effective communication between the parents.
Simmons filed a motion this week asking the court to reconsider and stay its decision. He contends that the mother enrolled Amanda in three public school courses and got her involved in extra-curricular activities such as gymnastics and softball in an effort to acknowledge the father’s concerns.
Evidence also reveals that homeschooling has not deprived Amanda of socialization, as the father has argued. The order issued by the court also acknowledged that Amanda is “generally likeable and well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising and intellectually at or superior to grade level.”
“Parents have a fundamental right to make educational choices for their children. In this case specifically, the court is illegitimately altering a method of education that the court itself admits is working,” Simmons stated. “It is not the court’s role to decide whose beliefs are right or whether or not someone is as skeptical as the court thinks she should be.”
“Can anyone imagine a court ordering a child out of a government school and into homeschooling because the child is a ‘rigid’ secularist? Of course not,” he noted. “The court has intruded on the child’s most fundamental liberties and should reconsider this unconstitutional encroachment.”