**I wrote this article on behalf of my dear friends, Steve and Kristina Spell. Please read and share. Regardless of your personal views on homeschooling, this situation is about an attack on choice and freedoms and needs to stop. Thank you.**
As a parent, you rest in knowing that you are the one to make choices for your children and your family. You have the unique ability to know your children better than anyone else and to manage your home in the way that best suits your family’s needs, beliefs and well being. This is a freedom that all parents should have, the freedom to raise their children in a safe, nurturing environment but this is a freedom that is currently being attacked in one family in Tallahassee, FL by the State of Florida.
On February 3, 2011, homeschooling parents Steve and Kristina Spell were approached by law enforcement at their home and told that they were under arrest. Shocked, they struggled to find childcare for their six children who stood scared and confused as they watch their parents apprehended by state officials. Kristina was eight months pregnant with her seventh child. They were given three hours to find childcare for the evening and then were told to turn themselves in. Otherwise, the police would return and forcefully remove them from their home. They were being charged with five counts of Compulsory Attendance Violation. In other words, they were being arrested for homeschooling.
It appears as though an estranged family member was seeking revenge on both Steve and Kristina and reported them to the Leon County School System, claiming that their children were being neglected and deprived of an education. A representative from Leon County Schools visited the family to assess the situation. Kristina explained that she was in fact homeschooling her five school aged children and proceeded to show the representative her paperwork, proving that her family was covered under the umbrella of a private school that is registered with the Department of Education. Meaning, the Spell family was indeed homeschooling their children but they were accountable to a private school, which kept records for them and allowed them to participate in activities such as sports and field trips.
The Spell family followed the letter of the law when it came to their choice to home school their children and they felt confident when confronted by their county’s school system but regardless of the evidence, these two homeschooling parents were arrested in front of their six children for simply choosing to educate them at home.
Over the last two and a half years, the Spell family has been dragged slowly through the court system. As a single income family, they have seen devastating financial loss as they were forced to pay out of pocket for their attorney’s retainer fees while Steve has lost thousands of dollars taking unpaid days off of work to attend court proceedings. They were forced to remove themselves from the private school umbrella and register through Leon County where the children were required to undergo rigorous grade level testing and each child tested very well for his/her particular grade level. Their eldest daughter has successfully graduated from high school (at home) and is currently working full time with a reputable company in Tallahassee, FL. Steve and Kristina have been blessed to add two more children to their family since their arrest in 2011. Kristina, the founder of a non-profit organization that rescues and restores victims of sexual trafficking, has continued her work and her homeschooling, in spite of blatant threats from the State of Florida to enroll her children in public school. Kristina says, “I want to raise and teach my kids my belief system, not the cultures. As an American that’s my right and as a Christian, it’s my mandate.”
Regardless of the family’s continual compliance with the State, the case is set to go to trial this week and if found guilty, Steve and Kristina could face up to ten years in prison, leaving their eight children parentless for a decade, all because of their choice to educate them at home.
If you are as outraged about this situation as you should be, make your voice heard. Contact the State Attorney’s Office in Tallahassee, Florida and protest this case. Contact your local news provider and share this story. Utilize your social media and any public platform you have to shed light on this area of injustice.
Help end this victimization and blatant war on homeschooling so that the Spells, and all families like them, can have the freedom to choose what is best for their children, whether that is a public education or a solid education in the home.