Four girls are dead in Washington, D.C., apparently murdered by their mother, and the district Superintendent of Schools Deborah Gist blames homeschooling:
"The tragic event highlights the failure of not having home school policies."
Without question, the deaths of 5-year-old Aja Fogle, 6-year-old N'Kiah Fogle, 11-year-old Britney Jacks, and 17-year-old Tatianna Jacks are certainly tragic. But let's examine what we know about the case:
- The mother, Banita Jacks, had 4 children by 3 different men, the first when she was only 16 years old.
- She had past run-ins with the law.
- She, the children, and the father of the youngest 2 girls, Nathanial Fogle, spent 4 months in a city-run homeless shelter in the winter of 2006.
- In the summer of 2006, a nurse treating Mr. Fogle for leukemia called the city's Child and Family Services to report that both parents had substance abuse problems and the family was living in a van. The CFS worker failed to open a case because the family lacked a fixed address.
- After Mr. Fogle died in February 2007, Ms. Jacks and the children did not attend the funeral. A relative of Mr. Fogle's said that when he last saw the children in May, they were unaware of their father's death.
- In March 2007, Ms. Jacks withdrew the three younger children from school, claiming that she was going to homeschool them. The withdrawal was processed by a relative or close friend of Ms. Jacks with no questions asked.
- At the end of April, a social worker at the oldest daughter's school became concerned with the girl's truancy and went to the home twice. After Ms. Jacks denied her entry, the social worker became concerned about her mental state and called CFS.
- In May, CFS attempted to visit the Jacks home but no one answered the door. On May 16, CFS apparently concluded that Ms. Jacks had moved to her mother's home in Maryland, without contacting Ms. Jacks' mom to see if this really was the case. CFS contacted its counterparts in Maryland and closed their file.
- In mid-June, Maryland informed DC CFS that it had been unable to locate Ms. Jacks and the children at the mom's home. CFS failed to re-open its file.
Let's stop pointing fingers at homeschooling and reform the child welfare system so that no more kids wind up victims of homicidal child abuse and/or neglect.