” . . . I’m granting primary custody to Mr. Rocha for a number of reasons, one of which is . . . he appears to understand that the benefits of education aren’t just what you learn, it’s – the socialization and interaction with other students, which are important, that cannot be achieved by homeschooling.” The judge added “that [the mother] is educating the girls for the Fifteenth Century, not the Twenty First Century.”Did you catch that flicker of bias in the judge’s ruling comparing homeschooling to an education for the 15th Century? The appeals court disagreed:
The trial court’s statements that socialization and interaction with other students cannot be achieved by homeschooling are unsupported. . . There is no evidence to support the trial court’s homeschooling comments in this case.The court of appeals upheld the trial court’s decision to award the primary custody to the Father, even though it disagreed with the homeschool ruling. The appellate court also noted a Pennsylvania case which weighed educational decisions on a “case-by-case” basis, and used the best interests of the child standard. There is no Florida case on point, but the Pennsylvania case and the recent Kansas case are probably the correct approach. One thing to avoid is allowing family court judges to rely on their feelings of whether homeschooling is better or worse for children. A judge has to base the decision on substantial and competent evidence in the record. The Volokh Conspiracy post is here. The Kansas case is here.