Star-Adv Attempting to Blame Homeschooling For CWS Failures
by Andrew Walden
State Senators, caught lying about the Peter Boy case in an effort to pass SB2323 and undermine homeschooling, killed the bill February 15, 2018 –just days after their falsehoods were exposed.
Now the Star-Advertiser is picking up where the Senators left off.
In an April 15, 2018 article, ‘Hawaii cases of home-schooling and abuse,’ Star-Advertiser reporter Rob Perez profiles four cases which are “included in a national database compiled by the Coalition for Responsible Home Education which tracks severe abuse, including fatalities, of children who are home-schooled.”
But a closer examination shows homeschooling has little or nothing to do with these cases.
The anti-homeschooling website claims, “…Peter Boy was enrolled in preschool, he was soon withdrawn from school to be homeschooled.”
There is no homeschooling withdrawal form for preschool since preschool is not mandatory. And after State Senators were brushed back for exploiting the Peter Boy case to advance the HSTA’s anti-homeschooling agenda and shield the HGEA members at CWS, the Star-Advertiser did not repeat the claim. Here is what they reported:
“Peter Boy, who was abused throughout his short life on Hawaii island, disappeared in 1997 at age 6, never to be found. …. Prosecutors said Peter Boy was home-schooled to conceal the abuse. But a sibling says Peter Boy wasn’t home-schooled, he just didn’t go to school.”
The Star Advertiser reports:
“Prosecutors allege that Shaelynn’s parents, Kevin Lehano and Tiffany Stone, and her maternal grandmother, Henrietta Stone, caused the 9-year-old’s death by starving her, starting in late October 2015. Several weeks later, the grandmother pulled Shaelynn from her Hilo elementary school so the girl could be educated at home. Absent regular contact at school, Shaelynn’s health deteriorated without any teachers being able to intervene. She was found emaciated and unconscious in her Hilo apartment in June 2016 and died a few hours later. Her parents and grandmother have pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.”
It is only in a separate April 15, 2018 Star-Advertiser article, ‘Starvation case reveals gap in safety net for abused children’ that we learn about CWS’ years-long record of failure before the end:
“During Shaelynn’s short life, she had been placed in foster care four times, including right after she was born, because of safety concerns, according to details of her history that have been disclosed publicly for the first time.
In January 2009, when she was not yet 3 years old, Child Welfare Services workers determined she wasn’t thriving under her parents’ care and noted she had lost 4 pounds in the previous two years, likely due to inadequate calorie intake, according to CWS. Shaelynn was placed in foster care for a third time.
A child that young should be gaining — not losing — weight, and a loss of 4 pounds would be a major red flag, pediatricians say.
Six months later in August 2009, CWS confirmed the mother had threatened the girl, who still was in foster care.
And in August 2014, less than two years before she died, CWS received yet another report of possible abuse or neglect against the parents and Shaelynn’s maternal grandmother, who had custody of her, according to the details provided by the Department of Human Services, which oversees CWS. The information was requested by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser under federal disclosure requirements involving fatal or near-fatal abuse cases.
The girl was not removed from her family as a result of the 2014 report because CWS determined the risk to the child was moderate, according to DHS. The family was offered services through a voluntary case management program but refused them.”
As an April 22, 2018 letter to the editor explains:
The article’s narrative was that homeschooling played some role in the tragedy. It focused on the fact that shortly before the little girl’s death, the parents had removed her from a public school to be homeschooled. From this, the article inferred that homeschooling suddenly prevented Child Welfare Services (CWS) from monitoring the child’s welfare. Nothing could be further from the truth.
CWS simply failed to do its job.
CWS had already removed this child from her parents’ custody four times. CWS already knew of the dangers the child faced but returned her to the parents anyway.
The Star-Advertiser reports:
The 12-year-old girl weighed only 28 pounds — a more typical weight for a toddler — when she was taken to an Oahu hospital unresponsive in 2007. A jury convicted her parents, Melvin Wright Jr. and Denise Wright, of second-degree attempted murder for denying the girl food and medical care. They were given life sentences with the possibility of parole. Indigo suffered brain damage but survived. She had been home-schooled by her mother. Denise Wright testified at trial that fear of her husband and the shame of being judged by the public prevented her from taking the girl to see a doctor.
Homeschooled by the mother? Lets see what the anti-homeschooling site says about this case:
This was not the first time Melvin and Denise had come to trial. In 2000, both were convicted of endangering the welfare of a minor in a case involving their daughter. Their daughter was returned to them and they were required to take parenting classes. The couple homeschooled their daughter out of racial prejudice, but did not follow Hawaii’s homeschool requirements. When asked about this in court, they reported that they did not know that Hawaii had any requirements for homeschoolers. The couple was originally from South Carolina.
In other words, the abusers simply refused to send their child to school. This case has nothing to do with Hawaii’s homeschooling law—except that the parents were breaking it. CWS had been aware of this family at least since the 2000 conviction and yet again failed.
Alexis or ‘AC’:
The Star-Advertiser reports:
This case was described in court as the most severe example of child abuse that a Honolulu hospital staff had ever seen in which the victim survived. Alexis, 10, was discovered in 2005 at a Hawaii island home in a coma with burn marks, maggot-infested wounds, broken bones, half a lip missing and suffering from malnutrition. Prosecutors said the girl, whose full name was not used to protect her identity, was home-schooled to conceal the abuse. Her caregiver, Hyacinth Poouahi, was convicted of multiple charges and received a 20-year prison sentence in 2009.
Homeschooled to conceal the abuse? The anti-homeschooling site also says that, but let look at the Star-Advertiser’s coverage from February 22, 2005:
“…Police had said the girl was in Poouahi's care for three months before the 911 call. On the tape, Poouahi says, "I've only had her since October." The principal of Alexis' school said the girl did not return after winter break. The reason was medical, the school was told….”
Poouahi did not have the authority to request homeschooling because she was neither the biological parent nor the legal caretaker of Alexis.
The Star-Advertiser also does not discuss several other well-known cases of CWS abuse which involved social workers supplying boys to child rapists.
In the 1980s and 1990s homosexual child molester Jay Ram on the Big Island at Hakalau “began adopting and fostering young boys, even though former members of the commune wrote letters to social services alerting them to Ram’s sexual behavior with young boys.”
On Maui, bisexual child molester Florentino Rios (aka Zach Morris) received foster boys to rape for two years after being approved by DWS as a foster parent, “despite being unemployed and residing in a homeless shelter.” Rios is now serving a 20-year sentence. Rios’ victims filed suit against the State.
HSLDA: Major Victory: SB 2323 Sponsor Asks for Bill to be Withdrawn