Erica Parsons case shedding light on home school regulations

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - The Erica Parsons case has also brought unwanted attention to home schooling in North Carolina.  15-year-old Erica was home schooled and many were shocked to learn that the state had never checked her school records. 
In fact, state officials said that the only document it held regarding Erica Parsons was an "official non-public school registration record." It has raised the questions about how much oversight home schools in North Carolina really have.
"Most people who are going to keep their child at home are doing it for the right reason," said Jaime Gatton.
She is the administrator of the Joseph D. Gatton Memorial Academy in Mooresville.

It's also home, where she home schools Ollie, a rising second grader.

Jaime has two older daughters who attend public school, and a two-year-old who she says "will probably be home schooled."
"Being able to keep a child in the home is private and honestly that's one of the appeals to the parents to keep it that way," Gatton added.
That's why the publicity surrounding the Erica Parsons case has been upsetting to many home school families. They admit that the state isn't very strict.
Home schools are registered through the North Carolina Department of non public education.

Home school requirements include requiring parents to have at least a high school diploma, the school must be registered, and the state website shows thousands of registered home schools, in fact, in Rowan County alone there are nearly 1,000. 
The school has to operate on a regular basis for nine months, and there are a few other requirements.
"An attendance record," Gatton added.  "A current immunization record, and every year after the child turns 7 the child needs to take a standardized state test and that has to be kept on file as well."
Those records don't have to be submitted, but are required to be shown if a state inspector shows up.
"While the state does not regularly check up on home school families, the home school home is always open for inspection," said Gatton.
But the sheer number of schools means very few will ever be inspected, putting the accountability squarely on the shoulders of the parents.
"Just The Thing" in Salisbury sells supplies for teachers and students, owner Glenda Dyson sees a lot of home school families.
"As a general rule overall those parents are pretty positive, they want what's best for their children and they want to be able to teach their children what they feel like is important for them to know and follow state guidelines too," Dyson told WBTV.
Ollie uses blocks to help with these math problems.  Mom Jaime says she and other home school families have great stories of success to tell and don't want to be judged by what's happening in the Erica Parsons case.
"I don't think people would home school if they didn't want the best for their child," said Gatton.

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