Sheriff works to improve communication with FLDS compound, 28 April 2007, Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, South Dakota The state requires home-schooled students to make applications for standardized academic tests required of students in public and private schools. Students in grades 3 through 8 and grade 11 must take the tests.
The FLDS compound is in the Custer School District, which is handling the testing. Superintendent Tim Creal said that soon after Wheeler visited the compound about home-schooling regulations, the district received applications from the community for six students in need of testing. They will be allowed to take the test at the compound and mail it to the school district, Creal said.
Home-school instructors don’t have to be accredited, nor are there requirements on the textbooks or lesson plans, Creal said. People who teach their children at home generally prefer to select their own books, he said.
“Many times people home-school for religious reasons, and they want to use books that provide an opportunity to teach with religious background,” he said. “The only way we monitor is by the test scores that come back. If the scores aren’t up to snuff, we report that to the state. If the test scores are in the appropriate range for the students at their age level, then we don’t do anything further.”
This is the first group of tests from the compound. Creal said the test results will be back from a national scoring agency sometime this fall. The district will not release the scores from the compound, he said, because it doesn’t release scores from individuals or geographic groupings.
It’s hard to know what to make of this article. On the one hand, it’s ‘about nothing.’ None of the people involved broke any laws. The article’s focus is fuzzy as it swings from polygamy to general homeschool law enforcement and tests. Still, concerning the newsworthiness of the article, the group itself is making some of the neighbors nervous by building a watchtower, and the group has links to “self-professed prophet Warren Jeffs,” a man with his own Wikipedia page.
Should the sheriff be keeping an eye on a group of people who have done nothing? Should any group expect to appraise law enforcement authorities about their business? Is eccentricity a valid reason for legal scrutiny? Is the attention just prudence on the part of the sheriff’s department?
Apparently, eccentricity is enough for journalistic scrutiny and aerial photographs. Maybe it was a slow news day?
posted by Valerie