Home Schooling Not to Blame for Tragedy

In March 2015, Corey LaValley Jr., 10, and Emma McComber, 13, and their mother were shot dead, and then their bodies burned in a house fire. William McComber, the father of Emma, says he suspects Corey Lee LaValley, the father of Corey Jr., killed the family.

McComber told FOX 17 that he had long worried that LaValley would hurt the children. In fact, LaValley has had previous run-ins with the law, including a record of misdemeanor assault.

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However, McComber says that his repeated efforts to remove Emma from the LaValley home were ignored by Child Protective Services.

"I want people to know this isn't just guy snaps one day, freaks out, and kills his girlfriend and kids," McComber told FOX 17. "This is years of building up to this, years of warning signs nobody took me seriously about."

Corey and Emma both attended Hopkins Public Schools, in Dorr, Michigan.

Also in March 2015, two Detroit children were found dead in their mother's freezer. She had a history of child abuse, and had pulled the children out of school years ago — ostensibly to home school them.

Both events are terrible tragedies, perpetrated by adults on children who deserved much better. And both events involve people who tried to help the children long before the tragedies occurred, to no avail.

The Dorr tragedy, which involved public school students and a father who tried to help his daughter, has not resulted in any call for policy change. But the Detroit tragedy has.

In the wake of the much-publicized deaths of Stoni Blair, 13, and Stephen Berry, 9, some legislators and newspapers are calling for increased regulation of home schoolers. Detroit legislators have introduced a bill to require home-schooled children to be registered with the state.

"When we found out about both Stoni and Stephen, we were just astonished that the mother took them out of school and no one knew where they were," Rep. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, told the Detroit Free Press (Chang has introduced legislation to increase home-schooling regulations). "This really should be about the children and making sure that we are accounting for every single child in Michigan."

Under Chang's legislation:

  • Parents would have to give their home address and children's names to the local school district.
  • They would be required to have their children meet twice a year with someone acting on the state's behalf, such as a social worker or school official.
  • Parents also would be required to keep records of these mandated meetings, and provide them to officials when requested.

It's understandable that legislators would want to do something in response to a parent torturing and killing her children. But as the deaths of Corey and Emma show, enrolling children in the public school system is no secure protection against deranged and dangerous adults. Increasing the regulations on home schooling families, sadly, will not prevent these types of atrocities.

Instead, legislators may want to take a closer look at the effectiveness of Child Protective Services. CPS was notified that both the Detroit and Dorr children were at risk. CPS failed to fully investigate either case.

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