By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator
Nearly a week after allegations about a widespread cover-up of physical and sexual child abuse in the Christian homeschooling community were disclosed, the Home School Legal Defense Association has issued a statement on their involvement. The child abuse is alleged to have involved the children and a relative of Paul and Gena Suarez, owners of the popular homeschool magazine The Old Schoolhouse. The mother of one of the alleged victims, Jenefer Igarashi, had repeatedly contacted HSLDA president Michael Smith to ask for his advice and assistance. Smith never responded to Igarashi. Furthermore, according to an email written by Heidi St. John (co-founder of Firmly Planted Co-ops and speaker for the Great Homeschool Conventions), Smith told St. John that, “HSLDA will not be getting involved in it.”
Since the story about the alleged cover-up went public on October 8, numerous individuals have posted on HSLDA’s Facebook page asking for comment. Those comments were met with silence until today.
Today, HSLDA finally responded, copying and pasting a form response to each comment. You can view their response here. An image and the text of the response is below:
Thank you for sharing your concerns with us. HSLDA does not condone covering up sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is a crime and should always be reported to the police.
In addition, HSLDA does not get involved in conflicts between families or individuals. Professionals trained in mediation and arbitration are better suited than us to resolve civil disputes. Our mission is to protect the homeschooling rights of our member families, not to be the police force of the homeschooling movement.
It is worth repeating that The Old Schoolhouse remains an HSLDA-suggested resource promoted to HSLDA members at a special discounted rate. Furthermore, HSLDA is currently sponsoring The Old Schoolhouse. It is also worth mentioning something Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said:
Other individuals and organizations accused to have known about or played a hand in the alleged cover-up — including Heidi St. John, Brennan Dean from the Great Homeschool Conventions, David Gibbs III from the National Center for Life and Liberty, and The Old Schoolhouse itself — have yet to issue any statements.