A Montgomery County child who at 14 normally would be in middle school has never seen the inside of a classroom, and neither have three younger siblings, according to police.
Criminal charges lodged against their parents could mean changes ahead for the home-schooled youths.
Richard W. Cressy, 47, and Margie A. Cressy, 41, of Lusso Road, were each charged recently with four misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child after an investigation sparked by an anonymous tip, according to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department, which announced the arrests Monday.
Police allege the children, ages 8 to 14, were not registered with the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District, where they have lived for the past seven years.
State Education Law requires the local school district superintendent to approve of a home-schooling curriculum, according to police.
“I think it’s pretty obvious. If you don’t send kids to school, they’ll be unable to advance themselves,” Montgomery County Sheriff’s Investigator Bill Gilston said Monday.
Gilston said the case is the first of its kind he’s been involved in during a law enforcement career of more than 40 years. He said the children are “very polite” and seem “somewhat educated.”
But there was little evidence of any formal effort to school the children, he said.
Gilston said he deduced from speaking with the parents that when they moved into the district they planned to educate the kids so they could get a general education diploma, but that plan gradually went by the wayside after seven years, with no repercussions.
Compulsory education laws differ in each state, but in New York children are expected to either be sent to school or get home-schooling from ages 6 to 16, Fonda-Fultonville Superintendent James Hoffman said.
“The purpose for that is to make sure that we have an educated population, that basic skills are learned in order to be successful,” Hoffman said.
He said there are currently 24 families in the district educating 41 students at home.
Home-school students do not graduate from high school, are not required to study any particular coursework and do not have to demonstrate proficiency in academic subjects. But their parents do have to submit quarterly reports on their children’s progress, Hoffman said.
Home-schooling is more typical in Southern states and often stems from religious considerations, Hoffman said.
Messages left at the Cressys’ home were not returned Monday.
Hoffman said the family subsequently has developed a curriculum to conduct home-schooling and he approved it.