Editor’s note: People are wondering whether Timothy Ciboro was a “real” home-schooling parent, or whether he merely hid three children behind Ohio’s lax home-schooling laws. Either way, he avoided pesky oversight while allegedly abusing his ex-girlfriend’s daughter. It’s time for the parental rights movement within home-schooling to stop viewing injured and dead children as unfair PR problems. They need to face the abuse that happens in some home-schooling families, and work to end that abuse.
Ohio home-schooling law does not mandate much government oversight:
Parents agree to:
- Provide 900 hours of instruction per year;
- Notify the [local school district] superintendent every year; and
- Provide an assessment of the students [sic] work, this link will provide the O.R.C. requirement.
a. have an Ohio licensed teacher administer one of the nationally normed tests, such as TerraNova, Stanford, Iowa
b. keep a portfolio of students [sic] work, have an Ohio licensed teacher provide a written assessment of the students [sic] work
c. the student can take the Ohio achievement tests with the public school district classroom
The state does not approve or disapprove curriculum, or demand home visits or interviews with mandatory reporters. The sample form does not ask for anyone’s Social Security number or proof of identity. The phone number is optional. The child’s date of birth is written down on the honor system (no birth record needed), and there are no medical requirements: no hearing or vision tests, no vaccinations. The teacher does not need a high school diploma or criminal background check.
Still, Ciboro apparently fell way short of meeting what few rules exist (although the content of school records is protected by FERPA). In an interview with Viviana Hurtado, Toledo Public Schools (TPS) Associate Superintendent Brian Murphy confirmed facts about only one of the three children in the house:
“I can tell you that she [the 13-year-old] has been a home school student. She’s never stepped foot into a public school.”
However, there is no TPS documentation of the girl’s two younger half-siblings, the nine-year-old daughter and ten-year-old son of Timothy Ciboro and Stafonda Hawkins. TPS spokeswoman Patty Mazur revealed:
“We didn’t even know these kids existed until this.”
Ciboro is characteristically coy about home schooling, as Kristi Leigh discovered (13:10 in raw video):
Leigh: Why was it important to you, then, to home school them?
Ciboro: Well, I have a reason for that, too, but I won’t do it in this interview.
Leigh: OK. OK. I know why my parents chose to home school me. […] they wanted to have faith more a part of my schooling. But I was curious if you had a specific reason.
Ciboro: Ah. No. Well, I do have a specific reason, but again, I won’t mention it right here.
Leigh: They did have proper school books and all that?
Ciboro: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Leigh: Did they get, like, state testing or anything?
Ciboro: Uh, always.
Leigh: OK. And how often was—
Ciboro: OK, I’m not going to talk about that.
Ah, yeah, uh, OK, if indeed TPS has no records for the younger children, Ciboro would appear to be lying through his teeth. And honestly, can you read his interview excerpts without feeling depressed for any kid who had him as a teacher?
In another odd exchange, when Ciboro tries to use his interview with Alexis Means to have his two younger children placed in foster care with Esten’s mother, he mentions that they could walk to school (17:00 in raw video):
Ciboro: I thought about how it would be […] if they got with [beeped out]. I’m just talking about a regular day at school. The school’s right down the street.
Means: The kids are at the school?
Ciboro: No no no no no no no. They would be going to school […] if they got with [beeped out]. The kids could walk down there, or they could be dropped off, whatever [beeped out] chose. And if she doesn’t want to work all day […] the kids could make dinner. The kids could make salads. The kids clean up after themselves. I mean, these kids are a joy.
Means: Do you want them […] to go to school? Because you home school, right?
Ciboro: I home school them because I had no choice. Now, that has to be for another interview.
Why “no choice”? This is impossible to know, but Ciboro was involved in legal disputes and supposed domestic problems when the 13-year-old girl was a small child. The fire department fired Ciboro in 2004, and he filed several lawsuits. In the ensuing years, police responded to alleged disturbances between Ciboro and Hawkins. Perhaps he started home schooling to avoid expected—or threatened—scrutiny.
Here Come the Wild Allegations
Or perhaps Ciboro believes suburban legends about government social workers snatching up Christian home-schooled children and indoctrinating them. Here he discusses the 13-year-old (around 19:15):
Means: She’s saying that you are abusive, and shackled her to that beam in the basement, and when she would wet the bed, you would punish her, and Esten would punish her.
Ciboro: Really? Really…
Means: So that’s what is being said from her.
Ciboro: I feel that that has to be all coerced. I really truly believe it, in my heart, I believe that’s coerced.
He also frets about the two younger children (around 13:05):
“I just pray they’re not interrogating all my children, like I believe they’re interrogating [beeped out].”
Well, here’s the thing: social workers did snatch the three children in Ciboro’s home. Does this prove ipso facto that it was all a big government plot? Facts work against the notion. Remember, the girl told good Samaritans about shackles, and police found shackles in the basement.
Propinqua is the Latin word for neighboring or nearby (singular feminine adjective). It is used in law and philosophy, and in the scientific names of plants and animals, such as the native bee Osmia lignaria propinqua.
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