The death of an autistic teen has sparked supporters of homeschoolers to rally at the Connecticut State Capital Building regarding unfair attention.
The calls by the state of Connecticut for more oversight in homeschool classrooms came after an autistic teenager was taken out of public school before starving to death at home.
According to WFSB, Katiria Tirado was sentenced to 11 years in prison for abusing and starving her autistic son Matthew. Tirado used the Alford Doctrine to plead guilty to her charges. This means that she didn’t agree, but there was enough evidence to convict her.
In February 2017, Tirado called 911 to get their help with her non-verbal autistic teen after he was vomiting and clearly having abdominal distress. The teen was hospitalized but died a few hours later.
Matthew was almost 6 feet tall but only weighed 84 pounds due to malnourishment and dehydration. Additionally, he had several injuries that allegedly stemmed from abuse. The Department of Children and Families had a case open against the family, but for reasons unknown, no action was taken and the case was closed a month before Matthew died.
Tirado claimed she kept locks on the cabinets and refrigerator because Matthew had a compulsive eating disorder. Matthew’s father read a letter in court saying Tirado kept him away from his son even though they lived on the same street.
William O’Connor, Tirado’s attorney, said Matthew’s father was a convicted sex offender and in his 40s when 15-year-old Tirado got pregnant with Matthew. Tirado dropped out of high school and raised Matthew and another child alone.
According to a separate article by WFSB, this case has been connected to homeschooling because Tirado removed Matthew and her other child from public school and “homeschooled” them. This prevented the Department of Children and Families or any other state agency from checking in on her and her children.
The homeschool community rallied at the Connecticut State Capital Building, stating state officials are making an unfair connection between Matthew’s extreme, tragic death and what goes on in most homeschool classrooms.
Cori Pierson, a homeschool parent, pointed out that this case had nothing to do with homeschooling. Matthew was just kept at home, with no homeschooling happening. Tirado also removed his sister from school to teach her at home months before Matthew died.
The Office of the Child Advocate stated that between 2013 and 2016, 380 children were pulled from school to be homeschooled, and 138 were involved in DCF cases.
Connecticut is one of a few states that have no framework or regulation for withdrawing children permanently from school or homeschooling. The state is allegedly calling for more oversight, a safety net, like so many other states already have in place. Homeschoolers want the state to leave them alone and focus on the state agencies, such as DCF, that they believe could have prevented this tragedy.