By Kimberly Morin
On Friday, a disturbing post was made on social media by an actual school board member in the Timberlane Regional School district. Peter Bealo, who is listed as “Board Chair” for Timberlane/Plaistow, posted a photo of the horrific story about abuse in California, then tried to attribute that behavior to all homeschoolers.
The post has since been removed but not after many parents saw it and expressed their shock and anger over such a horrifying statement:
This particular snapshot was posted in the Speak Out Timberlane Facebook group. It was originally posted in the Friends of Education at Timberlane Facebook group where it was promptly deleted by an administrator but not before someone grabbed a screen shot.
Fellow school board member Donna Green commented on Bealo’s post on the School Choice for NH Facebook page. While Green rightfully admonished his post, she then went on to add that homeschoolers should have more laws in place to regulate them, which means she, herself, is also painting homeschooling with a broad and negative brush:
Donna M. Green Peter Bealo is a long-serving member of the Timberlane Regional School Board representing Plaistow. He is also a member of SAU 55’s board but he is not chairman or vice chairman of either of these boards and please don’t give him a promotion. His post was ugly and was taken down by the page moderator within an hour of its posting. Mr. Bealo has not apologized. I, personally, have a lot of respect for the homeschooling movement but do feel that this article, in its horrific extreme, does bring up the question of some annual oversight, review, inspection, something that many feel is intrusive. This was supposedly registered as a private school. Schools certainly should be subject to inspection by public officials.
Bealo responded to a request for a comment with the following statement:
Not much to say actually.
The article I posted mentioned how nobody saw those kids in quite a while. Also mentioned they were home schooled. While homeschooling didn’t CAUSE that alledged abuse, in was an enabler for keeping the kids out sight. Inside public schools teachers, aids, etc see the kids routinely and there have been published cased where they noticed signs of abuse and had the authorities notified to check up on it. I believe we are eliminating that check.
I would feel better about the NH bill if some sort of testing/meeting with local school district or even DoE occurred periodically.
What is disturbing about these comments from both Bealo and Green is the sheer ignorance about homeschooling. A study was conducted in 2016 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding “factors related to abuse and child neglect.” The study found the following:
According to this government report, there are a few demographic groups who are known to be at a higher risk for abuse than the rest of the populace. Home educators were not included in this list. There is no known predisposition for abuse among those who choose to home educate their children.
To suggest that parents who are investing their own time and resources to teach their own children at home is a “red flag” for potential abuse, is to suggest that what we need in our culture is less parental involvement in education, when all research available to us resoundingly reinforces the fact that we need far more.
Of course, both Bealo and Green seem to think children who attend public schools are somehow safer than those who are homeschooled. Once again, they are incorrect:
The U.S. Department of Education has published a report on “Educator Sexual Misconduct.” It reveals that over 10% of students experienced some kind of sexual misconduct in their high school years in public school.
“This analysis (Shakeshaft, 2003) indicates that 9.6 percent of all students in grades 8 to 11 report contact and/or noncontact educator sexual misconduct that was unwanted. 8.7 percent report only noncontact sexual misconduct and 6.7 percent experienced only contact misconduct. (These total to more than 9.6 percent because some students reported both types of misconduct.) Of students who experienced any kind of sexual misconduct in schools, 21 percent were targets of educators, while the remaining 79 percent were targets of other students.” (Educator Sexual Misconduct)
Painting any demographic with a broad brush is never appropriate. In this case, it’s unconscionable. Parents in the Timberlane/Plaistow region have every right to be angry about these comments, whether they homeschool their children or not.
The California case is one of the most horrific examples of child abuse to be reported in years. Comparing all homeschoolers to these disturbing parents is egregious and disgusting. Will Bealo next compare all parents to these people?
UPDATE: The Admins of the Speak Out Timberlane group notified Political Buzz that they did not stop commenting on the post.