Tyler County Board of Education President Will Homeschool Kids

By MILES LAYTON and ED PARSONS The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

MIDDLEBOURNE – Tyler County Board of Education President Bonnie Henthorn’s decision to withdraw her children from the county school system drew sharp criticism from some of her fellow board members.

Henthorn told the board earlier this month that she wants to homeschool her children instead of sending them to public schools.

“Not that I have to give an explanation to you, but I will,” Henthorn said in response to a question from board member Linda Hoover about the reasoning behind her decision. “This doesn’t have anything to do with Tyler County, it has to do with two reasons. One is that I want them to have a more Christian-based education. … Number two is I no longer feel that the state leadership has the best interest of the students at heart – no reflection on Tyler County,”

Article Photos

Photo by Ed Parsons Tyler County Schools Superintendent Robin Daquilante, left, listens as board of education president Bonnie Henthorn explains why she is taking her children out of the county school system.

Hoover asked Henthorn how she could continue to serve as board president if she has no faith in the public school system. Henthorn said her decision has nothing to do with her status as board president.

“I don’t believe that it should have anything to do with it,” she said. “I was talking to the people at the state level – not that I had to ask their permission, because I have a right to do it. And I don’t believe the people elected me because I have two kids in the school system. I believe they elected me because I would speak out about what I thought was wrong and I have done that.”

Henthorn added she has no plans to resign from the board. She said homeschooling is the right decision for her kids, and took aim at leadership in Charleston, saying her children’s lives are being shaped by educational policies and practices that she does not support.

“You know I have fought with the Legislature, and I’ve stood up and said what I felt was right,” she said. “I know some of you may not agree with what I think is right with my kids and it may be a mistake – I don’t know. But what I do know is … that teachers don’t know that the way we are teaching the kids right now is the best way, either. So what have I got to lose, really?”

Board of education member Jimmy Wyatt, a retired Tyler Consolidated High School principal, said it is highly unusual for something like this to happen.

“This is a questionable decision because it really could be considered as not showing faith in our system,” he said after the meeting. “We have one of the strongest school systems in the state. This has been attested to by high test scores and college acceptance rates. We have some of the best teachers in West Virginia. It is against federal and state law to teach religion in public schools.”

Board member P.J. Wells said Henthorn has every right to do what she feels is best for her children.

“I’ll tell you this much – the thought has crossed my mind too, but I don’t have the ability as Bonnie does because my wife and I both work. That’s why we spend a lot of time talking to teachers,” he said. “There’s not a thing wrong with Tyler County Schools. I’ll tell you that right now, but you know it’s the Christian-based thing that bothers me. We’re not allowed to worship Jesus Christ in the school.”