The news media have given ample attention to the story of the married couple who chained their 13 children to their bedsteads and starved them. One child escaped and called authorities. The parents registered their home of enslavement as a “home school.” 

Needless to say, there was neither teaching nor learning, just two parents abusing their unfortunate children.

What would Betsy DeVos say? Trust the parents. They made their choice. The parents know best. I recall when John White, the state superintendent of Louisiana said the same thing. Trust the parents.

“The private school had a welcoming name. The principal was scientifically minded. But the Sandcastle Day School was a nightmare for the six students enrolled there.

“David A. Turpin created the school inside his nondescript stucco home southeast of Los Angeles. But the only ones enrolled there were the six of his 13 children who were school age. And what took place inside was not teaching but torture, the authorities said, after they raided the house over the weekend and found a horrifying scene of emaciated children chained to furniture. The putrid smell overwhelmed them.

“By creating such a school of horrors, Mr. Turpin had kept the authorities at bay. His children were never seen by teachers or counselors. Their absences never raised suspicions. On Tuesday, state and local officials were on the defensive as they tried to explain how such things could have occurred in a private school the state had sanctioned.

“Mr. Turpin, 56, and his wife, Louise A. Turpin, 49, were arrested on nine counts of torture and child endangerment after one of their daughters escaped from the home out a window before dawn and called the police on a deactivated cellphone that only allowed her to dial 911. The girl, 17, showed the police photos to corroborate her story. Once the authorities entered the disheveled home, they found the Turpins’ 12 other children, ages 2 to 29. They were so malnourished that the older ones looked years younger.

“I can’t begin to imagine the pain and suffering that they have endured,” Mayor Michael Vargas of Perris said of the siblings. “This is a very happy and tight, hard-working family community.”

“How a family that some described as normal just a few years ago had seemingly unraveled so severely, nobody seemed to know…

“Before Sunday, there was no indication that any authority had ever set foot in the home. Riverside County’s child protective services never received reports of abuse. And the State Department of Education said it had registered the school, but had never been inside.

The case raises questions about whether the state may be too lenient in its approach to home schooling and whether it should have been monitoring Mr. Turpin more closely. In California, almost anyone can open a private school by filing an affidavit with the state. California is one of 14 states that ask parents only to register to create a home school, and in 11 other states, including Texas, parents are not required to submit any documentation at all.

“The California Department of Education said it was sickened by the tragedy and was investigating what had occurred. The department registers private schools, but “does not approve, monitor, inspect, or oversee” them, said Bill Ainsworth, a department spokesman.

“Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, a Democrat from Stockton, Calif., and a social worker who teaches at California State University, Sacramento, said that she would support legislation to monitor such schools.

“The state has a responsibility to make sure there is at least an annual inspection,” she said. “If we’re not going to uphold educational standards, then for the love of God the least we can do is uphold health and safety standards. We need to do everything we can for vulnerable minors before it becomes anything this tragic.”

Please, if you are a journalist, ask Betsy DeVos about how home schools and private schools should be regulated.