Home schooling withdrawal ended Gary boy's oversight

2011-05-06T19:45:00Z 2011-07-01T18:36:25Z Home schooling withdrawal ended Gary boy's oversightBy Carmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

GARY | Christian Choate is believed to have died more than two years ago from sustained blunt force trauma to his body, internal bleeding and a skull fracture at the age 13.

The blond little boy who teachers remember as being energetic and active as a first-grader grew into a more somber, quiet kid whom friends and family saw very little of as he got older.

A resident of Gary's Black Oak neighborhood, Christian began his public education in Lake Ridge Schools, district officials said. They said he finished kindergarten, two years of first grade and began his second-grade year at Hosford Park Elementary School in Gary.

He was withdrawn in March 2005, three months before school was over for the summer, and transferred to Merrillville Community School Corp.

Family members said he and his next older sister began living with their father, Riley Choate, Riley's companion, and other half brothers and half sisters.

Merrillville Superintendent Tony Lux confirmed that Christian and his sister attended Merrillville schools.

Christian enrolled in Iddings Elementary School, and was there from second grade to fourth grade. He was withdrawn in fourth grade, sometime in 2007, Lux said.

"We were told he was being withdrawn so that he could be home-schooled," Lux said Friday.

Lux said he could not answer other questions regarding Christian's school record because that information is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Lux also said that once a parent or guardian reports he or she is going to home-school a student, there is no responsibility by the school district or the state to track the student.

Indiana Department of Education spokeswoman Lauren Auld reiterated there is no state oversight regarding home schooling.

"The parent has to indicate they intend to home-school the child," Auld said. "If they don't do that, the child is considered truant or must be going to another school. If the parent has made no indication and simply withdraws the student, the child is technically still in that school and is considered truant. The school is required to report that to juvenile court or Child Protective Services."

If a youngster has been transferred to another school, the school should request those records from the previous district, Auld said.

Officials with the Indiana Association of Home Educators said they do not keep a list of those parents who home-school their children, and parents are not required to register with the organization.

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