Judge delays decision on Arnold woman who kept daughter out of school 2 years Prosecutors say mother violated state law in home-schooling girl

July 24, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

An Arnold woman who could go to jail for keeping her daughter out of school for two years was given a temporary reprieve yesterday by an District Court judge in Annapolis.

Judge James W. Dryden said he would delay deciding on the charge against Cheryl A. Battles until prosecution and defense lawyers have a chance to file written memos in support of their arguments.

Dryden said at the close of the state's case that prosecutors may not have proven that Battles failed to provide her 7-year-old daughter with "regular, thorough instruction" as required by state law. He gave Assistant State's Attorney Andrew Jezica 10 days to submit written arguments and David Gordon, Battles' lawyer, 10 days after that to respond.

Battles, 49, of the 1200 block of Springwood Court was charged in November with violating Maryland's compulsory education law by failing to enroll her 7-year-old daughter in school or submit forms to enter a county-approved home-school education program. She could be sentenced to up to 10 days in jail if convicted.

Battles declined comment yesterday, but Gordon said that Anne Arundel schools' teachings violate her "basic Christian" beliefs and that she feels what she teaches her daughter should not be subjected to school board approval.

"There are very few people in this country who have the courage and the convictions that Cheryl Battles has," Gordon argued as the child, Emily McCann, fidgeted in her courtroom seat. School officials testified that Battles was told three times in 1995 that she must allow the county to monitor her daughter's progress.

Dennis Younger, retired curriculum director for county schools, said the monitoring is "unobtrusive" and allows parents to work with an approved program or submit their own curriculum for periodic reviews.

Pub Date: 7/24/96

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