Home Schooling: Were State Laws Followed in Case of Teen Allegedly Held Captive for a Year?

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Allegedly held captive for a year - that's the damaging claim of a 13-year-old girl.

She says her stepfather Timothy Ciboro and his son Esten Ciboro shackled her in the basement of their home for a year until she recently escaped.

But how could this happen to a school-aged child?

An ongoing Toledo police and Lucas County Child Protective Services investigation revealed the 13-year-old, and her younger half-siblings were not in Toledo Public Schools (TPS), but home-schooled.

TPS Associate Superintendent Brian Murphy said the girl has "never stepped foot inside a public school.”

And then, a startling revelation about the 13-year-old's half-siblings from TPS spokeswoman Patty Mazur, who was in the room with Associate Superintendent Murphy:

"We didn't even know these kids existed until this."

How could these children have fallen through the cracks?

To answer that question, WTOL 11 examined the State of Ohio’s rules on home schooling.

The Ohio Department of Education gives parents the right to home-school their children.

But Parents or guardians must follow rules, including:

  • Provide yearly notification to the school district where the student lives.
  • Provide, each year, a School Year Plan detailing the subjects to be covered and a total of 900 hours of instruction.
  • Provide, each year, a Year-end Assessment proving the student passed and can continue onto the next grade.

The Ohio Department of Education writes the rules, but doesn't not provide any oversight:
 
WTOL 11 News’ Viviana Hurtado: "Is there ever face to face contact that TPS will have w/ the home-schooled student or the person doing the homeschooling?"

TPS Associate Superintendent Brian Murphy: "No."

WTOL 11 News’ Viviana Hurtado: "There is no criminal background check?"

TPS Associate Superintendent Brian Murphy: "Correct."
 
Supervision of home schooling education stays at the local level.

"The local district does not submit any of the documents regarding its home-schooled students to the Ohio Department of Education,” confirms Ohio Department of Education spokesperson Brittany Halpin in an email to WTOL 11 News.
 
Under Ohio public records laws, WTOL 11 requested to view documents from Toledo Public Schools connected to the home schooling of the three children living at the Noble Street home.

Citing the Family Educational Rights to Privacy Act or (FERPA), Associate Superintendent Murphy declined our questions on oversight of the 13-year-old's home schooling. The paperwork may provide insight into the students' learning.
 
Associate Superintendent Murphy affirms Toledo Public Schools follows state law, but admits, "Can the homeschooling system be improved? Absolutely it could be improved.”