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Homeschool group pushes for stronger laws after child abuse case

MEEKER, Okla. - Following the case of a 15-year-old boy who was only allowed to stay in the yard, one group is asking lawmakers to change the laws on homeschooling in Oklahoma.

Thankfully, someone noticed the boy and called DHS.

“We are completely appalled with this particular situation,” said Stacy McNeiland with Care Center.

The teen was discovered living in a barn on the family's property, sleeping on an old couch and eating twigs and grass to survive.

He weighed just 80 pounds, suffered many broken bones, and had pellet wounds lodged in his leg, allegedly by the hands of his father, as his stepmother and brothers watched.

“He was pulled out of school two years ago and that's kind of a timeline we're working with here,” said Assistant District Attorney Adam Panter.

Panter said the boy was supposed to be homeschooled.

“That neglect started with the decision to pull him from school,” said McNeiland.

A spokesperson with Department of Education tells News 4 they do not track homeschooling, so who does?

The law said homeschooled students are required 180 days of school - and that's it. There are no other requirements in the state.

“That's a red flag for me.Why, why are you pulling him from the school? What are your plans?” said McNeiland.

McNeiland advocates for abused children. She said she understands many Oklahoma school districts are strapped, but something needs to be done to make sure homeschooled children are monitored and protected from other possible abuse cases.

“How wonderful would it be if we invested in that school system so they could have social workers for all grades and all children that followed up on that,” said McNeiland.

Advocates with the Coalition of Responsible Home Education tell News 4 they have tracked 13 other cases of serious or deadly child abuse in Oklahoma involving children who are homeschooled.

In a statement they say:

"Oklahoma's laws are among the worst in the country for providing protections for homeschooled children. It's not surprising that cases like this keep occurring. Oklahoma's lawmakers should include homeschool alumni in the conversation about how to best prevent things like this from happening."