Bountiful Elementary-Secondary School, a school in B.C., abruptly shut down without explanation in September. Last year, the school had 265 students enrolled. The school was controlled by the faction that remains connected to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), and by the now jailed leader Warren Jeffs. Most of the students are now home-schooled.
Bountiful is a community of approximately 1000 people, and has long been accused of using its classrooms to indoctrinate children. Bountiful follows a fundamentalist form of Mormonism, which condones polygamy as a tenet of the faith. Education in the community came under scrutiny when a high-profile trial, lasting from 2010-2011, examined Canada’s polygamy law. The trial heard evidence of declining enrolment in Bountiful Elementary-Secondary, especially at higher-grade levels. Testimonies from former residents recalled being taught religion for several hours each day, and also recalled that boys were told to treat girls as “dangerous snakes.”
The Bountiful Elementary-Secondary School Society refused to comment as to why the school shut down. The ministry and local school district have already met with parents to ensure they knew that they had to register their children elsewhere. Most of the students, however, are now registered in a home-schooling program called Homelinks, which connects parents and children to certified teachers. The students can obtain a high-school diploma if they pass provincial exams, but obtaining a diploma is optional. The Education Ministry has refused to comment on the quality of education of the Bountiful students. The spokesperson for the ministry merely said that “[t]he ministry is satisfied that these kids will continue to receive an education and they are registered in education programs.”
Bountiful has been the focus of numerous police investigation since the early 1990s due to allegations of sexual abuse, polygamy, and human trafficking.
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