BLOOMFIELD — The Bloomfield school board vote unanimously Tuesday night to close the school that was at the center of a religious curriculum controversy earlier this year.

All five board members voted in favor of Superintendent Randy Allison's recommendation to close Family Home School, effective at the end of this school year.

The school was funded and operated by the Bloomfield School District and was located on the campus of Naaba Ani Elementary School. It drew the ire of the Public Education Department in February when officials discovered the school was using materials from A Beka Academy.

A Beka Academy is an affiliate of Pensacola Christian College, and its Web site calls its approach to education "unashamedly Christian." The curriculum is one of the most popular private and home school programs in the country.

A Beka Academy textbooks contain Bible verses, stories and other religious subtexts.

Education Secretary Veronica García initially ordered the immediate removal of the A Beka curriculum, but Allison appealed the ruling on the grounds that it would put the school's 21 students at a significant disadvantage.

García accepted the appeal in March, allowing the school to continue using the A Beka textbooks and supplemental materials through the end of the 2008-09 school year.

The board had the option of adopting another curriculum and continuing operation of Family Home School.


Allison said during his recommendation Tuesday that he believes such a classroom is not feasible in a public school district because there are too many constraints.

The Bloomfield school board approved the creation of Family Home School in 1995. The original intent was to bring home-schooled children back into the district and keep them connected with public schools.

Family Home School began as a part-time program, but in 1998 expanded to four days a week and required the adoption of a curriculum. Parents worked with the school's teacher, Kathy Harper, and chose

A Beka for certain subjects because it suited the diverse age range of the students.

Harper will remain with the Bloomfield School District, assuming a role as a traditional first-grade teacher next year, Allison said.

As part of Family Home School, parents had to volunteer at least one day a week in the classroom. Allison applauded the dedication of the parents and hopes they'll continue to play a role in their children's education, be it in the Bloomfield School District or a private school setting.

"We don't want to lose the parents' involvement in the schools," Allison said.

G. Jeff Golden: