"I couldn't believe how he overlooked all the facts to legislate from the bench," said Venessa Mills of Wake County District Court Judge Ned Mangum's ruling that it would be in the "best interests" of her three children, ages 12, 11 and 10, to be placed in public school, even though two are learning at two grades above grade level while the third is at grade level.
As WND reported, the judge's action came in the divorce proceeding between Mills and her husband, Thomas.
At a court hearing last week, Mangum conceded the children are "thriving" under Mills' instruction but said they need to be exposed to the "real world."
"It will do them a great benefit to be in the public schools, and they will challenge some of the ideas that you've taught them, and they could learn from that and make them stronger," the judge said.
Mangum, when contacted by WND, explained his goal in ordering the children to register and attend a public school was to make sure they have a "more well-rounded education."
"I thought Ms. Mills had done a good job [in homeschooling]," he said. "It was great for them to have that access, and [I had] no problems with homeschooling. I said public schooling would be a good complement."
The judge said the husband has not been supportive of his wife's homeschooling, and "it accomplished its purposes. It now was appropriate to have them back in public school."
Mangum said he made the determination on his guiding principle, "What's in the best interest of the minor children," and conceded it was putting his judgment in place of the mother's.
In her court filing, Mills said her children already interact with other children at organized homeschool activities.
"These kids are doing well," she told the Raleigh News & Observer. "That's why it's such an injustice. It was an injustice for the kids."
Mangum's ruling and reasoning sparked public outrage after WND's story, reported the News & Observer – including an organized campaign to have the judge removed from the case. District court officials received more than 25 calls Thursday complaining about the decision while other court offices also reported being contacted.
Even Alan Keyes attacked Mangum's ruling in a column on his website: "If his idea of socialization includes the need to challenge the Christian ideas their mother has taught them, then he not only interferes with her natural right to raise up her children, he tramples on one of the most important elements of the free exercise of religion."
Mangum said that while he expressed his opinion from the bench in the court hearing, the final written order had not yet been signed.