Home-school groups say new regulations aren’t answer following 7-year-old’s death

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DENVER — It is a question many Coloradans have asked in the past several weeks: How could 7-year-old Caden McWilliams be dead for seven months and no one report anything?

That is what many at the Colorado State Capitol are wondering as well.

McWilliams’ body was found encased in concrete in a south Denver storage unit on Dec. 23. Investigators estimated he died about seven months earlier. His mother,  Elisha Pankey, is accused in his death. She reportedly told school leaders in August that her son would be home-schooled, although detectives believe he was already dead at that point.

State Rep. Jonathan Singer (D-Longmont) says he is committed to looking at McWilliams’ case to determine if any new state law is needed — and  that includes the possibility of new state laws or regulations like home-school inspections.

“I am going to take a hard look into this case,” Singer said. “Everything is on the table as far as I am concerned until we get all the details.”

However, many  home-school groups are fighting back, arguing more regulations are not the answer.

“The story that came out with Caden McWilliams is a tragedy,” said Steve Craig, the executive director of Christian Home Educators of Colorado.

Craig said home-schoolers should not be singled out.

“Why should they need to be inspected any more than any new parent?” Craig said. “There are people that are against home schooling that seize on these tragedies to promote their own agenda.”

Back at the Capitol, lawmakers say they aren’t seizing on a tragedy, but rather making sure it does not happen again.

Singer is not ruling out more regulations for schools and state agencies as well.

“When we have good systems in place but they aren’t talking to each other, that’s where we can really thread this needle and make a difference in the lives of our kids,” Singer said.

No formal legislation has yet been proposed. FOX31 and Channel 2 will continue to follow this story.

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