This is an archived article that was published on in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

SAN ANGELO, Texas - While Texas courts wrangled over the fate of more than 400 FLDS children, some worked on their reading skills - while others swooshed down a Slip 'n Slide.

The early April raid on the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado brought an abrupt end to the school year for many of the youngest members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Texas.

During their nearly two months in state custody, their education has chiefly depended on which shelter they lived in.

This week, the Texas Education Agency was moving ahead with plans to offer up to 60 days of summer school to FLDS children at about $1,000 per student. Districts expected to provide teachers to essentially home school them in the shelters.

Those plans now appear moot, following the Texas Supreme Court's Thursday decision that there was inadequate evidence to sweep the sect's children into custody. It is not yet clear how soon the children will walk out of shelters across the state.

The Department of Family and Protective Services took the children into custody in early April based on allegations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. After a short stay in San Angelo, the children were scattered across the state.

An FLDS education

School districts have told the state that many of the FLDS children are on grade level in core subjects, though some shelters reported some children need catching up.

One FLDS mother, in written comments on DFPS' reunification plan for her family, said the private school at the ranch had a "comprehensive program" that included math, reading, writing, English, history and science, with optional classes such as music.

A Thursday visit to the FLDS schoolhouse in Eldorado showed the students studied a curriculum that included American history and physics, along with priesthood teachings and sermons.

Last week, some FLDS mothers said they were taking home school packets to their children's shelters and spending visits going through them.

For the summer, the state had expected to request a special appropriation from the Legislature, to pay for re-assigning or hiring teachers for the shelters.

"DFPS has determined that it is potentially harmful to this population of students to serve them in a regular school setting, at least for the remainder of this year, and possibly next school year," according to a May 21 letter from Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott to district superintendents.

While in state care, the focus of the children's instruction has been math and reading, said Julie Harris-Lawrence, the Texas Education Agency director of student support.

"Culturally, we really don't want to push kids into subjects they may not have dealt with like science and social studies," Harris-Lawrence said. "One of the things we're trying to do right now is not cause any secondary trauma."

From bicycles to textbooks

At Cal Farley's Boys Ranch outside Amarillo, 72 boys underwent placement testing but have not started classes.

"Our timetable is really dictated by the rate that CPS (Child Protective Services) is working with us to get arrangements made," said president Dan Adams.

Staff at the Hendrick Home for Children in Abilene were also awaiting information, and have spent much of the past few weeks working to "entertain" the FLDS children, said president David Miller.

A Baptist church purchased bikes for the children, which they quickly learned to ride. Wearing their traditional clothing, the children got soaked playing on a Slip 'n Slide and having water balloon fights. This week a woman taught them origami.

But at The Ark Assessment Center and Emergency Shelter for Youth in Corpus Christi, four older children have been working on their high school equivalency diploma.

And children at Boys and Girls Country in Houston were tested and in class soon after arriving.

"Wouldn't you love a whole district to be able to assess your child and determine what they need and develop a plan for them?" said Shirley Wright, Boys and Girls Country executive director. "It's a great opportunity."

-With reporting by Brooke Adams