Washington Family
Harassed For 5 Years
For School Reform Efforts
By Jon E. Dougherty
© 1999
A home schooling mom in Nine River Falls, Wash., said years of repeated harassment by local juveniles -- which started after her public opposition to a local school board official's preference for Outcome Based Education (OBE) initiatives -- has gone unpunished long enough.
< Lynn Stuter, who home schooled two daughters until they graduated to go on to college a few years ago, told WorldNetDaily that even after a bomb was thrown in the family's front yard, the "local sheriff has refused to follow up and make arrests."
The harassment began in 1995, after the Stuters pulled their kids out of the Nine River Falls School District. Their treatment has included an annual parade of juveniles yelling obscenities from cars winding by the family's home during the local school district's homecoming celebration. Objects have been thrown at their home -- including a small explosive device -- and bottles have been broken in their driveway. Since the first bomb exploded in the Stuters' front yard -- leaving a one-foot-by-five-inch-deep crevice and "fifty feet of debris," two other explosive devices have "been found on our property or property neighboring ours," said Stuter.
And, as late as Sept. 29, the Stuters were again forced to call sheriff's deputies to their home to disperse an estimated 120 kids "who were threatening to turn the situation into a full-blown riot."
Stuter said she believes the harassment began as retaliation for her vocal efforts to attempt to reform the local school district's educational curriculum.
"My daughters would come home from school and tell me awful things" that were occurring on school grounds during school hours, Stuter told WorldNetDaily. "Boys and girls were behaving inappropriately, French-kissing each other and sitting inappropriately on each other's laps," as well as engaging in other forms of moderate sexual contact.
"Students were body-slammed against lockers by other kids, and nothing was done about it," she said. In a few instances, students who were convicted of crimes -- including rape -- were allowed back into school, "then began to intimidate the witnesses to their crimes."
"There were even a few kids who were suspended for defending themselves," she said. "And others were either smoking or dealing dope."
One local school board official became upset at Stuter's efforts, she said, and in 1995 "wrote a scathing editorial in the local newspaper about me -- saying I was lying about the dangers of the school's curriculum, that I'm a conspiracy nut, a militia momma, you name it." Shortly afterward the harassment began in earnest, she added.
While she admits, "I'm not one hundred percent sure" the harassment began because of her advocacy of home schooling, "it (the harassment) was conveniently started after that scathing letter."
The board official -- Doyle Wheeler, who could not be reached for comment -- authored the letter, which was published in the local newspaper. Mrs. Stuter said he targeted her in the letter.
"He didn't even know me at the time," she said, "but he is a part of the pro-government education curriculum taught in the schools. He didn't attack my home schooling effort, just my efforts to reform things at the public school."
WorldNetDaily contacted the Stevens County Sheriff's Department in Washington for comment, but the department did not return repeated phone calls.
During the confrontation with juveniles Sept. 29, Stuter said she was astounded that the sheriff's department only detailed two deputies to handling "a mob of what had to be at least 120 kids."
"The department knows the history here," she said, referring to the five previous years local juveniles have "circled" the Stuter home on homecoming night. "And yet, they didn't plan for it? They had a contingency plan of just two deputies?"
Stuter said she and her husband ultimately had to pull a pick-up truck across the street to block the juveniles from "driving their serpentine of cars" repeatedly in front of their home. "Each time they passed," she said, "the number of cars and kids grew."
When the Stuters believed the juveniles assembling in front of their home were preparing to stone the house, they finally went outside -- armed with a shotgun -- to confront them. Deputies arrived within minutes and finally dispersed the crowd.
Surprisingly, however, Stuter said, "The lead deputy -- the one who was at the front of the line of cars containing all the kids -- denied seeing them do anything or hearing them shout anything," which she said consisted of vulgar epithets "shouted at the top of their lungs. Instead, he wanted to arrest me for illegally brandishing a weapon, which never even happened. All I did was carry the thing out because I honestly didn't know if we'd end up having to defend ourselves and our home."
The second deputy, however, "did break them up and ordered them to go home under threat of arrest."
After five long years, the Stuters say they've had enough.
"When the bomb went off in our yard and the local sheriff's department wouldn't investigate it," Mrs. Stuter said, "we contacted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the FBI. They told us the bomb was not big enough or dangerous enough for them to deal with, which we felt was just unbelievable."
"I guess they have to kill one of us first before they look into it," she added.
Stuter said she and her husband have retained an attorney and are considering legal action against local officials and the sheriff's department.
"We have a right to be secure in our persons and in our home," said Stuter. "What is going on here is not simply an exercise in free speech -- it's harassment, pure and simple, and it's got to stop."
< Jon E. Dougherty is a staff writer for WorldNetDaily.