Today the CBC website reported that:
The declining school enrolment in the polygamous commune of Bountiful can be explained by reasons other than a high drop-out rate, a lawyer for the community said Tuesday.
A judge is hearing arguments about whether the prohibition on multiple marriage violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He has spent more than two months hearing about the alleged harms of polygamy, including substandard education and poor graduation rates.
On Tuesday, an official with B.C.'s Education Ministry compared enrolment data from Bountiful's two schools with the same data from other B.C. schools and concluded Bountiful students appeared to be disappearing from class rather than progressing into higher grades.
For example, the community's two schools had 16 students enrolled in Grade 8 in the 2004-2005 academic year. Four years later, when they would be expected to be in Grade 12, just three of those students were still in B.C.'s education system.
But Matthew Siren, a lawyer for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), suggested there are many reasons why a student might not progress to subsequent grades. They could have dropped out, moved out of the province to finish their studies, graduated early or even died, he said.
Community has two schools
"So looking at this graph, you can't determine which of those reasons is the cause for these numbers, right?" Siren asked Brent Munro, who compiled the data for the ministry.
"No," replied Munro.
Siren didn't say which explanation is correct. He did note that many of the students on that list of 16 completed Grade 12-level provincial exams, suggesting they may have finished their studies early.
"If they had met [Bountiful Elementary-Secondary School's] graduation requirements after Grade 11, it would show them not continuing to Grade 12?" said Siren.
"Correct," replied Munro.