New Wappingers School Requires Parents to Sign Frightening Oath
A school based on natural learning has opened its doors in Wappingers Falls. But before attending class, children's parents must sign a lengthy pledge with some pretty terrifying terms.
Wild Roots describes itself as a "nature-based" early education center. The school is located on Route 9D at the former site of New Beginnings Window and Door. Before that, the farm-like property was occupied by At Home in the Woods, an unfinished furniture store.
Wild Roots is run by Julie Ann Ferreira who graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Anthropology from a small Quaker college in Indiana. We reached out to her to find out more about the early education center, but she has not replied to any of our emails.
About Wild Roots
According to the school's website, Wild Roots encourages students to learn from nature. The school says that the "energy of the garden" and the "emotional condition of the animals" will be used to help children "understand what it is to be human." As far as traditional learning, Wild Roots is listed as a Private Education Association (PEA), which means it is not recognized as a school by the state of New York and cannot be accredited.
Wild Roots says that by being a PEA it can utilize its own approach to learning "instead of using less-effective, formal teaching methods." It's unclear what formal teaching methods the education center finds less effective, but an informational page on the website says that the school will not accept homeschool charter vouchers because it would force "Wild Roots to abandon (its) nature-based curriculum."
"Concerning" Membership Agreement
There is also a lengthy pledge that the school requires all parents to sign before even visiting the property. This "membership agreement" has some concerning language that some parents say has raised "red flags" for them.
The lengthy agreement begins with lots of talk about freedom, the constitution and keeping activities happening within the school private. I've signed contracts with preschools for my own son and never had to pledge to keep the inner workings of the school a secret.
The membership agreement makes claims that the school is protected from government interference, saying that it is
free from unreasonable search and seizure, the right to not incriminate ourselves, and the right to freely exercise all other unalienable rights as granted by our creator, our almighty God.
"Natural Healthcare" Pledge
The agreement also states that members are "voluntarily" following the school's direction when it comes to healthcare.
We expect the freedom to choose and perform for ourselves the types of therapies and treatments that we think best for diagnosing, treating and preventing illness and disease and for achieving and maintaining optimum wellness... I understand that within The Association no doctor-patient relationship exists but only a contract member-to-member association relationship. I have freely chosen to change my legal status as a public person or patient, customer, or client to a private member of The Association. As I am voluntarily choosing this method of natural health care, wellness, and disease prevention, I will not hold The Association or its members financially liable for any particular outcome regarding my health.
Wild Roots did not reply to our request for more information so we were unable to learn more about their natural health care method. It's unclear whether this concerns the use of vaccinations, holistic healing or any other controversial medical practice.
While agreeing to follow someone else's healthcare wishes for your child may seem pretty disturbing, the most concerning part of this pledge is that it forbids members from sharing any information about school activities with "Local, State or Federal investigative or enforcement agencies." Parents must also attest that they are not members of any local, state or federal agencies that may want to investigate Wild Roots.
As a parent, I would absolutely refuse to sign any document that took away my right to go to the authorities if I thought the school was up to no good. It's unclear what practices the school is afraid of having law enforcement find out about, but this contract would send me running right out the door before I even found out.
You can read the entire membership application required by Wild Roots on its website. We want to know what you think about taking this pledge. Would you sign it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.
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