Mark and Lynette Dagley
Mark and Lynette Dagley developed the vision and inspiration to establish a state home school organization in North Dakota, and once the North Dakota Home School Assn. was founded in 1985, they were on the original board.
A few years later, Mark and Lynette were charged with failing to send their daughter to public school--a violation of the compulsory attendance law. After their conviction in 1988, the case was appealed to the N.D. Supreme Court. On July 19, 1988, the previous ruling was affirmed.
The Dagley’s seven children have all graduated and they now have 26 grandchildren. Six of their children are married to fellow homeschool friends. Their last child is engaged. All are homeschooling their children. The Dagleys now run a greenhouse in Bismarck/Mandan.
We are filled with gratitude for the vision God gave two gentle, godly, brave parents at a time when homeschooling had serious consequences.
Gerald and Sheryl Lund
Tenacious, devoted, dogged, steadfast. These are adjectives to describe Gerald and Sheryl Lund. Already in 1984, the Lunds, of Bottineau, ND, began their homeschooling adventure…long before ND had statutes governing parent-directed education.
When their daughter turned 7, the Lund’s choice to homeschool became more problematic, but they were willing to follow God’s call on their lives. This choice led to a 1984 conviction for failure to comply with the compulsory attendance law, and in March 1987 they were again charged and convicted. The N.D. Supreme Court ultimately upheld the convictions.
In a Minot Daily article, the reason the Lunds chose this for their family was clearly and simply stated, “. . . we are educating (our) children . . . because of our religious convictions.” Period.
Thirty years ago Gerald and Sheryl Lund were convicted because of their convictions. Their courage and determination were typical of the early homeschool pioneers.
Clinton and Judi Birst
It was the desire of Clinton and Judi Birst to provide their children with a Christian education. Since Judi held teaching certifications in several other states, they did not foresee a problem in home schooling their own children in North Dakota. But late one night, a sheriff's deputy served them with papers for the violation of the North Dakota Compulsory Attendance Law.
It was soon determined by the ND Superintendent of Schools that their home schooling might continue if Mrs. Birst obtained teacher certification in North Dakota and then established a private school under the supervision of the McLean County Superintendent of Schools.
Having accomplished this, the family was permitted to home school legally in North Dakota beginning in 1983. This provided the opportunity for Clinton Birst to be a spokesperson on the behalf of the many other families who did not want to be known for fear of prosecution. Clinton served as the first executive director of the North Dakota Home School Association.
Mr. Birst died suddenly in 1998 at the age of fifty-two. He did not live to see any of his nine grandchildren born, but his children have committed themselves to carry on the discipleship of their children with a Biblical world view to preserve another generation unto the Lord.
Ray and Rita Larsen
Ray and Rita Larsen epitomize the wise, gentle, quiet strength needed during the early years of homeschooling in North Dakota. With remarkable humility and quietness of spirit they chose to do the hard thing, even having mom and children live in a camper in another state during the more worrisome times of the case.
In 1984 they were found guilty in county court of violation of the compulsory attendance law. They were convicted in a consolidated bench trial in Stutsman County. The case was consolidated with appeals to the North Dakota Supreme Court. In both cases the Supreme Court affirmed the conviction of the lower court.
Several of the first North Dakota Home School Association “conventions” were held at the Larsen ranch near Jamestown. They served on the original NDHSA board of directors, and Dr. Larsen was president of the board for many years. His gentle, servant-hearted leadership and his wise, no-nonsense approach was Providential and provided the impetus for the NDHSA to grow unreservedly during the 1990s and early 2000s. Praise God for this devout, courageous family. Homeschoolers in North Dakota today enjoy a great deal of freedom because of the involvement of Ray and Rita Larsen.