Friday, June 29, 2007

A CT Homeschool Icon Defends CT Families

Deborah Stevenson of NHELD

Deborah Stevenson has been fighting for parental rights as long as I can remember being a homeschool parent. She is tenacious and passionate about it. She fervently believes in the intentions of our Founders and has a true appreciation and understanding of our freedoms. She knows the history of homeschooling since the inception of CT as a colony. She was there in the 1990's when attempts were made to place huge restrictions on a family's right to homeschool. She has always been there to defend our rights as parents to educate our children in accordance with laws that have been in our statutes since the 1600's. To top it all off she was born on July 4th.

Here is yet another wonderful piece written by Jennifer Abel, from the Hartford Advocate, which talks about Deborah Stevenson and further explains the struggles of CT families and the attempts of the State Department of Education to control parents - especially with the use of threats and reporting families to DCF.

The Price of Going it Alone
Here are some snippets:
Parents who pull their children out of school to homeschool are automatically referred to DCF for investigation.Homeschooling parents throughout the state claim they're learning this the hard way, as schools — following a possibly unofficial directive from the state Board of Education — report parents to the Department of Children and Families after the parents withdrew their kids from public school.

(State) Board (of Education) spokesman Tom Murphy says that schools are simply acting according to law. Deborah Stevenson, director of the National Home Education Legal Defense and an attorney defending many homeschooling families against DCF, counters that what the board treats as laws are actually unofficial recommendations.

A Notice of Intent, as the name implies, is an official document that parents can file with the school superintendent's office when they pull a child out for homeschooling. But Stevenson says that filing these notices is not mandatory.

"In 1990, the Board of Education drew up some recommendations for homeschoolers," she says. The notice of intent was one such suggestion, she said, but the guidelines were never made into law.
Nor should they be. I think it is just fine to have guidelines and make them available for people who wish to follow them. Mandating anything just opens the door to more regulation down the road because if they (the educrats) can mandate one thing, you know they will end up wanting more regulation in the end. But overall, a letter of withdrawal to the school should suffice as a means of notification that you are withdrawing your child from school and homeschooling them. And in fact when attempts were made to codify rules and parts of the guidelines.. it failed in the legislature, because thankfully our legislature has historically seen the wisdom in protecting parental rights in CT. They also are witness to the complete successes of homeschooling, especially in light of our 3rd place spelling bee winner, Joseph Henares, a homeschooler from Avon, CT.
In Connecticut's general statutes, section 10-184 deals with parents' responsibility to make sure their kids are educated, either by sending them to public school or showing "that the child is elsewhere receiving equivalent instruction." It doesn't specify how parents are to show this, though. Nor does it say anything about a notice of intent.
The thing is this though... even parents who have filed a Notice of Intent are being targeted by schools now.. because schools have been now even as bold as to ask for medical records and even wanting to examine curriculum. So here again, they ask you for one thing and then they rachet things up and they go after another, citing that they want to "make sure the parents are not being educationally neglectful"... This is the slippery slope that we want to avoid. Hey, I wonder if they have checked out their own schools to see how educationally neglected some of their own enrolled students are! And why is it any of their business what your child's medical records have to say?

You know this is one reason they are setting up medical clinics in school. They want their own team of doctors and nurses and mental health "professionals" to treat your kids.. forget how you want to direct your child's healthcare! I mean heaven forbid you choose alternative therapies for you child which do not include drugging and batteries of ineffective and inconclusive screening tests.

But anyway... I digress...

Suffice it to say:
All of the families mentioned here (In Jennifer Abel's article) are clients of Deborah Stevenson, who says that of all the DCF cases she's handled, "None of my clients actually lost custody. Most of the [claims against the] accused were found to be unsubstantiated. Of [those] who were substantiated - all but three were withdrawn from the prosecutor before trial. The three that weren't are currently ongoing."

Stevenson's success record stands at 100 percent. When an attorney scores so high it's easy to wonder: is she really that good, or does she have that many clients who maybe should never have been investigated in the first place?
All I can say is that I wish every state had a Deborah Stevenson to protect homeschooling and parental rights.. She has been my mentor, my inspiration, my colleague and my cherished best friend. She helped me to teach my children to know their rights as citizens of this country and I am so fortunate to know her.

Funny thing.. she never started out wanting to be an attorney.. she was a homeschool mom first.. and then when her rights were threatened, she learned more about the law, and life brought her to where she is now. She claims that you don't have to be an attorney to know your rights and understand the laws that govern your life. She is spot on with that as far as I am concerned.