Thursday, June 7, 2007

Results Of Wednesday's Press Conference

As you know, I posted about the press conference where parents came out publicly to tell their stories to the press about the CT Department of Education and DCF abuses to homeschoolers in CT.

Legislators Rep. Arthur O'Neill and Rep. Pat Widlitz spoke about the problems occurring in the state. We'd like to thank them for their speaking out on this issue. Schools are not dis-enrolling children when requested by parents by letters of withdrawal or the voluntary filing of a Notice of Intent form. Schools are instead keeping children (especially kids with special needs) on enrollment lists and then calling them truant or claiming educational neglect, and then reporting them to DCF. Deborah Stevenson, of NHELD, introduced the parents who are victims of these abuses and they then told their stories to the press.

The press conference was taped by CT-N - Connecticut Network covers events at the State capitol. It is available for view here.

The story was carried on TV channel 3 - WFSB -
story here - video here
Although they reported slightly incorrectly about some points of the law regarding absenteeism or truancy, because these children are not truant or absent because their parents have already withdrawn them. The law is not clear about withdrawal from school because parents have always been able to withdraw their children with a note or even verbally. Now, schools are violating that ability by ignoring parental decisions to remove their children from school, and are primarily saying that you cannot withdraw your child without the school's consent.. which is of course a ridiculous violation of parental rights and has no basis in statute. They are demanding that parents turn over children's medical records, or submit to mental examinations, or anything else that the school wants. The video is a better view of what was said - than the print story. We are glad that they at least they gave the families and the issue some air-time.

The story was also carried by National Public Radio - They did a great job with this report. Listen to the whole report - here.
Read a short blurb here.

The story was covered first by The Hartford Advocate.

The legislature has unfinished business and is going into special session.
An additional forum on this issue is being planned for June 20 at the State Capitol.

Contact NHELD for more information.


Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

I watched the whole press conference. The stories were very powerful. I was particularly impressed by Deborah's summary, in which she emphasized the right of parents to educate their children. That was a necessary statement in this day and age in which people are often unaware of their rights.

It was interesting that the representatives almost seemed to placate the department of education by claiming that these actions are due to the schools trying to protect themselves. Although I recognize that that fits with the legislation/amendments they are trying to introduce would do, the stories of the parents indicate an abuse of power by the local school districts that goes beyond truancy laws. For example, in the case of the IEP meeting in which the third family was dictated to, this is in complete disregard to IDEA 2004. In that law, the intent of Congress was that parents and families and the child would have a much larger voice in decisions about special education placement and services. No one member of the team or one side should be allowed to dictate these services.

My best wishes to these families and to you and Deborah for speaking up for their rights. Good show!

Anonymous said...

Do you know the content of the amendment that Rep. O'Neil is proposing? I become nervous when elected officials seek to "clarify" an existing statute. By being more specific, I fear that such clarifications may tend to limit the rights that parents now enjoy to direct the education of their children. Afterall, the art of politics is compromise. And I am in no mood to compromise my right to home educate my children.

Judy Aron said...

There is no compromise - nor will there be.
We simply want the schools to withdraw a child from their enrollment when they receive a Letter of Withdrawal from a parent. Period.

I posted the language in a previous post
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Some Good News For CT Parents Who Want To Homeschool Their Kids

The proposed language is as follows:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

That subsection (a) of section 10-220 of the general statutes be amended to provide when a parent or guardian of a child provides by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the principal of the school that the child attends or to the superintendent of the local or regional board of education, written notice originated by and signed by the parent or guardian of a child stating that the parent or guardian is withdrawing the child from enrollment in a public school and will provide instruction for the child as required pursuant to section 10-184 of the general statutes, the principal of the school that the child attends or the local or regional board of education shall accept such notice and shall deem the child withdrawn from enrollment in the public school immediately upon receipt of such notice.