Wednesday, February 20, 2008

CT Parental Rights: School Withdrawal Bill Hearing Makes The News

The Committee on Children, of the CT Legislature, heard public testimony on S.B. 162, which would codify a parents' right to withdraw their children from public schools, by notifying school officials by certified mail - You can watch the public hearing in it's entirety here. (2 hr 30 min) Deborah Stevenson's testimony begins 43:55, my testimony follows hers.

This has been an issue for parents wishing to homeschool their children, but it is an issue for all parents, as it reinforces their rights to direct where, when, and how their child should be educated. It is not the place of public schools to give approval for parents to withdraw their child from school; rather it is the parent’s decision to withdraw their child which must be respected and adhered to by the school.

Channel 8 News had this video report and written story
By the way - there are no "necessary forms" as claimed by the Department of Education. Their claim is nonsense. The forms they speak of are only part of a guideline and "suggested procedure" and are not necessary at all, nor are they required by law. In fact, the forms they speak of were filled out by some of the parents who testified today! The very same parents who also wrote letters of withdrawal and were reported to DCF anyway!

They made the statement, "The State Board of Education says parents don't always fill out the necessary forms that clear the school of educational responsibility."

In fact, a letter of withdrawal, written by a parent and stating that the parents are withdrawing their child from enrollment, clears the school of any responsibility because if the school does as the parents direct them to do (disenroll their child) then the parents assume the responsibility. It is worth noting that no one from the Department of Education, or DCF, came to the public hearing today to testify either for or against this proposed legislation.

The Hartford Courant posted this a few days ago: Smoothing A Way Out Of School

My thoughts on the hearing on 02/19/08:
I commend Senator Meyer and Representative McMahon for raising this very important parental rights bill, and giving it the public hearing that it deserves and that has been denied by the Education Committee Chairs for the past 3 years! Three state senators and six state representatives from both parties came today to speak in support of this legislation that states that when a parent sends a withdrawal letter to the school that the school must accept it and remove the child from the enrollment lists. There were about 30 parents who spoke about the unbelievable problems that they encountered when trying to withdraw their children from public schools across the state.

The bill with Rep. O'Neill's original language will most likely be voted out of the Children's Committee and head to the Education Committee, where we are hoping that the Chairs, Senator Gaffey and Rep. Fleischmann, will do the right thing for all parents in Connecticut, and reinforce the right of a parent to withdraw their child from school if the parents so choose.

So far, for the past 3 years the Education Committee has failed to address this proposed legislation. This has caused enormous cost and waste of taxpayer money in school litigation, and wasted time by school administrators as well as wasted dollars of DCF resources. Parents have also had to bear the brunt of the costs of litigation, trauma to their families and parents also end up with DCF files that are very hard to expunge. This record follows them as part of background checks routinely done for employment and other similar activities. The Education Committee should not allow this abuse of parents to continue, and it is time they work to pass this legislation.

This bill has notable bipartisan support, support of parents, and constituents, and should be passed through the Education Committee as soon as possible. Senator Gaffey and Rep. Fleischmann need to raise this bill in it's original language and unaltered to a vote in their own committee and ultimately pass the bill unaltered to the Senate for a Senate floor vote and then on to the House floor right on up to the Governors desk.

We have been trying to get a meeting with Senator Gaffey, and so far he has not made the time to meet with the parents in his district regarding this issue. We hope that he will do so soon.

Regarding a different aspect of this bill, we found out today that the original bill proposed by Rep. O'Neill had been reworded and changed by the Legislative Clerk's Office. We still do not understand completely why they thought that they could or should do that, as the change significantly altered the meaning and intent of the language. Thankfully, Senator Meyer and his committee along with Rep. O'Neill agreed that the original language is what will pass out of the Children's Committee and on to the Education Committee. It is language that is simple, straight forward and will codify the rights that parents have always had with regard to withdrawal from public school.

Today's hearing was positive. We are looking forward to a positive result as the bill moves to the Education Committee. We urge parents to contact members of the Education Committee and tell them that this bill must be raised and passed along "as is" as soon as possible.