Monday, February 18, 2008

CT Withdrawal Bill - SB162

We've actually found some problems with the wording of this bill - which is NOT the same wording that was originally proposed by Rep. O'Neill

But here is the scoop - Both Senator Meyer and Rep. O'Neill discussed the problem today (Sunday) and apparently they both do not know how the wording of the proposed bill got changed to what it currently reads,(it might have been in the bill clerk's office) but they both support the original language (see below), and so Senator Meyer said that the bill will be amended to state the original language. That is very good news. We will have to see what happens on Tuesday morning and we hope that everyone who planned to come and speak will support the original language and let the committee know that the bill as it currently is worded is unacceptable. Personally, I would like to know how the wording got changed and by whom.

As the bill is currently proposed we would not be supporting it - yes you read that correctly - and I had even pulled my previous post because we were looking into what happened with the original language.

Basically this new statute was not supposed to be a part of 10-184 nor does the current wording as raised by the committee really solve the problems entirely.

Although the new language does require the school district to accept a letter of withdrawal, this new bill, SB 162, in essence, would codify the right of school districts to somehow grant “permission” to the parents to allow them to withdraw their children “if” they “elect” to provide the “required instruction”. Conversely, this bill could be read to prohibit parents from withdrawing their children from school “if” parents do not “elect” to provide the “required instruction.” The bill does not define the term, “required instruction”. This leaves the door wide open to still more of the coercive tactics already used by school officials to prevent parents from withdrawing their children. It does nothing to solve the problem. It only encourages more of the same.

To repeat, this version of the new bill, S.B. 162, would infringe on the already existing right of parents to withdraw their children from public school without the so-called “permission” of the school district.

This is not the bill that Representative O’Neill originally proposed, and it is not the bill that NHELD and other homeschool and parenting groups supported.

The original language and statement of purpose was supposed to be this, and this is what we are supporting:
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.

Statement of Purpose:
To allow parents to home school their children and to require the board of education to respect their decision.

Now, the bill was raised on Feb.6, but the text wasn't made available to us until late Thursday afternoon Feb. 14, and we didn't catch the error of current wording until Saturday, Feb 16.

Thanks go to Ned Vare, Deborah Stevenson and Rep. O'Neill and Senator Meyer for spending part of their Sunday to try to get this issue resolved. We are happy to report that Rep. O'Neill and Senator Meyer are in agreement that the original language and change to 10-220 should be as originally intended and that steps will be made to make it so.

Many parents from school districts throughout the state have the opportunity now to attend this hearing and tell their stories of how they were abused by their school districts and either threatened or falsely reported to DCF. All of the families that have had to deal with these DCF reports, and that Attorney Deborah Stevenson of National Home Education Legal Defense (NHELD) has dealt with, subsequently were either reversed or withdrawn, but only after the families had to go through tremendous anxiety and costly litigation. Government abuse of authority is becoming more prevalent, and the government should not be allowed to threaten parents with loss of custody of their children simply when parents choose to do what they are allowed by law (CGS 10-184) to do, namely be in charge of their children's education.

This piece of legislation will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary litigation for school districts and parents, and will also save hundreds of thousands of dollars in costly and unwarranted DCF investigations.

If you are interested in testifying in support of this bill here is a good video to watch about how to testify if you haven't done it before.

Sign up to testify is at 8:00 am in the Legislative Office Building in Room 2B. The Committee is requesting that you bring 50 copies of your testimony.

The Select Committee on Children, will have a public hearing on Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 9:00 a.m. in Room 2B of the Legislative Office Building. I urge all parents, and those interested in preserving a parents right to withdraw their child from public school, to attend this important public hearing, and Deborah Stevenson will have more information to give to all parents who attend before the hearing. We'll keep you all posted.