- A bill in the Hawaii legislature would increase the state’s oversight of families who are homeschooling their children. The child abuse death of a 9-year-old girl has prompted state Sen. Kaialii Kahele’s proposal, according to U.S. News and World Report.
- The state’s child welfare office would conduct background checks into issues such as child abuse and neglect on those who indicate their intent to homeschool their children, and then eventually all homeschooling families would be included.
- Those in the homeschooling community argue that the plan discriminates against them, and families would have the opportunity to appeal decisions if their intent to homeschool is denied.
Proposals for stricter monitoring of homeschooling families have increased across the country in recent months since 13 siblings from a homeschooling family in Perris, CA — some of them adults — were found severely malnourished and trapped in their home. With more families choosing to homeschool their children, it’s likely that more states will seek legislation that aims to prevent such tragedies.
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) tracks legislation and court cases regarding homeschooling to communicate how families would be affected. In an opinion piece for The Sacramento Bee, James R. Mason, vice president and director of litigation for HSLDA, wrote that the organization is concerned “that this horrible incident – words fail to describe the depravity – may lead to an unwarranted backlash and violation of the civil rights of law-abiding, thriving home-schooling families.”
One solution, according to the Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), is to require homeschooling families to have annual doctor’s visits and assessments by certified teachers, which would create “at least two opportunities for a trained professional to recognize abuse,” Rachel Coleman and Kathryn Brightbill of CRHE wrote in an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times.
While many homeschool parents are not interested in interacting with public schools, school and district leaders can also make efforts to form connections with homeschool families and networks for community events or other special educational opportunities. In some parts of the country, homeschooling families can enroll children in one or more public school classes to offer learning opportunities that they might not be able to provide, such as music lessons. Such partnerships can also bring funding into a school district and break down some stereotypes that homeschooling families and public school educators have about each other.