(Daniel Jennings) All parents of children in public and private schools would have to undergo social services background checks when enrolling their kids in school in Ohio under a new proposed state law.
The bill by State Senator Capri S. Cafaro (D-Youngstown) specifically exempts most homeschoolers, although it doesn’t exempt homeschool families who form what is called a non-chartered, non-tax-supported school.
The bill also would require school officials to inform Child Protective Services (CPS) if a parent who was under investigation enrolled a child in school. CPS would be required to continue the investigation or open a new one.
The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has spoken out against the bill, saying that while it opposes child abuse, this bill is not the solution.
HSLDA attorney Mike Donnelly is concerned that the law would open up sensitive state databases to school officials.
“Instead of opening up access to sensitive databases and mandating background checks on millions of Ohio families, HSLDA believes that CPS improvements should focus on better training, requiring that current policies be followed,” the organization said in a press release. “This will allow social workers to focus on serious cases instead of following a one-size-fits-all approach that mandates an overly intrusive and broad investigation for non-serious allegations.”
This is the second time that Cafaro has written a piece of legislation that has attracted the HSDLA’s opposition. In December 2013, Cafaro introduced Senate Bill 248, which would have required background checks for all homeschoolers. It never became law.
The current proposal, like Senate Bill 248, was prompted by the tragic death of 14-year-old Teddy Foltz-Tedesco, who was badly abused by his mother and her boyfriend. Foltz-Tedesco had been withdrawn from public school sometime before his death.
“Senator Cafaro’s bill would not prevent another tragedy like the death of Teddy Foltz,” HSLDA said. “Teddy was kept from school, and it has never been proven that his mother ever said she was homeschooling. Local child protection authorities were aware that Teddy was being abused and failed to intervene.”
HSLDA, a press release said, condemns child abuse and affirms the “role of authorities in detecting and preventing abuse.”
“When too few social workers are chasing too many allegations, many of them anonymous and trivial, it reduces the ability of the system to prevent tragedies,” it said. “HSLDA encourages Senator Cafaro to invest time and energy in solutions more likely to prevent situations like the Teddy Foltz case, rather than the proposed approach of investigating every family that enrolls in a public or private school in Ohio.”
Cafaro’s proposal is only the latest effort to strengthen the relationship between CPS and schools. In Erie County, New York, CPS workers are now stationed at public schools to monitor children, Off The Grid Newsreported in October.
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