Testimony by Judy Aron (printed by permission):
Good afternoon Chairman Gaffey, Chairman Fleischmann and esteemed Education Committee members,
I am before you today to let you know that I oppose the changes to raised Bill 634, AN ACT CONCERNING TRANSIENT STUDENTS AND SCHOOL RESIDENCY.
The phrase “those” who have the care of children is different from the proposed new language “guardian as defined in subsection (a) of section 10-186 as amended by this act”.Â “Those” is all encompassing and does not imply “legal” custody in the sense that the term “guardian” does. If you look at the definition of the term in 10-186, that statute states, “a “parent or guardian” means the custodial parent or legal guardian or a surrogate parent appointed pursuant to section 10-94g…”
This change poses some significant unintended consequences regarding homeschooling families. The proposed language of this bill would specify that only those people who are either parents or “legal guardians” shall instruct the children or shall cause them to be instructed.
While this change may not affect a parent’s right to “cause” the child to be instructed by hiring a tutor, I am very concerned that there may come a time when a school official or a DCF worker may arrive at a home, find a relative instructing a child who is not a “legal guardian” and may allege that the child is not being instructed legally.Â Since DCF seems to be harassing parents on a more regular basis regarding issues of withdrawal from public school, which this committee has not wished to address despite the alarming number of families who are being threatened by DCF regarding alleged truancy, this is of very grave concern.
It is true that you could make the arguments that even with this “guardian” language inserted, that parents still retain control over the education and can have relatives act as “tutors”.Â The problem that I see with this has more to do with how it may be abused by public school administrators, DCF, and the courts.
National Home Education Legal Defense has spent the last six months alone dealing with school officials and DCF workers who already make outrageous claims that children are not “legally” being instructed at home, even after they have been withdrawn from public school.Â We see this as one more avenue for such people to use to make their outrageous claims.Â The fact is that some parents do have grandparents or other relatives instructing children while the parents work.Â Under existing law, this is perfectly legal because the grandparents are, in fact, “those” “who have the care of children” during that time and they “shall” instruct them.Â Under the new language, grandparents may “have the care of children” but they are not “legal guardians” in the sense that they have been appointed such by the courts. Therefore, one could very easily argue, and a court could and is likely to conclude, that because they are not “legal guardians”, they had no authority to instruct the children.
By opposing this change, we hope to head off yet another battle that parents who are doing the best thing possible for their children do not need to undertake.
Additionally, we are wondering why language addressing so-called residency issues have been inserted into the first sentence of this statute that has nothing to do with residency and has everything to do with compulsory education.Â Inserting this language only restricts who can home instruct. Is it your intention to remove the ability for a parent to choose a relative, or anyone else, to instruct children on their behalf in a homeschool environment?
With local school districts already having residency requirements in place – why is it that we need this language inserted in this statute anyway – except to restrict who can deliver schooling to children at home?
Please reject this proposed language and leave this statute as it currently exists. Thank You.