Senator Andrew Dinniman created a frightening call out in legislative form. His first sponsorship memo states this:
Child Protection Task Force County Notification Act – Senate Bill 32 of 2013
While most students are seen by a teacher during the school days many non-traditional or home-schooled children are not.
This bill would require a school district to notify the county Children and Youth Agency when a child is enrolled in a home-schooled or cyber-school program. The County Agency would then be required to do a risk assessment to determine whether or not a risk of child abuse exists.
This legislation would directly address recommendations made by the Task Force on Child Protection established by Senate Resolution 250 of 2011.
Hopefully, that wasn’t an attempt to see what mud would stick to the wall. Maybe it was just an incredibly embarrassing mistake on his part. He did make a correction as shown below to his “very significant omission”. But his bill still stands and it’s sitting in the Senate Education Committee now.
Posted: February 25, 2013
From: Senator Andrew Dinniman
To: All Senate members
Subject: Child Protection Task Force County Notification
My first co-sponsorship memo on this bill included a very significant omission that I wish to clarify through the underlined words in this co-sponsorship memo.
I plan to introduce a bill to address the recommendations made by the Task Force on Child Protection established by Senate Resolution 250.
My bill would require school districts to notify the county Child and Youth Agency when a child is enrolled in a home school program, cyber charter school, is truant or fails to register for school upon attaining compulsory school age if and only if the child, another household child, household parent or other household person has been the subject of a founded or indicated child-abuse report within the last 18 months.
If such situation exists and such notification is given, the county agency would promptly perform a safety and risk assessment at the household.
We all know homeschooling doesn’t not equal child abuse. Unless you have another agenda.
I surely hope Senator Dinniman and the other sponsors of SB 32 didn’t have their fingers in the Penn State child abuse cover-up like other Pennsylvania officials did. Maybe there should be a new law to assure us that government officials and school authorities could never do that again. It could be called the Dinniman Law.
After all my snark, I would like to point out the obvious fact the vast majority of homeschoolers educate and nurture their children at home because they want the best for them. It is not child abuse.
Many homeschoolers take their children out of the schools because of bullying and other levels of school socialization. There’s also the Passing the Trash factor that is well-known within public school circles. Pennsylvania’s SB 1381 didn’t pass last year and it could have helped protect public school students. Seems like the percentage of public school children saved from abuse would be much higher.
Focusing on bills like SB 1381 might be more helpful than worrying about what families are doing at home, just because the children are not seen by a teacher every day. Homeschooling families are out and about in their community. They’re certainly not holed up in a box. Child abuse is already against the law. If passed, a bill like SB 32 would only need a “very significant omission” to have all Pennsylvania homeschoolers investigated for child abuse. That’s a very significant and frightening prospect.