Ohio Senator Proposes Background Checks for Homeschool Parents

By Michael Klazema on 12/20/2013

Background check advances for childcare institutions and educational organizations have been among the biggest and most prevalent trends in the employment screening industry this year. Teachers, principals, school bus drivers, coaches, volunteers, visitors, daycare workers, and all manner of other individuals who see frequent contact with kids or teenagers are being subjected to increasingly strict and vigilant employment background check policies. The new requirements, instituted by federal, state, and city governments – as well as by individual schools and school boards – are all part of an effort to make schools and daycares safer places for kids and zero-tolerance environments for potentially dangerous criminals.

But what about when the teacher in the situation is the parent of the student whom they are educating? That’s the question an Ohio senator is posing with a newly proposed piece of legislation – Senate Bill 248, to be exact – that would require parents to undergo a social services investigation in order to receive permission to educate their own children.

The social services agency would interview parents interested in beginning a home school procedure – as well as parents wanting to admit their children in an Internet or computer-oriented educational program. The interviewer would then recommend to a school district superintendent, supposedly in the district where the student would otherwise attend school, as to whether the child should be excused from traditional public education or denied the right to homeschool.

Proposed by Capri Cafaro, a Democratic state senator, Senate Bill 248 – which has also called “Teddy’s Law” – will now go to the Senate committee for approval and further discussion. A boy who passed away as a result of severe head trauma earlier this year, inspired the bill. Teddy and his younger twin brothers were abused heavily by their mother’s boyfriend.

By the time the boy passed away, he had been showing signs of abuse for quite sometime, so much that everyone from grandparents to neighbors to teachers tried to lodge complaints with child and social services. Rather than remove the boy from his dangerous home environment, social services stood aside and let his mother pull him out of public school. She then began a home school regimen in order to keep the signs of his abuse hidden from prying eyes. But the boyfriend was torturing and abusing the little boy, and that abuse eventually led to his death. The mother got 15 years in prison for child endangerment; while the boy friend got a life sentence for murder.

The outrage over the child's death culminated in Cafaro’s Senate bill, which she hopes will help protect children from being subjected to similarly dangerous home school environments in the future. However, the bill’s critics – which include the Home School Legal Defense Association and the Christian Home Educators of Ohio – have called the legislation misguided and unconstitutional. In some cases, the bill could essentially give social services organizations the right to force parents to send their kids to public schools. For others, it would merely create a bureaucratic headache that would discourage homeschooling altogether.

Michael Donnelly and the Home School Legal Defense Association have even gone as far as to call Senate Bill 248 “the worst ever home school law,” with Donnelly explaining to Watchdog Ohio that the bill would cost social services and parents a lot of time and money, and would ultimately not solve the problem. Donnelly believes that the oversight in the case of Teddy Foltz-Tedesco was made by social services in the first place when they did not heed complaints and reports made by the boy’s teachers, neighbors, and family members.

Furthermore, the bill will also likely face controversy from home school parents, many of whom actually remove their children from public schools due to growing trends of bullying, dangerous or corrupt teachers, or school shootings. While some parents should certainly not be permitted to home school their children, taxpayer dollars could be better focused on making public schools safer places to be, whether through criminal checks, child abuse screenings, and sex offender checks – all of which are available through – or by taking swift action in the case of bullying accusations.


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