With the implementation of the Common Core, more and more parents across the state of South Dakota are seeing the benefits of homeschooling. Understandably, not everyone chooses to homeschool. SB 131 is a step to further limit your rights as a parent to decide how to educate your child. Whether that education is public school, private school or homeschool, it is a fundamental right of parents to decide how to educate their children. SB 131 is scheduled to be heard in committee on Thursday, 2/6/14. We need you to contact your legislators immediately and ask them to vote “NO” on SB 131. You can find your legislator contact information here.
Please Call Immediately to Oppose Attack on Homeschooling Rights
Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:
We need your help immediately to oppose a bill that would give school officials outrageous new authority over homeschool families: the power to virtually imprison any child in the public school system and prevent him from being homeschooled!
Senate Bill 131 says that if a public school official merely files a truancy complaint,the school board then has the absolute power to prevent the child from being homeschooled until the complaint is “resolved.” But schools and prosecutors could put off resolving the complaint for months or years! The public school would become a virtual prison.
Children with bad attendance records may be the kids who need homeschooling the most. They obviously are not thriving in a public school atmosphere. But by forcing an unhappy child to stay in the system that is failing them, SB 131 maximizes the likelihood of punishment but minimizes the opportunity for a student to get a second chance through homeschooling.
In America we believe that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. SB 131 unconstitutionally turns that bedrock principle on its head: it treats homeschool parents like criminals even before the trial!
The bill is scheduled for a legislative hearing Thursday at 7:45 a.m. Please take action immediately.
Please make three phone calls: one to your senator and one to each of your representatives. Keep in mind that they might not be familiar with the bill yet. Your message can be as simple as: “Please oppose SB 131. It empowers a school board to take away a parent’s right to homeschool before a fair trial. This is unconstitutional and discriminatory.”
Or if you wish, your message can be based on the points in the “Background” section below. If you can’t get through to them by phone, pay a personal visit to them at their home while they are home from the Capitol this weekend, or email them.
Inform other homeschool families of the danger of this bill. The bill’s sponsors may try to persuade homeschool families to support it.
1. The U.S. Constitution prohibits a person from being punished before a fair trial. A person who has been accused of a crime is presumed innocent. It is unconstitutional to take away someone’s freedom while they are still presumed innocent.
2. After a fair trial, if a person is actually found guilty of failing to send his child to school, the judge under current law has all the power he needs to make sure the person obeys the law in the future. The judge can impose significant fines and imprisonment. No new law is necessary.
3. SB 131 does not treat all families accused of truancy equally. If two accused parents decide that public school is failing their children and then put them in another educational setting, the parent who wants to put his child in a private school has an unfettered right. The parent who wants to provide alternative instruction does not. SB 131 is discriminatory.
4. When a child misses many school days, there is always a reason. It may be prolonged illness, threats by bullies, intimidation, humiliation by a teacher, ostracism by fellow students, unmet needs, or chronic feelings of failure or helplessness. These children may feel they are being forced into an education that simply does not fit them. With homeschooling, the education can be tailor-made to fit the child perfectly. It is heartless to give a school board power to prevent a student from homeschooling when the parents know it is his very best hope for a successful education.
5. It is bad policy to focus on truancy, which is a symptom, rather than on the underlying causes. Truancy is only a problem when a child hates the kind of education he’s receiving. In contrast, truancy is essentially non-existent among homeschool and private school students.
6. If schools are given the power to prevent a child from starting a homeschool program, it is easy to envision this power being abused. School districts fearful of losing funds through shrinking enrollment might be quick to use this new power to prevent more students from leaving. New powers are often used in unexpected ways.
7. Some families decide to homeschool after conflicts with school administrators who often help parents conclude that the public system is not best for their child. These conflicts sometimes bring threats of truancy charges. All these families might lose their right to homeschool under SB 131.
Thank you for standing with us for freedom!
Scott A. Woodruff
HSLDA Staff Attorney