Homeschool Alumni to TN Lawmakers: Support HB 917

For Immediate Release: Abusive parents should be prevented from using homeschooling to conceal abuse

Canton, Ma., 02/23/2019—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, wholeheartedly supports Tennessee House Bill 917, introduced by Rep. Kelly Keisling on January 30th. HB 917 would make it a Class A misdemeanor to withdraw a child from school “with the intent to hinder an active child abuse or child neglect investigation.” The bill would also require parents under investigation for child abuse or neglect to receive permission from the investigating agency before altering a child’s school enrollment.

“States across the country, including Tennessee, created homeschool statutes to give children access to another form of education,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE. “Unfortunately, some abusive parents have realized that they can use these same laws to isolate their children and conceal maltreatment.”  

In a study published in 2014, researches at the University of Wisconsin found that 47% of the school-age child torture victims they examined were removed from school to be homeschooled; in 2018, a state official in Connecticut found that 36% of children removed from school to be homeschooled lived in families that were subject to at least one prior child abuse or neglect report. Coleman says that many of the listings in her organization’s database of severe and fatal abuse cases in homeschool settings bear similar themes.

In 2017, a Kentucky lawmaker introduced a bill that would have barred parents subject to founded abuse or neglect reports from homeschooling. This bill was prompted by a case in Berea, Kentucky, where a child was removed from school to be homeschooled following a founded abuse report. The girl’s parents denied social workers access to the home, and the case floundered. The girl was later admitted to the hospital, severely abused.

“Requiring parents under investigation for child abuse to get approval before removing a child from school is an important step toward better protecting the state’s children,” said Coleman. CRHE also recommends preventing parents from homeschooling when they have a concerning history of past involvement with the Department of Children’s Services, and when they have been convicted of serious crimes that may pose risks to a child.

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education is a national organization founded by homeschool alumni and dedicated to raising awareness of the need for homeschooling reform, providing public policy guidance, and advocating for responsible home education practices.

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