By Maggie Thurber | for Ohio Watchdog
After coming under fire for what many were calling the “worst ever” home schooling bill, an Ohio state senator has decided to withdraw a controversial bill that would have required background checks for parents who decided to home-school their children.
“SB 248 was never meant to be a policy debate about educating children in the home. It was meant to address weaknesses in the law pertaining to child protection. Unfortunately, the true intent of the bill to curtail child abuse has been eclipsed by the issue of home schooling.”
The proposed law was intended to honor Theodore “Teddy” Foltz-Tedesco, who was tortured and murdered by his mother’s boyfriend earlier this year. His mother had withdrawn Teddy from school, saying she was going to home-school him after teachers initiated an investigation into his potential abuse. Both adults were convicted of charges relating to his death and are serving time in prison.
The language in the bill would have required all parents who home-school to undergo a social services investigation, including interviews and background checks, to determine if home schooling would be permitted. If parents didn’t pass the investigation, an ‘intervention’ would be recommended before further consideration of their request to home-school.
“After consultation with Teddy’s family, we have collectively decided the best course of action is for me to withdraw SB 248, and instead pursue a more comprehensive approach to address the current challenges in the state’s social service and criminal justice system,” Cafaro said.
She sent a letter to the Senate president requesting that all further action on the bill be suspended, noting an official motion to withdraw the bill will be made when the Senate returns to session in 2014.
Cafaro also requested field hearings next year to address child welfare in Ohio.
“It is our hope that this new focus will bring the discussion back to where it was always intended to be: protecting children,” she said in her statement. “I will not include any content related to education in the home in a new bill, or in any other bill.”
This was good news to Michael Donnelly, a staff attorney at the Home School Legal Defense Association.
“We are pleased to hear that she’s committed to withdrawing the bill and appreciate her promise that future efforts to address the child abuse issue will not be focused on home schooling,” he said. “This is a great victory for freedom and a great Christmas present for parents in Ohio.”
This article was updated at 12:57 p.m.