A C R O S S T H E S T A T E S
Home School Law Changes
The 80th General Assembly of Arkansas has amended the existing home school law by passing House Bill 1143, now known as Act 522 of 1995. The changes to the law are as follows:
- Home school students are no longer required to take the Minimum Performance Test which was administered to students who were 14 years of age and in the eighth grade.
- Each student enrolled in a home school program must be tested by May 1 every year from age seven through age 17, instead of age 16 under prior law.
- The prior law named a local school district or an educational cooperative as possible designees of the Department of Education in the administration of tests required of home school students. The new law eliminates all references to any particular designees, but it would not seem to prohibit the Department of Education from designating those named in the previous version of the law.
- Prior law required the home-schooling parent or guardian to pay for the cost of testing. The recent amendment allows the Department of Education to establish a deadline for this payment.
Reasonable Corporal Punishment Excluded from Definition of Child Abuse
By enacting Senate Bill 193, the Arkansas General Assembly has clarified its intent that existing child abuse laws in Arkansas do not prohibit reasonable corporal punishment of children. Signed by Governor Jim Guy Tucker on March 28, 1995, the new law provides that "abuse" does not include physical discipline of a child when it is reasonable and moderate and is inflicted by a parent or guardian for purposes of restraining or correcting the child. Oftentimes social workers are inclined to consider spanking by parents as child abuse, but Arkansas' new law is a model which should be followed by other states. Further expressing the legislative intent in defining abuse, the new law states that the following actions are not reasonable or moderate when used to correct or restrain a child:
- throwing, kicking, burning, biting, or cutting a child;
- striking a child with a closed fist;
- shaking a child under age three;
- striking or other actions which result in any nonaccidental injury of a child under the age of 18 months;
- interfering with a child's breathing;
- threatening a child with a deadly weapon;
- striking a child on the face; or
- doing any other act that is likely to cause bodily harm greater than transient pain or minor temporary marks.