Home School Sports Bill Vetoed
After what seemed a breathtaking victory, when the Florida legislature almost unanimously passed a home school sports bill, home schoolers were shocked to find their governor vetoed that bill! In his veto message, the governor suggested that the legislation was unnecessary, since school districts are already free to permit home schoolers to participate on sports teams. Those families who wish to participate on sports teams should take that veto message for all that it is worth, and petition their local school district for access immediately. Home schoolers have had success on a school district by school district basis, and have generated a terrific amount of public support and positive local press in the process.
Child Abuse Affidavit Repealed
The silver lining for this year's legislative season was that the child abuse requirements in the home school law have finally been removed. According to Section 232.02(4), any parent who had been named a perpetrator in a confirmed report of abuse or neglect or had been convicted of abuse or neglect was not allowed to home school. Representative Stephen Wise was able to quietly add an amendment to the massive Senate Bill 1536 which deleted this requirement.
The Florida Department of Education enforced this section of the home school law by requiring parents to sign an affidavit swearing that they were not confirmed or convicted child abusers. The department of education claimed that the affidavit was mandated by the law, but in reality, it exceeded the law.
Over the years, Home School Legal Defense Association has repeatedly intervened on behalf of member families who refused to sign the affidavit, and subsequently were threatened with the termination of their home school. In at least one instance, a family was taken to court for refusing to sign the affidavit.
As a result of the constant harassment so many Florida home schoolers faced, HSLDA attorney Christopher Klicka contacted Representative Stephen Wise in 1992, asking him to introduce an amendment to repeal the troublesome child abuse provision.
Three years later, after some major changes took place in the Florida legislature, Representative Wise was able to add the amendment to S.B. 1536 which deleted the child abuse provision. At the urging of Brenda Dickinson, Senator Wise also introduced an amendment that deleted the requirement that home schoolers participate in the annual non-public school survey. This requirement was found in Section 229.808 which also required that home schoolers be finger printed. Although the finger printing requirement had never been enforced, this change in the law will prevent that requirement from ever becoming an issue.
Our thankful appreciation goes to Senator Wise and Brenda Dickinson for their hard work on behalf of the Florida home schoolers.
Florida Family Bill of Rights
Finally, child abuse reform in Florida is not dead, but is merely delayed. Senator John Ostalkeiwicz fully intends to bring his Florida Family Bill of Rights back to the floor next legislative season. HSLDA urges every family to make plans now to do what it takes to pass the Family Bill of Rights next year.