A small change in wording would pose a big threat to home school families if House Bill 209 is enacted. This law would make it a crime to fail to "cooperate" with a school district that thinks your children ought to be in public school.
Under existing law, school districts are required to send a certified letter to parents if the district believes the children ought to be in the public school. Utah Code § 53A-11-103. All home schoolers currently have to do when they receive such a letter is to inform the district that the children are being educated at home. This is because the law presently only requires parents to "respond" to such a letter. The new law would strike out the word "respond" and replace it with "cooperate." Failure to cooperate would be a misdemeanor.
From a constitutional standpoint, this proposed wording is hopelessly vague. Who defines what "cooperation" means? No home schooler wants to be subject to criminal prosecution at the whim of local school officials, some of whom think that home schooling is always bad for children.
Please check the Home School Legal Defense Association website (www.HSLDA.org) for the latest information on this bill. If you are online and have not already signed up for our "e-lerts," please do so now, and get the word out to other Utah home schoolers. Utah citizens can win this battle before this bill gets passed. If we don't stop it now, some home school family will have to fight for their rights in a criminal courtroom. Please do your part today!
- Scott W. Somerville