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No. 5

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Mixed Bills Die

Three bills that would have affected the rights of homeschooling families in Alabama died at the end of the 2010 legislative session in April. These bills are as follows:

House Bill 665 would have deleted the provision of state law that requires an attendance officer to give three days’ written notice to parents before commencing a criminal prosecution for truancy. Passage of this bill would have meant that parents could be prosecuted without any warning whatsoever. Current law provides parents an opportunity to remedy an attendance problem without going to court.

Home School Legal Defense Association opposed this bill because quite often local school districts question whether a church school enrollment form has been filed by parents conducting home instruction. When we assist families with this type of problem, we are able to implement any needed corrective action before any truancy charges are filed. Had this bill passed, school districts would have been authorized to “shoot first and ask questions later.”

Senate Bill 58, to be known as the Tim Tebow Act, would have entitled students taught by a private tutor and those enrolled in a church school to participate in extracurricular activities at a public school or a nonpublic school, if the nonpublic school had permitted it. HSLDA took a neutral position on this bill.

Senate Bill 347 would have increased the compulsory attendance age from 17 to 18 for all students. If a child turned 18 during the school year, he or she would have been required to remain enrolled for the rest of the year. Even at the end of the school year, a child over the age of 18 would only have been permitted to withdraw from school prior to graduation if the parent had consented and the school had conducted an exit interview with the parent and child. HSLDA opposed this bill as an unreasonable expansion of state control over education.

— by Dewitt T. Black