|| LEGAL/LEGISLATIVE UPDATES
ACROSS THE STATES
What are "results"?
In Ohio, homeschool records are "public documents" open to any person who really wants them. Homeschoolers must be exceptionally vigilant to protect their privacy.
The children of one Home School Legal Defense Association member family in Marysville test well, but their parents object to disclosing private information. When they turned in test scores in 2003, they whited out all results except for each child's core total. The school district accepted those results.
In 2004, the parents simply typed up the core totals for each child on a single sheet of paper and sent it in. The school wrote back to ask for "a copy of the standardized test results provided by your testing service as you [have done] in the past." HSLDA Attorney Scott Somerville assured school officials that the scores were accurate and explained the family's desire for privacy. The school officials had no objection to protecting privacy, but felt they had to treat all homeschoolers identically. They were willing to allow homeschoolers to white out all results except for the core total, but they would not agree to let one family provide their results in a different format.
After much correspondence, the family decided to send whited-out test results for another year, and they encourage all Ohio homeschoolers to consider whiting out their own test scores. HSLDA agrees that each family should do what they can to protect their privacy under existing law, and stands ready to defend those who run into trouble as a result.
Victory for parental rights!
Home School Legal Defense Association and State Representative Mike Gilb have been collaborating for the last year on a breakthrough child welfare reform bill in the Ohio Legislature. With Gilb and his staff working quietly behind the scenes, the reforms were not identified as being related to homeschooling and thus were not attacked as partisan. Senate Bill 185 unanimously passed both chambers, and Governor Taft signed it into law on January 10, 2005.
Drafted by HSLDA Senior Counsel Christopher Klicka, SB 185 requires child protective services workers to be trained in their duty to protect the statutory and constitutional rights of those they are investigating. All social workers in Ohio will now have to be taught how to protect families' 4th Amendment and parental rights.
Furthermore, the new law will require all Ohio social workers to tell individuals subject to a child abuse and neglect investigation of the complaint or allegation made against them "at the initial time of contact." This will bring an end to the social worker tactic of not revealing the allegations until they gain entrance to a home and interrogate the children. The law will also give HSLDA and innocent families legal leverage to keep social workers out of their homes.
This bill is based on HSLDA's amendments to the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). HSLDA helped pass these amendments through Congress and has helped enact them in 11 other states. (Find out more about CAPTA by going to http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/Issues/s/SocialWorkerInvestigations.asp.)
Special thanks to the diligent efforts of Bob Reed, Legislative Aide to Representative Mike Gilb. A homeschool graduate, Reed worked regularly with Klicka during every step of the process.
by Scott W. Somerville