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2/12/2003 3:26:09 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Utah--Help Us Oppose Mandatory "Cooperation" Bill

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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February 12, 2003

Dear HSLDA Member and Friends,

On January 28, 2003, the Utah House of Representatives voted to pass
House Bill 76, which would make it unlawful to not "cooperate" with
school officials in a truancy matter. Any homeschooled child who has
not received a written "approval" notice from their local school
district might be considered "truant" for purposes of this
legislation. This means that a family that has not received an
"approval" letter might be required to "cooperate" with school
authorities or face criminal charges. This bill is now moving to the
Senate Education Committee, where it can still be killed. We are
calling on all Utah homeschoolers and their friends to contact
members of the Senate Education Committee to urge them to vote "No"
on HB 76.

ACTION REQUESTED

1. Immediately contact the five senators listed below at (801) 538-
1035. Call each senator separately to deliver the following message:
"Please vote 'No' on HB 76."

D. Chris Buttars - Office (801) 280-2697
Bill Wright Home - Home (801) 667-3333
David Gladwell - Office (801) 927-1110
John L. Valentine - Office (801) 373-6345
Howard A. Stephenson - Office (801) 972-8814

2. Please forward this message to as many homeschoolers and their
friends as you can. This bill was defeated last year because of an
outpouring of homeschool protest. It can be defeated again this year.

BACKGROUND

Under existing law, a parent must "respond to" school officials after
the parent receives a written notice of a child's failure to attend
school. The parents can explain that they are homeschooling, and
assert their constitutional right to do so. If House Bill 76 is
passed, however, this situation will change. The new law would make
it a crime to fail to "cooperate" with school authorities. In such a
case, a parent could be criminally prosecuted for insisting upon his
or her constitutional right to direct the education of a child.
Simply insisting upon the right to homeschool would not count as
"cooperation" for purposes of HB 76.

If every Utah school district routinely "approved" every homeschool
family, this would have little effect on homeschoolers.
Unfortunately, many school districts provide no "approval" letter to
homeschool families. In some districts, homeschoolers do not
"request" permission to homeschool. Thus, whether the family chooses
not to "apply" for permission to homeschool, or the school district
refuses to "grant" permission to do so, homeschoolers could be
considered "truant" under current law. This change in the law would
subject a significant number of Utah homeschoolers to criminal
penalties.

Senator Boudreaux has submitted essentially the same language for
several years in a row. The only way to stop this effort is to
mobilize homeschoolers and their friends to make their voices heard
at the Senate Education Committee. A significant number of senators
on that committee understand the issues and are ready to protect
homeschool freedom. Your help in contacting these legislators and
spreading the word is essential. We urge every Utah homeschooler to
do their part to preserve our liberties today.

Very truly yours,

Scott W. Somerville
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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