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3/8/2004 5:48:07 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Maryland--Calls Needed: Bill Turns Truancy Into Child Abuse

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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March 8, 2004


Maryland--Calls Needed: Bill Turns Truancy Into Child Abuse


Dear HSLDA members and friends:

A bill that would treat the parents of a truant child like child
abusers will receive a hearing before the Senate Judicial Proceedings
Committee this Wednesday, March 10, starting at 1:00 P.M.

Local school systems in Maryland frequently threaten homeschoolers
with truancy over minor disagreements. If Senate Bill 345 passes, a
disagreement could cause a homeschool family to be thrown into the
hands of social workers.

Currently, if a child is truant he is treated the same as children
who have committed other petty crimes. The Department of Juvenile
Services has jurisdiction and the focus is on correcting the child's
behavior.

If SB 345 passes, parents become the villains. Every parent of a
suspected truant child would be treated just like a suspected child
abuser. They would be investigated by the Department of Social
Services. Social workers would search for evidence to prove that the
parents are unfit. Every member of the family would be questioned by
a social worker. A parent could have his child taken away from him
permanently for truancy.

Even when there is an honest disagreement about whether a child is
truant-perhaps because the law is unclear, or there is a disagreement
about the facts-the full power of the social services system could be
arrayed against the parent.


ACTION REQUESTED

If your senator is listed below, please call him to oppose this bill.
Your message can be as simple as:

"Please oppose Senate Bill 345. It would treat truancy like child
abuse. Truancy is currently under the jurisdiction of the Department
of Juvenile Services along with other minor juvenile offences, and
that is where it should stay. Social workers should not be
distracted from their important work of protecting children's lives
by chasing after teenagers skipping school."

To find your senator please use HSLDA's legislative toolbox
http://www.hslda.org/toolbox

This bill affects all parents, regardless of how they educate their
children, so it is not necessary to identify yourself as a
homeschooler.

Please attend the hearing on this bill, Wednesday, March 10,
beginning at 1:00 PM, in room 2, East Miller Senate Building, 11
Bladen St. Annapolis. A good turnout will show the committee that
parents are serious about not turning truancy into child abuse.

The members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee are:

Chairman Brian E. Frosh - 301-858-3124
Vice Chairman Leo E. Green - 301-858-3631
Jim Brochin - 410-841-3648
Jennie M. Forehand - 301-858-3134
Rob Garagiola - 301-858-3169
John A. Giannetti, Jr. - 410-841-3141 or 301-858-3141
Larry E. Haines - 410-841-3683
Ralph M. Hughes - 410-841-3656
Nancy Jacobs - 410-841-3158
Philip C. Jimeno - 410-841-3658
Alexander X. Mooney - 301-858-3575


Reasons To Oppose SB 345

Because child abuse is so serious, we have given the state tremendous
power to address it. Social workers have the power to permanently
take a child away from his parents. They have the power to insist on
questioning every member of a household. Neither of these powers is
necessary when dealing with truancy, so Juvenile Service workers do
not have those powers. It is dangerous to give the state power where
it is not justified.

A private individual has the authority to initiate a legal action in
the case of child abuse, but not truancy. Giving an individual this
power may be justified for abuse, but certainly not for truancy.
Senate Bill 345 would give private individuals the power to initiate
a legal action for mere truancy. Under current law, only the
Department of Juvenile Services can start a legal action for truancy.

Social workers are trained to deal with situations where the parents
are the problem and the children are the victims. Through their
training and their experience, they develop a professional mindset of
being suspicious and wary of parents. Social workers frequently take
children away from their parents. A family is much more likely to be
destroyed as the result of a social services investigation than as
the result of a Department of Juvenile Services investigation.
Parents are far more anxious, and rightly so, about a social worker
intervening in their home life than a Department of Juvenile Services
worker.

Truancy is not life threatening. It should not be investigated by
social workers who have the power to destroy a family. Social
workers chronically violate the Constitutional rights of parents.
Allowing them control over truancy would vastly expand the scope of
their power. This is frightening and unnecessary.

Sometimes social workers have the opportunity to save a child's life
in the case of authentic, life threatening child abuse. It defies
common sense to take social workers away from such cases and send
them chasing after teenagers who are skipping school.

Over the last twenty years, many innocent homeschoolers have
undergone difficult trials from overly aggressive social services
investigations. SB 345 would open the door to social services
investigations based on false and malicious accusations against
homeschoolers. It must be stopped!

Thank you for standing with us for freedom.


Sincerely,

Scott A. Woodruff
HSLDA Staff Attorney



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