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1/31/2012 4:48:16 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Your Action Needed IMMEDIATELY to Defeat Dangerous Legislation

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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Your Action Needed IMMEDIATELY to Defeat Dangerous Legislation

Dear West Virginia Members and Friends,

On Friday, February 3, 2012, the West Virginia House Education
Committee will review and vote on HB 4309. This is a dangerous piece
of legislation that would create serious problems for home educators
and all West Virginia parents.

The bill language says that "a child who is physically healthy and
presumed safe is a neglected child if the child is habitually absent
from school" and would give new powers to judges over West Virginia
families.

We need you to take action immediately to defeat this bill.

Today, truancy is a criminal offense under West Virginia Code 18-8-2
which charges parents with a misdemeanor if they do not send their
children to school as required by law. Current law already provides
school officials and courts enough power to handle truancy. This
includes authority for a magistrate to order children to attend school
and to even order parents to accompany the child to school for the
whole day for as many days as the judge sees fit, in addition to
fining and potentially jailing the parent.

Because these statutes are criminal, however, parents have important
due process protections. Schools and courts also must follow specific
procedures when there are problems with school attendance. These
procedures make sure that everyone understands what is expected of
them and what can happen when there are problems. Criminal procedures
provide higher protection than the West Virginia child abuse code.

If the legislature passes HB 4309 and creates a new definition of
neglect in the abuse code, more families will be bullied in family
court with fewer protections. These families will be subject to the
whims of judges who could order just about anything they want,
including the removal of children from the home just because children,
in their opinion, haven't been to school enough.

Judges should not have this authority, and it is crucial that all
freedom-loving West Virginians tell the legislature "no" to giving
this unfettered discretion and power to judges in our state.

Action Requested

1. Email the entire Education Committee by using the email string
address provided below.

2. If your delegate is a member of the Education Committee, call them
as a constituent and tell them to oppose HB 4309.

3. If your delegate is not a member of the committee, please call as
many of the members of the committee as you can to tell them to oppose
this legislation. If your last name begins with A-I call members of
the committee 1-8; if your last name begins with J-R call 9-16 and if
S- Z call 17-25.

4. Please forward this to other like-minded individuals because this
is a freedom issue that concerns all West Virginia parents.

Please give them the following message in your own words by phone and
email:

Please vote against HB 4309-- this bill is unnecessary and would give
too much power to judges over West Virginia families without proper
legal protection. Truancy laws today already provide the government
with plenty of power to address children who are not attending school.
Current law also protects parents, children and school personnel by
giving specific procedures under which they are to act.

By placing a new definition of abuse and neglect in the law, judges
would have unbridled discretion to decide in their own subjective
opinion whether a child is truant and what to do about it--including
removing children from their homes. Children should not be taken away
from their parents just because they don't go to school enough in the
subjective opinion of a judge.

The proposal does not take into consideration other circumstances that
would legitimately explain a child's absences, such as emotional or
mental problems, or even if a child were removed from school to be
homeschooled. Please vote no on this dangerous and unnecessary
legislation and protect West Virginia families from being hauled into
courts with less due process prosecutions. Parents and schools not
judges should be addressing the issues of school attendance for
children under the current law which is sufficient.

Contact Information:

Email string address (copy and paste into the "to", "cc" or "bcc"
block of an email - may not work for all email programs):

mary.poling@wvhouse.gov; brady.paxton@wvhouse.gov; waltduke47@aol.com;
linda.sumner@wvhouse.gov; anthony.barill@wvhouse.gov;
denise.campbell@wvhouse.gov; mike.caputo@wvhouse.gov; kjcraig@aol.com;
gerald.crosier@wvhouse.gov; lawrencefordelegate@hotmail.com;
ron.fragale@wvhouse.gov; justin.marcum@wvhouse.gov;
d.perry@wvhouse.gov; rickymoye@wvhouse.gov; dave.pethtel@wvhouse.gov;
ralph.rodighiero@wvhouse.gov; stan.shaver@wvhouse.gov;
peggydonaldsonsmith@wvhouse.gov; armstead@wvhouse.gov;
joe.ellington@wvhouse.gov; marty.gearheart@wvhouse.gov;
amanda.pasdon@wvhouse.gov; ruth.rowan@wvhouse.gov;
brian.savilla@wvhouse.gov; harold.sigler@wvhouse.gov

Individual Committee Contact information:

1.Mary M. Poling - Chair
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3265
Business Phone: (304) 457-2206
E-mail: mary.poling@wvhouse.gov

2. Brady Paxton -vice chair (D - Putnam)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3337
Business Phone: (304) 340-3337
E-mail: brady.paxton@wvhouse.gov

3. Walter E. Duke - minority Chair (R - Berkeley)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3151
Business Phone: (304) 582-4755
E-mail: waltduke47@aol.com

4. Linda Sumner (R - Raleigh)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3180
Business Phone: NA
E-mail: linda.sumner@wvhouse.gov

5. Anthony Barill (D - Monongalia)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3173
Business Phone: NA
E-mail: anthony.barill@wvhouse.gov

6. Denise L Campbell (D - Randolph)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3145
Business Phone: (304) 636-1391
E-mail: denise.campbell@wvhouse.gov

7. Mike Caputo (D - Marion)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3249
Business Phone: (304) 363-7500
E-mail: mike.caputo@wvhouse.gov

8. Kevin J. Craig (D - Cabell)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3350
Business Phone: (304) 522-5757
E-mail: kjcraig@aol.com

9. Gerald L. Crosier (D - Monroe)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3188
Business Phone: NA
E-mail: gerald.crosier@wvhouse.gov

10. Ron Fragale (D - Harrison)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3114
Business Phone: (304) 622-3609
E-mail: ron.fragale@wvhouse.gov

11. Tiffany Elizabeth Lawrence (D - Jefferson)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3152
Business Phone: (304) 340-3152
E-mail: lawrencefordelegate@hotmail.com

12. Justin Marcum (D - Mingo)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3126
Business Phone: NA
E-mail: justin.marcum@wvhouse.gov

13. Ricky Moye (D - Raleigh)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3162
Business Phone: (304) 255-2932
E-mail: rickymoye@wvhouse.gov

14. David G. Perry (D - Fayette)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3117
Business Phone: NA
E-mail: d.perry@wvhouse.gov

15. Dave Pethtel (D - Wetzel)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3158
Business Phone: (304) 775-4221
E-mail: dave.pethtel@wvhouse.gov

16. Ralph Rodighiero (D - Logan)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3154
Business Phone: (304) 784-8881
E-mail: ralph.rodighiero@wvhouse.gov

17. Stan Shaver (D - Preston)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3146
Business Phone: (304) 568-2696
E-mail: stan.shaver@wvhouse.gov

18. Margaret Donaldson Smith (D - Lewis)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3123
Business Phone: NA
E-mail: peggydonaldsonsmith@wvhouse.gov

19. Tim Armstead (R - Kanawha)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3240
E-mail: armstead@wvhouse.gov 

20. Joe Ellington (R - Mercer)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3172
Business Phone: (304) 425-3800
E-mail: joe.ellington@wvhouse.gov

21. Marty Gearheart (R - Mercer)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3179
Business Phone: (304) 320-0879
E-mail: marty.gearheart@wvhouse.gov

22. Amanda Pasdon (R - Monongalia)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3153
Business Phone: (304) 340-3153
E-mail: amanda.pasdon@wvhouse.gov

23. Ruth Rowan (R - Hampshire)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3157
Business Phone: (304) 340-3157
E-mail: ruth.rowan@wvhouse.gov

24. Brian Savilla (R - Putnam)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3141
Business Phone: (304) 340-3141
E-mail: brian.savilla@wvhouse.gov

25. Harold Sigler (R - Nicholas)
Capitol Phone: (304) 340-3143
Business Phone: (304) 651-3555
E-mail: harold.sigler@wvhouse.gov

Background
If passed HB 4309 would:

> Define parents as child-abusers if their children appear physically
healthy but miss what a judge thinks is too many days of school;

> Make it too easy for Child Protection Services and Judges to remove
children from a home even if the children were not abused or
neglected;

> Put too much power in the hands of unaccountable judges with vague
definitions and broad powers--What is habitually absent? Who defines
physically healthy?

> Could result in the removal from their homes children who are having
non-physical problems, such as depression or other emotional issues,
and force them to attend public school against their parents' will;

> Affect home school families if they do not file their homeschool
paper work properly, such as a late notice of intent or not complying
with the 14-day waiting period before pulling children out of public
school to homeschool;

> Not take into consideration children's special physical, mental,
emotional or other needs

> Treat truancy as child abuse and places parents in Family Court were
the judges have virtually unlimited powers and where parents have
fewer due process protections;

> Create a system of enforcement that just does not care about the
individual needs of a child and the efforts that parents are putting
in to meeting those needs.

HB 4309 is unnecessary because state law already provides sufficient
authority to punish parents and for schools and attendance directors
to fashion remedies to deal with habitual truancy under the criminal
code.

Thank you for taking action TODAY!

Without your support we could not stand for freedom in West Virginia!
If you or someone you know is not a member of HSLDA, will you consider
taking a moment today to join or recommend us and support our work
defending individual families threatened by government officials and
protecting homeschooling freedom for all? Join now at:
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=13431

Mountaineers Always Free,


Michael P. Donnelly, Esq.
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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