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Arizona

February 28, 2006

Parental Rights Protected

A bill meant to resolve a local enrollment issue delivered an unprecedented attack on parental rights during the 2006 session of the Arizona Legislature.

Senate Bill 1527 was introduced with the sole purpose of enabling any child who was at least 16 to enroll themselves in a public school without the consent of their parent or guardian.

This bill threatened unparalleled erosion of parents' fundamental right to the care, custody, and control of their children. For a review of many of the important cases in this area please see our memo "Decisions of the United States Supreme Court Upholding Parental Rights as 'Fundamental.' " To our knowledge, Arizona is the first state in the nation to contemplate this type of legislation.

Homeschool families across the state contacted their legislators and urged them to defeat this bill. Carol Shippy of Arizona Families for Home Education (AFHE) worked with Chris Klicka of Home School Legal Defense Association to craft an acceptable amendment. Senator Ron Gould, a homeschool father himself, offered the amendment to protect parental rights. The amendment changed the bill to permit a minor to enroll in a public school only with the written consent of a parent or guardian.

The Senate K-12 Education Committee voted unanimously to amend the bill.

During the hearing one of the sponsors of the bill, Senator Hale, argued that there was a big problem with public school enrollment practices. He said the main reason this bill was originally filed was because a minor on an Indian reservation tried to enroll in the local public school. The father was absent and the mother was apparently unable to enroll her son because of a drug problem.

Most of the committee members were unconvinced that this was anything more than a local control issue and that legislation was unnecessary. In the end, the amended bill passed the K-12 Education Committee 5 to 3. However, it is entirely possible that S.B. 1527 will be allowed to die.