Senate Bill 1406: Requires Medical Exams, Portfolios, Denies Homeschooling for Children under DYFS Supervision
The dramatic escalation of regulation over homeschool families this bill proposes will help no one. There is no empirical evidence that requiring submission of notice and evidence of progress, or evidence of a medical exam, helps homeschooled children. By requiring evidence of an annual medical exam, the bill treats every homeschool parent as if he were a child abuser.
The bill takes away a parent’s right to homeschool a child if the child is under the "care, custody or supervision" of the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). However, the bill does not define "care, custody or supervision" so it could apply far more broadly than one might expect. The bill gives DYFS the power to decide if such a child may be homeschooled. A child can come under DYFS "care, custody or supervision" without the parents even having an opportunity to be heard in court. The bill thus treats the parents as guilty until proven innocent, which runs counter to American principles of justice.
Even more troubling, the bill gives DYFS the power to adopt regulations to implement the bill. As history shows, government agencies can and often do adopt regulations opposed by the overwhelming majority of families. But since DYFS is not elected, it can act with impunity. We would expect such regulations to make the bill, in practice, more harsh and burdensome on families.
The power to adopt regulations would include the power to define the phrase “home-schooled child” because the bill includes no definition. This is tantamount to giving DYFS the power to define homeschooling. DYFS has shown itself unfriendly to homeschooling, and we would expect an unfriendly definition of homeschooling to come from DYFS if it obtains this power. The power to define is the power to control.
Existing laws are sufficient. No new homeschool law is needed in NJ.