Reported by Nigel Boys
After the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre of 2012, lawmakers in Connecticut proposed a bill last year that would have made it a requirement for school children to undergo mental health assessments, including those who were schooled at home.
The bill never made it to the voting process because it died in the committee stage of the government task force after fierce opposition from supporters of home-schooling. However, the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission has come up with another proposal that has home-school advocates chomping at the bit.
The new proposal recommends that home-taught students who have behavioral or emotional problems be forced to follow an individualized educational plan which is approved by state officials. If the proposal is passed, parents who refuse to follow the educational plan could have their rights to teach their children at home denied.
Dr. Harold I Schwartz said, “We have thought this issue out at some length and we believe it is very germane and that the actual facts leading up to this incident support the notion of the risk in not addressing social and emotional learning needs of children who may have significant needs in that area who are home-schooled.” Shwartz is a member of the advisory commission who drew up the proposal to address the emotional needs of home-schooled children.
Susan Shmeiser, an author of the proposal, said that home-schooled children may not receive the necessary help to develop the skills they will need to function as useful members of society. She added that the new regulations would allow the government to monitor students’ education “from birth to adulthood,” in order to make sure they will comply with society’s standards.
However, Dee Black, lawyer for the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is vehemently opposed to the proposed regulations. He added that the only way to establish which home-schooled students are troubled would be to screen each and every one of them.
Black believes that the commission is looking for an easy way to explain what happened at the tragedy in Sandy Hook without thoroughly examining the history of Adam Lanza, the perpetrator of the crime who was home-schooled by his mother.
In a recent statement, Black said that the proposal would severely limit the constitutional rights and freedoms of Connecticut’s children and their parents to choose home-schooling as a viable option for education. He added that his organization would continue to oppose the mental health screening of these students vigorously.