The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is reporting that Cafaro introduced Senate Bill 248 on December 3 in response to the death of 14 year-old Teddy Foltz-Tedesco, a homeschooled child who was beaten to death by his mother's boyfriend in January, 2013. Teddy had been abused for years by the boyfriend and was only withdrawn from public school after teachers reported the abuse to authorities.
Even though there is no evidence linking Teddy's death to homeschooling, Cafaro is now blaming homeschoolers for the tragedy by introducing a bill that will burden all homeschooling families with rules that the HSLDA calls "breathtakingly onerous" in their scope.
"It requires all parents who homeschool to undergo a social services investigation which would ultimately determine if homeschooling would be permittedm," writes HSLDA staff attorney Mike Donnelly. "Social workers would have to interview parents and children separately, conduct background checks and determine whether homeschooling is recommended or not. If it is not recommended, parents would have to submit to an 'intervention' before further consideration of their request to homeschool."
While HSLDA condemns child abuse and supports the prosecution of abusers such as the man who beat Teddy to death, Cafaro's proposed law doesn't address the problems that led to Teddy's death and unfairly targets homeschooling.
"Teddy Foltz-Tedesco was killed because those responsible for protecting him did not step in as the law or common sense would have dictated," Donnelly writes. "Although news reports indicate that abuse had been reported for years prior to Teddy’s death, it does not appear that any serious intervention was made by government authorities charged with investigating such allegations. Why was not enough done to protect Teddy from known abuse?" Donnelly asks.
He also explains why SB 248, even if was law at the time, would have done nothing to protect Teddy from the abuse that eventually killed him.
"Even if, as SB 248 would require, his mother had sought social service’s approval to homeschool and was denied, he still would have been at home subject to abuse after school. Regardless of where he went to school, Teddy was left by authorities in a home where they knew abuse was occurring. Clearly, SB 248 would not have saved Teddy."
Rather than target thousands of decent homeschooling parents in Ohio, "policymakers like Cafaro should try to discover what prevented police and social workers who knew what was going on from taking action and faithfully enforcing Ohio’s already adequate child protection laws," Donnelly said. "This bill is misguided and a step in the wrong direction."
The HSLDA is asking all members in Ohio to contact the bill's sponsors to ask them to withdraw the bill from consideration.
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