A bill aimed at preventing child abuse for students educated at home has been withdrawn following mounting opposition from home-school parents and advocacy groups.
State Sen. Capri Cafaro, D-Hubbard, said her bill would have ensured the safety of students who attend home-based school, whether taught by parents or through an Internet charter.
Cafaro had hoped to fast-track “Teddy’s Law,” named after a 14-year-old boy who was withdrawn from a public school in Hubbard after reports that he had been abused. The boy subsequently was tortured, beaten and murdered by his mother’s boyfriend, who has been sentenced to 33 years in prison.
The bill would have required children’s services to screen any parent or guardian who applies to withdraw a child from school to learn at home.
Instead, national and state home-school advocacy groups perceived the bill as a threat to parents’ rights, prompting a “lot of phone calls” from outspoken home schoolers, an aide to the senator said.
“[The bill] was meant to address weaknesses in the law pertaining to child protection. Unfortunately, the true intent of the bill to curtail child abuse has been eclipsed by the issue of home schooling,” Cafaro wrote in a news release.
“After consultation with Teddy’s family, we have collectively decided the best course of action is for me to withdraw SB 248, and instead pursue a more comprehensive approach to address the current challenges in the state’s social service and criminal justice system.”
Cafaro has asked for field hearings to explore any deficiencies in Ohio’s child welfare and safety programs that might open the door for abuse or neglect.
“Through this process, it is our goal to craft a new bill to honor Teddy’s legacy and to protect vulnerable children like him in the future.”
Doug Livingston can be reached at 330-996-3792 or firstname.lastname@example.org.