Bulletin #13 - How CT solved the IDEA/Child Find issue 11/30/2003

 

Did you know: CT solved the issue regarding IDEA/Child Find by instituting State legislation back in 1994.

 

Many years ago, CT homeschoolers successfully lobbied state legislators and obtained passage of a bill upholding the parental right to refuse to accept special education services. This statute reads as follows:

 

Sec. 10-184a. Refusal of certain parents to consent to use of special education programs or services.
The provisions of sections 10-76a to 10-76h, inclusive, shall not be construed to require any local, regional or state board of education to provide special education programs or services for any child whose parent or guardian has chosen to educate such child in a home or private school in accordance with the provisions of section 10-184 and who refuses to consent to such programs or services. (P.A. 94-245, S. 43, 46) History: P.A. 94-245 effective July 1, 1994.

 

As you know, HSLDA has proposed legislation that addresses this issue on a federal level. The Individuals with Disability Education Act is a federal program which helps families with disabled children obtain special needs services for their children. IDEA requires that states have in place policies that help identify disabled students who might need services. This is called "Child Find".

 

However, under IDEA, (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), 34 C.F.R. 300.505, parents already do have the right to refuse consent for evaluations along with the right to refuse placement of a child. Because homeschoolers, of course, are also parents, there is no need for any change in IDEA specifically to protect homeschoolers. As a matter of fact, until now, IDEA was interpreted as applying only to children enrolled in public and private schools. It was the official position of the federal government that public school officials were not required to provide special education to children who are homeschooled.

 

If a particular school was attempting to force parents to have a homeschooled child evaluated, by bringing the issue before a due process hearing officer, quite possibly it was because the homeschool in that particular state was considered a "private school" under state law. Anytime an issue is brought before an administrative officer or a judicial officer, the possibility exists for an interpretation of the law that works against the interest of a homeschooling parent.

 

The answer to a problem such as this is not to add more to a federal law, but instead:

1.        To amend the state law to eliminate the necessity of considering a homeschool as a "private school" in the first place, or

2.        To enact legislation similar to that of CT thereby asserting parental rights more strongly on the state level.

 

People should be made aware that in fact it is the right of parents to refuse evaluations, and that even homeschooling parents have that right. A parent is a parent, whether the parent homeschools or not. Reduction of government regulation is far superior to an increased amount of regulation, even if it is meant to "clarify" other regulations.

 

HSLDA says that HR2732/SB1562 would clarify existing law so that IDEA does not require evaluations of homeschoolers who are not seeking services. We suggest that instead of creating more federal laws that regulate homeschoolers, states should retain control of the issue and adopt their own legislation to protect parents.

 

Attorney Deborah Stevenson - Executive Director of National Home Education Legal Defense. www.nheld.com or email : info@nheld.com

Judy Aron - Director of Research, NHELD imjfaron@sbcglobal.net