THE SENATE

S.B. NO.

2323

TWENTY-NINTH LEGISLATURE, 2018

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

relating to education.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that approximately two million children are home schooled nationwide. Research shows that in a positive home school environment, parents are able to create strong bonds with their children and adopt various teaching methods that best suit their child's learning skills and needs. As a result, home schooling can have a positive impact on a child's social, emotional, and psychological development, including peer interaction, self-esteem, and leadership skills.

However, home schooling can allow abusive parents to isolate their children and hide evidence of abuse in a way they could not if their children attended school. As a result, the lives of abused children who are home schooled are substantively different from the lives of abused children who attend public school. The Coalition for Responsible Home Education operates the Homeschooling's Invisible Children database that catalogs cases of child abuse and neglect in home school settings to identify themes that may contribute to child abuse. These themes include children who are:

(1) Subjected to physical abuse;

(2) Subjected to verbal and emotional abuse;

(3) Confined and subjected to food deprivation;

(4) Isolated and part of a totalistic family environment;

(5) Adopted or have special needs;

(6) Subjected to medical neglect and identity abuse; or

(7) Vulnerable to human trafficking or may go missing.

These themes emphasize the need to provide safeguards to curb the abuse of children in home school settings and protect the interests of all home schooled children.

The legislature further finds that according to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately seven thousand children are home schooled in Hawaii. However, existing law provides little to prevent abusive parents from using home school as a means to isolate their children and hide evidence of maltreatment. Without appropriate safeguards to protect abused children who are home schooled, the consequences can be fatal, such as Peter Kema, Jr., also known as "Peter Boy".

When Peter Boy was only a few months old, he and his siblings were removed from their parents' care after authorities discovered signs of abuse. After living with their grandparents for four years, Peter Boy and his siblings were returned to their parents and the physical abuse resumed. Peter Boy's abuse included being shot with a pellet gun, locked in a car trunk, and forced to eat dog feces. Although he was enrolled in preschool, Peter Boy was withdrawn from school to be home schooled where the abuse continued until his death in 1997 when his parents hid his body and lied to the authorities regarding their son's whereabouts for twenty years. Although Peter Boy's parents had a history of child abuse and neglect, they were allowed to home school Peter Boy. As a result, Peter Boy was isolated and his marks of abuse and neglect were hidden from those who are required by law to report suspicions of child abuse and neglect, such as teachers.

The purpose of this Act is to:

(1) Establish procedures for a parent or legal guardian to obtain authorization to home school a child;

(2) Upon receipt of a notification of intent to home school, require the complex area superintendent or the complex area superintendent's authorized representative to request child welfare services to conduct a child abuse and neglect history inquiry regarding the child intended to be home schooled and any other child residing in the home of the child intended to be home schooled, and provide information to the department of education to conduct a background check of the parent or legal guardian and any other adult residing in the home of the child intended to be home schooled;

(3) Authorize the complex area superintendent or the complex area superintendent's authorized representative to approve or deny a notification of intent to home school based upon certain conditions; and

(4) Authorize a parent or legal guardian to petition the family court if the notification of intent to home school is denied by the complex area superintendent or the complex area superintendent's authorized representative.

SECTION 2. Chapter 302A, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"302A-   Home schooling; notification of intent to home school; procedures. (a) No child shall be home schooled unless:

(1) The parent or legal guardian has submitted a notification of intent to home school to the applicable complex area superintendent or the complex area superintendent's authorized representative;

(2) Upon receipt of the notification of intent to home school, the applicable complex area superintendent or the complex area superintendent's authorized representative has:

(A) Requested child welfare services to conduct a child abuse and neglect history inquiry regarding the child intended to be home schooled and any other child residing in the home of the child intended to be home schooled; and

(B) Provided information to the department to conduct a background check of the parent or legal guardian and any other adult residing in the home of the child intended to be home schooled; and

(3) The applicable complex area superintendent or complex area superintendent's authorized representative has approved the notification of intent to home school.

(b) Prior to the start of home schooling, a parent or legal guardian shall submit a notification of intent to home school to the complex area superintendent or complex area superintendent's authorized representative of the public school that the child would otherwise be required to attend. The notification of intent to home school shall include, but not be limited to the following:

(1) Name of the child intended to be home schooled;

(2) Name of any other child residing in the home of the child intended to be home schooled;

(3) Name of the parent or legal guardian of the child intended to be home schooled;

(4) Name of any other adult residing in the home of the child intended to be home schooled;

(5) Acknowledgement that the child intended to be home schooled and any other child residing in the home of the child intended to be home schooled shall be subject to a child abuse or neglect history inquiry conducted by child welfare services and consent to the inquiry;

(6) Acknowledgement that the parent or legal guardian and all other adults residing in the home of the child intended to be home schooled shall be subject to a background check conducted by the department or its designee and consent to the background check; and

(7) Any other information that the department deems necessary.

(c) Upon receipt of the notification of intent to home school, the applicable complex area superintendent or the complex area superintendent's authorized representative shall:

(1) Request child welfare services to conduct an inquiry to determine whether there is any history of child abuse or neglect involving the child intended to be home schooled or any other child residing in the home of the child intended to be home schooled; and

(2) Provide the necessary information to the department to perform a background check of the parent or legal guardian and any other adult residing in the home of the child intended to be home schooled.

Child welfare services and the department shall have no more than five business days to complete a child abuse or neglect history inquiry required under paragraph (1) or background check required under paragraph (2) and provide the information to the requesting complex area superintendent or the complex area superintendent's authorized representative.

(d) The complex area superintendent or the complex area superintendent's authorized representative may approve a notification of intent to home school if none of the conditions under subsection (e) exist or pursuant to a family court order that finds home schooling is appropriate for the child. Upon approval of the notification of intent to home school, the parent or legal guardian shall be authorized to home school the child in accordance with rules adopted by the department to implement home schooling.

(e) The complex area superintendent or the complex area superintendent's authorized representative may deny a notification of intent to home school if:

(1) The parent or legal guardian refuses to authorize child welfare services to conduct a child abuse or neglect history inquiry in accordance with subsection (c)(1);

(2) As a result of its inquiry in accordance with subsection (c)(1), child welfare services finds a history of child abuse or neglect involving the child intended to be home schooled or any other child residing in the home of the child intended to be home schooled;

(3) The parent or legal guardian, or any other adult residing in the home of the child intended to be home schooled refuses to authorize the department or its designee to conduct a background check in accordance with subsection (c)(2);

(4) The parent or legal guardian, or any other adult residing in the home of the child intended to be home schooled fails to submit to the department or its designee information required to perform a background check in accordance with subsection (c)(2);

(5) The parent or legal guardian, or any other adult residing in the home of the child intended to be home schooled has any disqualifying information; or

(6) The parent or legal guardian, or any other adult residing in the home of the child intended to be home schooled has any background check information that the department finds may pose a risk to the health, safety, or welfare of the child intended to be home schooled.

The complex area superintendent or the complex area superintendent's authorized representative shall notify the parent or legal guardian that the notification of intent to home school is denied and the child shall not engage in home schooling.

(f) The complex area superintendent or the complex area superintendent's authorized representative, in obtaining and relying upon the information of the child abuse and neglect history inquiry in accordance with subsection (c)(1) and background check conducted in accordance with subsection (c)(2), is presumed to be acting in good faith and shall be immune from civil liability for taking or recommending action based upon such information. The presumption of good faith may be rebutted upon a showing of proof by a preponderance of the evidence that the complex area superintendent or the complex area superintendent's authorized representative relied upon information or opinion that the complex area superintendent or the complex area superintendent's authorized representative knew was false or misleading of that such reliance was not reasonable.

(g) Upon notification that the notification of intent to home school is denied, the parent or legal guardian may petition the family court of the circuit in which the child resides. If the family court finds by clear and convincing evidence that home schooling is appropriate for the child, the parent or legal guardian shall submit the family court order to the applicable complex area superintendent or the complex area superintendent's authorized representative for approval of the notification of intent to home school. The family court order finding that home schooling is appropriate for the child may impose conditions upon the parent or legal guardian that are necessary to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the child intended to be home schooled. If the family court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the home schooling is not appropriate for the child, the family court shall send written notice of its findings to the applicable complex area superintendent or the complex area superintendent's authorized representative. The family court order finding that home schooling is not appropriate for the child may order the parent or legal guardian, or any other adult residing in the home of child intended to be home schooled to undergo available domestic violence intervention or parenting programs and set a date for a status hearing to determine the appropriateness of home schooling for the child.

(h) The department shall adopt rules pursuant to chapter 91 to carry out the purposes of this section and develop the appropriate prescribed forms to provide authorization and consent to a child abuse and neglect history inquiry and background check pursuant to this section.

(i) As used in this section, "background check" means a review of records stored in state or national repositories for history of abuse, neglect, threatened harm, or other maltreatment against children and for any criminal history, including:

(1) Child abuse and neglect records maintained by child welfare services;

(2) Criminal history records maintained by the Hawaii criminal justice data center;

(3) Sex offender registry records in accordance with chapter 846E; and

(4) Child abuse and neglect records, criminal history records, and sex offender registry records of another state previously resided in by the parent or legal guardian, or any other adult residing in the home of the child intended to be home schooled."

SECTION 3. Section 302A-1132, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (a) to read as follows:

"(a) Unless excluded from school or excepted from attendance, all children who will have arrived at the age of at least five years on or before July 31 of the school year, and who will not have arrived at the age of eighteen years, by January 1 of any school year, shall attend either a public or private school for, and during, the school year, and any parent, guardian, or other person having the responsibility for, or care of, a child whose attendance at school is obligatory shall send the child to either a public or private school. Attendance at a public or private school shall not be compulsory in the following cases:

(1) Where the child is physically or mentally unable to attend school (deafness and blindness excepted), of which fact the certificate of a duly licensed physician shall be sufficient evidence;

(2) Where the child, who has reached the fifteenth anniversary of birth, is suitably employed and has been excused from school attendance by the superintendent or the superintendent's authorized representative, or by a family court judge;

(3) Where, upon investigation by the family court, it has been shown that for any other reason the child may properly remain away from school;

(4) Where the child has graduated from high school;

(5) Where the child is enrolled in an appropriate alternative educational program as approved by the superintendent or the superintendent's authorized representative in accordance with the plans and policies of the department, or notification of intent to home school has been [submitted to the principal] approved by the complex area superintendent or the complex area superintendent's authorized representative of the public school that the child would otherwise be required to attend in accordance with [department rules adopted to achieve this result;] section 302A-  ; or

(6) Where:

(A) The child has attained the age of sixteen years;

(B) The principal has determined that:

(i) The child has engaged in behavior which is disruptive to other students, teachers, or staff; or

(ii) The child's non-attendance is chronic and has become a significant factor that hinders the child's learning; and

(C) The principal of the child's school, and the child's teacher or counselor, in consultation with the child and the child's parent, guardian, or other adult having legal responsibility for or care of the child, develops an alternative educational plan for the child. The alternative educational plan shall include a process that shall permit the child to resume school.

The principal of the child's school shall file the plan made pursuant to subparagraph (C) with the child's school record. If the adult having legal responsibility for or care of the child disagrees with the plan, then the adult shall be responsible for obtaining appropriate educational services for the child."

SECTION 4. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

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Report Title:

Education; Home Schooling; Notification of Intent to Home School; Child Abuse or Neglect; Background Check; Child Welfare Services

 

Description:

Establishes procedures for a parent or legal guardian to obtain authorization to home school a child. Requires the complex area superintendent or the complex area superintendent's authorized representative to request child welfare services to conduct a child abuse and neglect history inquiry and provide information to the department of education to conduct a background check before approving or denying a notification of intent to home school. Authorizes a parent or legal guardian to petition the family court if the notification of intent to home school is denied.

 

 

 

The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.