A trio of Democratic lawmakers in Oklahoma has introduced a bill that would require the state to take a closer look at homeschooling families and educators.
HB 4130 would require parents to provide a statement to the Department of Human Services if they choose to have their child homeschool, pod school or micro school. In the letter of intent, the parents would identify who is living in the home, who is helping with the child’s schooling, the parents’ Social Security numbers, the child’s name and the home address. The department would check the backgrounds of the parents, any adults in the home, and any adults helping with the child’s schooling. The department would keep that information in a database and conduct background checks biannually.
Homeschool Oklahoma called the bill a huge threat to homeschooling freedom and said it removes the parental right to homeschool.
“If this bill is passed, we will see, in one fatal swoop, homeschooling in Oklahoma go from a state constitutional right to a Department of Human Services preference,” the group said in a statement. “Every homeschooling parent and grandparent, tutor, co-op teacher and leader, coach, and provider of extracurricular services in the state will potentially be open to state-provided background checks.”
The group said the bill also is duplicative, as children who are in DHS custody are allowed, on a case-by-case basis, to homeschool.
“DHS investigations should be based on reasonable suspicion of abuse, not anti-parent zealotry by big-government ideologues,” Jonathan Small, the president of the think tank Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, said in a statement. “Caring enough to homeschool your child is not a sign of abuse. And moving to another district is something that parents across the state do routinely every year. Those parents should not be treated as though they are child abusers simply because they change jobs and move.”
If there were a pending child abuse or neglect investigation against either custodial parent or an instructor or if any of those people has been convicted of domestic violence or child abuse or neglect, the family couldn’t homeschool. In that case, the department would provide a written explanation to the homeschooling applicant.
The bill would also require families changing school districts to submit the letter of intent.
Rep. Amanda Swope, D-Tulsa, said the oversight would help prevent abuse or neglect of children and it’s a simple form to complete, News on 6 reported.
“I think that if you are doing a good job at homeschooling your children, then you have nothing to worry about,” Swope said, according to the outlet.
Rep. Annie Menz, D-Norman, and Rep. Jared Deck, D-Norman, are co-authors of the bill.