December 20, 2013
A new bill has just been introduced in Ohio and it may be one of the most regressive bills in nation when it comes to the rights of homeschool famlies and parents.
It is called teddy’s law.
The backstory here, Teddy Foltz-Tedesco was 14 years-old when he was killed by his mother’s boyfriend Zaryl Bush. Teddy was reportedly being abused for at least 3 years. According to his father when teachers at school noticed signs of abuse and reported it, Teddy’s mother pulled him and his two siblings out of public school and began homeschooling them. Ultimately, teddy died from severe head trauma in january of 2013, after undergoing years of methodical abuse. His mother and her boyfriend are now serving prison time.
So now comes Teddy’s Law or SB 248. A new bill introduced December 3rd in the Ohio Senate by State Senator Capri Cafaro. So what does Teddy’s Law do?
According to Cafaro, “The bill creates protocols for those applying to educate a child at home by creating a link between the local public service children agency, and the education system.”
So what are the specifics here? Well, for one, Teddy’s Law takes the very unusual and unbelievably tragic case of Teddy Foltz-Tedesco and strips the rights of every homeschool family and parent in the state.
If passed, Teddy’s law would require background checks and interviews before the children are allowed to become a part of a homeschool or online program. So before a parent is allowed to teach their own children, social workers have to deem you fit.
School and child service officials would be able to access a statewide data base to determine whether there are past or current abuse investigations against anyone in the child’s household.
If there are records of child abuse by anyone in the household or if the interviews elicit negative information, it must be passed on to the local superintendent or educational leader.
According to Cafaro, “Once a complaint is acknowledged and a negative recommendation is given, the new school would have to delay or deny the admission to the home or Internet-based school program.”
Of course local media is reporting the predictiable story. The headlines… “Teddy’s Law Aims To Protect Children.” “Teddy’s Law Would Battle Child Abuse” But the part of the story the media isn’t telling you, that the death of Teddy, while heartbreaking is being mis-represented.
Why? Because Teddy was already in a public school for years while he was undergoing abuse at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend and while his mother allowed it to go on. Signs of abuse were seen by teachers, who reported it and it was Child Protective Services that left him in that home.
The question now being asked by groups like Homeschool Legal Defense, why did social workers who had the information in front of them not intervene in a serious way and enforce the already strong and existing child protection laws in Ohio?
State Senators pushing for this law will say, “if only we had known this kind of abuse was taking place Teddy could have been saved” but the truth is social workers and teachers DID KNOW THAT TEDDY WAS BEING ABUSED AND THEY DIDN’T STOP IT FROM HAPPENING
That is the the reality that homeschool families in Ohio and across the nation should be confronting lawmakers with.