NATIONAL HOME EDUCATION LEGAL DEFENSE

Tel.: (860) 354-3590

Cell: (203) 206-4282

 

Fax (860) 354-9360

Email: info@nheld.com

 

Attorney Deborah G. Stevenson

Executive Director

P.O. Box 704 ,  Southbury, CT  06488

 

 

March 2006

 

The following amendments are proposed in order to more appropriately conform the DCF policies with existing state statutes and are offered as a means of eliminating ongoing confusion and misunderstanding by all parties.  

 

Amendment #1: 

Amending 33-7-7, subsection, “Definition”.  Amended version would read:

 

Educational neglect occurs when any person interferes with the ability of the child, age seven through fifteen to receive proper care and attention educationally.”

 

 

Amendment #2:

Amending 33-7-7, subsection, “Definition”, second paragraph.  Amended version would read:

 

“Proper care and attention educationally is the consistent receipt of a program of educational instruction in accordance with Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-184 provided by a Local Education Agency (LEA), a private school, or by a parent or person having control of a child.”

 

 

Amendment #3:

Amending 33-7-7,  subsection, “Definition”, new section to be added and would read:

 

The filing of a Notice of Intent to Instruct at Home (Notice of Intent), and the attendance by a parent at a portfolio review are not statutorily mandated requirements.  The choice of a parent not to file a Notice of Intent, not to attend a portfolio review, or not to follow the State Board of Education’s Suggested Procedures for Home Instruction shall not be sufficient grounds to intake a complaint about, or to establish a finding of, truancy of a child or neglect by a parent.”

 

 

Amendment #4:

New sections to be added and would read:

 

“A parent or person having control of a child may withdraw a child from enrollment in a public or a private school at any time for any reason by any written notification produced by the parent or person having control of a child to any school official. Once a school official receives such written notice from the parent, the school official must immediately deem the child withdrawn. The school may not place any conditions on the child or the parent prior to deeming the child withdrawn after the parent produced the written notice to withdraw. If such school does place conditions on the child or parent prior to deeming the child withdrawn, such action may be considered coercion. Legal Reference: Conn. Gen. Stat. §53a-192.

 

 

“When children are not enrolled in a public or a private school, a presumption exists that parents or persons having control of the children are instructing them in accordance with Connecticut General Statute §10-184.”

 

 

Amendment #5:

Amending 33-7-7, subsection, “Criteria for HotLine Acceptance”, paragraph 4 would read:

 

When children are enrolled in a public or a private school, a presumption exists that parents or guardians are fully responsible for ensuring school attendance for children age seven (7) through eleven (11).

 

 

Amendment #6:

Amending 33-7-7, subsection, “Criteria for HotLine Acceptance”, paragraph 5 would read:

 

“parental action, including

           [not enrolling a child age seven through fifteen in school] DELETED

-         when a child is enrolled in a public or a private school, not assuring that the child gets to school

-         [“keeping the child home”] DELETED

-         when a child is enrolled in a public school, refusing or failing to cooperate with LEA efforts, including in-school outreach efforts, and referrals, to ensure the child’s attendance

-         refusing to comply with statutorily mandated requirements.

 

 

Amendment #7:

Amending 37-7-7, subsection, “Information Required for Acceptance of a Report of Educational Neglect” would read:

 

When the child is enrolled in a public or private school, the LEA must submit a written report, DCF-136, “Report of Suspected Child Abuse/Neglect”, to Hotline detailing the specifics of the child’s unexcused absences.

 

Before accepting report of educational neglect and contacting parents, DCF worker must verify information contained in DCF-136, “Report of Suspected Child Abuse/Neglect” including:

 

Identifying information regarding the parents and child

specific dates of non-excused absences

in-school efforts to address the lack of attendance; e.g., meeting with the parents and child, summary reports of discussions and any related material

outreach efforts to the family, including home visits, letters, phone calls

efforts made to refer the family and child to community services and the LEA’s assessment of the results of such efforts

the name and telephone number of the LEA contact person

 

If upon verification it appears that the LEA filed a false complaint, the LEA will be notified that DCF will report the LEA to appropriate authorities for prosecution.

 

 

Amendment #8:

34-12-5, subsection, “Educational Neglect”, “Policy”, paragraph 5:

“communicate with the local education authority (LEA) to obtain information with regard to the child’s receipt of education while enrolled in the LEA.”

 

 

Amendment #9:

34-12-5, subsection, “Definitions”: (identical to Amendment #1 above):

 

Educational neglect occurs when any person interferes with the ability of the child, age seven through fifteen to receive proper care and attention educationally.”

 

“Proper care and attention educationally is the consistent receipt of a program of educational instruction in accordance with Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-184 provided by a Local Education Agency (LEA), a private school, or by a parent or person having control of a child.”

 

 

Amendment #10:

Amending 34-12-5, subsection, “Criteria to Determine Educational Neglect”

 

The criteria used in determining educational neglect include:

   The child’s age

  

   When children are enrolled in a public or a private school, a presumption exists that

    parents or guardians are fully responsible for ensuring school attendance for children

    age seven (7) through eleven (11).

  

    Note:  For children age twelve (12) through fifteen (15) who are enrolled in a public or a

    private school, there is more of a possibility that a pattern of unexcused absences is due

    to truancy issues rather than educational neglect.

 

    Parental action, including:

 

    Not enrolling the child age seven (7) through fifteen (15) in a public or a private school,

    or not providing instruction to the child at home.

 

    Not assuring that the child gets to school, if enrolled in a public or a private school

 

    Keeping the child at home when the child is enrolled in school, unless the school is

    providing homebound tutoring.

 

    When the child is enrolled in a public school, refusing or failing to cooperate with LEA

    efforts, including in-school, outreach efforts, and referrals, to ensure the child’s attendance, as

    appropriate.

 

    Refusing to comply with statutorily mandated requirements related to instruction of 

    children by their parents.

 

 

Amendment #11:

Amending 34-12-5, subsection, “Home Instruction” would read:

 

Disputes between parents and the school system regarding home education are not appropriate for any intervention unless the parents have refused to comply with statutorily mandated requirements and SDE mediation has been unsuccessful.

 

To be added:

The fact that the parent or person having control of a child is instructing a child at home and has not complied with requests by the LEA or the SDE that are not statutorily mandated shall not be sufficient cause for DCF to intake a complaint about the parent or child and shall not be sufficient cause to file a petition for family with service needs to the Superior Court.”