Voluntary Homeschooling and New Proposed Law
Georgia passed a house bill in 2019 that is aimed at allowing the state more oversight regarding children who are homeschooled. This law is in response to the tragic deaths of three children who were removed from public school rosters before their deaths. The school authorities involved believe that, if the children had been enrolled in school, their teachers and/or other school staff would have recognized their distress, and their deaths could have been avoided.
The New Bill
Georgia’s new bill is HB 530, and its intention is to prohibit parents or guardians from withdrawing or removing a child from a public school for the purpose of avoiding compliance with laws relating to mandatory attendance, school discipline, parental involvement, or parental responsibilities. The law is in response to the fact that children’s homes are not always the safest place for them to be – and is in no way an indictment of homeschool in general.
How It Works
The bill’s wording spells out the parameters involved, and they are quite specific, including that, in the event of both the following, the matter will be referred by the school to the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) of the Department of Human Services:
- If a child is removed from school without his parent or guardian filing a declaration of intent to implement a home study program for him or her
- If the child does not return to his or her public school for a period of 45 days
After this 45-day mark, the DFCS will conduct an assessment to help determine if the child’s withdrawal from school was based on the parent or guardian’s attempt to avoid educating the child.
DFCS Weighs In
The Director of Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services shares that when children don’t attend school, their teachers and other educators aren’t able to advocate for them. When someone at the school sees something that raises a red flag in relation to a child’s physical appearance and/or emotional state that could be indicative of abuse, it allows DFCS to get involved and attempt to help the child. Homeschooling itself isn’t at issue. Instead, the proposed law’s intent is to identify those parents who are attempting to bypass the legal requirement that children be educated. Sometimes, parents keep their children out of school – not to educate them at home – but to hide abuse. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic with schools and parents alike scrambling to figure out the best path forward regarding the burgeoning school year, Georgia’s proposed law could be even more important.
Consult with an Experienced Cumming Family Law Attorney Today
If you are facing a family law issue with child custody arrangements, visitation schedules, or anything else, the dedicated Forsyth County family law attorneys at Banks, Stubbs & McFarland are committed to providing you with the skilled legal guidance you need. Our legal team is on your side, so please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us at 770-887-1209 for more information today.