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Senate Bill 950, legislation categorizing truancy as child abuse in California, is now dead. Home School Legal Defense Association joined Family Protection Ministries (FPM), Christian Home Educators' Association of California (CHEA), and several other organizations in opposing this bill. According to state Senator Richard Alarcón, he heard the concerns raised by the homeschoolers and others and decided the measure was just too far reaching. Senator Alarcón let the bill die by procedural rule.
Senate Bill 950 would have created a new category of child abuse under California law: truancy. Categorizing truancy as child abuse is dangerous because homeschoolers could lose custody of their children if they did not meet all the conditions dictated by Child Protective Services and the Juvenile Court.
"Specifically, we were concerned that parents might be ordered to enroll their child in a school not of their choice," said Roy Hanson, Executive Director of FPM.
Homeschool opposition was well organized by FPM and assisted by CHEA's April 5th conference in Santa Clara, California. At the opening plenary session, all of the attendees were handed an alert generated by FPM which explained the problems with the bill and requested the homeschoolers contact their senators and Senator Alarcón to voice their opposition to the bill. Over a thousand attendees raised their hands indicating that they would follow through on the request.
Senator Alarcón's office staff told many callers that Alarcón's office was working with homeschoolers to amend the bill so that it would not affect parents who are legally teaching their children at home. However, HSLDA concurred with FPM's position that the bill could not be amended to sufficiently protect homeschoolers against the risk of some form of oversight as a result of alleged truancies.
Luis Tatino, a spokesman for Senator Alarcón, indicated that S.B. 950 was not an attempt to hurt homeschoolers, but to protect kids who were being abused. A Los Angeles Dputy City Attorney authored the legislation in an effort to crack down on adults who are allegedly abusing children, hiding them from authorities, and refusing to enroll them in public school.
"FPM informed the Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney that existing laws regarding truancy and child abuse are more than adequate to address the prevailing concerns," said Roy Hanson.
The homeschooling community of California owes a great debt of gratitude to Roy Hanson and Jim Davis of FPM for their tireless efforts coordinating the opposition to S.B. 950. We at HSLDA continue to work closely with FPM and commend them and the other organizations in California that participated in this significant victory.
For more background and reasons why we opposed Senate Bill 950, visit: http://www.hslda.org/Legislation/State/ca/2003/CASB950/default.asp