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May 10, 2011

Bad Bill Averted

Thanks to the skillful lobbying efforts of The Education Alliance, a division of Arkansas’ Family Council, a bill that would have threatened homeschoolers’ freedoms was never filed in the Arkansas General Assembly. In January of the 2011 legislative session, Representative Homer Lenderman (Dist. 76) drafted a bill that would have severely restricted the right of parents to withdraw a child from public school to begin homeschooling. Current law permits such withdrawal when the parent notifies the local public school superintendent 14 days in advance of doing so, unless the child is under disciplinary action at the time.

Representative Lenderman’s proposed bill would have eliminated the 14-day notice provision and instead required parents to either obtain permission of the superintendent or school board or assert that one of four other situations existed before withdrawing a child for homeschooling. These situations included (1) a medical emergency, (2) harassment or bullying of the child, (3) a real and present danger of injury to the child, or (4) a serious social, emotional, or educational issue that the public school was unable or unwilling to address. The existence of any of these situations could have been contested by school officials.

Fortunately, before filing the bill, Representative Lenderman met with homeschool leaders from The Education Alliance for their input. The leaders were able to convince Representative Lenderman that his proposed changes to the law were unnecessary to address his concerns that parents needed more oversight in their decision to begin homeschooling a child enrolled in public school.