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Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico

February 10, 2015
Homeschool supporters gather outside the capitol in San Juan.
In this photo taken from a WAPA-TV broadcast, homeschool supporters gather outside the Capitol building in San Juan to protest a bill that would drastically reduce the freedom to instruct children at home.

Oppressive Homeschool Law Proposed

Newscaster covers homeschool rally.
A newscaster reports the grassroots movement to stop a dangerous anti-homeschooling bill.

Homeschool freedom is being threatened on the island of Puerto Rico. Proyecto del Senado (Senate Bill) 793 proposes specific new regulations over homeschooling and would grant unprecedented scope for officials to interfere with individual homeschools.

Homeschooling in Puerto Rico is currently conducted under the nongovernmental entity school exemption. This arrangement is working; there is no evidence to support this attempt to over-regulate homeschool families.

The real problem with SB 793 is the vagueness in the bill, which states that education must be “adequate,” “efficient,” and sufficient to meet objectives. Yet neither of these terms, nor the objectives, are defined.

Instead, the proposed law gives unbridled power to the Council of Education to determine what these terms mean and to interfere with homeschools, even to the extent of requiring a student to enroll in public school, if the Council believes a student is failing to receive a satisfactory education. It’s not clear, however, how the Council would enforce such an intervention—which is another problem. The bill also does not provide a process for parents to appeal a decision by the Council. This law would substantially invade the prerogative of parents or guardians to make educational decisions for their children.

Families Speak Out

Last Thursday, hundreds of homeschool families showed up at the Capitol in San Juan to peacefully, but forcefully, express their opposition to PS 793. They came with their children and visited every senator’s office, asking each one to stop PS 793 because it is an unreasonable, unnecessary, and unconstitutional intrusion into their freedom to homeschool.

They presented 11,000 signatures on a petition to the author of the bill, Hon. Cirilo Tirado, asking him to withdraw it. This caught him by surprise, and he was quite irritated. Television station Channel 4 caught it all on tape and showed it at 5 p.m. and again at 10 p.m.

Nineteen homeschool organizations, including HSLDA, voiced their formal opposition to the bill, asking that it be withdrawn.

The battle is not over, however. The bill could be voted on by the entire Senate at any time. We have asked each homeschooling family in Puerto Rico to call and personally contact the senators as soon as possible, to find out whether each senator is for or against the bill. Please pray for your homeschooling brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico, as they work to defend their homeschooling freedom.

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Protect Your Family

If you or someone you know is not a member of HSLDA, will you consider taking a moment today to join or recommend us? Your support for our work enables us to defend individual families threatened by government officials and protect homeschooling freedom for all. Join now >>