How Will Voluntary Homeschooling be Affected with New Proposed Law?
Under a new proposed law, parents could face scrutiny from Children and Family Services if they voluntarily decide to homeschool their children.
Prior to concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, plenty of people opted for homeschooling in Georgia. Homeschooling gives parents greater control over their child’s education while protecting children against bullying and other dangers they face in classrooms. However, there are some unfortunate cases in which homeschooled children face greater risks at home, particularly if there is an abusive parent in the picture. Our Atlanta family law attorneys explain newly proposed changes in state laws and how it could end up jeopardizing the rights of homeschooling parents.
Georgia Law Seeks to Protect Children
In 2019, Georgia passed a law that made it tougher for parents to pull their children out of schools. Under Title 20 of the Georgia Education Code, parents of elementary and secondary students are required to provide a declaration of intent regarding their plans in the event they decide to homeschool. In addition to ensuring children receive an appropriate and well-rounded education, one of the primary purposes is to protect against child abuse. Several tragic cases had occurred in different counties across Georgia in which children were pulled out of their schools by parents, only to be found dead several months later.
Child welfare advocates say that teachers, school counselors, and other personnel provide important oversight in cases of child abuse. They are likely to notice bruises, broken bones, or other signs of abuse and can take action, such as notifying law enforcement officials. They can also refer families to social service agencies who may be able to help. Unfortunately, when children get pulled out of school, it can allow abusive parents to escape detection.
How Proposed Changes in the Law Affect Homeschoolers
HB 530 proposes changes to the existing law that are geared to providing greater protection for children. Unfortunately, these changes could end up causing legal problems for innocent parents who choose to homeschool.
The newly proposed law shortens the amount of time parents have to provide a declaration of intent regarding home study plans to Department of Education officials from 45 days to 30 days. If homeschooling parents fail to submit a declaration within this, their case will be referred to the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS). The parents will then be subject to home visits and family assessments. Problems associated with this include:
- Home visits are time-consuming and an invasion of privacy;
- They can frighten children while doing damage to your family’s reputation in the community;
- Investigators may see false signs of abuse in perfectly safe and healthy homes;
- Appearances at court hearings may be required, which can traumatize children while putting the rights of parents in jeopardy.
Contact Our Gwinnett County Family Law Attorneys
At Zimmerman & Associates, we can help ensure you are in compliance with homeschooling laws while protecting your rights in matters involving DFCS. Call or contact our Norcross family law attorneys online to request a consultation today.