The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission is discussing a massive overhaul of homeschool requirements. The recommendations from some of the commission members are far-reaching and will have a major impact on homeschool families. On Sept. 23, 2014, The New Haven Register reported that the new plan will require individual plans for students with emotional or behavioral problems.
The Advisory Commission was put together by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, as a direct result of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn. In 2012, Adam Lanza, entered the school and opened fire, killing 20. Lanza was 20-years old at the time of the shooting, but he had been homeschooled. This event has led to stricter gun laws in the state and the formation of the Advisory Commission.
The panel decided on some recommendations, although nothing is cast in stone. CT News Junkie quotes Susan Schmeiser, a professor of mental health law at the University of Connecticut Law School, as stating “Continuation of homeschooling should be contingent upon approval of [individualized education plans] and adequate progress as documented [in progress reports.] The commission wants to give the power to approve or deny parents the ability to homeschool to special education directors.
The Commission’s chairman, Mayor Scott Johnson, says that the recommendations are controversial. It is a drastic change from current homeschool regulations. They expect resistance from homeschool groups and parents. Dr. Harold Schwartz, head psychiatrist at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living and panel member says that the facts leading up to the Newton shooting support the risk of not addressing social, emotional, and learning needs of children who have may have significant needs when homeschooled.
Dr. Schwartz’s statement implies that somehow homeschooled children are emotionally and psychologically deprived, therefore making them capable of carrying out barbaric and aberrant acts violence. What he and the Advisory Panel fail to acknowledge is that what happened with Adam Lanza is not normal. Attempting to rationalize an irrational act with legislation will never work. Lanza was an extremely disturbed individual and the mental health system failed him. Homeschooling did not contribute to his psychological problems; the inability of an overtaxed and overburdened mental health system did the damage. Instead of basing recommendations on fact, the panel is still operating on fear.
A similar bill died in committee last year. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) opposed what was known as Proposed Bill 374. The new recommendations are very similar to the old bill. Strong opposition to the new bill is expected.