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Senate Bill 32

March 26, 2013

Senate Bill 32
Home educators oppose child abuse to the depth of our souls. We have given up our lives and our hearts for our children. We understand that many people put a great deal of effort into the Task Force on Child Protection, however, the opinions in the report, the subsequent proposed legislation, and some legislators public statements demonstrate the lack of knowledge of the bill, SB32, as well as Pennsylvania’s Home Education Program law (24 P.S. 13-1327.1).
The Home Education Program Law (24 P.S. 13-1327.1 (b)(1)) currently prohibits home education of children when ANY adult living in the home has been convicted of an extensive legal list of crimes in the last five years, including:
•    homicide
•    aggravated assault
•    stalking
•    kidnapping
•    unlawful restraint
•    rape
•    statutory sexual assault
•    involuntary deviate sexual intercourse
•    sexual assault
•    aggravated indecent assault
•    indecent assault
•    indecent exposure
•    incest
•    concealing the death of a child
•    endangering the welfare of a child
•    dealing in infant children
•    prostitution and related offenses
•    obscene and other sexual materials and performances
•    corruption of minors
•    sexual abuse of children

Pennsylvania’s current law is far more restrictive than what is in SB32. Provisions are already in place to prevent children from being home educated in a dangerous situation. There is a complete lack of logic in legislating home visits to residences where a person has been subject of a child abuse report in the last eighteen months (SB32), since the law already prohibits a Home Education Program if a conviction has occurred within the last five years. This is equivalent to passing new legislation saying you cannot drive a car if your blood-alcohol content is greater than 3%, when the current value is 0.08%!

Secondly, warrantless home visits are clearly unconstitutional. Home visits violate the Fourth Amendment. They are a violation of the home education family’s right to privacy and their right to be free from warrantless searches and seizure. Multiple state cases and the US Supreme Court cases have stood firm on this point. (Kindstedt v. East Greenwich School Committee, Griswold v. Connecticut, Steagald v. United States, just to name a few)

SB32 is simply legislatively unsound. It is illogical and misguided and needs to be discontinued.

Senate Bill 32 (SB32)
Amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), entitled “An act relating to the public school system, including certain provisions applicable as well to private and parochial schools; amending, revising, consolidating and changing the laws relating thereto,” providing for duty to notify county.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hereby enacts as follows:

Section 1. The act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, is amended by adding a section to read:

Section 223.1. Duty to Notify County.–

(a) The school district in which the child resides shall notify the county whenever a child enrolls in a home school program or cyber charter school, is truant or fails to register for school upon attaining compulsory school age if:

(1) A child or another child in the child’s household has been the subject of a founded or indicated report or received general protective services within the last eighteen months.

(2) The parent or other person the child resides with has been the subject of a report within the last eighteen months.

(b) Upon receipt of the notice under subsection

(a), the county agency shall promptly perform a safety and risk assessment. A subsequent safety and risk assessment shall be performed if the county agency has determined that a risk of abuse exists. If after a six-month safety and risk assessment it is determined that no risk of abuse exists, no further assessment may be made, except upon receipt of a report under 23 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 Subch. B (relating to provisions and responsibilities for reporting suspected child abuse).

(c) As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
”County agency.” The county children and youth social service agency established pursuant to section 405 of the act of June 24, 1937 (P.L.2017, No.396), known as the “County Institution District Law,” or its successor, and supervised by the Department of Public Welfare under Article IX of the act of June 13, 1967 (P.L.31, No.21), known as the “Public Welfare Code.”
”Founded report.” A child abuse report involving a perpetrator that is made under this section, if any of the following applies:

(1) There has been a judicial adjudication based on a finding that a child who is a subject of the report has been abused and the adjudication involves the same factual circumstances involved in the allegation of child abuse. The judicial adjudication may include any of the following:

(i) The entry of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere.
(ii) A finding of guilt to a criminal charge.
(iii) A finding of dependency or delinquency under 42 Pa.C.S. § 6341 (relating to adjudication).

(2) There has been an acceptance into an accelerated rehabilitative disposition program and the reason for the acceptance involves the same factual circumstances involved in the allegation of child abuse.

(3) There has been a consent decree entered in a juvenile proceeding under 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to juvenile matters) and the decree involves the same factual circumstances involved in the allegation of child abuse.

(4) A final protection from abuse order has been granted under 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108 (relating to relief), when the child who is a subject of the report is also one of the individuals protected under the protection from abuse order and:
i) only one individual is charged with the abuse in the protection from abuse action;
(ii) only that individual defends against the charge; and
(iii) the protection from abuse adjudication finds that the abuse occurred and prohibits further contact between the individual and the child.
”General protective services.” Those services and activities provided by each county agency for nonabuse cases requiring protective services, as defined by the Department of Public Welfare in regulations.
”Indicated report.” A child abuse report made pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to child protective services) if an investigation by the county agency or the Department of Public Welfare determines that substantial evidence of the alleged abuse exists based on any of the following:
(1) Available medical evidence.
(2) The child protective service investigation.
(3) An admission of the acts of abuse by the perpetrator.

“Perpetrator.” A person who has committed child abuse and is a parent of a child, a person responsible for the welfare of a child, an individual residing in the same home as a child or a paramour of a child’s parent. The term includes only the following:
(1) A parent of the child.
(2) A spouse or former spouse of a parent of the child.
(3) A paramour or former paramour of the parent.
(4) An individual who is 14 years of age or older and:
(i) resides in the same household as the child;
(ii) is present when and where the alleged child abuse occurred; or
(iii) is related to the child within the fifth degree of consanguinity or affinity but does not reside in the same household as the child.
(5) A person responsible for the child’s welfare.
”Person responsible for the child’s welfare.” A person who provides permanent or temporary care, supervision, mental health diagnosis or treatment, training or control of a child in lieu of parental care, supervision and control. The term does not include a person who is employed by or provides services or programs in any public or private school, intermediate unit or area vocational-technical school. The term includes an individual who has direct or regular contact with a child through any program, activity or service sponsored by a school, for-profit organization or religious or other not-for-profit organization, regardless of where the child abuse occurs.

Section 2. This act shall take effect in 60 days.

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