Excerpted from The Garland Island article by John Steinhorst
The state Legislature is proposing background checks for families who homeschool their keiki.
State Sen. Kaialii Kahele recently introduced Senate Bill 2323, which would create a screening process designed to ensure children with elevated risk factors are not removed from public school to be home schooled. He introduced the bill in response to the tragic 2016 starvation death of 9-year-old Shaelynn Lehano, who lived in his Hilo district.
“We are pleased with Senator Kahele’s proposal and urge the Hawaii legislature to put home-schooled children first,” said Rachel Coleman, executive director of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for home-schooled children. “Homeschooling should be used to lovingly prepare children for an open future and not as an avenue for abusive parents to isolate children and conceal torture and abuse.”
Under SB 2323, the complex area superintendent would be required to run a background check on each individual residing in the home upon notification of intent to home school. Families with a history of child abuse or neglect would have their request denied.
In the bill’s introduction, Kahele references “Peter Boy” Kema, who died in 1997 after his parents were allowed to home school him, despite their history of child abuse and neglect. Lehano’s and Kema’s deaths prove that more needs to be done to ensure the safety of home-schooled children.
According to the State Department of Education, Hawaii has 2,774 homeschool students for the 2017-2018 school year, with 108 of them residing on Kauai.
The background check and flagging process proposed by the new bill would make Hawaii a national leader in the protection of home-schooled children, say supporters.
You can read the full story here.