A leading experts on homeschooling scolded a Connecticut state commission Monday that decided targeting homeschoolers with more monitoring is the best way to prevent repeats of the violence inflicted by public-school student Adam Lanza in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Twenty students and six adults were killed. Also counted as casualties were Lanza’s mother, killed in her home earlier, and Lanza himself, a suicide.
Dee Black, senior counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association, is responsible for homeschooling issues in Connecticut. He told WND Monday the special state panel’s plan is far-fetched.
WND reported Friday that while Lanza, 20, had been described as being “dark and disturbed” — coldly murdering his own mother in their expensive home near Newtown, Connecticut, before taking her guns to Sandy Hook Elementary School and killing another two dozen people — the state found that homeschoolers need more monitoring.
The state commission of 16 educators, local and state officials and behavioral experts assembled by Gov. Dannel Malloy after the tragedy, according to a report in EAG News, said “tighter scrutiny of homeschoolers” is needed “to prevent an incident such as the December 2012 slaughter of 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Elementary School in Newtown.”
The New Haven Register said while the final report isn’t expected for a few weeks yet, the draft proposals call for individual educational plans for students with “significant emotional or behavioral problems.”
“The group is backing extending those requirements to troubled youths, whose parents have chosen to homeschool,” the report said.
Black said it’s not logical.
“To assert that there is any connection between homeschooling and violence in public schools is simply ludicrous. There is no evidence to support this,” Black said.
“The proposal by the governor’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to this tragedy without an examination of the educational history of the perpetrator, Adam Lanza. According to the report released by the Office of the State’s Attorney in November 2013, Lanza was a public school student, except for a brief time in middle school when he attended a private school.”
Black said Lanza “apparently attended public school on site until around the 10th grade, at which time his mother chose other public school options at home.”
“Lanza graduated and received a diploma from Newtown High School in 2009, an option not available to any student who was homeschooled. The Sandy Hook shooting took place some three and a half years later. ”
Black said HSLDA would “vigorously oppose any effort to subject homeschool students to involuntary mental health screenings and any attempt to deny parents the constitutional right to choose homeschooling as an educational option for their children.”
The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission was created by Malloy 18 months ago after the Newtown tragedy. The governor said the education, mental health, law enforcement and other experts were supposed to recommend changes that would help prevent future outbreaks of violence.
Members last week reviewed their “likely” recommendations in a meeting in Hartford.
Susan Schmeiser, a mental health law professor at the University of Connecticut, said: “Continuation of homeschooling should be contingent upon approval of [individualized education plans] and adequate progress as documented’ in progress reports.”
The basis for the decision to target homeschoolers is the fact that Lanza was withdrawn from public schools in 10th grade, and his mother schooled him for a time.
Marsha Lanza said Nancy Lanza, her former sister-in-law, “mentioned she wound up homeschooling him because she battled with the school district.”
However, details of his homeschooling were not available.
HSLDA exposed an earlier Connecticut plan to require all homeschooled children ages 12, 14 and 17 to “undergo a behavioral health assessment,” calling it an “unwarranted invasion of family privacy.”
The group noted the state’s plan included “a review of physical and mental health, intelligence, school performance, employment, level of function in different domains including family situation, and behavior in the community.”
“The bill states that the results of the assessments are to be disclosed only to the child’s parent or guardian, but that the health-care provider must submit a form to the state Board of Education verifying that the child has received the assessment.”
Kyle Olson, writing at EAG, noted commissioner Harold Schwartz said: “I think we have thought this issue out at some length and we believe it is very germane and that the actual facts leading up to this incident support the notion of the risk in not addressing social and emotional learning needs of children who may have significant needs in that area who are homeschooled.”
Olson said that while there are references to “problems” and “behavioral disabilities,” there is no indication of who would make such judgments.
“The purpose of this recommendation is to make sure that kids get what kids need. If they have needs that aren’t being addressed, just because the parent has chosen to remove them from the school setting … their needs are still going to be met,” Kathleen Flaherty of Statewide Legal Services said in a report by the CTnewsjunkie.
Olson said the commission’s logic doesn’t follow, since public school students repeatedly have caused significant violence.
He cited Red Lake Senior student Jeffrey Weise, who in 2005 killed five students, a teacher, a security guard and them himself. Among the many others are Columbine students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who killed 13 and wounded 21 before killing themselves in Colorado in 1999, and Californian Charles Andrew Williams, who killed two in 2001.
“The examples go on and they all point back to a failed government bureaucracy that apparently didn’t adequately address the ‘behavioral and emotional disabilities’ of the students in its care,” he wrote.