The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) states that it will “vigorously oppose” any efforts to involve homeschoolers in Connecticut in involuntary mental health screenings as a result of a recommendation by the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, a task force that cited the Newtown shooting as a reason for tighter control on homeschoolers.
“To assert that there is any connection between homeschooling and violence in public schools is simply ludicrous,” Dewitt Black, HSLDA senior counsel, told Breitbart News. “There is no evidence to support this.”
As Breitbart News reported last week, the commission, convened by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-WFP), said it was recommending tighter control of homeschooling families in the state to prevent another Newtown shooting.
Alleged shooter Adam Lanza reportedly had some homeschooling, but he experienced most of his education in public schools. Therefore, the commission’s focus on ensuring all children in the state receive mental health screenings and its recommendation that homeschoolers with mental health issues report regularly to the special education directors in their public school district have created an uproar in the homeschooling community.
As CT News Junkie reported, Dr. Susan Schmeiser, professor of mental health law at the University of Connecticut law school, said a diagnosis of mental illness alone makes a “very weak predictor” of violence. Nevertheless, she added, “Continuation of homeschooling should be contingent upon approval of [individualized education plans] and adequate progress as documented” in progress reports.
Similarly, commission member Dr. Harold I. Schwartz, psychiatrist-in-chief at Hartford Hospital‘s Institute of Living, said the following regarding the proposal:
Given the individuals involved in the tragedy that formed the basis of this commission, 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 home-schooled.
“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,” said Black.
Citing Lanza’s reported education background, Black continued:
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. Apparently he 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 3 ½ years later.
“Home School Legal Defense Association will vigorously oppose any effort to subject homeschool students to involuntary mental health screenings,” Black said, “and any attempt to deny parents the constitutional right to choose homeschooling as an educational option for their children.”
According to WFSB.com, the commission’s final report is expected to be completed in the next few weeks. Lawmakers will then decide whether to turn its recommendations into legislation.