Parents who homeschool their children are troubled about two proposed Senate bills they say take aim at their civil rights, said Rick Williamson, Oklahoma Christian Home Educators’ Consociation spokesman.
Senate Bills 308 and 472 are scheduled to be introduced Feb. 2 when the state Legislature convenes. Senate Bill 472 would require parents or guardians who homeschool their child to notify the local school district and provide a report of academic progress to school officials. Senate Bill 308 would let local police or truancy school officials interview and temporarily detain a child not in school. "Both Senate Bills 308 and 472 would violate the child’s fundamental 4th Amendment rights,” Williamson said. Williamson, whose four children were homeschooled, said the exact number of students who are homeschooled in Oklahoma isn’t known, but it’s somewhere between 9,000 and 10,000. Currently, the state has no jurisdiction over homeschooled students, said Sen. Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah, who is sponsoring Senate Bill 308. Sen. Mary Easley, D-Tulsa, who is sponsoring Senate Bill 472, did not respond to messages left with her office. On the average, homeschooled students who go into public schools are two years behind students their age, Wilson said. "You hear examples of homeschool students excelling, but that is not the norm,” Wilson said. Wilson cited potential abuse among some of the homeschooling parents as the reason behind the bill.