Homeschoolers Face Potential Home Visits

Homeschoolers in the state of Iowa are facing the potential of home visits four times a year from school district officials.

Introduced by Mary Mascher, a retired public school teacher and long-time representative from Iowa City, House File 272 would allow school and government officials to access personal homes in the name of health and wellness checks of homeschooled students.

“The home visits shall take place in the child’s residence with the consent of the parent, guardian, or legal custodian and an interview or observation of the child may be conducted,” the bill reads. “If permission to enter the home to interview or observe the child is refused, the juvenile court or district court upon a showing of probable cause may authorize the person making the home visit to enter the home and interview or observe the child.”

Prior to 1991, homeschoolers in Iowa were required to possess a teaching certificate, but since then, homeschooling laws have eased in the Hawkeye State, and in 2013, an independent private instruction option was introduced that eliminated the need for homeschool students to report to public schools. Proponents of the bill say the bill assures protection for kids who otherwise may “essentially disappear from the educational grid.”

“There is a growing body of research that makes it clear that abusive parents can and do take advantage of lax homeschooling laws like those in Iowa to hide abuse,” said Rachel Coleman as listed in a Des Moines Register editorial.

Meanwhile, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has quickly advocated for the bill’s dismissal.

“In addition to resurrecting long-dead paperwork requirements for homeschool families, the Iowa bill treats them all like criminals,” said HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff as reported in The New American. “In what world do we waste money poking into the homes of thousands of people when there is not the slightest reason to believe an individual has done anything wrong?”

The bill is currently under review by a three-person, bipartisan subcommittee. The committee has three options prior to passing it along to the house floor for debate. Committee members can either pass the bill as is or pass an amended version to the house floor. They can also send the bill to the floor without recommendation.

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