A Proposed Michigan Home School Bill Would Require Twice-Yearly Visits With Authorities

Aaron Homer

[Ed. Note: A correction to this story has been made. Initial reports stated that home visitation would be required. The bill actually states that twice-yearly visits with a wide variety of authorities is required, but not specifically at the home. We apologize for the error.]

A Michigan lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require families who home school their children to submit to twice-yearly evaluations by authorities, the Detroit Free Press is reporting.

The move comes amid the deaths of two children who were found dead and frozen in a family's deep freezer. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, in March, the bodies of two children, Stephen Berry and Stoni Blair, were found in a freezer in a Michigan home. The children's parents had pulled them out of public school and told authorities they would be home schooled.

For Michigan State Representative Stephanie Chang of Detroit, the children's absence from a public school, without the eyes of schoolteachers on them every day, is what put them at risk.

"Michigan is one out of only 11 states that does not require parents homeschooling their children to initiate any contact or notice with the state about the fact that they are choosing to home school. This total lack of even the most minimal requirements meant that it was unfortunately too easy for the abuse that Stoni and Stephen and their siblings endured to go unnoticed. We are too late to save Stephen and to save Stoni, but we could act now and do all that we can to save other children from suffering their fates."

Detroit City Council member Mary Sheffield, who helped craft the home school bill with Chang, believes that the proposed bill would not place too much of an extra burden on parents who choose to home school.

"This is not to vilify home schooling and it's not an attack on the home schooling law. It's about ensuring we have another layer of accountability to make sure we're protecting our children."

Danette Urban, administrator of a Michigan home school association, says that the notion that home schooled children are less safe than their peers in public school is not based in reality.

"I feel like what they're doing is somehow making the assumption that home school parents are negligent and that there has to be oversight or we're not going take care of our children. From a broad standpoint, the opposite is true: We are very well-invested in our children. It alarms me because it's more regulation about how you can and can't raise your children."

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