Left: State Senator Matt McCoy Right: Picture of Natalie Finn taken by a neighbor
After Finn’s death Iowans need to focus on the actual risk factors to abuse.
Left: State Senator Matt McCoy Right: Picture of Natalie Finn taken by a neighbor

In response to the horrific death of Natalie Finn, a 16-year-old in West Des Moines who was denied critical care and starved to death, State Senator Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines) wants local school districts to check in on homeschoolers quarterly.

The Des Moines Register reports:

State Sen. Matt McCoy, a Democrat who represents West Des Moines, where Natalie died Oct. 24 from emaciation, said the details of the children’s suffering made him want to vomit.

“This young woman was essentially put through one of the most torturous forms of death I could think of,” he said. “It’s absolutely tragic. We need to do all we can to make sure this never happens again.”

McCoy said details unveiled during the briefing underscored the need for changes in the way home-schooled children are monitored, additional vetting of potential parents before children are adopted out of foster care, and better direction of child-protective workers to ensure they are giving “more trust and validity” to abuse reports from mandatory reporters.

KCCI further revealed that one of the bills he wants to file will require schools to physically check in on home schooled students quarterly.

Based on what we know of the facts of the case I don’t see how that would have helped Natalie. Numerous calls were made to the Iowa Department of Human Services from mandatory reporters and neighbors. If Iowa Department of Human Services took these seriously Natalie would likely be alive today.

Natalie, while not currently enrolled in public school, had attended public school it’s unlikely the abuse just started this school year.

What McCoy suggests would be an unprecedented invasion of privacy for homeschooling parents. Iowa law has never required school districts to monitor home schooling families – ever. It was not a requirement even under competent private instruction.

Also schools are not social service agencies. They can not and should not have any authority over children not on school grounds or at school activities. Their power should not be expanded into the home.

This also presupposes that public school children are never victims of abuse and neglect. Years of experience working with children deemed Child In Need of Assistance (CINA) by juvenile court I can tell you that is certainly not the case. Also those cases were not guaranteed not to slip through the cracks simply because they went to public school. I don’t see him advocating home visits for all kids.

This also represents another unfunded mandate for local school districts. They do not have the time or money to be able to get this done.

McCoy’s approach to lawmaking, as evidenced here, is to emote and overreact. An investigation needs to be completed to see how the system failed Natalie and corrections need to be made to be certain it won’t happen again. Treating all home schoolers as potential child abusers is not the answer.

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