Unlike HF 182, another bill Mascher filed this session related to homeschooling, that eliminates independent private instruction HF 272 keeps the phrase “independent private instruction” in the Iowa Code, but requires families selecting that option to submit the same form that was required under competent private instruction.
Families who are providing independent private instruction for the first time would also be required to submit proof of their child’s required immunizations.
That is not the most egregious aspect of the bill. Similar to a bill suggested earlier this year by State Representative Art Staed (D-Cedar Rapids), HF 272 requires health and wellness checks of families who engage in independent private instruction or private instruction.
The bill reads, “The board of directors of a school district shall conduct quarterly home visits to check on the health and safety of children located within the district who are receiving independent private instruction or private instruction.”
The bill also states that these 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.”
If parents do not provide consent then the school district “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.”
Exactly what would that probable cause look like? The bill does not say. It does state the person conducting the visit for the school district shall be considered a mandatory reporter. Also, the school district can collaborate with the Iowa Department of Human Services in performing the required home visits.
This bill essentially puts homeschooling families on the level of parents who have been accused or have had a finding of child abuse or neglect.
The bill drew sharp criticism from the Home School Legal Defense Association.
“Rep. Mascher’s HF 272, in addition to resurrecting long-dead paperwork requirements for homeschool families, treats them all criminals. Without explaining who is going to pay for it—with school and child protective personnel already stretched beyond the breaking point—she wants to command that state agents come into the homes of every single homeschool family in the state four times a year. 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? When people who believe that the government can, and should, solve all problems, this is the kind of utopian dream they dream. Dreams like that only get us closer to an Orwellian world,” Scott Woodruff, senior counsel for HSLDA, told Caffeinated Thoughts.
The subcommittee assigned to HF 272 consists of State Representatives Mary Ann Hanusa (R-Council Bluffs), Sandy Salmon (R-Janesville), and Rastafari Smith (D-Waterloo).
Currently, Homeschool Iowa (Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators) has registered opposition to the bill. The Iowa State Education Association has registered support.
Update: There is an identical bill, HF 100, by State Representative Bruce Hunter (D-Des Moines) that was introduced late January. This bill was co-sponsored by State Representatives Mascher, Jeff Kurtz (D-Ft. Madison), and Vicki Lensing (D-Iowa City).