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Ohio senator withdraws controversial homeschooling bill

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The Ohio senator who drafted the controversial "Teddy's Law" has withdrawn the legislation, at least in its current form.

Ohio State Senator Capri Cafaro had drafted the bill in response to the death of Theodore Foltz-Tedesco, who was fourteen when he was tortured and beaten to death by his mother’s boyfriend earlier this year. Teachers had suspected that Teddy was being abused but when they opened an investigation, his mother withdrew him from school and said she was going to homeschool him.

Teddy's Law would have required any parent or guardian wishing to home school their child to go through a home evaluation and interviews from local child protective services. It also would have created a database of previous or outstanding alleged abuse claims.

Senator Cafaro said in a statement that the original intent of the bill was not to regulate homeschooling, but to address weaknesses in the state child protection system. She went on to say that future versions of the bill will not include the subject of homeschooling.

Cafaro said:

SB 248 was never meant to be a policy debate about educating children in the home. It was meant to address weaknesses in the law pertaining to child protection. Unfortunately, the true intent of the bill to curtail child abuse has been eclipsed the by the issue of homeschooling.

After consultation with Teddy's family, we have collectively decided the best course of action is for me to withdraw SB 248, and instead pursue a more comprehensive approach to address the current challenges in the state's social service and criminal justice system.

It is our hope that this new focus will bring the discussion back to where it was always intended to be: protecting children. I am requesting field hearings to address the impact of current law, government agencies and nonprofit organizations on child welfare in Ohio. I will not include any content related to education in the home in a new bill, or in any other bill.

Through this process, it is our goal to craft a new bill to honor Teddy's legacy and to protect vulnerable children like him in the future.

Cafaro said she will make a formal motion on the Senate floor when they return after January first. She has also contacted the state health and human services office to request field hearings on the topic of child abuse in the new year.

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