TRENTON – The death in May of an 8-year-old girl has spurred a lawmaker who will introduce legislation to help prevent the circumstances that contributed to the death.
Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, (D-37), Bergen, announced today that she would sponsor a bill to regulate the home schooling of children in light of an investigation recently conducted by the state Department of Children and Families into the death of Christiana Glenn of Irvington.
The legislation, prompted by the lack of home schooling oversight revealed in DCF’s investigation, would require medical examinations and submission of student work portfolios for home-schooled children and prohibit children under the supervision of the Division of Youth and Family Services from being home-schooled.
“The tragic death of Christiana Glenn affirms the need for a reasonable home-schooling law in New Jersey,” said Vainieri Huttle in a release. “I applaud the dedicated parents who home-school their children, but there must be a system of accountability. New Jersey has a legal responsibility to provide all of its youth with a ‘thorough and efficient education.’ The only way the state will know if it is meeting that obligation is to account for students who receive an alternative education at home.”
In June, the Assembly Human Services Committee, of which Vainieri Huttle is chairwoman, held a hearing into the case.
In a letter received on Friday, DCF Commissioner Allison Blake detailed the review that took place following the girl’s death and outlined a series of recommendations for improvement, including the need for DCF to coordinate with the state Department of Education (DOE) to fully understand the requirements of home schooling in New Jersey to determine if the development of policies and protocols is warranted to increase child safety.
After researching the matter, Vainieri Huttle saids that the state has little to no requirements for home schooled children, particularly when it comes to accountability and oversight. Most notably, parents are not required to notify school districts of their intention to home school a child; the board of education does not have to approve the child’s home school curriculum; and a parent does not have to be certified.
Among other things, her bill would require the parent of a home-schooled child to provide certain information to the resident school district each school year, including documentation by Sept. 1 verifying that the child has undergone an annual medical examination; mandate that any child under the care, custody or supervision of the Division of Youth and Family Services, including a child placed in a resource family home or in a kinship care home, may not be home-schooled unless the child’s home-schooling is approved by the division; and , the parent would also be required to submit a letter by Aug. 1 of each school year informing the district superintendent of the decision to home-school the child for that school year.