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After Death of Home-Schooled Girl Makayla Norman, Ohio Legislature Unlikely to Make Changes

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Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 12:30 PM

Mike DeWine is Ohio's Attorney General.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and House Speaker Bill Batchelder told homeschooling advocates they see little need to change state laws regulating homeschooling in response to the death of a 14-year old Dayton girl who was homeschooled and starved to death in her home, the Home School Legal Defense Association says. (H/t to Innovation Ohio's Stephen Dyer for pointing out the report.)

Makayla Norman, who had cerebral palsy and couldn’t walk, talk or take care of herself, was withdrawn by her mother from the Dayton Public Schools in 2004 for homeschooling. The Dayton school district was supposed to track her education. But the Dayton Daily News reports that “school officials admitted they violated their own policies, failing to follow up on Makayla’s progress during her final seven years.”

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Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine initially told the Springfield News-Sun that hearings should be held on what went wrong in the Makayla case:

“There needs to be some accountability for the school district for losing track of this child,” DeWine said. “Do we need different laws? Do we need different enforcement?” DeWine asked.

But in an April 17 meeting with Home School Legal Defense Association and Christian Home Educators of Ohio lobbyists, DeWine said he has "no intention of contacting the legislature about the issue," according to the Home School Legal Defense Association.

House Speaker Bill Batchedler also told the advocates that "The legislature has no interest in making changes to the current framework," the association says.

Current state law requires homeschooling parents to notify their local school superintendent every year. They also need to meet certain qualifications, including the number of hours spent educating their children (at least 900), and they must assess their child’s progress annually and send a report to the local superintendent.

Homeschooling advocates say cases of children homeschooled to conceal neglect or abuse are rare. But, as CBS News reports, "it's hard to know how widespread abuse might be because the government doesn't keep track."

And when the Akron Beacon Journal took an in-depth look in 2004 at homeschooling, they found that home schoolers may be no safer in their homes than other children:

After comparing the number of deaths with FBI crime statistics, the newspaper found that the number of home-schooled children killed by a family member raises questions about some homeschool students' safety within their homes.

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