Home > 2014 SD Legislative Session, Education, South Dakota > SD SB 131: bad truancy law deferred in committee for a week

SD SB 131: bad truancy law deferred in committee for a week

February 9, 2014

johnny_automatic_State_penitentiary_Last week I mentioned a very bad bill in the South Dakota legislature: Senate Bill 131. The bill was poorly written and could be used to force any homeschooled children back into public schools just because of a truancy charge, with no due process. The Senate Education committee apparently caught a lot of flack from this bill because they deferred action on it for a week.

At the beginning of the committee meeting (on the 6th) it was mentioned the bill will be amended and brought back into the committee for action in a week. Since there were out-of-town people in attendance, they allowed that testimony to take place. The testimony can be heard here (starting at about 14:30).

A father/son duo of Michael and Mike Boyle testified on the bill. It is worth listing to the testimony, both of the Mikes made some great points about the bill as it was written and freedom in general. Michael highlighted how much undue burden the law would put on a parent, without any due process. He also said that it is the parent that is responsible for a child. I don’t think that can be said enough: parents are responsible for their children. The children do NOT belong to all of us. It is statism at its worse to take freedoms away from all parents to handle a few bad parents.

Monica Tanner, of the SD Christian Home Educators, also spoke against the bill. She really focused on looking at the laws on the books already, instead of creating new laws such as this.

I spoke briefly with Senator Welke (D-2) about the bill because he is a prime sponsor. He said the language will be fixed through an amendment process. The bill was meant to fix certain circumstances of parents not getting their kids to school. But I also got the impression he believes many of us were overreacting to the bill and caused this deferment.

At this point I think the bill is beyond amending. It is time for the Senate Education committee to cut their losses and kill the bill. In the meantime the Committee can read the current law and see if that covers what they were trying to do. Kevin, a commenter on my post from last week, had this to say:

However like you pointed out, the bill in its current form would allow for much more than that. It sounds like the bill will be amended, at a minimum, but hopefully will be discarded altogether. Section 13-27-3 of the current SD law states:

“The secretary of the Department of Education may investigate and determine whether the instruction is being provided. Failure to provide instruction is grounds for the school board, upon thirty days’ notice, to revoke the excuse from school attendance. The secretary of the Department of Education may inspect the records of an alternative education program with fourteen days’ written notice if the secretary has probable cause to believe the program is not in compliance with this section.”

This provision seem sufficient to address the intent of SB 131 making it unnecessary.

I agree with Kevin. The current codified law actually appears to meet the needs that this bill was trying to address. Hopefully the Senate Education Committee will not try amending a bad bill just to make it look like they are doing something. The many homeschoolers in this State deserve better than politicians trying to put good intentions over parents rights.

PS. I was in attendance for this committee meeting. Afterwards I had the chance to speak with the Mikes. I would like to thank them for their testimony on this bill, and other bills they testified on this last week. Pierre needs more people like them getting involved in the process!

  1. kimpecov
    February 9, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    I’m glad you were out there and also thank the Mikes for testifying. At the Sioux Falls legislative coffee on Saturday, Senator Krebs mentioned she asked the Attorney General’s office to review whether SB 131 was constitutional. We also asked her how frequently this scenario happens and she said “a LOT, a LOT, a LOT, a LOT”. When asked for some specific numbers, she repeated again “a LOT”. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for an influential committee member to be able to respond with some ballpark numbers.

    I’m sorry if legislators feel we homeschoolers are pushing too hard to defend our rights, but I fear our rights will be taken away from us if we don’t.

    • February 9, 2014 at 10:01 pm

      Yeah, Senator Krebs took an odd stance on this one. Especially when there is no actual proof this law was needed. I hope the homeschoolers will continue to pressure those in Pierre to stop bad laws like this one. (I wish I could say I’m a homeschooler, but unfortunately I don’t think I have the patience to teach my kids).

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