Washington State Legislature
The 2010 regular legislative session adjourned on March 11, 2010. However, the governor called for a special session which officially began on March 15th and adjourned on April 12, 2010. Focus during the special session was primarily on the state budget.
The last issue of the WHO’s News was the Advocacy Committee’s annual Legislative Update article. We reported on the following bills. Now to wrap up this session:
Senate Bill 2571 is titled AN ACT Relating to the definition of predatory. It was introduced by House Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness and originally sponsored by Representative Appleton. The word “predatory” in law deals with people who are “strangers to the child” and who abuse their positions of power where children are vulnerable, such as in a school environment.
Current state law exempts home-based instruction from the predatory law. HB 2751 would have reversed that exemption. The thinking was based more on the situation where a parent was not present, say at a support group function or co-op scenario. Rather than oppose the bill in its entirety, we supported a floor amendment that defines home-based instruction as delineated in the Compulsory Attendance Law rather than allowing home-based education to simply mean “school”. The amendment also clearly defined “predator” as “stranger to the victim” that way, protecting the homeschool parent.
While this bill made significant progress in the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Rules Committees, it did not pass out of session because it didn’t meet committee deadlines.
Second Substitute House Bill 2867 - Promoting Early Learning. This legislation was requested by Governor Gregoire. On March 29, 2010 it was signed by the governor and will go into effect on June 10, 2010. It establishes a “robust birth-to-three continuum of services for parents and caregivers of young children”. One of the stated purposes of this legislation is to provide a more cohesive and integrated voluntary early learning system that would result in greater efficiencies for the state, increased partnership between the state and the private sector, improved access to high quality early learning services, and better employment and early learning outcomes for families and all children.
This bill is not directly related to home-based instruction because participation in services is voluntary. However, we should be aware of the trend a bill like this can create with regard to its potential impact on Washington’s current compulsory attendance age of eight. If any or all of these voluntary services become mandatory, it could impact, for example, the point at which a parent must meet one of the qualifications to homeschool, the date we file our Home-Based Instruction Declaration of Intent, when we begin annual testing of our children, etc.
Be sure to stay informed on this and any other issues impacting homeschooling. Sign up to receive our announcements all year long, not just when the legislature is in session. Go to our homepage, www.WashHomeschool.org, scroll down to “WHOforHomeschooling” Announcement List.
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