- (Photo: AP Images / James Crisp)
A controversial bill requiring behavioral health assessments of all home-schooled and public school educated children has been introduced in Connecticut.
State Sen. Toni Harp (D-New Haven) and Rep. Toni Walker (D-New Haven) have introduced Bill 374 to the Connecticut General Assembly. The bill aims to "provide behavioral health assessments to children" and states the following:
"That section 10-206 of the general statutes be amended to require (1) each pupil enrolled in public school at grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 and each home-schooled child at ages 12, 14 and 17 to have a confidential behavioral health assessment, the results of which shall be disclosed only to the child's parent or guardian, and (2) each health care provider performing a child's behavioral health assessment to complete the appropriate form supplied by the State Board of Education verifying that the child has received the assessment."
Connecticut students who attend private schools are not mentioned in the proposed legislation.
Likewise, the legislation doesn't include the costs of funding the program for public-educated students, nor does it state whether parents of home-schooled students would be required to pay for the behavioral assessments.
Even though Bill 374 states that the information obtained from the behavioral assessment will only be disclosed to the child's parents or guardian, Dee Black of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) says that he's "skeptical that these would be kept private, [because] the bill states that the health care provider must submit a form to the State Board of Education verifying that the child has received the assessment."
Black added that if the health care provider conducting the behavioral assessment deems that a child is a threat to himself or someone else, there would be a "duty imposed on the person doing the assessment to inform someone – not necessarily under this bill, but by some other means."
This leads to the potential impact the legislation would have on parental rights as well as the child's rights. Not only it is unspecified as to what health care provider would be conducting the assessment – the state or the child's pediatrician or general practitioner – but by the fact that the behavioral assessments "would be conducted even though there was no indication whatsoever that these children had a behavioral problem," Black said.
"According to the Connecticut Behavioral Health Partnership, a state organization made up of the Department of Children and Families, Department of Social Services, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and others, a behavioral health assessment is quite comprehensive and invasive," Black added. "It includes 'a review of physical and mental health, intelligence, school performance, employment, level of function in different domains including family situation, and behavior in the community.'"
"Bill 374 would essentially authorize the state to conduct regular social services investigations of homeschooling families without any basis to do so. It's an unnecessary invasion of privacy and an intrusion into the life of a family," Black said.
The bill is in the Public Health Committee.
State Sen. Toni Harp (D-New Haven) and State Rep. Toni Walker (D- New Haven) were both contacted by The Christian Post for comment, but did not respond in time for publication.