Cafaro withdraws her support for homeschool law

COLUMBUS – Citing an intent to pursue a more comprehensive course of action, Sen. Capri Cafaro, D-Hubbard, announced Thursday that she intends to withdraw a bill intended to increase regulations on homeschooling families.

Senate Bill 248, commonly referred to as “Teddy’s Law,” would have required parents wanting to homeschool or have their children involved with online schooling programs to first seek approval from local children services agencies.

The legislation is a result of the Jan. 26 death of 14-year-old Theodore “Teddy” Foltz Tedesco at the hands of Zaryl G. Bush, 533 Creed St., Struthers, who was dating Tedesco’s mother, Shain Widdersheim, 28 Creed St. Bush was accused of running a boot camp-like environment, abusing the boy physically and emotionally, and beating him to death.

The requirements in the bill for pulling children out of public schools would have included background checks, interviews conducted in the homes and interviewing of the children separately in an effort to make sure there is no abuse taking place.

Several local homeschooling groups applauded Cafaro’s announcement to withdraw the legislation.

Tracy Dickenson, treasurer for Trumbull Education Association of Christian Homeschoolers, said the bill simply went too far.

“It’s a tragic thing that happened to that boy,” Dickenson said. “Unfortunately, the solution is not what they’re attempting. This bill would take away rights and it went so far overboard that it’s not even funny.

”We’re happy she is going to withdraw her support.”

According to Cafaro, the intent was simply to protect children.

“SB 248 was never meant to be a policy debate about educating children in the home,” Cafaro said. “It was meant to address weaknesses in the law pertaining to child protection.”

The decision to withdraw Teddy’s Law came after discussing the bill with the victim’s family.

“We have collectively decided the best course of action is for me to withdraw SB 248,” Cafaro said.