Should parents of home-schooled children submit to background checks?

Local News

Lawmakers are looking for change, pointing to the death of “Peter Boy” Kema and a more recent case involving a Hawaii island girl who was starved to death.

Their proposal would make sure children who are being home-schooled aren’t being abused, but some parents say it goes too far.

The Department of Education told KHON2 there are more than 2,700 students who are currently home-schooled.

Lawmakers said these proposed changes will act as safeguards to make those children aren’t subject to abuse.

If this legislation passes, parents who want to home-school their children will be required to allow child welfare services to check for any history of child abuse and neglect.

Parents will also have to undergo screening themselves to determine if there are any factors that put the student at risk.

If a home-school request is denied, it can be petitioned in family court.

Lawmakers said without these changes, the consequences can be fatal.

Peter Kema Jr. and his siblings were removed from their parents’ home after authorities discovered signs of abuse.

The children were eventually returned to their parents and Peter Boy was withdrawn from his preschool to be home-schooled.

The abuse continued before he died in 1997.

In June 2016, a 9-year-old Hawaii island girl died after she was found severely malnourished in a Hilo home. She was also home-schooled.

Her parents and grandmother were arrested and charged in connection with her death.

However, several families say the proposal unfairly targets home-school parents.

“There are a lot of students in public school systems that are abused. You just can’t see it,” said Cheryl Kvalvik, who home-schooled eight of her nine children and is a current home-school tutor.

We’re told the home-school community agrees something should be done to protect the abused, but they plan to fight this.

“We watch out for other children, and if we saw anything that needed to be reported, you bet we would,” Kvalvik said.

Senate Bill 2323 will be heard before the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday and dozens of families are expected to be there to testify against the bill.

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