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Cafaro: Teddy's Law links schools, agencies to protect kids

Published: Tue, December 17, 2013 @ 12:10 a.m.

Teddy’s Law links educational system, oversight agencies




Teddy Foltz

By Jordan Cohen



State Sen. Capri Cafaro of Liberty, D-32nd, has introduced a bill requiring school superintendents and children services agencies to access a child-abuse database and possibly intervene before permitting a student to be either homeschooled or enrolled in a community Internet school.

Cafaro said she drafted the legislation in the wake of the beating death last January of 14-year-old Teddy Foltz of Struthers.

“It’s called Teddy’s Law, a joint effort to ensure we improve the system to protect children,” Cafaro said during a Monday news conference.

The child died after a beating suffered at the hands of Zaryl Bush, who was living with the child’s mother, Shain Widdersheim. Authorities said the boy supposedly was being schooled at home to cover up the incidents of abuse. The couple later was convicted and sentenced to long prison terms.

“[Teddy] may have been pulled out [of public school] to enhance his isolation,” Cafaro said. “My objective is to create reasonable regulations to protect these children.”

Cafaro said her legislation would establish links between children services agencies and the educational system and would require both to determine if a parent, caregiver or guardian’s name appears on a statewide child abuse database when a homeschool application is made.

If it does, the senator’s bill would require children services to launch an intervention program including home visitation before granting approval, and would authorize superintendents to delay admission until the investigation is completed.

“The superintendent [can] deny admission if those involved refuse to participate in an intervention program,” Cafaro said.

The child’s father, Shawn Tedesco of Sharon, Pa., and grandparents Sara and Paul Foltz of Youngstown appeared with Cafaro to support her legislation. Tedesco wore a blue T-shirt with “Fight for Teddy’s Law” on the front.

“The ongoing abuse, torture and murder of my son and the murders of other innocent children from abuse is horrific,” Tedesco said. “We at Teddy’s Law are their voices.”

Cafaro said she is not trying to be “punitive” against parents or guardians wishing to educate their children outside the public school system and said she is “sensitive” to their concerns.

“They deserve to be heard, [but] if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t be concerned about this,” Cafaro said.

The legislator declined to speculate about opposition to her bill, which is in the early stages of legislation and is assigned to a committee. Tedesco and the Foltz family said they plan to keep speaking out while the bill moves through the legislative process.

“Child abuse is the lowest example of human ... behavior,” Tedesco said.


1zabethebabe(3 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Perhaps she should have all parents screened by children's services. Teddy was in the public school system and the abuse was reported. It wasn't until after the abuse was reported by teachers that the children were removed from school. This is just blatant discrimination against home-schoolers.

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2MomOfBoys(1 comment)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Where was the father when his son was being beaten to death?

Maybe they should require legislation for children that have adults other than their biological parents living with them.

There are plenty of ways to throw blame around but pinning it all on homeschooling is ridiculous.

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3shuttlebus(5 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

This ridiculous piece of legislation does nothing but violate our parental rights.

Instead of introducing a bill that tramples the rights of homeschoolers, state Senator Cafaro should put her efforts into determining why the current laws already on the books were not followed. Hubbard reported the abuse. Why was no further action taken?

Hopefully this misguided bill will die a quick death.

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4busymommyof8(2 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

YOU'RE KIDDING, RIGHT? A family intent on hiding abuse can do so multiple ways! Move to a new district w/o withdrawing their child from the old district and never enroll them in the new district. MovE into the country and become basically, invisible. Put a new address, within the child's home school district (so they continue to attend the same school) with the school on their child's records. (The address can exist or not...the school isn't going to check because the child isn't moving out if the district or even changing home schools.)
This new law wouldn't protect more children than the existing laws, appropriately enforced, should protect. I have to question whether that is even the intent. Is this a backdoor attempt to run roughshod over the rights of parents? Or possibly a way of looking like a knight in shining armour/defender of children to constituents at election time.
I have to hope this bill, regardless of intent, never makes it out of committee.

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5dontbeafool(1923 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

I really don't know what the rage is about. Obviously this poor kid fell through the cracks and the system failed. There were some signs that were reported, and checked on, but the evidence apparently wasn't enough and the kid was too afraid to speak up when police investigated. I think the more safeguards in place to prevent something like this from happening again, the better. Don't take it as an attack on homeschoolers. I'm sure that 99% of homeschoolers are loving, respectable people. Like the artical read, if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn't worry about it. I don't know much about how home schooling works, maybe one of you guys can answer me this. What does a parent need to do to home school? Is there an application process, background check, does anyone check to see if the home is a suitable place to learn, etc....? I don't want nasty responses, I just think that those of you who home school are taking it too personal. I believe that the intention of this bill is for the best interest of kids.

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6shuttlebus(5 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

The "rage" is due to the fact that this bill infringes upon our parental rights. A government agency should not have the right to dictate how I choose to educate my children.

The current homeschooling laws in Ohio require us to submit documentation to the officials at the public school on a yearly basis. However, homeschooling parents are not asking the public school to grant us permission to homeschool. By law, homeschooling parents are notifying the public school that are children will be homeschooled.

This bill would give the state the power to determine whether a family could homeschool.

I am all for protecting children from abuse. However, nothing in this bill will prevent children from being abused.

Rather than rewriting the homeschooling laws, which are working very well in this state, Senator Cafaro should devote her time to launching a full scale investigation into determining which government agency failed to follow the child abuse laws that are already on the books in Ohio.

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7Jason522(1 comment)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

What happened to Teddy was an awful thing and those who perpetrated it are being punished as the law allows.

Should we do what we can to prevent such things from happening again? Absolutely. However, let's be clear: When enacting legislation, good intentions do NOT matter - the implications do.

This article is misleading. The bill does NOT conduct a search of a statewide child abuse database AND THEN require children services to launch an intervention program including home visitation before granting approval if it turns something up. It requires FIRST an interview with child services for the parent AND the child, THEN a database search. IT REQUIRES BOTH.

People object to this bill because it views those who want to either teach their children or have them participate in online school as though they are guilty of child abuse. They are guilty until proven innocent.

The bill actually states:

"Not later than five business days after a public children services agency receives a notification under section 3314.063 or 3321.042 of the Revised Code, the agency shall do the following:
(A) Conduct an in-person meeting with the person who submitted an application for a child's admission to an internet- or computer-based community school or who made the request for a child to be excused from attendance at school for instruction at home;
(B) Conduct an in-person meeting with the child for whom an application for admission to an internet- or computer-based community school was submitted or with the child for whom the request to be excused was made, separate from the meeting required under division (A) of this section;
(C) Access or enter the statewide automated child welfare information system, established and maintained under section 5101.13 of the Revised Code, to determine whether any of the following are the subject of an investigation that has been documented in the system:
(1) The person who submitted an application for a child's admission to an internet- or computer-based community school or who made the request for a child to be excused from attendance at school;
(2) The child for whom an application for admission to an internet- or computer-based community school was submitted or the child for whom the request to be excused from attendance at school was made;
(3) Any other person who resides with the child for whom an application was made for admission to an internet- or computer-based community school or with the child for whom the request to be excused from attendance at school was made."

See for yourself:


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8dontbeafool(1923 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

@ shuttlebus, nobody is dictating how you are educating your children. You can still homeschool if you choose to, as long as you aren't registered as an abuser. What if the parents live in a house with a meth lab in it, or deplorable conditions? I see it as a good idea to make sure that if the child is going to be homeschooled, then at least the environment in which they are being taught is a safe one.

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9shuttlebus(5 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Dontbeafool, have you read the proposed bill? The media is not presenting this bill accurately. Please take the time to read the actual bill. This bill violates the 4th amendment.

Nobody is dictating how I am educating my children today, but if this bill passes, the state will have the power to dictate how I educate my kids.

If a child lives in a house with a meth lab or deplorable conditions, there are laws on the books to address these parenting issues.

Ironically, Teddy was not even homeschooled. The state of Ohio already regulates its homeschooling population. It is a crime that homeschoolers are even being dragged into this debate.

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10dontbeafool(1923 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

reading from post 8, you notify the proper people that you are inrolling your child in a computer based school, or home school. Within 5 days the agency would meet with the person who applied, and the child. And then they run you, the child, and anyone else who resides at the home through the database to make sure their were no prior abuse problems. Then you educate your child as you want. It doesn't seem all that intrusive or inconvenient. In fact what if a single mom has her new boyfriend move in? She thinks she knows him, but do you really know somebody? What if a check on the boyfriend reveals some secrets in his past that could put the child in danger. To me, this is just one more screening process that could help a kid out. Nothing will totally prevent a child from being abused, but the more safeguards in place the better.

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11zabethebabe(3 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

dontbeafool, Let's look at this a different way. You have a child who is not involved in any activities, and comes straight home after school. In order for your child to be in the same house as you, under your authority, the government must run a background check on you and make sure your home is safe. Kids spend time in their own homes with their families every day, no matter where they go to school. Why should only home-schooled kids be afforded these greater safeguards?

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12shuttlebus(5 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Commenting on Post 11: You simply are not understanding this bill. The government worker would meet with you and then your child and then this government worker would get to decide if homeschooling was in the best interest of the child. I don't want the government worker having the final say in how I educate my kids. This bill does exactly that.

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13zabethebabe(3 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

It is not even determining how you can educate them, but if you are even permitted to educate them. Public education is a service provided by the government, not a requirement.

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