Common sense bill

December 31, 2013

State Sen. Capri S. Cafaro walked into a buzz saw last week when she proposed what she obviously thought was a common sense bill designed to offer children the greatest level of protection against abuse during their school years.

Cafaro, D-Hubbard, called Senate Bill 248 “Teddy’s Law” as a tribute to and reminder of Teddy Foltz, the 14-year-old Struthers boy who died in January after enduring months of abuse at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend, Zaryl Bush.

Teddy’s death raised significant questions about how the level of abuse the boy was receiving continued, especially after it was learned that teachers in Hubbard and Struthers schools had reported suspected abuse. His mother, Shain Widdersheim, pulled him from Struthers schools when questions of abuse were raised, saying she was going to home school him.

Cafaro made the tactical error of trying to close that loophole in her legislation and opened a firestorm of opposition from home-school advocates. Under that pressure, an apparently chastened Cafaro announced recently that she was withdrawing the bill. Her new bill, she said, would be more comprehensive, but would in no way address the question of home schooling.

The kneejerk reaction to Cafaro’s bill was unfortunate. While there is no question that the vast majority of home-school parents are conscientious in providing their children the education that they believe is best for them, Teddy Foltz’s mother used home schooling as a ruse that ultimately resulted in the death of a child.

— Youngstown Vindicator