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Opinion: W.Va. House democratic legislators urge governor to act to protect children

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After the public mishandling of the circumstances surrounding the heartbreaking death of Kyneddi Miller, a fourteen-year-old found dead in her home emaciated to a skeletal state, House Democrats urge the Governor to include legislation to protect our state’s children on the next special session proclamation.

Del. Shawn Fluharty

Delegate Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio, has been a vocal proponent of Raylee’s Law for several years.  Raylee’s Law is named after Raylee Browning, an 8-year-old girl who was removed from public school by her guardians after teachers reported abuse to child protective services several times. This legislation would prohibit county school boards from authorizing homeschool instruction if there is a pending child abuse or neglect investigation against a custodial parent or guardian of the child.

House Democrats have also been engaging with local school boards about the adequacy of the current assessments for home school students and enforcing current truancy laws to protect children. Additionally, even though current law requires assessments at certain grade levels, local public school officials have few options to check on children and enforce the law where a parent or guardian fails to submit the required assessments.  

Del. Joey Garcia

“We need to collaborate with local school officials to ensure that they have the resources and necessary information to protect children whose parents do not comply with home school regulations,” Delegate Joey Garcia, D-Marion, stated.  “We know that most homeschool parents are doing the right thing for their children, but we need to correct loopholes in the law and empower local boards of education to act where the law is not followed so children are not abused or falling through the cracks.”

“Our people- child protective workers, law enforcement officers and educators- must have the authority and ability to check on these kids,” House Minority Leader Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell, said.

“Raylee’s guardians and Kyneddi’s family removed those girls from public school, places where these girls could be seen and heard,” Delegate Fluharty said, “and now they are no longer here to tell their stories.”

“Government has failed to protect these children. The Legislature should pass Raylee’s Law immediately and conduct evidentiary hearings to identify other changes we should implement to fix our broken child welfare system,” Fluharty continued.  “Protecting our children should be our #1 priority. Fixing these loopholes will save lives.”

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Feature image: House Minority Leader Sean Hornbuckle

Press release provided by the W.Va. House Minority Office

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