Adam Lanza, 20, has been described as being “dark and disturbed” before his death. He coldly murdered his own mother in their expensive home near Newtown, Connecticut. Then he took her legally registered guns to the nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School and shot and killed 20 children and six adults. Then he took a handgun and shot himself.
Reports say he suffered from Asperger’s syndrome, “or a personality disorder.” And he “had a tortured mind.”
The New York Daily News said he exhibited “strange behavior” and his “antics irked several residents.”
Now a state commission of 16 educators, local and state officials and behavioral experts assembled by Gov. Dannel Malloy after the tragedy has a game plan to prevent future occurrences.
According to a report in EAG News, a chief recommendation coming out of the state panel that was “charged” with “making recommendations to reduce the risk of future tragedies” has concluded that more oversight of homeschoolers will accomplish that goal.
The report’s “chief recommendation” is “tighter scrutiny of homeschoolers … to prevent an incident such as the December 2012 slaughter of 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Elementary School in Newtown,” EAG said.
The New Haven Register said while the final report isn’t expected for a few weeks yet, the “draft proposals call for individual educational plans for students with “significant emotional or behavioral problems.”
“The group is backing extending those requirements to troubled youths, whose parents have chosen to homeschool,” the report said.
The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission was created by Malloy 18 months ago following the Newtown tragedy. He said the education, mental health, law enforcement and other experts were supposed to recommend changes that would help prevent future outbreaks of violence.
This week members reviewed their “likely” recommendations in a meeting in Hartford.
Susan Schmeiser, a mental health law professor at the University of Connecticut, said, “Continuation of homeschooling should be contingent upon approval of [individualized education plans] and adequate progress as documented’ in progress reports.”
The basis for the decision to pin a target on homeschoolers is the fact that Lanza was withdrawn from public schools apparently during his 10th grade, and his mother, Nancy, 52, reportedly homeschooled him, for a time.
That’s from Marsha Lanza, Adam’s aunt and Nancy’s former sister-in-law.
She said, “She mentioned she wound up homeschooling him because she battled with the school district.”
However, details of his homeschooling were not available.
Homeschool experts from the Home School Legal Defense Association, the world’s premiere group advocating for home education, could not be reached immediately.
But in a report on an earlier Connecticut plan that was related – a proposal to require all homeschooled children ages 12, 14 and 17 to “undergo a behavioral health assessment, the group said that was no more than an “unwarranted invasion of family privacy.”
The group noted the state’s plan included “a review of physical and mental health, intelligence, school performance, employment, level of function in different domains including family situation, and behavior in the community.”
“The bill states that the results of the assessments are to be disclosed only to the child’s parent or guardian, but that the health-care provider must submit a form to the state Board of Education verifying that the child has received the assessment.”
Kyle Olson, writing at EAG, noted commissioner Harold Schwartz said, “I think we have thought this issue out at some length and we believe it is very germane and that the actual facts leading up to this incident support the notion of the risk in not addressing social and emotional learning needs of children who may have significant needs in that area who are homeschooled.”
Olson noted that while there are references to “problems” and “behavioral disabilities” there is no word on who would be making such judgments.
“The purpose of this recommendation is to make sure that kids get what kids need. If they have needs that aren’t being addressed, just because the parent has chosen to remove them from the school setting … their needs are still going to be met,” Kathleen Flaherty, of Statewide Legal Services, said in a report by the CTnewsjunkie.
Olson noted that the commission’s logic doesn’t follow, since public school students repeatedly have caused significant violence.
He cited Red Lake Senior student Jeffrey Weise, who in 2005 killed five students, a teacher, a security guard, and them himself. Or Columbine students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who killed 13 and wounded 21 before killing themselves in Colorado in 1999. Or Californian Charles Andrew Williams, who killed two in 2001.
“The examples go on and they all point back to a failed government bureaucracy that apparently didn’t adequately address the ‘behavioral and emotional disabilities’ of the students in its care,” he wrote.
Some homeschool experts also pointed out that Lanza likely was “homeschooled” for maybe a year and a half, making him more a product of the public school system he spent the first 10 years of his education in.
The commission also is talking about risk assessment teams in schools “to intervene” when a student “appears to be at risk.”