Controversial House Bill 250 Released From House Education Committee

Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams introduced House Bill 250 on January 20th.  Today it appeared before the House Education Committee and it was released based on its merits.  The bill would make it so parents can’t choice their child out of a school for good cause unless a bullying incident is considered to be substantiated.  Normally I agree with 99% of the legislation Rep. Williams sponsors but this one I cannot give my full support to without major changes.  From the synopsis of HB250:

In 2014, the Legislature passed a bill adding instances of “reported and recorded” bullying to the list of reasons why a child could be withdrawn from a choice or charter school before the expiration of the statutory minimum enrollment period or why an application for admission or withdrawal could be accepted outside of the statutory timeframe for submission. This bill seeks to clarify and strengthen that law by adding a requirement that the instance of bullying must also be substantiated. This will ensure the integrity of the law by limiting its exploitation by persons who wish to change schools for unrelated reasons, but preserving the exception for children truly in need of special consideration due to school bullying.

My fear with HB250 is the schools and districts themselves.  I have heard many times from parents that they submitted a bullying report that was not substantiated by the school even though it was clearly a bullying incident.  While Rep. Williams states parents used the “good cause” related to bullying as an excuse to choice their child to another school, the flip side of this legislation is far more dangerous.  What happens if a student is bullied and the school never substantiates that bullying?  Even when it clearly is bullying?  Isn’t that putting a student at serious risk of harm or injury by not allowing the parent to choice their child out of that school?

I’m not saying every school or district does this.  But some facts can’t be ignored.  If a school has too many bullying and violent incidents, they can be labeled as an “unsafe school”.  Schools don’t want this which is why we don’t always see more substantiated bullying incidents.  Christina School District had the Office of Civil Rights come down on them because they had too many suspensions for minority students.  I’ve heard from many teachers in Christina that they have to be very careful with suspensions because of that.  As a result, things that are indeed bullying could be looked the other way due to the OCR ruling.  Many Delaware schools and districts took careful note of that.

I think with a bill like this there should be a clause that all bullying incidents be reviewed by a neutral third-party if a parent disagrees with the unsubstantiated ruling from a school administrator.  I don’t agree parents should use “good cause” as an excuse to choice their child out if no bullying is happening.  But at the same time, keeping any student at a school where there is a chance they could be bullied more is not safe to do.

4 thoughts on “Controversial House Bill 250 Released From House Education Committee

  1. Honestly, I feel as if there is a severe generation gap in the reality of bullying in this tech age. Its as if there is a digital underground of many social media sites. Bullying is much more than a push on the playground. The digital world has opened so many bullying oppportunities.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kevin, not sure if you have a typo or just misunderstood. Any parent should be able to pull their child out of a charter school period when things go wrong… Obviously for funding reasons, they can’t for minuscule reasons, because the money has been allocated and spent.. So there have to be reasons acceptable for the pulling out of that child. All this bill does is add bullying as one of those acceptable items.

    I’m confused by what you say is your reason behind not supporting it… Didn’t you pull your son from a Charter School for being bullied? My history on your original piece put up at Kilroy’s may be a bit fuzzy, but that is how today, I am remembering it.. 🙂

    And to keep a child in a charter school where the child is being bullied because it is not one of the reasons one can pull their child out, is not right. Which is why I’m not seeing your concerns I guess.

    Remember this does not affect public schools unless they are choiced into and why someone would choice into a unsafe school is beyond me… So we are talking mostly about charters (because they can do whatever they want) and I think parents should be able to pull their child out if a teacher or student bullies their child…

    So please clarify. 🙂

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    • Kavips, I pulled my son out of a charter because he was denied an IEP and the staff didn’t even know how to properly implement a simple 504 plan. It was way after he had been there during the first year.

      Kim’s bill is for “good cause”. This is already established in Delaware law. And it is written that bullying, reported or substantiated, can be a “good cause” reason. Kim’s bill would eliminate the reported portion. This is when a parent or student submits a bullying report to the administrator of the school but the administrator doesn’t rule it as actual bullying under the parameters of the law. Even Matt Denn stated last year that many schools in Delaware are not uniform with their interpretation of this. A school with too many substantiated bullying incidents could be considered an unsafe school so there can be reasons why an administrator doesn’t report the bullying as “substantiated”. This happens a lot in Delaware schools. As a result, it further victimizes the victim. The bully gets away with it and chances are good the victim will get bullied further. Remember my last post of 2014? I know this firsthand. And I have heard this from several other parents as well. Like I said in the article, if parents are abusing that already existing law, they should be rooted out and told no, you can’t choice your child out. But to change the existing law and potentially further victimize a victim? No, I can’t support that. An amendment could be added to have a 3rd party arbitrate a bullying decision by an administrator. We do this with IEPs and special education in Delaware. Why not with bullying? Choice between districts happens all the time, so it is not always charter schools.

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  3. Ok, I see what you are getting at. The bill is aiming to stop parents from using bullying as an excuse to pull their child by having the bullying substantiated (lawyers will have fun with that one) but your concern is that real bullying (minus a dead body) won’t be substantiated because it would reign as a black mark on those running the school…

    The question of this bill’s legitimacy is then in the numbers. How many parents pull their children out of charters each year for bullying? Do you know where those numbers might be kept? Then, how many of those were reported but not substantiated…

    Of course this conversation is assuming charters are benign.. We all know they aren’t. They are evil. So what is to stop a private charter from bringing in everyone possible, swelling their rolls, collecting the money for those students, then bullying them to force them back onto the public school payment plan while they keep all the money and buy a Mercedes with it? Looks like a good money making scheme to me….

    Charters really should lose money when they give back students….

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