There was so much activity going on Sunday night/Monday morning with bills passing left and right, I didn’t realize a very important one passed the Senate. House Bill 176 passed the General Assembly and is waiting to be signed by Delaware Governor John Carney. Anyone who has been following this bill and the backstory behind it knows this started with one father’s fight against the Brandywine School District.
Pat Wahl’s son was alleged to have brought a weapon into school and was suspended. His father fought the charge but the Brandywine Board of Education voted on it and agreed to the administrator’s recommendation. Wahl appealed the decision with the State Board of Education and won. After a legal situation with the district, Wahl and Brandywine settled. The result of the settlement was Brandywine would change their zero tolerance policies. Wahl took it another step and spoke with State Rep. Deb Hudson. As a result, House Bill #176 was born. Congrats to Wahl, Brandywine, and State Rep. Hudson for taking what could have been a matter of sour grapes and actually creating something lasting for all Delaware Schools.
While HB #176 deals primarily with weapons, this could be the start of a whole new way of looking at school discipline. As I’ve been writing the series about what happened to J in Smyrna School District, I have heard from several parents about similar kinds of situations. It has become very transparent to me that the next leg of the Delaware 149th General Assembly needs some companion legislation to House Bill #176. Pat Wahl had the time and the means to take things as far as he did, but not all parents are so fortunate. Not to disparage Wahl in any way, but for every one of them, there are probably 25 parents who wouldn’t have the money, resources, or even knowledge to be able to fight these issues. Which is exactly why I am tackling them: to spread that knowledge and shine a light on what many are seeing as a very heavy hand on the part of some school districts when it comes to discipline.
In the meantime, I will take this victory and raise a glass in honor of Wahl. I look forward to Carney signing this and making this the law of the land in Delaware.
The Delaware General Assembly returns today! It was supposed to happen yesterday, but the impending doom of the snowstorm that didn’t quite live up to its potential postponed the return. Today is Committee day! House Bill 50 WILL be heard in the House Education Committee today. Say what? Didn’t former Governor Jack Markell veto that bill? Continue reading House Bill 50 To Be Heard In House Education Committee Today…. Say What?
The 149th General Assembly officially began on January 10th, this past Tuesday. But the first few weeks tend to be slow. Especially when it comes to education. But we already have seven education bills submitted by the Delaware House of Representatives. No Senate education bills have come forth at this point.
The biggest of these is a carryover from the 148th General Assembly, that of funding for basic special education for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade. State Rep. Kim Williams made a ton of noise about the need for this funding during the last go-around, and she needs to keep making more noise! There should be NO question whatsoever about the need for this bill. NONE! It should not come down to fiscal concerns either. It needs to happen even if they have to cut some slush fund somewhere. House Substitute 1 for House Bill 12 will be a bill I advocate for this year, no doubt about it! I have to say I am disappointed there are NO Delaware Republicans that signed on to the substitute for this bill although Reps. Spiegelman and Briggs-King did sign on for the original House Bill #12. This is on the agenda for the House Education Committee meeting on Wednesday, January 18th at 2:30pm.
State Rep. Earl Jaques’ House Joint Resolution #3 would ensure both the House and Senate Education Committees see the Delaware Every Student Succeeds Act state plan before it is completed and sent to the United States Dept. of Education. That is a step, but I would prefer the General Assembly has authority to accept or reject the plan before it goes to the US DOE! This is also on the agenda for the House Education Committee meeting on Wednesday, January 18th at 2:30pm.
The drop-out age and school attendance came out roaring through the legislative gate! State Rep. Sean Matthews submitted two bills while State Rep. Tim Dukes submitted one. Dukes’ House Bill #17 would increase the drop-out age from 16 to 17. It would also include truancy. Matthews’ House Bill #23 takes it a step further and would require a parent or guardian to agree to a student dropping out if they are over the age of 16. Where this could get a bit sticky is what happens if a student is 18? They are of legal age at that point. Some students with disabilities attend school until the age of 21. Matthews’ House Bill #24 would require a parent conference if a student misses five consecutive days without an excuse. My take on this is if parents don’t know their kids are missing five days of school and just wandering around somewhere, it will be tough to get that parent to come to a conference if they are already so disengaged they don’t know what their kid is doing. All of these bills are meant to discourage dropping out and keeping students in school. I wholeheartedly agree with that. The trick is in the details.
This is another carryover from the 148th. State Rep. Deb Heffernan had this one ready to go on June 30th but I have to believe there simply wasn’t enough time to get to every bill that night/morning. But it is back with House Bill #15 which would make computer science a graduation requirement for high school students. This is also on the agenda for the House Education Committee meeting on Wednesday, January 18th at 2:30pm.
It wouldn’t be a General Assembly in the 2010s without some type of librarian legislation from State Rep. Paul Baumbach! House Bill #34 would increase the participants in a very long-sounding scholarship name.