House Bill 350 Tightens Teacher License Suspension Law With Potential Controversy For Rights Of Teachers

The most interesting part about House Bill 350 isn’t the bill itself, but who the Delaware House of Representatives main sponsor is: Pete Schwartzkopf.  I usually don’t see his name as a main sponsor on education bills which leads me to believe this bill is coming from Governor Markell himself.  I could be wrong on that, but it is a hunch.  In any event, there is very interesting changes to the language in the Delaware state code for this pending legislation.  I have a feeling the Delaware State Education Association (DSEA) will not like the change from “shall” to “may” for reinstatement of a teacher’s license if a teacher is found not guilty of an offense that would cause their license to be suspended.  Some of the changes are common sense changes, but others are a bit unpredictable.

The one area teachers may have an issue with is the publication of the license suspension.  What if the charges are dropped or a no guilty verdict happens.  With the name published already, that could certainly cause an issue when they go to look for another position in their own district or another district.  Just having a name on that list could severely damage a teacher’s reputation, especially in a state as small as Delaware.  The bill also seems to give the Secretary of Education more authority and decreases the role of the local school district in making decisions.

The next stop is the House Education Committee.  I would love to hear what teachers think of the changes in House Bill 350.

State Rep. Jeff Spiegelman’s DOE-State Board House Bill 34 Up For Senate Vote On Tuesday

Has it really been over a year since State Rep. Jeff Spiegelman introduced House Bill 34?  Yes it has!  But the wait could be over because it is up for a full Senate vote on Tuesday, March 15th.  House Bill 34 would make it so any new regulations, rules, or administrative procedures by the State Board of Education or the Delaware Department of Education won’t go into effect at the local school districts or charter schools until the school year has completed.  They do this all the time and change things up in the middle of the school year and it gives the districts and charters very little time to plan.  I’ve liked this bi-partisan bill since it was introduced!

It did get a Senate amendment attached to it along with an already passed House Amendment that clarifies if an emergency comes up or if a change is based on existing law, the wait would not take place.  I would assume that since the Senate put an amendment on it and they pass it on Tuesday, it would kick back to the House of Representatives.  The House passed this bill on June 30th, 2015.

Please email your Delaware Senator to pass this bi-partisan common sense legislation!

Exclusive Breaking News: DSEA Takes Weak Stance On Parent Opt Out **UPDATED** w/Proof Something Very Fishy Is Going On!!!

This message was just forwarded to me in regards to the Delaware State Educators Association in regards to parent opt out.  This message gives no official stance on opt out, nor does it offer protections to parents who are also teachers who choose to opt their child out.  Sounds to me like Governor Markell and the Delaware DOE are passing out the Kool-Aid to lots of organizations today in an effort to scare and intimidate teacher parents.

DSEA needs to stand up for their teachers.  They need to take an official stance.  Jack Markell loves the fence sitters, and he will take advantage of them every chance he gets.  DSEA has a big meeting coming up, it’s time for you to decide where you stand!!!!  Do you stand with the Department or with your teachers who pay dues to you to advocate for them?  DO SOMETHING!!!!

Under both state and federal law, standardized student assessments are required to be administered in all Delaware public schools for purposes of school and district/charter accountability.  Delaware law and regulations requires that school districts test all students.  It is a violation of Delaware law to exclude a student  from participation in the state assessments except in accordance with DOE regulation.  Students have been excluded from participation in the state assessments based upon extreme medical incidents, mental health of the child or where the child is severely cognitively disabled, provided documentation from a treating physician was submitted.  Participation in state assessments is an issue between the District and the parent.   Many educators are required, as part of their assigned duties and responsibilities, to administer the state- and federally-mandated tests. Educators who encourage parents to opt-out of state assessments, or otherwise engage in actions which could be viewed as subversive/interfering with the district’s duty to administer tests (or to exclude certain students) could face potential employment action.    Many legal issues stemming from opt-out are being raised in numerous states.  However,  cases challenging what action can be taken by an employing school district against educators advising/informing/encouraging opt-out rights have not made their way through legal system, and there is limited precedent for predicting how such cases will ultimately  be decided.  Educators should follow the directives of their employing districts and contact DSEA regarding concerns over any such directives.  Any effort by a district to take adverse employment action against an educator should be promptly brought to the attention of the UniServ Director.

For educators seeking to exclude their own child(ren) from participation in the state assessments, DSEA advises the educator to follow whatever procedure is in place in the child’s district for seeking opt-out.  DSEA does not believe the employing district should be able to take employment action against the educator simply because they seek to exercise their rights as  a parent.  We do caution members that an unsettled area is where a teacher-educator opts out their own child(ren) (thus, acting as a parent) but then publicizes such action (for instance, via social media) and could be perceived by others as promoting, inciting or encouraging opting-out of the state assessments.    Should a district seek to take employment action against an educator for opting their own child(ren) out of testing, please direct the member to immediately contact DSEA.

DSEA has not taken a position at this time on any pending or proposed legislation dealing with parental opt-out rights.

Yes you did! You passed AND adopted a resolution to support legislation dealing with those rights, UNCONDITIONALLY!