To: Brad Last, Lowry Snow, LaVar Christensen, Kim Coleman, Bruce Cutler, Steve Eliason, Justin Fawson, Francis Gibson, Eric Hutchings, David Lifferth, Daniel McCay, Carol Moss, Mike Noel (mnoel, Marie Poulson,
Subject: your House Education meeting today at 10:00
Date: Tue Mar 08 15:30:26 MST 2016
Good morning, Members of the House Education Committee –
There are some critical bills on your agenda this morning; some that greatly concern parents serving on local boards of education, their superintendents and business officials. We would respectfully ask that you consider the following as you deliberate on these bills:
Please OPPOSE SB45 Compulsory Education Revisions – A. Jackson
SB45 Compulsory Education Revisions – A. Jackson
Eliminates criminal penalties for a parent of a truant school-age child. Changes wording from the school “shall direct the parent… meet with school authorities to discuss… school attendance” to “shall request that the parent … meet with school authorities to discuss… school attendance.” Deletes “failure to comply with compulsory education requirements in violation of Section 53A-11-101.5” from the list of required reporting for child abuse and neglect.
When a student is absent from school, school teachers and administrators work with the student and his/her parent to help the student catch up on learning concepts and to help the student improve toward on-time, regular attendance. This is a time-consuming but worthwhile effort to help every child succeed.
When a student is absent for 10 consecutive days or more due to illness, or is homebound due to illness or other incapacity, districts assign a homebound teacher to that child so their school studies do not suffer. When parents ask to have their children excused from school for an extended activity/travel/vacation, school districts accommodate that need as well. All of these accommodations occur even as Utah has a compulsory attendance law in place. That law presumes that a parent is the one in control of their children and can best see to their on-time, regular attendance.
A truant is a different matter. State Board rule define truants, in part, as those who “fail to cooperate with efforts on the part of school authorities to resolve the minor’s attendance problem” (R277-607.1) No school takes truancy action with any student unless and until they are unable to resolve attendance problems in reasonable ways by meeting with parents and students to help them with their needs. Indeed, Utah law requires school personnel to observe that the parent is “recklessly” or “intentionally” failing to meet with them and failing to prevent further absences from school and documentation to this effect is required by the courts if court action is deemed necessary.
When multiple reasonable efforts by school personnel are exhausted or ignored, and the student continues to miss school, the student is considered truant and it becomes necessary to use the weight of law to help parents and students focus on school attendance, per Utah law.
This bill affects students who are aged 14 or younger who are enrolled in public schools. This bill is in conflict with the Utah compulsory attendance law as it negates the ultimate parental responsibility for regular school attendance by their children. In the 2014-15 school year, as reported by the bill’s sponsor, there were 171 truancy cases that resulted in a fine and 20 truancy cases wherein the parents were incarcerated for not ensuring their children attended school. The process of truancy notice and school meetings is clearly strengthened by the inclusion of action with parents who “recklessly” or “intentionally” keep their children from attending school, even though, thankfully, incarceration last year was limited to 20 cases. None of these truancy cases occurred until long after school personnel had tried to work closely with parents and their children to attend school regularly. The state will need to decide, through this bill, whether school attendance should be compulsory or whether it is recommended only, leaving parents free of the ultimate responsibility.
Please OPPOSE SB165 Public Education Appointment and Hiring – H. Stephenson
Here is the list of states in the U.S. and the starting age of kindergarten: https://enlightenme.com/age-to-start-kindergarten-by-state/
All but nine states require a kindergarten student to be five years of age by a summer or fall date near the start of kindergarten.
· States require 5 years of age on or before September 1 20 states
· By August 15 2 states
· By August 1 4 states
· By October 1 2 states
· By August 31 3 states
· By July 31 2 states
· By Sept. 15 2 states
· By Sept. 2 1 state (Utah)
· By Sept. 30 4 states
· By October 15 1 state
· By September 10 1 state
· By “local option” with varying compulsory education ages 7 states
· By January 1 of the succeeding year 2 states