Before the House Education Committee began on Monday, Feb. 3, people shared what brought them there – teachers’ concerns, vouchers and Supt. Kathy Hoffman’s presentation.
At the meeting, House Education Committee members discussed seven bills that would affect students, teachers and staff in Arizona’s elementary through high schools.
Video by Morgan Willis/ AZEdNews #LegislativeLegit: Teachers’ voices, vouchers, child abuse hotline, Supt. speech 2/3/2020
Action on school threat assessment team bill
HB 2089 is sonsored by Rep. John Kavanagh (R-LD 23) and would allow schools to create a threat assessment team to determine if the behavior of a student or employee is a threat to the school and refer the person to counseling if appropriate.
After thanking Rep. Kavanagh for his work on the bill, Rep. Nancy Barto (R-LD 15) said she looked forward to some clarification in the bill with a floor amendment that makes sure that the policies that school districts adopt would have parental involvement language included.” Then Rep. Barto voted to approve the bill.
“The reality is that the schools that are able to assess children have those teams and are working their very best,” said Rep. Isela Blanc (D-LD 26) as she explained her no vote on the bill. “We’re requiring a lot of the schools with this, in essence, mandating it and that’s what I have a real issue with.”
Rep. Blanc noted that “students of color oftentimes get identified for disciplinary issues, disorderly behavior, it’s also I feel another tool for that school to prison pipeline. There’s just a lot of concerns with this.”
“Because of the seriousness of a threat assessment on an individual, which can have a significant, life-long ramifications, I think that it’s important for us to get this absolutely right,”said Rep. Reginald Bolding (D-LD 27) as he explained that at this point in time he votes no.
“There are some concerns I have with bill in relation to parents being involved here and some other things that I’d like to take some time to consider,” said Rep. Frank Carroll (R-LD 22), noting that both public safety and rules will look at the bill from another perspective, then he voted yes.
Rep. Jennifer Pawlik (D-LD 17) said in doing her own due diligence she reached out to her community and “spoke to school leaders, law enforcement, school social workers and school counselors and absolutely all of them found something that they really disagreed with that made them very uncomfortable so with that being said at this time, I need to vote no.”
“I don’t like this bill. I believe it stifles individualism and it has the opportunity to have a group of people who may not like a particular student even though they are ‘professionals’ to create a potential for that child to be marked. I believe it creates a chilling effect on personality and individualism,” said Education Committee Vice Chairman Rep. John Fillmore (R-LD 16), noting he will vote yes to move in onto the floor for now, but he will have further discussion with the sponsor before he supports it on the House floor.
House Education Chair Rep. Michelle Udall (R-LD 25) voted yes, then she said, “We have held a stakeholder meeting with Rep. Kavanaugh and he is open to making changes as needed and we will be committed to continue to work with stakeholders to make sure that resolve some of the issues that came up today and that have come up already with it to make sure that this is something that is a positive for our students and that it helps them get help before a situation occurs.”
Action on other bills
The House Education Committee also approved Monday HB 2110 on discipline for school employees 11 to 0, which Arizona School Boards Association supports; HB 2287 on common school districts, unification and budget 10 to 1, on which ASBA is neutral; HB 2109 on unification, consolidation, notice and ballot language 12 to 0, which ASBA supports; and HB 2448 public schools innovation plans with a vote of 10 to 1, on which ASBA is neutral.
What happened in the Senate Education Committee
The Senate Education Committee met Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 2 p.m. with six bills on their agenda.
SB 1292 on financial literacy, state treasurer, fund passed 9 to 0 and ASBA is neutral on this bil.
More information about bills
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