Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 106
03/23/2016 08:00 AM EDUCATION
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SB 89-SCHOOLS: PARENT RTS; ABORT. PROVDRS LIMITS 8:04:45 AM CHAIR KELLER announced that the first order of business would be CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 89(RLS) am(efd add) "An Act relating to a parent's right to direct the education of a child; prohibiting a school district from contracting with an abortion services provider; prohibiting a school district from allowing an abortion services provider to furnish course materials or provide instruction concerning sexuality or sexually transmitted diseases; relating to physical examinations for teachers; and providing for an effective date." 8:05:40 AM SENATOR MIKE DUNLEAVY, Alaska State Legislature, introduced his staff and availed himself for questions. 8:06:02 AM CHRISTA MCDONALD, Staff, Senator Mike Dunleavy, Alaska State Legislature, addressed a series of questions previously posed by the committee, paraphrasing from a prepared statement, which read as follows: [Question:] Would the provision "recognizing the authority of a parent and allowing a parent to object to and withdraw a child from a standards based assessment or standards-based test required by the state" put a school district in statutory noncompliance with state law? Are we now saying that tests are not required by the state but rather just suggested by the state? [Response:] Under current state regulation each school district is required to administer a standards- based test. In addition, schools are not allowed to systematically exclude students from an assessment. However, no law compels a parent to send a child to these tests as they are not associated with student grades or promotions. 8:06:55 AM SENATOR DUNLEAVY added that the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is in flux, and when the reauthorization was being developed, he said, this is an area that many parents petitioned congress to change. The original intent under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was to ensure that low performing groups were not excluded systematically by schools to skew the school performance scores. A number of parents that choose to have their students excluded, actually have high performing children. These parents are refusing to have their child participate, as a form of objection to the data sharing and testing requirements. 8:08:16 AM MS. MCDONALD continued: [Question:] Will the language in Senate Bill 89 prohibit a school district from covering the costs of a teacher's physical examination or suggest that they may choose whether or not to cover this expense? [Response:] The language in Senate Bill 89 prohibits a school district from paying for a teacher's physical examination. "May not" is used to be in compliance with the Legislative Drafting manual, page sixty-five which states: Use the words "may not" to impose a prohibition upon someone. [Question:] Would Section 4 of the bill dealing with physical examinations include fingerprinting and background checks as well. [Response:] No, the requirements for fingerprints and background checks are established in AS 14.20.020 and would not be impacted by the passage of Senate Bill 89. [Question:] If we state that a school district may not pay for these physical examinations do we impact the teacher's ability to be provided evaluations through health insurance benefits funded by the district. [Response:] As stated in the bill, "This section does not affect the coverage of any health insurance benefits that a school district provides to teacher." SB 89 will not impact any physical evaluations that are covered under health insurance benefits. 8:09:29 AM CHAIR KELLER moved to adopt Amendment 1, labeled 29- LS0735\F.A.9, Glover, 3/22/16, which read as follows: Page 3, line 23, following "provider": Insert "who is acting on behalf of the abortion services provider" The committee took an at-ease from 8:09 a.m. to 8:12 a.m. 8:12:14 AM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON objected for discussion. 8:12:22 AM CHAIR KELLER said that the language serves to narrow the focus of who may provide reproductive information in a classroom. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON recalled testimony concerned with impinging on the summer employment for a teacher who works at a hospital, clinic, or other medical office. 8:14:04 AM The committee took a brief at-ease at 8:14 a.m. 8:14:11 AM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON removed his objection, and with no further objection, Amendment 1 was adopted. 8:14:54 AM CHAIR KELLER moved to adopt Amendment 2, labeled 29- LS0735\F.A.10, Glover, 3/22/16, which read as follows: Page 3, line 15: Delete "may" Insert "shall" 8:15:39 AM REPRESENTATIVE COLVER objected, and said existing statute requires districts to pay for physical examinations, and changing it from "may" to "shall" represents a substantial policy change. The decision should be left to the districts to exert local control and whether or not to implement this measure as a condition for employment. The background checks are still required by state law, which are already a condition of employment. The permissive term should be retained, he opined, and stated opposition to Amendment 2. 8:17:20 AM REPRESENTATIVE VAZQUEZ commented that this measure addresses public safety, and opined that it does not represent an unduly burdensome task, as a condition of employment. She stated support for Amendment 2. 8:18:07 AM REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND stated opposition to Amendment 2, echoing the concerns of Representative Colver. It is a major policy change, she agreed. 8:18:59 AM SENATOR DUNLEAVY declined further comment and deferred to the committee's decision. 8:19:24 AM MS. MCDONALD offered that existing Department of Education and Early Development (EED) regulation, 4AAC 06.050, states that physical examinations "shall" be required of the districts for teachers, but it does not appear in state statute. 8:19:48 AM REPRESENTATIVE COLVER maintained his objection. 8:19:54 AM A roll call vote was taken. Representatives Talerico, Vazquez, and Keller voted in favor of Amendment 2. Representatives Colver, Drummond, Spohnholz, and Seaton voted against it. Therefore, Amendment 2 failed by a vote of 3-4. 8:21:04 AM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON expressed concern for the bill particularly from the health and social services aspect stating that, without the sex education programs currently provided to schools, the levels of unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STD's) will increase. Additionally, it removes local control of school districts, as provided on page 3, lines 22-25, which read as follows: (c) A school district may not permit an abortion services provider or an employee or volunteer of an abortion services provider to offer, sponsor, furnish course materials, or provide instruction relating to human sexuality or sexually transmitted diseases. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON pointed out that this language imposes rulings over local school boards, and prohibits the use of curricula that has been publicly vetted, adopted, and utilized by many districts. The bill is a state usurpation of local control, he opined, and said it may be the first time the state has prohibited districts from identifying curricula for use in meeting state standards and requirements. He stated opposition to passage of SB 89. 8:23:46 AM REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ stated that the opt-in requirement creates a major barrier to children receiving a positive public health curriculum. The parents already have the opt-out elective to employ. Additionally, the administrative and processing of an additional opt-in form is unnecessary. 8:25:56 AM REPRESENTATIVE VAZQUEZ moved to report the proposed committee substitute (CS) for SB 89 (RLS) am(efd add), as amended, out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON maintained his objection. 8:26:21 AM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON offered further objection to the bill, specifically Sec. 4, which redirects the cost burden associated with the physical examination requirements of teachers. The local control currently exercised in this area is sufficient, he opined. 8:27:00 AM CHAIR KELLER stated support for the bill as a means to bolster parental rights regarding an intimate and important aspect of a child's development. 8:27:46 AM REPRESENTATIVE COLVER stated support for the bill, and said a significant section of it recognizes the authority of a parent to withdraw their child from standards based assessments. He opined that this authority is important to have in statute, as a vehicle to move away from future, federal assessment mandates. 8:28:52 AM REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND stated her agreement with the previous comments regarding the sexual health education aspect of the bill; however, inclusion of the variety of components causes an issue and should be addressed separately, particularly the standards based test concerns. Parents have the right to opt- out their student, to examine class curricula, and, through the local school boards, be involved in the development and approval of curriculum. Thus the proposed opt-in measure creates additional unnecessary administrative paperwork and is of no help to districts. Finally, she stated opposition to the bill. 8:30:11 AM CHAIR KELLER commented: There's no certification required for this contract teaching, and that's kind of novel. 8:30:40 AM A roll call vote was taken. Representatives Talerico, Vazquez, Colver, and Keller voted in favor of CSSB 89 (RLS) am(efd add). Representatives Drummond, Spohnholz, and Seaton voted against it. Therefore, HCS for CSSB 89 (EDC) was reported out of the House Education Standing Committee by a vote of 4-3.
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