Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/16/1995 02:00 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HHES - 03/16/95 HB 125 - JUVENILE CRIMINAL RECORDS TO SCHOOLS Number 2177 REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN presented the sponsor statement for his bill. He presented his staff member, Melinda Gruening, who would carry HESS Committee members through the various details. It has become apparent to Representative Green that there is a breakdown in the communication of information to Alaska's schools concerning students who, if they had been adjudicated adults on some crimes, they would have committed a felony. These students should be known to educators for the protection of the other students as well as for their own well-being. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said that knowing the cause of the adjudication or arrest for such heinous crimes could help the juvenile through the school system. MELINDA GRUENING, Administrative Assistant for Representative Green, asked HESS Committee members to recall that this bill was discussed along with HB 105. HB 105 was a general disclosure of juvenile records. Those bills were placed into a subcommittee. Bill sponsors were awaiting a ruling from Washington, D.C., concerning whether either or both bills would affect Title IV (e) funds, which is social security funding for foster care. MS. GRUENING said the ruling came back that a general public disclosure would jeopardize those funds. However, a limited disclosure to school officials would not. That is why HB 125 is being again presented to HESS Committee members. A meeting was held on Monday, March 13 over at the Division of Family and Youth Services (DFYS). A packet was put together. There were representatives from the DFYS, DOE, NEA Alaska, Alaska Association of School Administrators, AASB, the legislature and various staffers including HESS Committee aide Lynne Smith, the Department of Law, the Department of Public Safety, State Troopers and the Court System. MS. GRUENING said this was a positive step to facilitate communication to find out from the people representing administrators, school boards and school officials what information people feel they need that they are not getting. It became clear that those representing teachers, school districts and administrators felt information was not getting to them. They need to provide a safer school environment. MS. GRUENING said in addition, those groups feel they need more information in order to help the juvenile. The desire was also expressed to make disclosure of this information mandatory as opposed to discretionary. They want to be able to count on that information. TAPE 95-23, SIDE B Number 000 MS. GRUENING continued that ways were also discussed concerning how the disclosure could be made easier. The drafters of the bill have no intent to put more work on an already burdened system. It is fully recognized that DFYS is understaffed, and they have a very heavy workload. No one, therefore, is trying to place a larger workload on them. This was also discussed with the representative of the State Troopers. MS. GRUENING said it was a very interesting meeting. The group is going to meet again next week. Carl Rose of the AASB agreed to do a quick fax poll. He has contacted all 54 school districts in the state with a faxed questionnaire. The results have not yet been tallied. CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked for the results when they come in. Number 082 MS. GRUENING added that Vern Marshall of NEA Alaska also is working on a fax poll to find out if administrators and school officials feel they are currently receiving enough information and disclosure. Conflicting reports are being heard as to whether disclosure is currently taking place. They are being asked if they are receiving disclosure currently, and what type of disclosure information they need. MS. GRUENING said the disclosure content will probably be the name of the juvenile, the offense and the date the offense was committed. This is not intended to be a disclosure of a lot of records. The re-disclosure is limited in this bill. There is a section that deals with that. The only additional disclosure those officials can perform is with teachers and staff. Therefore, the scope of disclosure is really very limited. MS. GRUENING said therefore, the results of the polls are being tallied, and the group will meet again on March 24 to discuss the results. Undoubtedly, there will be some information that comes up that will cause some changes to the bill. It is the desire of Representative Green to move the bill out of the HESS Committee. His staff, however, will continue to work with the various agency representatives and the law enforcement officials to continue work on the bill in the Judiciary Committee. Number 197 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked that questions or discussion be held in order to hear more public testimony on the bill. He asked for public testimony, and there was none. Public testimony was closed. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON thanked Representative Green and Ms. Gruening for organizing the meeting. That is exactly what she felt was the right thing to do. When all the agencies can work together for a common cause to settle conflicting information, it makes it easier to accomplish tasks. There may be more work to do, but Representative Robinson wanted to personally thank them for taking the time to bring all the groups together to make sure the legislation is going in the right direction. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked if administrators can currently get this information in one way or another. He asked what the process may be. He has heard rumors that school administrators can access this information. He asked if someone from the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) could explain the process. Number 325 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said there was a partial fix last year which allowed the information to be made available. The problem is that the information has not been made available. This legislation seeks to make disclosure a "shall" instead of a "may." In the early part of this year there was still a fear that such disclosure by the DFYS would endanger Title IV funds. This was found to not be the case. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON clarified that the reason this bill will not endanger those funds is because the people who will receive this information have been narrowed. The disclosures will be to the people who need that information, such as the school district, and not just to the general public to chastise children. CO-CHAIR BUNDE was concerned that there might be administrators who, in their wisdom, might decide that they are not going to tell the teachers. Co-Chair Bunde asked if Representative Green would entertain the possibility of expanding the bill to say that disclosure information will go to school administrators and affected teachers. He said Representative Green could use whatever verbiage would make him comfortable. Number 430 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said he had no problem with that type of expansion. The concern he has, since he did not put in something to that affect, would be that the legislature would somehow become a micro-manager of the school system. He felt they, better than members of the legislature, would know best who should get the information. However, if there is not an objection voiced by the supplier of the information, certainly Representative Green would hope the information would ultimately get to the classroom teacher who has the perpetrator in class. CO-CHAIR BUNDE said that is exactly his point. Having worked in the schools, he has experienced a type of person he calls a "professional apologist." This is the person who always says the child was in trouble with the law because of some trivial problem, and he or she does not feel the teacher who works with the child every day should know pertinent information. The child could be violent, and the teacher works with the child every day. CO-CHAIR BUNDE said that type of administrator feels they do not want to "brand" the child. Number 485 CO-CHAIR BUNDE shared an experience he had at the college level. The people in Public Safety knew about one of Co-Chair Bunde's students, and they did not provide any information to Co-Chair Bunde. The student was enrolled in a speech class taught by Co- Chair Bunde. As part of one of his speeches, he told the class how he strangled his high school speech teacher to death because the teacher put too much pressure on him. CO-CHAIR BUNDE facetiously noted that he could have probably used that information. He may not have done anything differently, but he thinks perhaps he would. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said that was a classic example of the need for disclosure. CO-CHAIR BUNDE assured Representative Green that he shared his concern about micro-managing districts. But to be an effective teacher, a person should know as much about the child as possible without breaching privacy. A teacher does not need to know about their religion, but he or she does need to know background. Co- Chair Bunde thinks it should be guaranteed that the teacher is in the loop. CO-CHAIR BUNDE fears that some teachers, even if it is only 10 percent of the time or teachers, will not be included in the information disclosure. Number 580 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said it is very clear that the administration and the teacher associations want this legislation. She hopes that those groups will therefore take their education forums and make sure that the appropriate people get that information. However, she also asked if a letter of intent could be drafted to state that the drafters encourage a system be set up that would assist in making sure that the appropriate teacher is informed. CO-CHAIR BUNDE said unfortunately, letters of intent are often ignored. He told Representative Green that he would like to move the bill today, and but he would also like to hold it for a Committee Substitute. He asked if Representative Green had some strong concerns about including "classroom teacher" along with "school administrator" in the bill. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said he would welcome that, and he thinks the results of the survey will show that is the preponderance. Classroom teachers should know, but with limitations. Obviously, there needs to be limitations. The janitor and the part-time aide do not need to know. Number 688 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked if wording concerning the teacher of the class that the child attends would be more appropriate. He hates to do this type of work in the HESS Committee meeting, but he realizes Representative Green wants to move the bill today. He asked if the next bill could be heard while wording is created to create a CS that would make everyone comfortable. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said he would certainly entertain that suggestion. CO-CHAIR BUNDE noted that the bill goes next to the Judiciary Committee, and both he and Representative Green are on that committee. He asked if that issue could be addressed instead in the Judiciary Committee. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said that would be fine, and the chair of the Judiciary Committee is not unfamiliar with comments and modification requests in that committee. Number 757 CO-CHAIR BUNDE encouraged Representative Green to simply have a blank CS. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said she does not want to hold the bill up either, but her preference would be to narrow the disclosure. She asked that the disclosure be through the principals or superintendents or whatever. She asked for that to be the policy in each district, instead of opening the disclosure information up so widely. In high school, a child may have 15 teachers. Some of these teachers may need this information, and some do not. That is her problem with widening the disclosure. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said she would have to put a no recommendation on the bill if it passes from committee because she does not know what the final outcome is going to be. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON she said she is also still hoping to hear from the DFYS about their comfort level. Representative Robinson is still also confused about who will receive information other than those already allowed for under the existing juvenile waiver bill. She does not want to pass another law if a law already exists which does the same things if the regulations are put on the table. Number 830 CO-CHAIR BUNDE observed that the juvenile waiver deals with very serious felonies such as kidnapping, murder, etc. HB 105 deals with children who have problems but have not yet gone to that level. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said she is not so sure that is true, and although she could be wrong, she would like to make sure. She was under the impression that the juvenile waiver only deals with more serious crimes. But when it came down to being able to give information out on children, it was allowing for more cases than just serious crimes. She again stated that she could be wrong, but it would be nice to hear more information before this bill is moved forward. She asked if Ms. Gruening had something to say to that effect, and said it would also be good to hear from the DHSS. Number 875 MS. GRUENING said the difference between the current status quo and HB 125 is that this bill deals with offenses that would be felonies were the juveniles adult. These are very serious offenses such as homicide, assault, reckless endangerment, kidnapping, sexual offenses, robbery, extortion, offenses against property, controlled substance offenses and possession or use of a deadly weapon. Those are the crimes being spoken of in HB 125. MS. GRUENING continued that if those juveniles were 16, they would automatically be waived up. They would be publicly disclosed. Number 923 CO-CHAIR BUNDE added that it is not an automatic waiver. If the child proves that he or she is amenable to rehabilitation, they are not tried as an adult. It is possible to have a youthful murderer in a classroom that has not been tried as an adult. CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Representative Green to look at page 4, beginning on line 29. It says, "...shall notify the principal...". Co-Chair Bunde asked to add "and classroom teacher." He asked if that would solve the contention. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN saw no problem with that amendment. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked if that addition would be asking the state and municipal law enforcement agency to notify the teacher also. CO-CHAIR BUNDE changed the amendment. On page 4, line 29, after the word "principal", the bill was amended to say, "who will notify the appropriate classroom teacher." Number 1014 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON felt that the amendment would have to say "teachers" because in many situations there would be more than one teacher. CO-CHAIR BUNDE said that "teachers" would be included instead of "teacher." He then asked for objections to the motion. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON objected because she feels it is better to just stick with the principals and let them set up the policy. A roll call vote was taken. Voting "yes" on the amendment were Representatives Toohey, Bunde, Davis and Rokeberg. Voting "no" was Representative Robinson. Representative Brice was not present for the vote. CO-CHAIR BUNDE announced that now before the HESS Committee was HB 125 as amended. Number 1068 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked to clarify a point. He asked if the legal review that was undertaken in Washington, D.C., was specifically in reference to HB 125, or all four bills that pertained to disclosure. MS. GRUENING answered that the decision referred to juvenile disclosure and what was and was not permissible. It was not addressing one particular bill. It was a broad statement on juvenile disclosure and what was allowable under the Title IV funds and what was not. She has copies of that decision if HESS Committee members would like to see it. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said the reason he asked is he wanted to make sure the amendment was not tampering with something that had already been approved by the federal government. Number 1104 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked if she could ask a question to the DHSS. CO-CHAIR BUNDE noted that the amendment is an attempt to address the sensitivities of the other HESS Committee members. He therefore wants to add the words "appropriate teachers" rather than just "teachers." ELMER LINDSTROM, Special Assistant to the Commissioner, DHSS, made himself available to answer the questions of HESS Committee members. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked how the DHSS now feels about the amended bill, and also if the bill accomplishes anything different than what is allowed for in existing law. She asked if this bill means there will be two sets of regulations. Number 1163 MR. LINDSTROM does not believe that any of the type of disclosures that have been discussed in the meeting are precluded under the existing law. The existing law to which he refers is the bill passed last year, the automatic waiver bill. The disclosure provisions have nothing to do with the automatic waiver. They simply made more permissive language that allowed the division to share their information with other parties, specifically school districts. MR. LINDSTROM believes that all the discussion that has gone on in the HESS Committee room concerning the kinds of information it is believed should be provided to a school district could be provided under existing law and regulations that will be developed by the department. MR. LINDSTROM said, however, this is clearly different in that while the existing language is permissive, HB 125 would require the department to provide information. However, Mr. Lindstrom believes the CS that is before HESS Committee members at the present time really speaks to the court providing information. Perhaps that is something that needs to be looked at in the Judiciary Committee. MR. LINDSTROM did not know if that was still the intent of the sponsor. If the department is providing the information under the bill, that is not the way the language is drafted at the present time. There is also language in the CS just adopted that HESS Committee members should be aware of. The language just amended refers to a municipal or law enforcement agency providing information to school districts, not the DFYS. Therefore, there are several things going on here. Number 1238 MR. LINDSTROM said he knew the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Law and the DHSS will be addressing those concerns in the Judiciary Committee. MR. LINDSTROM made a personal observation. He believed that what needs to happen is what started to happen earlier this week. When education representatives which include the school district administrators, the school board association and NEA Alaska representatives, the DHSS, the Department of Law, and the Department of Public Safety get together, what everyone wants is to make a system that gets the information to where it needs to go. This bill is not self-implementing. It will require additional regulations. MR. LINDSTROM thinks that everyone is heading in the same direction, and he appreciated the opportunity to work with Representative Green and others. MR. LINDSTROM said the DHSS believes that it can take the legislators where they want to go in terms of the provisions of this bill. Number 1293 CO-CHAIR BUNDE noted he supports the word "shall" instead of the word "may." He has grave concern about getting to the classroom teacher. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked to speak on two issues. She asked if it would make more sense to go back to the existing law instead of making it permissive, that the existing law be changed to "shall." REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON also asked who is going to draft the regulations. It is not going to be DHSS. She asked if it was going to be the courts or the police department. Number 1330 MR. LINDSTROM answered the first question. He thinks there will be at least one additional meeting of the working group that seems to be coalescing around this issue. Perhaps some thought can be given to what the language ought to be in the next committee of referral. MR. LINDSTROM said he cannot speak for another department, and he certainly cannot speak for another branch of government. But he is sure the court system is going to want to revisit the issue of who will be providing the information. Again, the draft before HESS Committee members really puts the onus on the court system, and Mr. Lindstrom knows that is not acceptable to them. MR. LINDSTROM said assuming that hurdle is overcome, he would further assume there would be regulations promulgated by DHSS by, he thinks, the Department of Public Safety. He does not know if the Department of Law would also promulgate regulations. CO-CHAIR BUNDE called for the vote, closing public testimony. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said she will not object to the bill, but she wants to strongly encourage the process that is going on. She does not personally think this legislation is needed, and she is hoping that before it ever gets to the floor of the House that there has been some sort of miracle solution. She does not object to the movement of the bill. Number 1400 MR. ROSE, AASB, said he could clarify some of the topics discussed. He said the discussion is trying to solve who is the most appropriate person to contact. Recognizing the disparity between school districts, the AASB has put out a survey. The AASB wants to identify the communications link, how we communicate, what type of information needs to be transmitted and who is the most appropriate person. From a school district point of view there is great exposure that will require school districts to address the policy issue of how this communication is transmitted. MR. ROSE thinks, to the degree that you want teachers involved, that has to be inclusive. But the issue of confidentiality must be recognized and how information is transferred. Mr. Rose would agree that departments will have to promulgate some sort of regulations and school districts will have to as well to protect their interests. Number 1443 CO-CHAIR BUNDE expressed a great deal of confidence in the sponsor of the bill to continue the bi-partisan and collaborative effort. There being no objection, CSHB 125(HES) was moved from the HESS Committee with individual recommendations.