Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/16/1995 02:00 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 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.                                    
                                                                               

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