The legislature continues to bring bills to the floor and pass House bills to the Senate and Senate bills to the Governor’s desk. Two significant bills signed into law this week by the governor were the “Bathroom Bill” which prohibits persons from using the facilities that don’t correspond with their biological sex in our schools, and the bill that bans Gender Reassignment treatments on minors.
This week the House passed House File 604, the Teacher Empowerment bill. For years I’ve been hearing from teachers that discipline problems in our schools are rampant. Of course, it varies by district and I’m glad that schools in my legislative district haven’t been where the serious problems are. The common theme I heard from teachers was that the school administration was not backing up the teachers. It is shocking to hear the student behavioral issues teachers are asked to deal with on a daily basis. In many ways, teachers are hindered in their ability to discipline students that are disruptive and protect themselves against students that are violent.
HF 604 came about after receiving feedback from teachers about their experiences. This bill allows teachers to make a complaint directly to the State Ombudsman’s office regarding violence in the classroom and requires the ombudsman to investigate. It also requires the school district to ensure their teachers know their rights regarding teacher immunity when coming in physical contact with a violent student, and includes teacher whistleblower protections. The bill also lays out a 3-strike system for student discipline. First offense – meet with school counselor and one day of in-school suspension. Second offense – meet with school counselor and 5 days of in-school suspension. Third offense – student is removed from that class and if in high school, will not receive credit for that class. This should end the frequent complaint that disruptions are allowed to continue week after week, hampering all the students ability to learn.