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Children @ Risk update – 3/30/09

Posted by Texas Education on March 30, 2009

Seems when it rains, it pours. Lots of stuff going on right now. Especially now with the lege. This just in from Children@Risk.

Tomorrow on Tuesday, March 31st, the House Public Education Committee will hear a number of bills of interest to children in Houston and Texas.  CHILDREN AT RISK has summarized five of those bills which we are monitoring in the areas of child discipline and sex education.  Below are their summaries to better inform you of what’s happening.

If you have an opinion on one or more of these bills, we encourage you to contact the House Public Education Committee members! You can access their contact information by clicking here.

School Discipline: Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs (DAEPs) are designed to remove disruptive students from the regular classroom who repeatedly interfere with instruction or commit serious offenses.  The goal of sending students to DAEPs is also to enable them to acquire the knowledge and skills that will enable them to be successful in environments more suited to their needs.  However, DAEPs have been the source of much criticism in the past few years in large part due to the referral process through which students are placed at these campuses and the quality of the instruction and services provided to them.

HB 171, by Representative Dora Olivo
Considering Mitigating Factors When Deciding Disciplinary Action
This bill would require that each school district’s code of conduct specify that consideration of mitigating factors (such as self-defense, lack of intent, etc.) will be given when deciding whether a student is suspended, removed to a DAEP, or expelled. Currently, districts only need to specify whether consideration is given, but not require that consideration of mitigating factors.

HB 172, by Representative Dora Olivo
Parent Notification of Disciplinary Action
In the event that a child is placed in a disciplinary alternative education program, expelled, or placed in a juvenile justice alternative education program, this bill would require parental notification. As a result, school districts must provide written notification to the student on the day action is taken so that the student can deliver the message to the parent; inform the parent of the disciplinary action taken by phone or mail within a specific time frame; include information on both the parent’s and the student’s applicable procedural rights.

HB 901, by Representative Harold Dutton
Not involving Law Enforcement Officers in School Conduct

This bill amends Subchapter A, Chapter 37, Education Code by adding new language to prohibit a school administrator from referring a student to a law enforcement official on the basis of conduct by the student that violates the student conduct code but that the school administrator knows or has reason to know is not a criminal offense.

Sex Education: Texas receives more federal funding for abstinence-only programs than any other state in the country. In 2007, Texas received $18,213,472 in federal funding. This is 27 percent more than the next highest state. At the same time, Texas has one of the highest rate of births and repeat births to teenage girls in the nation. To learn more visit Education Works.

HB 741, by Joaquin Castro
Abstinence-Plus
This bill amends Section 28.004, Education Code to require Abstinence-Plus sex education in Texas schools. This would require that if Texas schools choose to teach sex education, they must present medically-accurate, age-appropriate information, including information about abstinence, contraception, effective communication, responsible decision-making, and what it really takes to be a parent.

HB 1567, by Representative Mike Villarreal
Scientifically Accurate Information
This bill relates to Abstinence Education programs in public schools.  HB 1567 does not require discussion of condoms or contraceptives, but it does require scientific accuracy if they are discussed—and it prohibits discouraging the use of condoms or contraceptives.

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