Friday, March 7, 2008
CT - Update on the Withdrawal Bill SB162 - The Department Of Education And It's Commissioner Up To Back Door Tricks
Please see the updated information about SB162 - The Withdrawal Bill
There is some very important information there regarding:
The status of the bill
Who is supporting it (there have been some additional co-sponsors)
and Changes that the Department of Education is attempting to slip in
Yes - The Department of Education is up to their dirty tricks.
The Department of Education had an opportunity to attend the public hearing before the Select Committee on Children and object to the change to CGS Sec. 10-220. They did not do so. The Department of Education had an opportunity to attend the public hearing and urge the amendment of Senate Bill #162 as proposed by Rep. O’Neill. They did not do so.
Meanwhile, now after the public hearing in the Children's Committee, and after unanimous support for O'Neill's proposed language, the State Education Commissioner, Mark McQuillan, has provided Rep. O’Neill with a copy of a proposed bill that would substantially change Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-184! Essentially, the bill as proposed by Commissioner McQuillan does not include the language as proposed by Rep. O’Neill. Instead, it includes the mysteriously changed language that we saw prior to the public hearing on SB 162! In addition, the McQuillan bill would substantially alter Conn. Gen. Stat. 10-184 in other substantive ways, including in ways relating to the provision of “equivalent instruction”. It interjects the phrase, “equivalent instruction” in places in the statute where the phrase currently does not exist.
They are trying to change the issue of this legislation. The issue is not how parents “withdraw” their children, or why, or whether they should or should not. The issue is whether school districts MUST ACCEPT the withdrawal when it is given. That is why a change in the law concerning the “Duties of Local Boards of Education” (CGS Sec. 10-220) must be made instead of a change in the law concerning the “Duties of Parents” (CGS Sec. 10-184). Parents have been following the law. School districts have not. Clearly, the Department of Education wishes to create a policy which gives them an approval process which usurp's a parent's right to withdraw. The Department of Education has a vested interest in changing the language so that it can continue to interpret it in any way that suits its purposes and so that it can continue to encourage local school districts to threaten, coerce, or otherwise manipulate parents into doing what the Department and the school district wants.
Please read the proposed McQuillan bill in its entirety (posted on the NHELD website along with our comments about these unfavorable changes).
So why has the Commissioner put forth these changes now? Changes that were clearly rejected at the hearing by the Committee and the parents who testified? They are doing it now - maybe because they know that there will be no public hearing on this bill in the Education Committee (that is IF the bill is raised by them)
Yes - the duplicitous behavior of the Department of Education continues. It is clear that, until this time, in accordance with the appropriate manner as set forth in the rules of the legislature, Commissioner McQuillan did not want to publicly state the Department of Education’s opposition to Senate Bill #162, but, yet again, McQuillan and the Department chose to act in a more devious manner behind the scenes to effect changes in the language of this bill. Their actions speak volumes.
Legislators should take note that the behavior of the Department of Education regarding this issue is indicative of the manner in which the Department has conducted itself throughout the past in attempting to act behind the scenes to coerce people into complying with its wishes. The Department of Education has acted behind the scenes to encourage school districts to compel parents into complying with demands with which they are not required by law to comply. The Department, now, is acting behind the scenes seemingly to object to Senate Bill #162 (even though the Department, to date, has not publicly objected to it), and to encourage legislators to adopt it. Their actions only serve to confirm the testimony of parents at the public hearing. Why else did they not publicly object to the bill at the public hearing and propose its amendment at that time?
Remember that "mysterious language" that replaced O'Neill's proposed language when the bill was drafted by LCO? That language is what the Department of Education is promoting. (Gee...why did LCO put that language in the bill when the Children's Committee voted to raise O'Neill's bill? hmmmmm...) Good question... After the language in Senate Bill #162 was mysteriously changed, many legislators, from both sides of the aisle, voiced their dissatisfaction with the change when they testified at the public hearing and urged the Committee to support the language in Senate Bill #162 as it originally was proposed by Rep. O’Neill. All of the members of the public who testified at the hearing also denounced the mysteriously changed language and urged the Committee to support the language as it originally was proposed by Rep. O’Neill. The Committee then voted to reject the mysteriously changed language and to adopt the language as it originally was proposed by Rep. O’Neill. The language should remain as it originally was proposed.
It is extremely important for all parents to make their views on this known to Senator Gaffey, Rep. Fleischmann, the members of the Education Committee, and to their own Senators and Representatives. Now is the time to act. We need to let them know that we do not want this bill altered in any way and that the original language proposed by Rep. O’Neill must remain as is. The Education Committee’s deadline for raising and giving a joint favorable recommendation for bills is March 19, 2008.
You can view all documents and updates on this issue from the CT Clearing House page
My past posts are here