I spent Cinco de Mayo chairing the May meeting of the Rules, Policy and Legislation committee, which was augmented (an “augmented” meeting means that all board members are invited and may speak but not vote. If a committee meeting is not augmented, members may attend as members of the public but may not participate other than giving public comment if they so choose). First up:
- Positions on legislation. It is a long-standing practice of this committee to take positions on bills on behalf of the full board; members can request a hearing and vote by the full board if they so choose. The reason we do this is that there are tens of bills introduced every session of interest to our schools, and having the full board consider each of these bills at every meeting would eat up a great deal of time. As a result, over a decade ago Board members agreed to put consideration of legislation under the charge of the Rules, Policy and Legislation Committee, so that the district’s position on bills can be communicated more efficiently and effectively to legislators. I am glad to be chairing this commitee, as it seems many of the bills we consider have to do with special education. Last night was no exception — the staff recommended a “disapprove” position on a bill authored by Fiona Ma that would prohibit teachers and other staff from using physical restraints on students with disabilities. Because I am philosophically opposed to the use of physical restraint, I disagreed with the staff position and asked for more information. Here are the recommended staff positions on all bills we considered last night; the commitee ratified all of them except for AB 1538, the physical restraint bill.
- We forwarded the Superintendent’s implementation plan for A-G graduation requirements to the full Board with a positive recommendation, though I do remain concerned that there was not enough participation by special education staff on the study team, and that the current draft of the plan minimizes the cultural and curriculum shift that will need to happen for our students in self-contained classrooms to meet A-G requirements;
- We forwarded Commissioners Yee and Fewer’s resolution on parent engagement to the full Board with a few cosmetic amendments and a positive recommendation;
- We heard informational items on our coming stimulus money, a draft of legislative principles that will be passed by the committee in the Fall, and a discussion by legal counsel on the possibilities for a more focused district-wide fundraising policy.
The different standards are because it is harder for the public to oversee what is going on in non-public schools, therefore they need stronger guidelines and protections for the children.
The Hughes Bill doesn’t adequately define “restraint” or “chemical restraint”, leaving too much up to interpretation and children are being harmed because of those loose definitions.
The California Department of Ed does a piss-poor job of monitoring special education complaints and their “investigations” are pathetic.
This bill is a step to remedy all these problems. The Governor will probably veto it anyway, since he has vetoed almost every bill that would have greatly helped children with disabilities.
This is a good bill. School Districts and SELPAs and Offices of Ed oppose it, but look at who supports it:
-Association of Regional Center Agencies
-California Alliance of Child and Family Services
-California Association for Parent-Child Advocacy
-Disability Rights California
-California State Council on Developmental Disabilities
-Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
– National Disability Rights Network
-The Arc of California
Who do YOU think has the best interests of our children in mind?
I think the staff recommended an “oppose” position on the basis that the bill sets up a different standard for non-public schools than it does for public schools. Also, the argument was made in our committee meeting that the Hughes Bill has instituted ample protections against physical restraint of students who pose a danger to themselves or others.
I need more information on both of these arguments before I can entertain the idea of opposing this bill.
Re the position on the Ma bill, is that because of concerns that limiting teachers’ ability to restrain students would pose a danger? Since I first heard about this from someone who interpreted it to mean that SFUSD staff wants to spray ammonia in students’ faces, my interest was piqued.