Thursday, March 12, 2015

Child abuse prevention bill amended with ‘snow days’ provisions, returned to Senate

FRANKFORT—A bill to require child abuse prevention and reporting training in Kentucky’s public schools and allow “snow days” to be waived in school districts hardest hit by this winter’s storms was approved today by the House.

SB 119, sponsored by Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, was passed by the Senate last month to require school administrators, teachers, office state, teaching assistants, coaches and other employed by a school district to receive child abuse and neglect prevention, recognition and reporting training through the state by Jan. 31, 2017 then every two years thereafter. Those hired after Jan. 31, 2017 would be required to complete the training within 90 days of being hired, then every two years.

The House adopted those provisions (which mirror language in HB 301, passed by the House 94-0 last month) after adding the “snow days” provisions to the bill. Those provisions would give school districts until June 5 to complete all 1,062 school instructional hours required by the state. Any remaining hours that cannot be made up could be waived by the state.

The adding provisions also clarify that instructional days cannot exceed 7 hours, cannot include Saturdays, and that school districts can be open on primary election day if no school in a district is used as a polling place.

“It’s … the exact same bill that the House and Senate agreed upon last year when we came upon this same problem,” according to House Education Committee Chair Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, who presented the amendment for a vote. 

Speaking in opposition to the amendment was Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, who was concerned that considerable instructional time is being lost in some districts.

“If we’re going to demand that our kids go to school and that every high school diploma is the same everywhere, then we need to figure out how to make sure these kids are able to go to school for the full term every year,” said Koenig.

School instructional time waivers were allowed last school year with the passage of HB 211 by the 2014 Kentucky General Assembly.

The snow days waiver provisions in SB 119 include an emergency clause, which would make those provisions effective immediately should SB 119 become law.

The bill passed the House on an 87-8 vote. It now goes back to the Senate for consideration of the changes the House made to the legislation.