Cafero’s criticism of “chronic absenteeism” bill, sidetracks the legislation, for now

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House Minority Leader Larry Cafero’s floor criticism of a legislative attempt to get its arms around chronic school absenteeism, resulted in the bill getting pulled from debate for the time being. Cafero, R-Norwalk, long-time expulsion officer for Norwalk Public Schools, said it would be an unfunded mandate on local officials, who would have to get a committee of six or seven educators to perform monthly reviews of student attendance records, which in Norwalk is 12,000 kids. “That means this would be a very busy committee,” Cafero said. “Once they study and analyze it collect all the data, we don’t require them to do a darn thing. The state is saying by virtue of this amendment ‘We want to know if you have a problem, but we don’t ask you to tell us how you’re going to solve the problem…’ Well-intentioned legislation played out poorly. We can’t keep doing this, folks…I’m not sure this is the right piece of legislation.” House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, then “pass the bill temporarily,” and may or may not bring it back. The House then waded into an expected five-house debate on transparency on nursing home operators.

Here’s a salient part of the legislation”

“Each local and regional board of education that (1) has a district chronic absenteeism rate of ten per cent or higher, or (2) has a school under the jurisdiction of the board with a school chronic absenteeism rate of fifteen per cent or higher, shall establish a district school attendance review team to address chronic absenteeism at the school. The district school attendance review team may consist of school administrators, guidance counselors, school social workers, teachers and representatives from community-based programs who address issues related to student attendance by providing programs and services to truants, as defined in section 10-198a of the general statutes, as amended by this act, and chronically absent children and their families. The district school attendance review team shall be responsible for reviewing the cases of truants and chronically absent children, discussing school interventions and community referrals for such truants and chronically absent children and making any additional recommendations for such truants and chronically absent children and their families. The school attendance review team shall meet at least monthly.

Sec. 2. Subsection (c) of section 10-220 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2014):

(c) Annually, each local and regional board of education shall submit to the Commissioner of Education a strategic school profile report for each school under its jurisdiction and for the school district as a whole. The superintendent of each local and regional school district shall present the profile report at the next regularly scheduled public meeting of the board of education after each November first. The profile report shall provide information on measures of (1) student needs, (2) school resources, including technological resources and utilization of such resources and infrastructure, (3) student and school performance, including [truancy] the number of truants, as defined in section 10-198a, as amended by this act, and chronically absent children, as defined in section 1 of this act, (4) the number of students enrolled in an adult high school credit diploma program, pursuant to section 10-69, operated by a local or regional board of education or a regional educational service center, (5) equitable allocation of resources among its schools, (6) reduction of racial, ethnic and economic isolation, and (7) special education. For purposes of this subsection, measures of special education include (A) special education identification rates by disability, (B) rates at which special education students are exempted from mastery testing pursuant to section 10-14q, (C) expenditures for special education, including such expenditures as a percentage of total expenditures, (D) achievement data for special education students, (E) rates at which students identified as requiring special education are no longer identified as requiring special education, (F) the availability of supplemental educational services for students lacking basic educational skills, (G) the amount of special education student instructional time with nondisabled peers, (H) the number of students placed out-of-district, and (I) the actions taken by the school district to improve special education programs, as indicated by analyses of the local data provided in subparagraphs (A) to (H), inclusive, of this subdivision. The superintendent shall include in the narrative portion of the report information about parental involvement and if the district has taken measures to improve parental involvement, including, but not limited to, employment of methods to engage parents in the planning and improvement of school programs and methods to increase support to parents working at home with their children on learning activities. For purposes of this subsection, measures of truancy include the type of data that is required to be collected by the Department of Education regarding attendance and unexcused absences in order for the department to comply with federal reporting requirements and the actions taken by the local or regional board of education to reduce truancy in the school district. Such truancy data shall be considered a public record for purposes of chapter 14.

Sec. 3. Section 10-198b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2014):

On or before July 1, 2012, the State Board of Education shall define “excused absence”, [and] ”unexcused absence” and “disciplinary absence” for use by local and regional boards of education for the [purpose] purposes of carrying out the provisions of section 10-198a, as amended by this act, [and for the purpose of] reporting truancy, pursuant to subsection (c) of section 10-220, as amended by this act, and calculating the district chronic absenteeism rate and the school chronic absenteeism rate, pursuant to section 1 of this act.”

Categories: General

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