November 28, 2014

Accreditation bill filed again for 2013

Legislation to let the state move faster to take over failing school districts is again up for legislative consideration.

Representative Mike Lair's legislation to allow DESE to move faster to take over school districts did not reach the Governor in 2012, despite unanimous support in the Senate and House.

Representative Mike Lair’s legislation to allow DESE to move faster to take over school districts did not reach the Governor in 2012, despite unanimous support in the Senate and House.

Last year Representative Mike Lair (R-Chillicothe)¬†introduced a bill to allow the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to immediately take over a school district when it loses accreditation. The Senate wanted the House to finally pass that bill, the House wanted the Senate to finally pass a bill changing the criteria for the firing of teachers. Both proposals failed as the final minutes of the legislative session wound down despite earlier versions of Lair’s legislation receiving unanimous votes in both chambers.

Lair says that was frustrating.

“The education of those children is more important than about anything else that we deal with … I don’t know what else we could do more important that to give a child a chance for a good education.”

Under current statute, the Department can not take over a district that has lost accreditation for two years. Lair says that’s “foolish.”

“When you look at the situation where a child begins freshman year and end of December that freshman year (the district becomes) unaccredited, then it becomes his junior year before the state can begin healing that process. As big a beaurocracy as a school district the size of Kansas City is, in essence, nothing gets done until that child is gone.”

Lair’s bill in the 2013 session is HB 50.