“We want to hit the ground running in 2020,” notes McLaurin. “It is important to show up and continue advocating for public education that does not use seclusion and restraint as a tool to manage the behavior of children.”
RMF believes children with special needs deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and that includes allowing parents to record IEP/504 planning meetings so parents can be more effective advocates for their children.
HBs 1540 and 1568 are summarized as follows:
Bill 1540 - recording policy - establishes that no school policy will prohibit parents from recording any meeting held that is regulated by IDEA. While we find the general protections to be a benefit, we would like to see language directing that schools provide access to recording equipment and a copy of recordings upon request of parents/guardians. Position: Support with Amendments. More details can be found here:
Bill 1568 - seclusion and restraint – in its essence is progressive but has a few deep flaws. We believe that an expansion of the bill’s powers to reach to all third-party referral agencies and organizations, public and private, to which the school might refer a student is required. This includes public, private, and charter schools; police departments; juvenile systems; contract providers such as Catapult and High Roads; including therapists; foster care; and all personnel associated with the school district: administrators, staff, teachers, counselors, etc. Position: Support with Major Amendments.
RMF will continue registering concern about the resistance exhibited by Columbia Public Schools administration and staff to inquiries seeking evidence of change in the district’s climate and culture.
“At the end of the day,” McLaurin says, “All we want is an equitable learning environment for students of color and children with special needs. “ Institutionally, CPS continues to produce significant and detrimental disparities in its disciplinary treatment of children of color and children with disabilities. This has to end!”
RMF encourages community members interested in the bills’ passage to contact the following representatives and express your support. Ultimately, this topic impacts all school children as they are given into the trust and care of a public entity charged with creating an environment where children should be thriving.
Rep. Dottie Bailey, firstname.lastname@example.org, 573/751-0562
Rep. Ian Mackey, email@example.com, 573-751-0100
Rep. Chuck Basye, firstname.lastname@example.org, 573-751-1501
Race Matters, Friends (www.racemattersfriends.com) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to anti-racism education, community consciousness-raising, and social equity. Since 2015, the group has been a persistent advocate for Community-Oriented Policing.