COLUMBUS—State Representatives Jeff Rezabek (R-Clayton) and Bill Hayes (R-Harrison Township) today took another step in improving the education system in Ohio by introducing legislation reforming truancy law in the state.
In a press conference this morning, the representatives, along with House Education Committee Chairman Andrew Brenner (R-Powell), introduced new legislation dropped today that would work to address the issue of truancy. The bill implements uniformity among districts when dealing with truancy, encourages earlier intervention if a student is habitually missing school, gives districts more tools to address the root cause of truancy and works to avoid criminalization that occurs as a result of truancy.
Provisions in the bill include:
• Requiring school districts to notify parents within seven days of when their child’s excused or unexcused absences reach 90 percent of the habitual truancy level
• Allowing schools to create a plan to address the underlying cause of truancy
• Providing courts and schools multiple opportunities to make sure the attendance problem is fixed before resulting in a criminal record
• Increasing notification requirements for schools and courts to address truancy sooner
• Removing truancy from the zero tolerance policy and requiring the Department of Education to adopt a policy emphasizing in school consequences
“This is my kind of bill because it was created by those who are going to use it,” said Rep. Hayes. “I encourage teachers, administrators, and court personnel to be involved in this legislation so that we can work together to reduce truancy rates in Ohio and provide the best possible education for our children.”
During the press conference, Rep. Rezabek discussed his experience as an attorney in the juvenile court system—an area where he sees the prevalence of truancy.
“It is said by my friends in the teaching community that, if you can’t reach them, you can’t teach them. This bill is about early intervention and getting to the root of the problem,” Rep. Rezabek explained. “Given my experience as a guardian ad litem, I believe we need to be holding everyone involved more accountable and help our most vulnerable children. I am proud to join Rep. Hayes in this effort and look forward to working with Chairman Brenner on this initiative.”
As chairman of the Education Committee, Rep. Brenner encouraged the need for reform on the issue following meetings with schools, judges and other interested parties.
“Ohio is going to bring back some common sense to our schools. Students should not be kept out of school for being truant,” Rep. Brenner said. “Truancy happens when solutions are not found. Finding solutions for students through intervention programs tailored with students in mind and with involvement from parents and educators will help prevent truancy.”
Full video of the press conference can be viewed here: http://www.ohiochannel.org/MediaLibrary/Media.aspx?fileId=147814