Caldier bill prioritizing return of at-risk children to in-person schooling receives committee approval

The House Education Committee has approved a bill that would prioritize the return of foster care children, homeless students and other at-risk children to in-person instruction as schools safely reopen.

House Bill 1366 is prime sponsored by Rep. Michelle Caldier, R-Port Orchard.

“Remote learning is not working for many families. Many foster children are not even enrolled in school, and those who are, are not engaged. In the case where a single parent or two parents are working, it is really hard to make sure your child is logging in and participating,” said Caldier, who is also a foster parent. “These are the children who are falling the farthest behind and should be a priority in returning to school.”

Under the bill, school districts that have discontinued in-person instruction to all or most students in response to an emergency must prioritize the offering and delivery of in-person instruction when resuming classes to:

  • students in foster care;
  • students experiencing homelessness;
  • students recently released from a juvenile rehabilitation facility or other facility providing education services to students in an institution setting;
  • students with section 504 plans or individualized education plans;
  • students with English as a second language; and
  • students who have 10 or more unexcused absences within any month during the current school year.

Caldier noted her experience trying to teach her nephew, who was falling behind with remote learning.

“He doesn't engage remotely at all. For the first eight weeks of school, he had not turned in any assignments. He'll turn on his laptop and as the teacher is trying to instruct the class remotely, his attention turns to other things,” said Caldier.

“The school was not adequately meeting his educational needs. My sister and I decided to have him stay with me for two-to-three days a week so I could help teach him in person. However, now that I am involved in the legislative session, I can no longer do that. So he's beginning to once again fall behind until I can help him get caught up after the session is over,” added Caldier. “My nephew's story is not alone. There are many parents having the same challenges. This bill would help these children be the first to get in-person instruction when that becomes available again.”

The measure is expected to be referred to the House Rules Committee for further action.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov