ACTION ITEM – COMMENT ON HB 1416 – Must be done by Monday night!!! (March 13)
HB 1416 is a bill that amends accelerated instruction and explicitly creates an opt out process for parents. It also preserves the no loss of electives rule. Because it creates a different process for creating AI plans for kids who have failed for two years, there is some confusion over whether all these limitations on schools apply to the second year and into the future. I think it does, but it could use clarification.
PLEASE – Make Comments on HB 1416 by going to https://comments.house.texas.gov/home?c=c400and clicking on HB 1416 for comment. My comment is below. After re-reading the bill, I think that is intends to affirm an opt out right for all accelerated instruction, and the specifications for students who have no passed for two or more years is really just about how to develop a plan. But, I know schools will try to make it more than that and overreach by denying opt out and stripping electives. We need to get the committee to address this, either by adding a section to the bill specifying that (a-1) to (a-10) apply to all accelerated instruction, or noting that in their legislative reports. My comment is below. You can steal it or you can write you own. The key points are:
1. Schools have overreached by ignoring the TEA and denying parental opt out.
2. Schools have ignored the legislature by continuing to deny electives.
3. The legislature must support parents and parental rights by making clear that (a-8) and (a-3) apply to all accelerated instruction, without exception.
You can also go to https://house.texas.gov/committees/committee/?committee=C400 to email individual committee members.
I am writing to express my concerns of HB 1416 as written. I think we can all agree that the accelerated instructions provisions of HB 4545 enacted in 2021 were not smoothly implemented and caused great confusion and frustration for parents and schools alike. As a parent, one of the most frustrating circumstances was the failure of many schools to follow the clear guidance from the TEA and Commissioner Morath about parental rights.
Although the TEA put together written direction affirming that parents can opt out of Accelerated Instructions, and even though Commissioner Morath testified directly to the State Board of Education that as the final decision maker for their child’s education, parents have the right to decline accelerated instruction for their children, many schools imposed their own interpretation, believing they know better than parents and can overrule the parental decision for any reason they wish. One district has even gone so far as to require a parent to go through three levels of grievance and appeal to the State Office of Administrative Hearings in an effort to have the district recognize her parental rights.
For this reason, I was thrilled to see that HB 1416 adds (a-8) explicitly recognizing the Opt Out right that Tex. Educ Code 26.010 creates. However, I am concerned that the bill does not specify that all of the restrictions of (a) also apply to accelerated instruction requiring an accelerated instruction plan under (b) and (f). It seems self-evident that (a) is the basis for and source of the requirement for all accelerated instruction. However, my experience school districts leads me to believe that it must be explicitly stated that (a) to (a-10) applied to ALL accelerated instruction under Section 28.0211.
I would second that concern as to section (a-3), which assures that a student does not lose core classes, enrichment classes or physical activity for accelerated instruction test prep. Many schools have continued to try to do this, and only relent if parents complain. I anticipate that schools will attempt to force loss of electives and take the position that (b) and (f) allow them to do so. This is strained construction, but schools believe they hold the power over parents and do not hesitate to do outrageous things.
PLEASE make it clear in this bill that (a-1) to (a-10) apply to ALL accelerated instruction under Section 28.0211. If you don’t do it in the bill itself (preferred), please do so in the reports and analysis so that the legislative history is clear on this, because there will be continued efforts by schools to deny parental rights.
If this is clarified this will be a good improvement to the existing 28.0211 that we can support.
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