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Legislative Updates

The following are THREE items recommended to you for consideration. In the early fall, you will be asked to VOTE on these items as part of the 2013 Proposed Legislation Program (PLP).

If you have any questions about these items, the rationale or history, please do not hesitate to contact the committee at legislation@vapta.org. 

Please familiarize yourself with the issues below and be prepared to cast a vote so that your state Legislation committee is effectively advocating on your behalf.


LEGISLATION ACTION ITEMS (LAI): are requests for the introduction, passage, or defeat of specific legislation by the General Assembly and/or regulations by the Virginia Board of Education or other appropriate agencies.  

POLICY STATEMENTS (PS): are statements of Virginia PTA on general issues and may be used as the basis for addressing issues before the General Assembly, Virginia Board of Education or other appropriate agencies.

SURVEY: This year we are requesting that every PTA member participate in a simple survey which will help the Legislation and Capitol Committees be more proactive in the legislative program.

 


LEGISLATIVE ACTION ITEM #1: The Virginia PTA supports legislation and policy that offers public schools reasonable flexibility within school system guidelines, procurement and calendars in an effort to encourage academic success.


Rationale: The Virginia PTA believes that public schools may find individual paths to the overall success of its students within the confines of local school board policy. Public charter schools are now granted exceptions from stringent procurement contracts, system-wide calendars and uniform teaching methods as they design unique, parent-supported learning environments. The Virginia PTA believes public schools should be afforded similar exceptions in an effort to encourage growth and improvement at the building level so long as these exceptions are designed in ways that will increase student achievement levels and support school success. The Virginia PTA is a firm supporter of local options and empowerment of school boards to create effective, successful, independent schools. Allowing the local school divisions to incorporate innovative approaches for instruction, assessment, and student learning will open the doors to new ways of measuring and assuring student success.


LEGISLATIVE ACTION ITEM #2: The Virginia PTA supports legislation that reserves the privilege of participation in public school extracurricular activities to full-time public school students.


Rationale: In 1999, our members adopted a position in favor of reserving the privilege of participation in public school extracurricular activities to full time public school students (i.e. those taking 4 or more courses per semester). seeking to allow non-public school students the opportunity to participate on public school teams - currently not permitted on teams governed by the Virginia High School League (VHSL) rules of eligibility.


This Legislative Action Item would reaffirm Virginia PTA’s member-adopted position from 1999. Because of space limitations and/or competitive selection processes, the potential for non-public school students to take the place of existing full-time public school students is very real. In addition, many extracurricular activities involve students’ representing their school, or are enhancements to the public school experience

Those who have chosen and committed to public schools should not have their opportunities limited by those who have chosen alternative learning

opportunities.


POSITION STATEMENT #1: Virginia PTA supports full implementation, in all school divisions, of the Virginia Department of Education’s Model Student Conduct and School Discipline Policy.


Virginia PTA encourages all local and council PTAs to actively engage in the development, review, and dissemination of local student conduct and school discipline policies.


Rationale: Virginia PTA has a long-standing position in favor of local school division control over supervision and administration of our public schools. However, Virginia PTA does recognize that all local school divisions need guidance and shared best practices. We need to insure that all of our students have similar opportunities and that all of our public schools offer the best opportunity for family involvement and student success while maintaining safe school environments. The Virginia Department of Education’s Model Student Conduct and School Discipline Policy (http://www.doe.virginia.gov/boe/guidance/safety/student_conduct.pdf) includes very specific information and recommendations on local school division conduct and discipline policy content as well as guidelines for parental notification and involvement in any violation of the policy. These policies, however, are only models and local school divisions may choose to develop their own policies or modify the model for implementation in their schools. Virginia PTA believes that when it comes to student conduct and discipline, these model policies should be considered best practices, and should be fully implemented by all school divisions.


Virginia PTA worked with the Virginia Department of Education (DOE) in the development of the DOE’s Model Student Conduct and School Discipline Policies. Our work on the development of this process included participation by our state president in the content and roll out of “A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Student Discipline Policies and Practices in Virginia Schools” . (http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/student_conduct/parents_guide_student_discipline_policies.pdf) This guide lays out the role parents should play in the development, review, and dissemination of local school division conduct and discipline policies as recommended in the DOE model policy. Again, these model policies are the best practices as determined by the DOE and should be fully implemented by every school division in Virginia.


For the last few years in Virginia’s General Assembly, bills have been filed. School administrators have often shared that the privilege of participation in these activities is, often,

what keeps some public school students on the road to graduation. Participation in many extracurricular activities involves maintaining a certain GPA, attending class, and 

demonstrating behavior in line with the school code of conduct. In fact, these are requirements for any public school student who participates in some extracurricular activities

(VHSL activities for instance) while they would not be requirements for non-public school students who would be allowed to participate if legislation like that introduced the last few years passes.


Virginia PTA believes that parents must be involved in every aspect of school conduct and discipline policy including a responsibility at the beginning of each school year to review with our students the local division’s Code of Conduct. Parents must also be involved in regular reviews of student conduct and discipline policies with school administration and must also be included in the development of any additions or revisions to the local policy. We urge our local PTAs and councils of PTAs to advocate with their local school administrations for the full implementation of the DOE’s best practices. Further, we urge all of our local PTAs and councils of PTAs to review their school division’s current policy and advocate with their school administration for the changes they see as necessary for their students and their schools.

 

Legislative Links:

On the Virginia PTA website is the Legislative Committee page athttp://www.vapta.org/statecommittees/legislative/legislation-committee.html.
 
Virginia General Assembly
You can type in a bill number to get update information about what is happening with a specific bill.
 

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