House lowers drop-out age and limits anti-bullying law

16 Mar

CONCORD – The House voted Tuesday to reduce the age students can drop out of school, to limit the recently approved anti-bullying law and to allow parents to remove their students when they object to material or programs.

The issue of restoring parental rights and local control echoed in many of the education debates.

Dropouts

The House voted 210-134 to approve HB 429 (click to view status, text and roll call votes), which returns the mandatory student school attendance age from 18 to 16 years old.

Supporters of the bill, said the change in law approved in 2007, gives a school superintendent control over the wishes of parents and their children to continue their high school education.

Education Committee member Rep. Charles Brosseau, R-Campton, said “This is about parental rights and local control. This restores the parental and children’s right to decide and keeps the bureaucrats out.”

The bill would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to drop out of high school with their parents’ permission.

The push to raise the age of compulsory school attendance to 18 years old was spearheaded by Gov. John Lynch who made it a centerpiece of his initiative to reduce the school drop out rate.

Last week in Manchester, Lynch touted the state’s declining dropout rate, saying last year it was below 1 percent for the first time in many years.

He predicted the rate could reach zero by the 2012-2013 school year.

On the House floor, Education Committee member Rep. Mary Stuart Gile, D-Concord, said “Quite simply, this bill hurts New Hampshire children. Lowering the drop-out age will have a direct and long lasting negative impact on our students.”

Bullying

The House voted 248-96 to approve HB 370, which limits school involvement in bullying incidents that occur off school property, eliminates a superintendent’s waiver to inform parents about bullying incidents and eliminates a list of reasons that may trigger student bullying, including sexual orientation.

Supporters said the bill preserves parental rights and reduces the overreaching of schools.

Proponents maintain parents have a right to know if their student is being bullied or if their student is a bully.

Rep. Ralph Boehm, R-Litchfield, said the change requires that parents to be informed about bullying incidents. “Someone who sees a child five hours a week knows a child better than the parents? I don’t think so,” he said.

Boehm said the current law allows school administrators to step in when many of the incidents are covered by other authorities like the police.

Others said the parental authority has been usurped by he schools.

Rep. Laura Gandia, R-Litchfield, said, “A school’s authority ends when the student comes under the jurisdiction of parents.” That is not the case under current law, she said.

But Rep. Donna Schlachman, D-Exeter, who help write the bullying law passed last year that included cyber-bullying, said the changes proposed are flawed and do not have the intended effect.

She noted one provision expands the reach of schools by making school board members responsible for reporting bullying.

She said the current law sets a high bar for school administrators to become involved in cyber bullying that occurs off school property or from another school.

“We worked hard to achieve a good balance between legal protections and parental notification,” she said, adding lawmakers should give the law that just recently went into effect, time to work.

Objections

The House voted 197-148 to approve HB 542, which would allow parents to pull kids out of school over curriculum disputes and end homeschooling oversight by local districts.

According to Rep. J.R. Hoell, R-Dunbarton, the bill codifies the practice of parents providing alternatives to public school programs where they object to particular books, materials, units or subject matter.

He used as an example, the recent incident in Bedford concerning the book “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America.”

Vaccinations

The House also voted 294-49 to kill HB 422, which would have prevented vaccinations in public schools.



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One Response to “House lowers drop-out age and limits anti-bullying law”

  1. joshua March 17, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

    hello my name is josh i am doing a school project about the dropout age for school

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