School Board proposes alternative to “Becca Bill,” discusses McCleary Decision

Earlier this evening, beginning at approximately 6:30 p.m., the Edmonds School District (ESD) School Board elected the new School Board officers for 2016, discussed an alternative to lowering the amount of truant students and the recent McCleary case.

The new ESD School Board President, Susan Phillips, Vice President, Ann McMurrary, and Legislative Representative, Carin Chase, were elected at the beginning of the meeting.

Following the election was a discussion led by Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education and Diversity, Equity and Outreach Coordinator Karena Hooks. The duo discussed other ideas to the famous “Becca Bill,” Washington’s state truancy law. Currently, when a student has too many absences, they will be sent home a letter informing their parents or guardians that a court date will be scheduled if they continue to not come to school.

However, Irish and Hooks proposed a new solution: an intervention will be set up by the School Board and designated members from the student’s school will speak with the family and, hopefully, according to Hooks, the student’s truancy will become less of a problem.

If the student continues to miss class, a court order will be filed, Irish said. He continued, explaining that over ten absences from school days would qualify as a “warning signal.”

Hooks told the members of the School Board that seven out of ten school districts in Washington state use the intervention method over the immediate court date. She said giving students a warning before a severe punishment has shown to be effective.

Phillips, however, said when her son received the letter with the warning of a schedule, she felt “motivated” to ensure her son doesn’t miss any more school.

Toward the end of the meeting, the recent “McCleary Decision,” a bill aimed at fixing the way public schools are funded. The bill ordered lawmakers to fully fund public education.

However, the official ruling on the bill is looking to be pushed to next year, according to Superintendent Nick Brossoit.

Brossoit continued, explaining why this bill should be passed as soon as possible instead of procrastinating the final decision.

Director of District Five Diana White also expressed her opinion on the issue, saying it was “confounding” that the legislature is appearing to be pushed off.

“Why isn’t the elephant in the room [the funding of public education] not being discussed? The legislature sure did fix that charter school problem [a bill passed on January 20 to keep Washington charter schools open after a September court ruling declared them unconstitutional], why are they ignoring the funding of public education?” White said.