Described as a slimmed down version of a typical education policy bill, Youakim said it had been her hope for the committee to accomplish more this session, “but the pandemic changed that in the blink of an eye.
“Next year we will have to have a laser focus on policies that will help our students who will be facing increased challenges, and may have fallen even further behind,” she said.
The proposal includes several provisions that would strengthen laws prohibiting schools from using demeaning practices to collect lunch debt.
“It’s a provision that has had a very long, hard journey, but has come to a resolution,” Youakim said.
The bill would require districts to develop and post a school meal policy on their websites that outlines what happens when a student does not have money to pay for their meal. The policy would need to be well defined and prohibit lunch shaming or other means of ostracizing the student. It would also lay out how overdue money is be collected and would require that those conversations be only between school staff and a parent or guardian.
Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker applauded the inclusion of the respectful meal language, saying that “punishing students for adult issues is not acceptable.”
However, she expressed disappointment over the omission of a previously considered measure that would have added tribal nations to the list of entities that may receive certain private educational data on tribally enrolled or descendant students in order to support the students’ academic pursuits.
Other policy proposals include:
What's in the bill?
The following are selected bills that have been incorporated in part or in whole into the omnibus E-12 education policy bill: