Oversight of Independent Schools (H.483) - May 2, 2023

On Tuesday, Chairman Campion brought up H.483 for the Senate Education Committee to see where members are at with the bill. He noted that the provisions related to discrimination were addressed in the 2200 rule series and “seemed to be working effectively.” He added that people had been asking about the moratorium on new schools receiving approval status. He thought it might make sense to move forward on that piece and then “assess” next year “how many [schools] are in the queue.”

Hashim started the conversation by saying that the moratorium was “the most important piece” of the bill to him. He also believed that that the international schools provision was important. He raised issue with defining how public tuition might be “subsidizing” private-pay students; he worried that there was “a lot more understanding” that needed to happen about the impact of that provision.

Campion suggested that they might form a study committee on that issue. He thought it might require “two sets of books” for the school. He then backed up and asked the Committee what their goals were following the Makin decision. He noted that the pieces that gave him reassurance were anti-discrimination, special education, and the moratorium.

Gulick voiced that she “would like to vote” on the bill, believing it would provide “accountability for independent schools.” She added that she thought it was “fairly innocuous” and a “nice balance” between the needs of the schools and the needs of the public.

Campion pushed back, saying that he didn’t see how things like the application process and interviews got to accountability. A robust discussion followed as he pointed to public Career and Technical Education (CTE) schools that do not take all students.

Hashim pointed out the tuition language currently in the bill he didn’t feel was “ready for prime time.” Williams agreed, indicating that he thought the bill was a “fix in search of a problem.”

Campion noted that it seemed like the Committee was currently split between those who would like to do something and those that would like to see how things play out over the next year. “I don’t see how interviews improve public or independent education,” he noted.

Hashim countered that having an interview and admissions process allowed an “admissions officer” to discriminate “behind the scenes.” Gulick reinforced that she believed this “created a more equitably landscape.”

Hashim offered that they seemed to agree on overseas use of tuition funds, however, this point devolved into a conversation about where to draw the line on how far tuition dollars are allowed to go.

As the conversations progressed, Campion became frustrated saying that “the public education advocates, this is the biggest and most important bill for them. This, given all the issues we have in this state, I’m disappointed. Frankly, really disappointed.”

Gulick “I don’t think it’s fair to say this is the only thing they are advocating on.”

Campion responded that “a lot of the things” that public education advocates have been asking for are good for administrators but not for students, pointing to PCB testing, harassment provisions, and a “diverse education landscape.” He did not give an indication of when (or if) the Committee would return to the bill.



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