Rep. Koch Passes Parental Accountability Legislation
Reforms Strengthen Indiana's Educational Neglect Law
STATEHOUSE- An amendment to Senate Bill 1 passed by State Representative Eric Koch (R-Bedford) in the House Education Committee will strengthen Indiana's educational neglect law by providing a statewide definition of "attendance", requiring local school corporations to have a policy outlining the conditions for "excused" and "unexcused" absences, and increasing school administration responsibility for reporting habitual attendance issues.
In Indiana, students between the ages of 7 and 18 are required to attend school for the number of days school is in session. Under current law, however, no statewide definition for "attendance" currently exists. Rep. Koch's amendment defines "attendance" as meaning a student is required to attend 180 days of school per school year and requires school corporation governing bodies to have a policy outlining the conditions for excused and unexcused absences. Any absence that takes a student away from 180 days of attendance would have to be in accordance with the governing board's policy to qualify as an excused absence.
Under current law, a superintendent or attendance officer is not required to report a child who is habitually absent from school. Rep. Koch's amendment would require the reporting to an intake officer of the juvenile court or to the Department of Child Services.
"When I speak with teachers about education issues, I am reminded that teachers cannot educate if a child is not in the classroom. The data show that a child suffers educational harm when he or she misses more than ten percent of classroom time in any school year. Current law is inadequate and ineffective. This legislation will reinforce the importance of parental involvement in their child's education," said Rep. Koch.
In drafting this legislation, Rep. Koch involved representatives of the Indiana Superintendents Association, the Indiana School Boards Association, the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, Indiana Department of Child Services Director Jim Payne, and State School Superintendant Tony Bennett. "This is a great example of what can be accomplished when all stakeholders acknowledge that current law is ineffective and work together to find a solution," said Rep. Koch.
Rep. Koch serves House District 65, which includes parts of Bartholomew, Brown, Jackson, and Lawrence counties. Rep. Koch serves as the Chairman of the House Elections & Apportionment Committee, and member of the Select Committee on Government Reduction, Statutory Committee on Ethics, and the Utilities & Energy Committee. Rep. Koch also serves as Assistant Republican Caucus Chairman.