2005 Legislative Summary (Regular Session)

Failed bills:

HB 34 sought to prevent comprehensive and explicit sex education from being required at all age and grade levels contrary to parental beliefs.

SB 198 (as well as SB 2 when it passed the Senate as an omnibus pro-life package containing a version of SB 198) prohibited any abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood from providing sex education materials and speakers. (A third attempt was made when a similar amendment was adopted on the floor of the House during debate on SB 2, a pro-life package. SB 2 failed to clear the complete legislative process – see ABORTION, BIOETHICS & SANCTITY OF LIFE ISSUES.)

HB 35 would have required all biology textbooks, which currently promote evolution as scientific fact, to include at least one chapter admitting that other theories also exist. Despite numerous accusations to the contrary, HB 35 did not require teaching any theological exegesis.

HB 37, HB 639 & SB 248 offered new tax policies that awarded private education with a small piece of the state’s financial pie.

HB 319 tried to hold public schools accountable for enrollment standards for students transferring from unaccredited public, private or home schools.

HB 825 & SB 161 attempted to prevent government schools and classrooms from the common practice of censoring historic American documents containing references to God and/or religion!

HB 946 recommended basic modesty dress codes for students in public schools.

Passed Bills:

HB 64 extends the current state and local sales and use tax holiday for clothing, personal computers, and school supplies purchased for personal use during a 3-day period in August.

HB 258 removes the requirement that school districts take an annual census of children with disabilities up to age 21 and removes obsolete provisions concerning funding for the census.

HB 276 changes laws regarding special education to comply with recent reauthorization of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Currently, challenges to decisions about certain disciplinary placements require the child to remain in the interim placement until the challenge is resolved or the interim period elapses, whichever is earlier. Parents and schools are permitted to reach an agreement that does not follow this restriction. Serious bodily injury is added to the list of reasons for disciplinary action that may result in an interim alternative setting, which parents may challenge.

HB 297 alters Missouri’s relatively new law currently requiring school districts to produce an annual accountability report card for each school building, distribute copies to the households with students, and make copies available to any other members of the public upon request. This bill transfers all the responsibility for producing the report card to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (instead of the local schools grading themselves) specifying that there will be report cards for each and every district, each public school building in a district, and each charter school. These report cards will be designed to satisfy federal and state statistical disclosure requirements about academic achievement, finances, staff, and other indicators. Districts must provide the report card information by December 1, or as soon as it is ready, and give preference to distribution methods that will include the information with other important information, such as student report cards.

SB 254 prohibits any student, or any other person under the age of 21, from distributing prescription medication to any other individual who does not have a valid prescription upon school property. Under current law, students may legally ‘help themselves’ to parent’s, grandparent’s or other’s prescription medications and legally take them to school to hand out to other students in order to experiment with them without violating the law! This is just one of the newer drug trends common within public school culture. This bill also outlaws anyone under 21 from possessing prescription medication on any school property without a valid prescription.

HB 353 creates the crime of sexual contact with a student as a class D felony. The crime is committed when a teacher has sexual contact with a student on school property. (Why the education lobby limited the bill to school property is a question every parent should ask!)

SB 287 starts a transition of the state “foundation formula”. Missouri currently works off an equalized tax-rate driven education funding formula, meaning that the formula provides for a certain amount of money per student, per penny of tax rate. SB 287 will move the state away from this tax-rate driven philosophy to a formula that is primarily student-needs based. The new law also creates option districts, which may elect to relinquish state aid in return for relief from excessive government regulations. It is important to note that key senate sponsors of this new formula, and a partnership of lobbyists including those representing casinos, tried desperately to draft this legislation in such a manner as to force the state to expand gambling. The only way to have funded the senate version of SB 287 would require eliminating the protective $500 loss limit at Missouri casinos – doubling casino loses from Missouri citizens to fund ‘education’! The final adopted version avoids this funding battle.

SB 402 requires school districts to develop a policy detailing consequences that will result for a student at school if the student is found to be in possession or drinking alcohol on school property or while representing the school at extracurricular activities. See DRUG & ALCOHOL ABUSE SB 402 for more details.

SB 480 requires the State Board of Education to adopt a policy by December 1, 2005, that encourages effective involvement by parents and families in support of the education of their children. The Board of Education of each school district will then be required to adopt policies no later than March 1, 2006, that encourage more effective involvement by parents and families in support of their children and the education of their children.

SB 501 establishes within the Department of Mental Health, an “Office of Comprehensive Child Mental Health” to implement a comprehensive child mental health service system plan. The office shall provide oversight, support, training and coordination along with other teams in the implementation of the service system plan. SB 501 creates a Comprehensive Child Mental Health Clinical Advisory Council which will include, but not be limited to, ten members from the following disciplines: pediatric medicine, child psychiatry, child psychology, social work, clinical counseling, school psychologist, research, financing, and evaluation. Members of the council shall share information, identify opportunities for funding and research, and advise the department on how to provide a comprehensive child mental health system. The goal is to put every child in government school through a ‘comprehensive mental health’ program!