Stanislawski’s Bill Threatens Virtual Homeschool Families

  Under Gary Stanislawski's Senate Bill 244, virtual students who don’t log on to their program at least once a day for five days during a seven-day week would be marked absent. The schools would be required to submit to the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board a report when a student accumulates 10 absences. Oklahoma Watch wrote an extensive report of the bill and interviewed Stanislawski. But some glaring questions go unanswered.
  1. Who decides which days are school holidays? If a family decides to take their holiday break in early January instead of around the Christmas holiday, Are those 2 weeks considered truancy?
  2. Are the parents going to be charged by the District attorney, in the same manner that applies with 'brick & morter' schools?
  3. Is signing in daily,  on the web browser really an indicator of educational progress? Homeschoolers have no problem being compared by outcomes, even though their learning process may take another approach.
  4. If a family is doing offline learning (like the homeschool families who are at the inauguration and spending this week at the 22 Smithsonian museums in DC) , is that truly 'skipping school'?
PictureFormer Sen. Jim wilson
   This bill harkens back to the days when former Sen. Jim Wilson (a Tahlequah Democrat), would threaten to put homeschool kids in jail if they are seen unattended at the park on days when public schools decide that it's a school day. The families who conduct school days in June & July would not get to apply those days in place of days in November or February. Families who take spring break during a different week of March, would also be truants. I guess Stanislawski's bill serves to prove that Epic One On One will not be allowed to work like a homeschool. Recently, Stanislawski pushed legislation which made the Oklahoma Legislature and their Board of Virtual Schools the sponsor of Epic as a charter school, rather than a local school district. So the responsibility for policy now rests squarely upon Senate Education Chairman Stanislawski and other legislative leaders. Many homeschool leaders warned Oklahoma families not to view a state-run curriculum as a traditional homeschool process. They are now saying; "We told you so." I disagreed with them 6 years ago, but bills like SB244 now prove I was wrong to dismiss the warning. I don't believe Sen. Stanislawski is being deliberately harmful to the more than 40,000 home-educated students and their parents. I just think this former Jenks school board member has a mindset which doesn't comprehend the homeschoolers' needs for flexibility in format. How about waiting until we see a widespread failure of home educating, before we declare an emergency, as Stanislawski has declared. I urge the legislature to stop this effort to restrict the families who educate their children at home. This bill could result in many home educating parents going to criminal court and facing some very adversarial district attorneys' charges.

  Here is the article from Oklahoma Watch:

Senator Wants Virtual Schools Accountable for Student Attendance

Virtual charter schools would be required to track and report student attendance —something the schools aren’t currently tasked with doing — under a law proposed by an Oklahoma senator. Oklahoma has five virtual charter schools, enrolling a combined 13,225 students. Two schools reported 100 percent attendance last year, drawing questions and criticism from education advocates. Under Senate Bill 244, virtual students who don’t log on to their program at least once a day for five days during a seven-day week would be marked absent. The schools would be required to submit to the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board a report when a student accumulates 10 absences. In brick-and-mortar schools, students are expected to attend class 175 days a year, and a child who misses 10 or more days in a semester is consider truant. An Oklahoma Watch report on virtual school attendance prompted Senate education committee chair Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa, to file the bill. That story reported that virtual charters have the freedom under the law to create their own attendance policies, and each school’s policy is different. An answer to how some online schools could report perfect attendance lies in state statute, which specifies that students are “in attendance” as long as they are participating in an online course. “I wanted to put into statute a clear definition of our expectation of attendance, and yet try to be flexible with the virtual side of life,” he said. “It was the article. I was shocked and surprised to see that two had actually claimed 100 percent attendance.” Stanislawski has written a number of laws governing online schooling in Oklahoma, including the legislation that created the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board in 2012. The board in 2016 took action against the state’s newest virtual charter school, ABLE, and revoked its contract. The school appealed, and the state Board of Education is expected to hear the appeal on Jan. 26. Complaints lodged against ABLE included not complying with the Open Meeting Act, which another bill, SB 245 seeks to address. The proposal, by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, would require virtual school boards to maintain a quorum of members for the entire meeting, even if using videoconferencing.
Here is the original text of SB244: It includes an 'emergency clause' to make it effective July 1st.
STATE OF OKLAHOMA 1st Session of the 56th Legislature (2017) SENATE BILL 244 By: Stanislawski AS INTRODUCED An Act relating to virtual charter schools; directing virtual charter schools to keep attendance records for enrolled students; providing circumstances under which a student shall be considered absent; requiring a virtual charter school to submit a report upon a student accumulating a certain number of absences; providing for content of the report; providing for promulgation of rules; providing for codification; providing an effective date; and declaring an emergency. BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA: SECTION 1. NEW LAW A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 3-145.8 of Title 70, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows: A. It shall be the duty of each virtual charter school approved and sponsored by the Statewide Virtual School Board pursuant to the provisions of Section 3-145.3 of Title 70 of the Oklahoma Statutes to keep a full and complete record of the attendance of all students enrolled in the virtual charter school. B. If a student enrolled in a virtual charter school does not log on to the virtual charter school provider at least once each day for five (5) days during the seven-day week, he or she shall be considered absent for the day on which he or she did not log on to the virtual charter school provider. C. The virtual charter school shall submit a report to the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board when a student has accumulated ten (10) absences. The report shall include the name of the student, the student's grade level and the number of absences accumulated as of the date of the report. The report may also include any explanations for the absences provided by the parent or legal guardian of the student. D. The Statewide Virtual Charter School Board shall promulgate rules to implement the provisions of this section. SECTION 2. This act shall become effective July 1, 2017. SECTION 3. It being immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health or safety, an emergency is hereby declared to exist, by reason whereof this act shall take effect and be in full force from and after its passage and approval. 56-1-163 EB 1/18/2017 9:14:33 AM
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