I am so disappointed in your stand on HB 96 and your release. I am also personally upset that you let us talk to you for 45 minutes this month and never expressed that this was your stand on HB 96 while you listened to our concerns.
I am extremely disappointed that you think this bill will end "frivolous lawsuits." Yes, this may be true, but nothing in this bill protects children from "frivolous" abuse. Allowing someone to apply any force (since it is undefined it can mean anything) and apply physical harm or spanking to any child and then not allowing any investigation unless it is sexual is ridiculous. How will this make my children feel safe?
Meanwhile if a teacher calls Children's services on me and says he/she suspects abuse at home, Children's services can come into my home and investigate.
Text of e-mail release of Rep. Joe Smith:
February 19, 2009
Teacher Protection Act
This week the House passed the HB 96, also known as the Teacher Protection Act, to change the laws regarding school employee liability, safety practices and reporting acts of violence. It gives teachers the ability to maintain order as long as they follow established school policy. Most importantly, the bill allows school employees to focus on teaching without worrying about litigation.
One of the most important parts of the bill outlines new discipline procedures to defend teachers who use force to protect their students and property. A good teacher is one who has a disciplined classroom. The Teacher Protection Act gives teachers the ability to construct a controlled classroom without fear of frivolous lawsuits and if a studentʼs actions are destructive, an educator should be able to correct this to ensure student productivity and safety. That way, it allows students and teachers to focus on learning instead of classroom management.
This bill also allows all teachers and administrators to be aware of acts of violence throughout the school. Suspended students would not be allowed on school property without specific permission and would be prohibited from attending off campus, school sponsored activities. Furthermore, it requires a notice of reportable offenses to be attached to an offending student's record and transcript. All of these provisions are aimed at ensuring a safe learning environment for Missouri students. In addition, The Teacher Protect Act exempts unqualified employees who refuse to administer medication or medical services from disciplinary action and exempts qualified employees from any civil liability for administering medication or medical services. Teachers should be able to take the necessary steps to protect their studentʼs health.
I am a strong proponent of HB 96. I believe every child has a right to high quality education and I will continue working to provide a safe environment for our students and school employees. Educators and administrators should be able to effectively manage their schools without fear of being reprimanded. I am thankful that the Missouri House of Representatives is dedicated to education issues and that we were able to work together to pass the bill this session.