Veterans' Affairs Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-217

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING EXCUSED ABSENCES FROM SCHOOL FOR CHILDREN OF SERVICE MEMBERS.

Vote Date:

3/11/2014

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Change of Reference to Education

PH Date:

2/25/2014

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Veterans' Affairs Committee

Rep. Frank N. Nicastro, 79th Dist.

Rep. Al Adinolfi, 103rd Dist.

REASONS FOR BILL:

A student whose parent or legal guardian is an active duty member of the uniformed services and has been called to duty for, is on leave from, or has immediately returned from deployment to a combat zone or combat support posting, shall be granted ten days of excused absences in any school year and, at the discretion of the local or regional board of education, additional excused absences to visit the student's parent or legal guardian relative to such leave or deployment of the parent or legal guardian. In the case of excused absences pursuant to this subsection, the student and parent or legal guardian shall be responsible for obtaining assignments from the student's teacher prior to any period of excused absence, and for ensuring that such assignments are completed by the student prior to his or her return to school from such period of excused absence.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Stefan Pryor, Commissioner, State of Connecticut Department of Education

Commissioner Pryor testified that State Board of Education adopted definitions of excused and unexcused absences as required by the state and issued guidance surrounding this issue on May 15, 2013. It was noted that a military deployment classifies as an emergency situation, and as such, should count as a properly excused absence. Specific guidelines surrounding absences and practices regarding the issue were linked within the testimony.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Aaron Jones, Veterans Outreach Coordinator, South Park Inn Emergency Shelter

Mr. Jones testified on behalf of his organization, South Park Inn, that a deployment has a significant impact on member's children. This bill would improve the conditions of the children and the deployed upon their departure and return.

Dawn A. McDaniel, Executive Vice President, Connecticut Veterans Chamber of Commerce

Ms. McDaniel explained that children spending time with their parent during deployment is an important stage in a child's life and that it should be supported.

Debbi Newton, Legislative Chair, National Guard Association of Connecticut

Ms. Newton, on behalf of her organization, supported the bill that would allow for children to spend up to a total of 10 excused days with their parent(s) per year prior to and after deployment. She noted that this is not a “get out of school free” card but that the involved parent(s) and children would be required to obtain the necessary classwork in advance of their absence. Upon their return, the completed classwork would be turned in and only then would the school award them the excused absence. The excused absence would have to be requested in advance and approved by the school.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None.

Reported by: Stephen Sanabria

Date: March 13, 2014