EAST LANSING — The Michigan Education Association is calling on the state House to immediately take action on legislation providing bureaucratic relief to students and educators affected by last fall’s Oxford school shooting.
The state Senate on March 24 unanimously approved Senate Bills 940 and 941, sponsored by Sen. Rosemary Bayer, D-Keego Harbor. These bills would provide relief from days and hours, testing and evaluation requirements for Oxford Community Schools students and educators, who have worked hard over the past six months to move forward from this tragedy.
It’s essential that Oxford students, educators and families be allowed to focus on healing, rather than having to worry about bureaucratic requirements like attendance percentages, having to make up lost time or being penalized critical school funding. These requirements should not apply, given the special circumstances in Oxford.
“Immediately after the shooting, our Oxford local leaders received outreach and support from counterparts in Newtown and Parkland, having been thrust into a fraternity of schools that have suffered – and are recovering from – unspeakable violence,” MEA President Paula Herbart said. “Education leaders from Sandy Hook Elementary and Stoneman Douglas High both suggested legislative steps that needed to be taken to help deal with these requirements for this school year, coinciding with the obvious work of helping students, educators and the community heal.
“The Senate took those recommendations to heart, but the House has yet to act on these critical bills over the past six weeks,” Herbart said. “Time is running out.”
“Oxford students, educators and parents should not have to face this much uncertainly with just weeks remaining in the school year,” Herbart said. “They deserve answers from the Legislature about these important issues. Further delays — including trying to make this relief part of the unpredictable state budget process — will not help students and educators move forward.”
While future funding and budget boilerplate language regarding Oxford appears in next school year’s state budget bills currently under consideration in the Legislature, it does not adequately address the current school year’s needs in the way that Senate Bills 940-941 do.
“No one in Oxford should be waiting for the budget process to play out to have certainty on how this school year will come to a close,” Herbart said. “Oxford students and educators shouldn’t face the choice of having to make up time or lose funding as a result of this tragedy. They need the state House to take action now and pass the Senate’s common-sense relief bills.”