The session has been busy and policy-heavy. Legislators slowed down policy requests during the two COVID years, but they are making up for it now!
WFIS is building connections and successfully working with legislators and state agencies to support and make additions to bills.
Here’s the latest:
HB 1615 gets a hearing! This is the first school choice bill to get a hearing in over fifteen years. This Education Savings Account plan would allow students to use state-procured savings to attend private school as one of their options. Many states are establishing these exciting programs to help parents choose where to educate their children.
SB 5515 sets a dangerous precedent for the over-regulation of private schools. The bill gives DCYF licensing authority for Washington’s twelve boarding schools. We have suggested an alternative. We asked that accreditation organizations, which are already seeped in the oversight of schools, be responsible for inspecting schools and setting the appropriate safety and quality standards.
SB 5315 aims to ensure that Nonpublic Agencies are safe places for students. NPA schools are approved private schools that partner with public schools to serve students with special needs. However, there needs to be more clarity between the two different kinds of NPAs- approved private schools and private organizations that care for children with significant needs. The latter made a big stir in the Seattle Times for abusing and overusing isolation and restraint practices. Luckily, after a meeting with the leaders of the private schools that are NPAs, and Senator Claire Wilson, we clarified the language in the bill so that it works for private schools.
SB 1479 limits isolation and restraint and requires schools to report if either is used. WFIS was consulted and supported the latest version of the bill.
HB 1377 lifts the restrictions on clock hour providers and allows them to provide CCDEI clock hours. This bill is scheduled to be heard on February 7 at 4 pm. You don’t have to testify: instead, sign in PRO if you support the bill.
HB 1550 puts parameters around the newish Transitional Kindergartens (TK) that are popping up all over the state in public schools. TK allows four-year-olds to join Kindergarten classes, generates Basic Education Funding for the school, and requires no program licensing. In some areas in the state, TK provides a much-needed option for four-year-olds; in other areas, they are in direct competition with qualified, licensed early learning providers. WFIS is providing feedback and requesting changes to the bill.
SB 5048 allows public school students to take college-in-the-classroom courses without the cost of college credits. WFIS has requested this bill to include private school students as well. There has yet to be support for this request. The bill passed the first committee and was sent to Ways and Means to discuss cost. This will be another opportunity for WFIS to get our request to legislators.
SB 5059 requires that victims in court cases that are settled in court are required to receive prejudgement interest dating back to the time of the incident. We are concerned that this bill takes away the ability of a judge or jury to do its job and determine if prejudgment interest is appropriate. It also means that a school could be saddled with a prejudgement bill that is out of scope for the determined damages.