March 31, 2023

Teacher empowerment

By Jon Dunwell

When talking with teachers in Iowa, it is shocking to hear the behavior issues they deal with daily. Too often, teachers do not receive the needed support and feel hindered in their ability to discipline disruptive students and protect themselves against violence. Last week, House Study Bill 206 passed the Education Committee in response to these teachers’ experiences. Though it provides a good start, more work will need to be done to make it the best bill possible.

In its current form, HSB 206:

• Allows teachers to make a complaint directly to the Ombudsman’s Office regarding violence in the classroom and requires the Ombudsman to investigate.

• Requires the school district to ensure teachers know their rights regarding teacher immunity when coming in physical contact with a violent student.

• Requires teachers to notify the parent/guardian within 24 hours if they witness student injury.

• Includes teacher whistleblower protections.

• Lays out a 3-strike system for student discipline. First offense — meet with school counselor and one day of in-school suspension. Second offense — meet with school counselor and 5 days of in-school suspension. Third offense — student is removed from that class and if in high school, will not receive credit for that class.

As stated earlier, HSB 206 requires greater work and refinement. If you are a teacher or a parent, I would appreciate hearing your perspective and ideas.

Finally, the conclusion of Week Eight ended the first Funnel Week. All bills to be considered for the session needed to have passed a committee. Many introduced bills did not pass a committee, and therefore, will not be considered this session.

Let’s keep the conversation going. We still have work to do on many of the bills that the House will consider the second half of the session.