Statement on Senate Bill 458

[Editor’s note: Re. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City) emailed the following statement Wednesday afternoon:]

I am pleased to report that the House Committee on Science and Technology has amended a provision in Senate Bill 458 that would have potentially required school systems to accept students from non-accredited school systems.

The amended version of the provision is now permissive and says that the receiving school system “may” accept such student, leaving it to the sole discretion of the receiving county, as was the intent in the original legislation.

As now amended, the county may refuse a student for any reason, and it is completely in the discretion of the school system that would accept or deny such student’s request to attend.

I spoke in committee [Wednesday] and thanked the chairman and author of the bill on behalf of Fayette County for hearing and addressing our concerns.

I and several colleagues worked diligently over the last several days to convince members of the committee that this amended provision would have seriously detrimental consequences for school systems forced to accept an influx of students from failing school districts.

The underlying legislation proposes options for students that are in a school system that loses accreditation.

Among the options in the original language was for students to attend school in other school systems and it provided that other school systems “may” accept such students at their discretion.

However, this language was amended on the floor of the Senate, prior to the bill’s passage, to provide that other school systems “shall” accept these students, subject to space availability.

I am thankful that the House Committee has agreed to change “shall” back to “may” to make crystal clear that the receiving county could refuse students from failing school systems in their sole discretion.

I would like to specifically thank all the parents that have contacted me and other members of the General Assembly in opposition to this provision. The outcry of our community made it easy for me to make the case that this was bad public policy. I am so proud to represent a district that cares so deeply about the education of our youth.

We now must vigilantly track the progress of this bill to ensure further efforts to amend this legislation are defeated.

As a parent of two young children about to start in our local schools, I will always fight to protect the quality of Fayette County’s schools for them and all the children of our community.

As a product of Fayette County public schools, I believe it is my charge to work to ensure current and future generations of local school children have the same excellent education I was afforded.

— Rep. Matt Ramsey, District 72

login to post comments | Matt Ramsey's blog