Parents of multiples would have the right to keep their children in the same classroom under legislation approved unanimously by the State Senate. The measure, Senate Bill 2037, is awaiting consideration by the House Education Committee. The bill’s author, Sen. Jonathan Nichols, R-Norman, said he was contacted by a mother of twins about the problem.
“I’ve learned that many schools throughout the state have a policy of automatically placing twins or triplets in separate classrooms,” said Nichols. “But for children who’ve been together since conception, separating them can make going to school a traumatic experience.”
Dr. Ramona Paul agreed with Nichols. The Assistant State Superintendent of Education is the mother of identical twin boys and stepmother of fraternal twin girls. She also did her doctoral dissertation on twins and classroom placement. Paul said there was no research to show automatically separating twins helps them in anyway, but it can making learning more difficult, particularly for younger children.
“They don’t understand why they’re being separated,” Paul said. “This is a new adjustment to be away from mom and dad...why would you all the sudden decide that the children wouldn’t be together? There’s just not anything logical about it, and there certainly isn’t any research that supports it.”
Fellow Senator Mike Mazzei said he was extremely grateful to Nichols for his legislation. He’s the father of five children, including a set of triplets, and he firmly believes the parents’ wishes need to be honored by schools when determining classroom placement for multiples.
“This is very encouraging, because parents really need to be involved in the decision making process,” said Mazzei, R-Tulsa. “From our experience, we know having multiples together in the same classroom is good for the kids. Their individuality still plays out, and frankly the challenges that come with having multiples, twins, triplets and quads is just so much easier for the parents to deal with when you can keep them in the same classroom.”
Nichols said under SB 2037, parents would have the right to decide whether their multiples should be together or in separate classrooms. They would have to make that request within the first two weeks of the children’s first day at the school. If the school’s principal determines the placement is disruptive to the classroom environment, a request can be made for the district board to determine whether it should be changed.
“Minnesota, Texas and New Hampshire have already passed similar legislation, and it’s been introduced in several other states as well,” Nichols said. “The bottom line is we need to respect the fact that multiples have a unique bond that most of us will never experience, and we need to listen to their parents when it comes to classroom placement.”