The Senate gave unanimous approval to Senate Bill 632 Wednesday to create the “Education Compact for Kids in State Care”. Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee, said he authored the legislation to ensure that kids in transition back to their home schools after being placed within the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) or the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) don’t fall through the cracks in Oklahoma’s public school system.
“This will help get rid of any obstacles that at-risk youth and their families face when transitioning back to their home school after being removed from their home for whatever reason,” said Sharp. “School should be a safe, non-chaotic and supportive place for kids. Many of these students have unstable homes, which is why they found themselves in the custody of OJA or DHS in the first place. We need to ensure their education is as unaffected as possible by their home situation and that they know they are welcome at school, can participate in all school activities, organizations and sports and also what’s required to graduate.”
SB 632 promotes flexibility and cooperation between the educational system, parents/guardians and the study in order to achieve educational success. The Oklahoma Department of Education (ODE), DHS and OJA collaborated on the measure to help at-risk youth and their families.
The bill creates an advisory committee with representatives from ODE, DHS and OJA, which will create rules and work together to address any issues that arise from the compact. Students in state care will be automatically enrolled upon arrival at the school, which allows time for districts to work with the parent, guardian or designee from OJA or DHS while the permanent records are being requested. They will be automatically enrolled even if they don’t have up to date vaccination records and will have 30 days to provide updated records or complete the exemption certificate as required by state law. The legislation allows students in state care to try out for athletics or apply for education or social clubs once they arrive at school. It also provides consistency regarding graduation requirements by enrolling students in the core curriculum track as stated by Oklahoma statute. Those who want to take more rigorous courses and pursue the college prep track may do so.
SB 632 now heads to the House of Representatives.