CT GOVERNOR JODI RELL SIGNS INTO LAW SENATE BILL 438, A COMPREHENSIVE EDUCATION BILL THAT INCLUDES A SO-CALLED “REFORM TRIGGER” THAT GIVES PARENTS LEGAL POWER TO HELP TRANSFORM LOW-PERFORMING SCHOOLS
May 26, 2010 - Governor Rell signs into law Senate Bill 438, a comprehensive education reform bill to support efforts to raise academic achievement thus reducing the knowledge and skill gap within Connecticut.
Amongst this bill is a so-called “reform/parent trigger” that gives parents legal power to help transform failing schools.
Senate Bill 438 requires school boards with low-achieving schools in its district to create school governance councils at those schools that fail to make adequate yearly progress according to federal guidelines in No Child Left Behind. Furthermore, for those schools that are identified as the lowest 5% of Connecticut schools by July 1, 2010, their councils must be established by January 15, 2011. The councils must be made up of 14 voting members: 7 of which must be parents of children attending those schools, 5 of which must be teachers, and 2 of which can be community leaders. The principal is included as a non-voting member.
Closely mirroring Hartford's school governance councils, the state's provision tasks councils with analyzing school achievement data, recommending programmatic changes to the school, advising the principal on the school budget, assisting in the hiring process for a new principal, and creating school compacts. Because most districts throughout the state do not have as aggressive a reconstitution policy as Hartford does, the state law also gives councils the power to vote to reconstitute their school after three years of failed performance. These councils, in effect, become the catalysts for school change in those districts that have chronically failing schools but no policy in place to reconstitute them. In the event that reconstitution is favored, the council must indicate which reorganization model it prefers from a list of choices recognized by federal and/or state law. The board in that district then has 20 days to vote on reconstituting the school using the council's favored model, using a different model, or reject the idea of reconstitution altogether. (www.achievehartford.org)