Monday, January 30, 2017

Should Teachers Be Able To Punch Students In The Mouth Without Consequence?

"An example of Partisan Republicans attempting to game the committee and referencing system of the Nebraska Unicameral, poorly"
I just wrote my state senator on LB 595, a bill related to teachers interacting with combative students. My wife's employment as a para-educator, working primarily with behaviorally challenged students, provides me with background knowledge on some of the school environments that would be impacted by this bill.  Partisan Republicans are attempting to stack the deck and get their bills, some of which that have serious legal problems in their construction, onto the floor for General File.  They are doing this with a 2-pronged approach.  First, on Legislative Day One, they loaded certain committees with vote lock majorities of Partisan Republicans and placed inexperienced, unqualified people in chairmanships, such as Sen Groene, a person who has never worked in Public Education,as chair of the Education Committee.  Then, they are using a vote lock majority on the Referencing Committee to steer bills to committees that are not best suited to hear the bills.  Such is the case with LB 595.  Originally referenced to Judiciary, then two days later re-referenced to Education.  I have requested transcripts of the meeting where the re-reference decision was made.  I want to know exactly who said what on this bill, which I will then share publicly with the People of Nebraska.

Hello Senator Pansing-Brooks,

On Friday (and again this morning) I heard Sen Chambers make reference from the floor of his pending motion to re-reference LB 595 to the Judiciary Committee, that motion put LB 595 on my radar.

The Legislative Journal indicates the bill was referred to Judiciary on the 12th day of the legislature, and re-referred to Education on the 14th day, I would like to request the transcripts of the Referencing Committee meeting where the determination to re-reference 595 was made.  If this was a case of both committee's chairs mutually agreeing to re-reference the bill, could you point me toward where I can find that in the record please?  If your office cannot get the transcripts for me due to your workload doing the business of the state, please refer me to where I can obtain them myself.

Regarding the language of the bill: My wife is a para-educator to Everett Elementary School, primarily working with behaviorally challenged students.  LB 595 speaks to a hazardous aspect of her job that she deals with on a daily basis, physically combative students.  Having read 595's text, we both have serious concerns regarding the bill's current language, particularly in that the 'hold harmless' provisions provided school officials are far, far too broad.  We are also concerned that there is no age-related aspect to the bill, addressing violent kindergartners and elementary students along with violent high school teenagers in the same bill seems imprudent.

I feel this bill should be heard in Judiciary, that is where the 'hold harmless' provisions would be best addressed.  Even better would be a joint committee of Judiciary and Education, but I figure that's simply an impossibility, especially in the current political climate.  If the bill stays in Education, I very much hope Sen Groene will research both the Mandt System (, the system my wife was required to be trained in prior to doing any work related to restraining combative students, and also the current policies and procedures utilized by LPS in their Special Education programs.

Thank you for your work in the legislature.  I'd respectfully urge your opposition to LB 595 as currently written, and to support Sen Chamber's motion to re-reference LB 595 to the Judiciary Committee.

*address redacted*