SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE APPROVES LEGISLATION GIVING SCHOOL BOARDS MORE INDEPENDENCE IN HEALTH-RELATED SCHOOL CLOSURES

The Senate Education Committee approved legislation today giving school boards more independence regarding whether their schools should be open or closed during a public emergency.  SB103, sponsored by Senate Education Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), grants a local board of education or governing body of a public charter school the sole authority to open or close a school unless the governor issues an executive order with statewide applicability requiring in-person learning and instruction.

“Mandated directives should only come from elected leaders who are accountable to the people they serve,” said Kelsey.  “Our school boards, administrators, teachers and parents are equipped to make informed decisions on how to keep our schools safe by utilizing guidance from organizations such as local health boards.”

The legislation states that local boards of education may consult with the state and local health departments when determining whether to open or close to in-person learning and instruction. 

“Students need to be back in the classroom, and parents need to be able to make the best choice for their children. With this legislation, I offer protection for municipal school districts who have been unable to execute safe reopening plans based on scientific guidelines due to pressure from unelected local health boards,” Kelsey concluded.

The bill, which now goes to the floor of the Senate for final consideration, is sponsored by Rep. Kevin Vaughan (R-Collierville) in the House of Representatives.