3 Democrats joined with 98% of House Republicans to pass HB557, relative to school attendance in towns with no public schools, by a vote of 186-163.

House Education Committee Chair Rick Ladd (R-Haverhill): “There is no provision in our constitution or on the long line of Claremont cases that only public schools are constitutionally adequate. Private schools which are one of the options that a school district such as Croydon could send their students to are also adequate schools.  Private schools provide an opportunity for many students that they have not been able to find in the public schools. But more than that, private schools are supported adamantly by parents, if parents weren’t sending their kids to a private school that would me it’s not a good school. A lot of public schools that are noted as adequate but are failing as well as private schools and this presents the choice the choice of the school district that doesn’t have certain grade to tuition their students to a school that provides a great education, not just an adequate one. It may be a private school but it may also be a public one. Addressing the issue of access cost, the contract between the sending school and the receiving school is established by the school board. They negotiate the contract for the tuition of the student. That’s the amount of money that is paid to the receiving school by the school district. Parents don’t have to pay for anything.”

“This bill is a little different than the bill we had come through here last year that passed both the house and the senate but was then rejected by the Governor. This bill deals with only non-sectarian private schools. This bill has statutory language establishing what approval for attendance is so it can’t be changed. This bill will make it so students can go to an accredited private school that has to pass standards ensuring that the students will get a quality education and teaching to standards.”

“In conclusion this bill provides opportunity, it provides choice, its local control, and it provides kids the right fit for an education. This bill empowers parents and local officials to make the decision and it provides fairness. Where would you choose to send your child to, a failing public school or a successful private school? They’re only going to be this young once let’s provide them with the best educational opportunity possible.”  

The Senate version of the bill, SB8, passed the Senate on Feb 23rd and is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Education committee on March 15th.