Public Comments for 01/22/2021 Education - Pre-K-12 Subcommittee
HB1918 - Student driver safety; driver education program shall include dangers of speeding.
Last Name: Russell Organization: Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Locality: Hampton

This is to ask you to support HB 1918 - Driving is a big responsibility. It is incumbent upon us to help keep our youth as safe as possible by emphasizing to them the seriousness of being safe while operating a motor vehicle. It is worth the financial impact if any.

Last Name: Guido Organization: Gweedo Memorial Foundation Locality: Yorktown

My name is Tammy Gweedo and I live in Yorktown Va I strongly support bill HB1918 My son Conner was killed by an unlicensed speeding driver leaving his Junior Homecoming Dance at Tabb High School 10/26/2019. This student was allowed to park on school property for several weeks before the crash with a parking permit that was issued to him by the school No one should be issued a parking permit without having completed the School and States curriculum as well as obtaining the parents consent Had the school been required to have a valid drivers license presented before issuing a parking permit I may not be where I am today, without Conner. I can’t save Conner now but this law can help save others We want to ensure that the high schools are doing their due diligence across the State protecting all students and drivers Currently the form is different from High School to High School across the State with little A uniformed approach provides consistency and protects our youth while being compliant with all rules Part 2 of this bills requests increased funding for Driver Improvement classes in the High School Teenage crashes are still the #1 cause of death in the United States We have to do more to affect change to support our teenagers. Driver education as defined from current students is a joke. It’s a free period, time for them to catch up on other more important classes or just to text and post on social media Driving is a privilege and one that should not be taken likely. Putting a 16 year old behind the wheel of a killing machine is not to be taken lightly. Yet the mentality is it’s just another class and one that no one looks at for your ultimate curriculum yet it’s truly so important We have to find ways to speak to our youth and make this important Increased funding will allow us to take a deep dive into this program to enhance the quality and urgency needed to make this learning relevant I urge you to support this bill in hopes we can prevent such a tragedy from happening again as no one should ever have to bury their child Thank you

Last Name: Guido Organization: The Gweedo Memorial Foundation Locality: Yorktown

Mister or Madam Chair and Committee Members. Thank you for allowing me to speak to you today. My name is Tammy Gweedo and I live in Yorktown Va I strongly support bill HB1918 My son Conner was killed by an unlicensed speeding driver leaving his Junior Homecoming Dance at Tabb High School 10/26/2019. This student was allowed to park on school property for several weeks before the crash with a parking permit that was issued to him by the school No one should be issued a parking permit without having completed the School and States curriculum as well as obtaining the parents consent Had the school been required to have a valid drivers license presented before issuing a parking permit I may not be where I am today, without Conner. I can’t save Conner now but this law can help save others We want to ensure that the high schools are doing their due diligence across the State protecting all students and drivers Currently the form is different from High School to High School across the State with little A uniformed approach provides consistency and protects our youth while being compliant with all rules Part 2 of this bills requests increased funding for Driver Improvement classes in the High School Teenage crashes are still the #1 cause of death in the United States We have to do more to affect change to support our teenagers. Driver education as defined from current students is a joke. It’s a free period, time for them to catch up on other more important classes or just to text and post on social media Driving is a privilege and one that should not be taken likely. Putting a 16 year old behind the wheel of a killing machine is not to be taken lightly. Yet the mentality is it’s just another class and one that no one looks at for your ultimate curriculum yet it’s truly so important We have to find ways to speak to our youth and make this important Increased funding will allow us to take a deep dive into this program to enhance the quality and urgency needed to make this learning relevant I urge you to support this bill in hopes we can prevent such a tragedy from happening again as no one should ever have to bury their child Thank you

Last Name: Chillon Organization: AAA Locality: Richmond

AAA supports HB 1918, we strongly support additional education surrounding the dangers of distracted driving and speed. We understand there is a fiscal impact and we hope additional funding would be provided to Department of Education to help cover the cost.

HB1998 - Public schools; lock-down drills, annual requirement.
Last Name: Dew Organization: Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America Locality: Oak Hill

I support this bill because I strongly believe lock down drills traumatize kids

HB2013 - School boards; board policy for students unable to pay for a meal at school.
Last Name: Price Organization: VA BLOC Locality: Newport News

Dear Delegates, I am a retired educator and I have seen firsthand the impact of good and poor nutrition. I support this bill because if a child is participating in an after-school program, there is a need for the child to have nourishment after school and before the child’s parent arrives after work. These times may vary between children, but the need is still there. If the program has applied for and qualifies for the administration of the food distribution, the program should exist. The qualification relates to the need for food and nutrition for the children. Food insecurity is a big concern for many families. Providing the children with a nutritious meal after school, might provide a relief for some families. Please vote in favor of HB2135 to provide nutritious meals for after-school programs that qualify for food distribution. Sincerely, Valerie Price Dear Delegates, I am a retired educator who has noticed firsthand that many families are struggling financially and need some relief. HB2013 will provide some relief for parents who have accumulated school lunch debt. Families have varying occurrences and some might have several children in the schools but not qualify for any other assistance. They could have been laid off due to the virus and will need some support. The vast majority of parents are conscientious and want to take care of their responsibilities, but circumstances can change. Please support families by voting in favor of HB2013. Sincerely, Valerie Price

Last Name: Engel Organization: VA BLOC Locality: Hampton

HB2135 – The importance of free after school meals to school children cannot be overstated and is a long time coming. There are few if any families in Hampton where parents aren't working past school hours to pay the bills. I personally know first-graders who start the day with some kind of pre-school program, then a full day of school followed by after-school program that barely gives them enough time for a late dinner and bed. Most of us adults could not handle such a schedule, certainly not on an empty stomach.. I urge you to support this bill. HB2013 – To sue parents, who are already suffering from poverty, job loss and other issues over children's lunch debt is cruel. Many of us, through VA BLOC have raised money to offset those debts but what would be the alternative? Starve the children! My parents were poor, building supers in NYC. They got a “free” apartment plus about $50 a month to feed us. Thankfully, public schools in New York, even in the 50's had free lunch or I and my siblings might not have had lunch ever. Making parents suffer may seem like a good idea to those who have never suffered but it is a very bad idea. Please support HB2013. -Eileen Engel

Last Name: Greenhill Organization: VA BLOC Locality: Hampton

Dear Subcommittee Members, My name is Kerry Greenhill, and I am a voter living in Hampton (House Delegate 91 / Senate District 2). I am writing in support of HB 2013, which prohibits school boards from filing lawsuits against a student’s parents/caregivers for an inability to pay for a school meal or having school meal debt. As a Christian minister, I am very concerned about issues of childhood hunger and the stigma of poverty in my community and across the Commonwealth. Filing or threatening to file lawsuits against families due to school meal debt is egregious at any time but especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. During a global pandemic with increased food insecurity, we need to take action now to eliminate policies that punish families for not being able to afford school meals when they are already experiencing unprecedented financial insecurity. Currently, as many as 27 school divisions have school meal policies that either threaten the use of legal action or state their policy to take definite action against families to recoup the cost of school meal debt. The City of Hampton was one of these until grassroots organizing confronted the school board with the community’s perspective that the policy and practice were unacceptable. Children should not be worried that their lunch will cause their parents additional financial stress; to enforce a policy of legal action against families is to reinforce shame and guilt among children, as the results could essentially leave them with less resources than were available. This legislation and bill would ensure that no family is punished through legal means for strictly coming from low-income families and not being able to pay for a school meal their child had during the school day. Because the USDA has been providing free school meals to students during the pandemic since March of 2020, school meal debt should not have accrued in the past ten months. But as of right now, the USDA programs will only stop the accumulation of school meal debt until June 30 2021; that is just a few months. We all know that the economic hardship this pandemic has caused and its repercussions will extend way past that date. The time to develop more positive approaches to addressing school meal debt and student hunger is now. As a person of faith and a parent of two young children, I urge you to vote yes on HB 2013 to help reduce childhood hunger and the stigma of poverty in communities across Virginia. Thank you for your consideration. Rev. Kerry Greenhill Minister of Discipleship and Community Engagement First United Methodist Church, Hampton, VA

Last Name: Johnson Organization: VA BLOC Locality: Chesterfield

"Hello, my name is Florence Johnson. I live in Chesterfield, VA, in House District 62. I'm writing to ask the committee to VOTE YES on HB2135 and HB2013. This bill is very important to me because food is not only the key to survival but it is also key to thriving and a basic human right. These bills will help address systemic student food insecurity in K-12 schools and help protect families against lawsuits and other burdens brought on by school meal debt. So with that being said, I would like the committee to vote yes on HB2135 and HB2103." -Florence Johnson

Last Name: STEWART Organization: SOCIAL ACTION LINKING TOGETHER (SALT) Locality: FAIRFAX

SOCIAL ACTION LINKING TOGETHER (SALT), with its more than 1,200 advocates for social justice, supports HB 2013, legislation prohibiting school boards from filing lawsuits against a student’s parent for an inability to pay for a school meal or having school meal debt. It is unacceptable at any time to threaten the filing of lawsuits against families struggling financially because of having school meal debt or being unable to pay for a school meal, but especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and period of high unemployment. Food insecurity is a growing problem in Virginia as Virginia students and their families look for solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on research by The Commonwealth Institute, 1 out of 7 children live in families experiencing food insecurity in Virginia. Currently, up to 27 school divisions have school meal policies that either threaten the use of legal action or state their policy to taking legal action against families to recoup the cost of school meal debt. School meals access remains an equity issue that disproportionately affects communities of color. This legislation would ensure that no family is punished through legal means because of their poverty and inability to pay for a school meal their child had during the school day. This scare tactic to threaten parents with legal action is cruel and unacceptable. School meal debt should not have accrued since March 2020 - the USDA has been providing free school meals to students during the pandemic since then. Because of this, it is easier for school boards during this time to address school meal debt/use different mechanisms to address this debt if the overall school meal debt per school or school division has not increased. As of right now USDA under the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option program will only stop the accumulation of school meal debt until June 30 2021; that is only in a few months. There are other mechanisms that school divisions can use to address school meal debt: School divisions that meet federal USDA eligibility requirements can participate in the Community Eligibility Provision to provide federally reimbursed free school breakfast and school lunch to students [HB 5113 (SS 2020)]. In the FY 2020-2022 budget, funds were appropriated to partially fund the reduced-price school meal category statewide (eligible students for this category are often susceptible to accumulating school meal debt based on a number of higher needs-based factors). HB 703 (2020) authorized school boards to accept or solicit donations with the explicit purpose of paying off school meal debt and addressed a previous barrier to some school boards so that school divisions can work collaboratively with community organizations, raise funds through local PTAs. Schools can engage with families that have school meal debt or have trouble affording school meals, and can work with them on a collaborative basis to address higher levels of need in a positive, enriching way that does not involve shaming or stigmatization. Thank you for the opportunity to submit this testimony. SALT hopes you will give it favorable consideration. We see this legislation as another opportunity for Virginia legislators to help bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice. Submitted by Robert Stewart, SALT Coordinator of Public Affairs, on January 21, 2020

Last Name: Stewart Organization: Social Action Linking Together (SALT) Locality: Fairfax

SOCIAL ACTION LINKING TOGETHER (SALT), with its more than 1,200 advocates for social justice, supports HB 2013, legislation prohibiting school boards from filing lawsuits against a student’s parent for an inability to pay for a school meal or having school meal debt. It is unacceptable at any time to threaten the filing of lawsuits against families struggling financially because of having school meal debt or being unable to pay for a school meal, but especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and period of high unemployment. Food insecurity is a growing problem in Virginia as Virginia students and their families look for solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on research by The Commonwealth Institute, 1 out of 7 children live in families experiencing food insecurity in Virginia. Currently, up to 27 school divisions have school meal policies that either threaten the use of legal action or state their policy to taking legal action against families to recoup the cost of school meal debt. School meals access remains an equity issue that disproportionately affects communities of color. This legislation would ensure that no family is punished through legal means because of their poverty and inability to pay for a school meal their child had during the school day. This scare tactic to threaten parents with legal action is cruel and unacceptable. School meal debt should not have accrued since March 2020 - the USDA has been providing free school meals to students during the pandemic since then. Because of this, it is easier for school boards during this time to address school meal debt/use different mechanisms to address this debt if the overall school meal debt per school or school division has not increased. As of right now USDA under the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option program will only stop the accumulation of school meal debt until June 30 2021; that is only in a few months. There are other mechanisms that school divisions can use to address school meal debt: School divisions that meet federal USDA eligibility requirements can participate in the Community Eligibility Provision to provide federally reimbursed free school breakfast and school lunch to students [HB 5113 (SS 2020)]. In the FY 2020-2022 budget, funds were appropriated to partially fund the reduced-price school meal category statewide (eligible students for this category are often susceptible to accumulating school meal debt based on a number of higher needs-based factors). HB 703 (2020) authorized school boards to accept or solicit donations with the explicit purpose of paying off school meal debt and addressed a previous barrier to some school boards so that school divisions can work collaboratively with community organizations, raise funds through local PTAs. Schools can engage with families that have school meal debt or have trouble affording school meals, and can work with them on a collaborative basis to address higher levels of need in a positive, enriching way that does not involve shaming or stigmatization. Thank you for the opportunity to submit this testimony. SALT hopes you will give it favorable consideration. We see this legislation as another opportunity for Virginia legislators to help bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice. Submitted by Robert Stewart, SALT Coordinator of Public Affairs, on January 21, 2020

HB2019 - Public elementary and secondary schools; administration of undesignated stock albuterol inhalers.
Last Name: Council Organization: Prince William County Schools Locality: Henrico

I understand that an amendment may be proposed to also provide for a study with results to be completed by July 1, 2021. The study should be the entirety of the bill unless a delayed enactment clause is added so that the benefits of the study can be fully digested before the operational parts of the bill are implemented.

Last Name: Cossaboon Organization: Chesapeake Public Schools (Advantus) Locality: Richmond

HB 2019 Public elementary and secondary schools; administration of undesignated stock albuterol inhalers. This bill would require school boards to adopt policies for using undesignated stock albuterol inhalers and valved holding chambers in EVERY public school in a local school division. If every school would be required to purchase and provide these for student use it would be an unfunded state mandate with a high price tag. Even if the accompanying Budget Amendment would pass, it would not provide enough funds to stock all schools in even one of the Commonwealth's larger divisions. More important than the fiscal impact is that the bill, it would permit any school nurse, employee of the school board, employee of a local governing body, or employee of a local health department to administer this prescription drug. This would authorize administration of albuterol inhalers and valved holding chambers for ANY STUDENT believed in good faith to be in need of such medication. This is a complicated issue, but this could be potentially dangerous; enabling someone with no medical background to diagnose/assess the student's condition and administer this prescription medication. This bill has the potential to do more harm than good and we ask the Committee to oppose this legislation.

Last Name: Council Organization: Prince William County Schools Locality: Henrico

Dear Chairman Bagby and members of the subcommittee. I am Jim Council, the lobbyist for Prince William County Schools and am submitting this comment in opposition to HB 2019. PWCS is in agreement with the opposition comment [to be] submitted by Tom Smith, VASS representative. While PWCS is fortunate to have a Registered Nurse in every school, this is not the case for most school divisions within the Commonwealth. Del. Adams, in her comment on her HB 1736, noted (i) that it was not feasible to expect every school to have a Registered Nurse and (ii) only RN’s were equipped to make assessments with respect to treatments for Asthma. In addition to piling another responsibility on an over-worked school nurse staff, this bill is a significant unfunded mandate. In his comment in support of this bill, Dr. Schechter notes that asthma affects nearly ten percent of US children. Thus, this bill would require PWCS to inventory approximately quick relief inhalers for approximately 9000 students. At a time when every school division is experiencing Covid 19-related expenses far in excess of state and federal Covid funding, this is not the time for another expensive mandate.

Last Name: Schechter Organization: Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU Locality: Richmond, VA

January 21, 2021 Chairman Bagby and Members of the Subcommittee: My name is Dr. Michael S. Schechter, and I serve as the Chief of the Division of Pediatric Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR), and the Medical Director of the UCAN (yoU CAN Control Asthma Now) community asthma program at CHoR. I am writing to express CHoR’s and VCU Health System’s support of Delegate McQuinn’s HB 2019. Asthma is the most prevalent chronic disease of childhood, affecting nearly 10% of children in the U.S. and diseases of the respiratory system are the most common cause of hospitalization and missed school days in children. Furthermore, it particularly afflicts low income urban minority children, who suffer a significantly higher rate of Emergency Department use, hospitalizations, and death due to asthma. It is necessary to point out that Richmond was determined by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to be the #1 or #2 worst city in the US to have asthma in yearly publications since 2010, based upon mortality and emergency room visits (although local initiatives have led to recent improvements in that rating). Norfolk’s statistics are comparable, though not highlighted by that same survey. For many children with asthma, flare-ups happen while at school. A quick-relief inhaler can reverse asthma symptoms, and most schools currently make efforts to allow older students to carry inhalers, but for younger students their families are required to provide paper work and their own inhalers and valved holding chambers to allow nurses to provide this reliever medication. If a student does not have an inhaler available, the only current option is for the school personnel to call 911 and send the child to the Emergency Department. But this doesn't have to be the case, if asthma inhalers are kept in stock by the schools for use as needed. Legislation providing for the availability of stock albuterol inhalers in the schools is endorsed by the National Association of School Nurses, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Lung Association, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and currently is in place in over a dozen states around the U.S. When this legislation was introduced in Arizona (as an example), one school district saw a 20% decrease in 911 calls and a 40% drop in ambulance transports. In my medical opinion, support for the proposed legislation is a “no-brainer,” although some input by informed medical experts may be appropriate to ensure that operationalization is accomplished smoothly and accounts for accommodation to individual needs. I would point out that since 2012 Virginia has had similar legislation requiring the availability of auto-injectable epinephrine units for administration to children with anaphylaxis, a far less common medical entity than asthma, so a policy of this type is clearly feasible. Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely, Michael S. Schechter, MD, MPH Professor and Chief, Division of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine Department of Pediatrics Virginia Commonwealth University Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU

HB2090 - School boards; establishment of the READ Fund and READ programs.
No Comments Available
HB2105 - Early childhood education; quality rating and improvement system participation.
Last Name: Griffey Organization: Voices for Virginia's Children Locality: Henrico

Voices for Virginia's Children supports this legislation.

HB2119 - Student driver education program; parent/student component exemption.
No Comments Available
HB2135 - School boards, certain; participation in the Afterschool Meal Program.
Last Name: Benson Organization: VA BLOC Locality: Newport News

Hello. My name is Kassandra Benson. I live in Newport News, VA. I’d like to speak on HB2135 which would require school boards to enroll in afterschool free meals program (similar to the CEP). I care about this issue because through working with the Virginia Black Leadership Organizing Collaborative, I’ve seen these programs work to the benefit of the students, parents, and the Newport News Schools when supported and implemented. I also followed how Hampton City School leadership lagged behind to support such programs and, in my opinion failed their students. Many of the children who would benefit from these school feeding programs have fewer options for nutritious meal based on their socio-economic status. Learning can be difficult if you’re hungry on a daily basis. A free afterschool feeding program could fill a gap for children who may not receive a meal at home later or it may be a less nutritious one. Healthy meals make healthier children more equipped to learn and pay attention. This option could also lessen the burden on already strained wallets of low-income families. Requiring school boards to enroll in afterschool free meal programs (similar to CEP) is the moral thing to do to fill a hunger gap for children in need. Subsequently, schools will see more alert children ready to learn! Vote YES on HB 2135. Thank you for the opportunity to weigh in on this issue. Sincerely, Kassandra Benson

Last Name: Hickman Organization: School Nutrition Association of Virginia Locality: Richmond

The School Nutrition Association of Virginia supports HB 2135 and thanks Delegate Roem for her continued leadership in strengthening access to nutritious meals for Virginia’s school children. We also thank the patron and stakeholders for working together to accommodate practicable participation in the Afterschool Meals Program, including the ability to collaborate with community partners, the wavier process, and the delayed enactment date. We urge the committee to vote yes on this bill. Thank you.

Last Name: Price Organization: VA BLOC Locality: Newport News

Dear Delegates, I am a retired educator and I have seen firsthand the impact of good and poor nutrition. I support this bill because if a child is participating in an after-school program, there is a need for the child to have nourishment after school and before the child’s parent arrives after work. These times may vary between children, but the need is still there. If the program has applied for and qualifies for the administration of the food distribution, the program should exist. The qualification relates to the need for food and nutrition for the children. Food insecurity is a big concern for many families. Providing the children with a nutritious meal after school, might provide a relief for some families. Please vote in favor of HB2135 to provide nutritious meals for after-school programs that qualify for food distribution. Sincerely, Valerie Price Dear Delegates, I am a retired educator who has noticed firsthand that many families are struggling financially and need some relief. HB2013 will provide some relief for parents who have accumulated school lunch debt. Families have varying occurrences and some might have several children in the schools but not qualify for any other assistance. They could have been laid off due to the virus and will need some support. The vast majority of parents are conscientious and want to take care of their responsibilities, but circumstances can change. Please support families by voting in favor of HB2013. Sincerely, Valerie Price

Last Name: Engel Organization: VA BLOC Locality: Hampton

HB2135 – The importance of free after school meals to school children cannot be overstated and is a long time coming. There are few if any families in Hampton where parents aren't working past school hours to pay the bills. I personally know first-graders who start the day with some kind of pre-school program, then a full day of school followed by after-school program that barely gives them enough time for a late dinner and bed. Most of us adults could not handle such a schedule, certainly not on an empty stomach.. I urge you to support this bill. HB2013 – To sue parents, who are already suffering from poverty, job loss and other issues over children's lunch debt is cruel. Many of us, through VA BLOC have raised money to offset those debts but what would be the alternative? Starve the children! My parents were poor, building supers in NYC. They got a “free” apartment plus about $50 a month to feed us. Thankfully, public schools in New York, even in the 50's had free lunch or I and my siblings might not have had lunch ever. Making parents suffer may seem like a good idea to those who have never suffered but it is a very bad idea. Please support HB2013. -Eileen Engel

Last Name: Greenhill Organization: VA BLOC Locality: Hampton

Dear Subcommittee Members, My name is Kerry Greenhill, and I am a voter living in Hampton (House Delegate 91 / Senate District 2). I am writing in support of HB 2135, which addresses food insecurity among K-12 students by ensuring that eligible schools are participating in the Afterschool Meal Program, and can therefore receive federal reimbursement dollars for meals or snacks provided to students in communities with high percentages of low-income families. As a Christian minister, I am very concerned about issues of childhood hunger in my community and across the Commonwealth. Last year’s special session of the Virginia Assembly passed much-needed legislation requiring school districts to apply for the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) for all schools that were eligible, thus making federal funds available to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students in communities with high indicators of poverty. While we might wish it were unnecessary to require school boards to participate in these federal programs, the truth is that the city of Hampton had 10 schools that were eligible for CEP but not participating in the 2019-2020 school year. Sometimes local school boards need firm requirements to do what is right for the most vulnerable members of their community. Under the current circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity is a growing problem for Virginia students and their families. According to The Commonwealth Institute, 1 out of 7 children in Virginia live in families experiencing food insecurity. Furthermore, with the shift to virtual learning under COVID-19 exacerbating the educational learning gap, we need to increase the availability of afterschool programming to ensure our students have comprehensive access to learning. The federal Afterschool Meal Program fills the hunger gap that students may experience after school for millions of low-income children. As a person of faith and a parent of two young children, I see this bill as a logical next step from last year’s CEP legislation, and an important measure to use the resources available to us to make sure young people are not going hungry when we could do something about it. Please vote yes on HB 2135 to help reduce childhood hunger in communities across Virginia. Thank you for your consideration. Rev. Kerry Greenhill Minister of Discipleship and Community Engagement First United Methodist Church, Hampton, VA

Last Name: Johnson Organization: VA BLOC Locality: Chesterfield

"Hello, my name is Florence Johnson. I live in Chesterfield, VA, in House District 62. I'm writing to ask the committee to VOTE YES on HB2135 and HB2013. This bill is very important to me because food is not only the key to survival but it is also key to thriving and a basic human right. These bills will help address systemic student food insecurity in K-12 schools and help protect families against lawsuits and other burdens brought on by school meal debt. So with that being said, I would like the committee to vote yes on HB2135 and HB2103." -Florence Johnson

Last Name: Hickman Organization: School Nutrition Association of Virginia Locality: Richmond

The School Nutrition Association of Virginia supports HB 2135 (Roem) to expand access to school meals through the Afterschool Meal Program.

Last Name: STEWART Organization: SOCIAL ACTION LINKING TOGETHER (SALT) Locality: FAIRFAX

Social Action Linking Together (SALT), with its more than 1,200 advocates for social justice, believes that the justice of a society can be determined by how the most vulnerable are faring and being treated. Therefore, SALT supports HB 2135, legislation that addresses systemic student food insecurity in K-12 schools by ensuring that eligible schools are participating in the Afterschool Meal Program. Food insecurity is clearly a growing problem our state as Virginia students and their families look for solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on information provided by The Commonwealth Institute, 1 out of 7 children live in families experiencing food insecurity in Virginia. This legislation would require eligible public schools to participate in the program but would not require other eligible organizations qualifying as "at-risk afterschool care centers" to participate in the program (it only applies to school sites). If a school already has an existing partnership with an organization that already participates in the Afterschool Meal program and can provide afterschool programming in collaboration with a school or schools, then that could count as participation, provided that meals or snacks would be served in conjunction with that programming. There is a similar limited circumstance waiver included in this legislation (similar to the CEP bill) that accounts for limited circumstances when a school or schools apply to participate in the CACFP Afterschool Meal Program and a subsequent evaluation of the school or schools by VDOE does not deem it financially viable for that school or schools to participate in the program. Any concern that a school board may have relating to participating in the Afterschool Meals Program can be addressed through this financial viability waiver (potential costs concerns about providing afterschool enrichment or educational programs, utility costs for keeping school sites open afterschool, compensating staff for afterschool programming if needed, etc.). The Virginia Department of Education is available to work with any school or school division to address any financial concerns that may arise relating to making application to participate in the Afterschool Meal Program. Due to COVID-19 and the extent of the federal program, the bill has a delayed enactment clause to give school boards, administrators and school nutrition departments more time to plan and apply to participate in the program after operations normalize a little more. The program, offered through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), provides federal funding to afterschool programs operating in a low-income area to serve meals and snacks to children 18 and under after school, on weekends, and during school holidays Participants in the Afterschool Meal Program receive a federal reimbursement for each breakfast, lunch, or supper, and snack served. Breakfast and lunch can only be served on weekends and during school breaks (not including summer). CACFP sponsors can choose to receive cash in lieu of commodities. Thank you for the opportunity to submit this testimony. SALT hopes you will give it favorable consideration. We see this legislation as another opportunity for Virginia legislators to help bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice. Submitted by Robert Stewart, SALT Coordinator of Public Affairs, on January 21, 2020

Last Name: Stewart Organization: SOCIAL ACTION LINKING TOGETHER (SALT) Locality: Fairfax

Social Action Linking Together (SALT), with its more than 1,200 advocates for social justice, believes that the justice of a society can be determined by how the most vulnerable are faring and being treated. Therefore, SALT supports HB 2135, legislation that addresses systemic student food insecurity in K-12 schools by ensuring that eligible schools are participating in the Afterschool Meal Program. Food insecurity is clearly a growing problem our state as Virginia students and their families look for solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on information provided by The Commonwealth Institute, 1 out of 7 children live in families experiencing food insecurity in Virginia. This legislation would require eligible public schools to participate in the program but would not require other eligible organizations qualifying as "at-risk afterschool care centers" to participate in the program (it only applies to school sites). If a school already has an existing partnership with an organization that already participates in the Afterschool Meal program and can provide afterschool programming in collaboration with a school or schools, then that could count as participation, provided that meals or snacks would be served in conjunction with that programming. There is a similar limited circumstance waiver included in this legislation (similar to the CEP bill) that accounts for limited circumstances when a school or schools apply to participate in the CACFP Afterschool Meal Program and a subsequent evaluation of the school or schools by VDOE does not deem it financially viable for that school or schools to participate in the program. Any concern that a school board may have relating to participating in the Afterschool Meals Program can be addressed through this financial viability waiver (potential costs concerns about providing afterschool enrichment or educational programs, utility costs for keeping school sites open afterschool, compensating staff for afterschool programming if needed, etc.). The Virginia Department of Education is available to work with any school or school division to address any financial concerns that may arise relating to making application to participate in the Afterschool Meal Program. Due to COVID-19 and the extent of the federal program, the bill has a delayed enactment clause to give school boards, administrators and school nutrition departments more time to plan and apply to participate in the program after operations normalize a little more. The program, offered through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), provides federal funding to afterschool programs operating in a low-income area to serve meals and snacks to children 18 and under after school, on weekends, and during school holidays Participants in the Afterschool Meal Program receive a federal reimbursement for each breakfast, lunch, or supper, and snack served. Breakfast and lunch can only be served on weekends and during school breaks (not including summer). CACFP sponsors can choose to receive cash in lieu of commodities. Thank you for the opportunity to submit this testimony. SALT hopes you will give it favorable consideration. We see this legislation as another opportunity for Virginia legislators to help bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice. Submitted by Robert Stewart, SALT Coordinator of Public Affairs, on January 21, 2020

HB2176 - School board policies; abusive work environments, definitions.
No Comments Available
HB2182 - Traumatic brain injury; definition.
Last Name: Asip Organization: Virginia Council of Administartors of Specil Education (VCASE) Locality: Powhatan

Thank you Madam Chair and members of the House Education Committee, The Virginia Council of Administrators (VCASE) includes over 400 members who directly supervise the provision of services for more than 164,000 Virginia students with disabilities. VCASE appreciates Del. Wilt's HB2182 that will change the definition of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Our public school special education administrators work closely with our parents and students in considering eligibility for special education. We realize and are already serving students with many of the traumas decribed in the revised definition under other existing disability categories, such as Other Health Impaired, Speech Language Impairment , Multiple Disabilities, and others. VCASE will work with VDOE as it develops training and documentation needed to revise the definition as school divison staff consider eligibility for special education services, should the General Assembly pass this bill. Thank you, Mike Asip VCASE

Last Name: McDonnell Organization: Brain Injury Assn of Virginia Locality: Richmond

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on HB2182. I am Anne McDonnell, the Executive Director of the Brain Injury Association of Virginia. Brain injury is not an event, like a broken bone…it’s not over and done. It sets off lifelong medical, cognitive and behavioral issues. A child who has a brain injury may look like they’ve had a miraculous recovery. But in reality, kids grow into their injury, and demands on a three year old are much different than those on a thirteen or twenty-three year old. Undiagnosed and mismanaged brain injury can lead to catastrophic consequence, and that’s why it is imperative children receive appropriate and timely interventions. The schools are the single largest provider of services to student with brain jury and that’s why it is critically important to ensure their special education classification is accurate. Federal regulations define disability categories and criteria for special education eligibility. Although states may further define categories and criteria, Virginia has chosen to mimic the federal definition, thereby limiting access to proper identification for special education. Six other states have modified their definition and/or identified credible evidence criteria to determine eligibility for services related to a child’s brain injury. The son of one of Del Wilt’s constituents developed neonatal meningitis at one week. He required significant intervention to save his life, including multiple resuscitations. At 3, he was determined to have a developmental delay; he began preschool and started receiving early intervention services, meaning he got Occupational and Physical Therapy as well as therapy for his speech and language deficits. However, Developmental Delay is not recognized by the school system at age 5, so when he moved into kindergarten his Special Ed classification was changed to Speech Language Impairment, and the school treated her son for a communication disorder while other issues went unaddressed. Sadly this is not a unique situation in Virginia or across the country. Inappropriate classification and/or eligibility determinations can result in students not receiving services they need, or receiving services they do not need. Pediatric case managers in our community based brain injury programs tell us the definition and services issue is problematic for many of the children and families they serve. Data tells us approximately 400 children are admitted annually into a Virginia hospital for a diagnosis related to traumatic brain injury. Yet in 2018, there were slightly more than 400 kids were identified by DOE in the whole state as receiving Special Education services with a TBI classification. Something’s not adding up, if we’re adding that many kids a year to the overall total. A Joint Legislative and Audit Review Commission report issued in December of 2020 found “enrollment in special education varies across Virginia school divisions, both overall and by disability, and insufficient guidance and vague terms in the state’s eligibility criteria likely contribute to this variation.” The report recommended eligibility criteria be more clearly defined and explained by VDOE. As the agency will need to address this recommendation, this would the exact time to address this issue. The Brain Injury Association of Virginia supports this bill, and thanks Delegate Wilt for filing it.

Last Name: Heinan Locality: charlottesville

I am thrilled that this Bill is up for debate and hope that it will be accepted. I have the privilege of helping families care for their children with all types of acquired brain injuries (ABI). Our clinic sees patients who have sustained injuries not just from external trauma (such as is the current traumatic brain injury definition), but also from circumstances such as strokes, meningitis/encephalitis, brain tumors, chemotherapy, and hypoxic-ischemic insults. "Brain injury" should not be a definition limited by mechanism or etiology. All of these children (and their families) are affected by the brain injury and are in need of specialized supports at school spanning the preschool through post-high school. Thank you for supporting this bill.

Last Name: Asip Locality: Powhatan

The Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE) appreciates Del. Wilt's committment to those who have suffered brain injury. We will work with the VDOE on implementation of this redefinition of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) pertaining to eligibility and needed special education services.

Last Name: Coleman Organization: N/A Locality: Harrisonburg

Due to the current definition of Traumatic Brain Injury students and children in Virginia who acquired a Traumatic Brain Injury due to a medical condition are limited to the educational resources and accommodations they can receive. Updating the current definition as stated ensures that these students/children are given the free and appropriate education they are promised by IDEA.

Last Name: Dobscha Locality: Rockingham County

Please vote yes! Our children need this! Support all children!!!

Last Name: Lang Locality: Leesburg

I am writing in support of HB2182 amending the regulatory definition of Traumatic Brain Injury for the purpose of identifying special education services for children with disabilities to include "an acquired injury to the brain caused by a medical condition, including stroke, anoxia, infectious disease, aneurysm, brain tumors, and neurological insults due to medical or surgical treatments". I am the parent of a daughter who sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury and received special education services from 3 years until graduating high school in 2017. Even though her injury fit under the previous definition obtaining services through her IEP was a daunting task. My husband and I were fierce advocates and forced to hire advocates to obtain the proper services. I can not begin to imagine the struggle other families suffer when a child does not meet that definition. I also believe and support the recommendations of the recent Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission on special education eligibility, IEP monitoring, and transition services. All of these are critical to the success of all special education students in the state. Thank you!

Last Name: Clarke Locality: Harrisonburg

I, hereby, support the expansion of the definition of traumatic brain injury, for the purpose of eligibility for Special Education . There are many causes of brain injuries. The current definition discriminates against students who, do not meet the current definition. I have personally witnessed this and the exclusion leading to denied access of an IEP and services therein. It is time to re-examine what constitutes a brain injury and to reconsider.

Last Name: Sprouse Organization: Harrisonburg City Public Schools Locality: Rockingham

I am writing to support bill 2182 that will expand the definition of a traumatic brain injury to include all ways that the brain can be damaged. The current definition is very narrow and denies many students the educational services they need. Regardless of how a child’s brain is injured, it creates lasting effects that must be taken into account in providing the educational services that they need. The current definition of a TBI is used by many school system special education leaders to deny the educational benefits that all students deserve. Please support this bill on behalf of all students who have a brain injury that affects their learning and quality of life. I am a semi-retired former elementary school principal and I have personally observed cases where students could not receive the free and appropriate public education they need due to the current law. I can be reached at (540) 908-1120. Thank you.

Last Name: Frye Locality: Harrisonburg

I agree the definition needs to be changed. Thank you!

Last Name: Morris Locality: Harrisonburg City

The Traumatic Brain Injury Act of 1996 was signed into law on July 29, 1996. The term TBI was defined as an acquired injury to the brain. The term did not cover congenital or birth related trauma but included injuries caused by anoxia due to drowning. The bill was amended in 2000 and changed from “anoxia due to near drowning” with “anoxia due to trauma,”. The purpose of the bill was to reduce incidence of TBI, continue research and most importantly improve access to rehabilitation and related services. Va Dept. of education does not acknowledge acquired brain injuries that are caused by other trauma than direct impact in their categorization for disabilities. This can cause improper categorization and services for children who need special services and supports related to their brain injury as a whole, treating only symptoms of the injury has negative consequences on the child’s education. The category is there, please consider amending the definition to be more inclusive and not exclude children (including my own son) based on the cause of their injury. You can read more information about this act at the following link. https://www.biausa.org/public-affairs/public-policy/traumatic-brain-injury-act

HB2184 - Pandemic Remediation Task Force; established, report.
No Comments Available
HB2225 - Empowerment Scholarship Accounts; established, report.
Last Name: Nartowicz Organization: Americans United for Separation of Church and State Locality: Washington, DC

On behalf of the Virginia supporters of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, I urge you to oppose HB 2225. This bill would create education savings accounts—also known as private school vouchers—for students from military families or who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Especially during a global pandemic, public dollars should fund public schools, which serve 90% of America’s schoolchildren. Private school vouchers divert desperately needed public resources away from public schools to fund the education of a few students at private schools; yet they do not improve educational outcomes. Studies of the Indiana, Louisiana, and Ohio voucher programs revealed that students who used vouchers actually performed worse on standardized tests than their peers not in voucher programs. With a record proving they don’t work, there is no justification for funneling more money into vouchers. This bill would steer students with disabilities to private schools, but voucher programs often fail these students because parents would waive their rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA ensures that students with disabilities are provided with a Free Appropriate Public Education that is tailored to their individual needs. Voucher students lose the quality and quantity of services available to students in public schools, including those mandated under each student's IEP. Voucher programs also discriminate against students with special needs, either because participating schools do not offer the services they need or because private schools reject them. In addition, voucher programs lack accountability and fund discrimination. Private schools that benefit from vouchers do not have to be accredited, hire licensed teachers, or adhere to the same curriculum requirements as public schools. And, while public schools are open to and must serve all students, private schools accepting vouchers often deny students admission or expel them for many reasons, including based on their religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, academic abilities, disciplinary history, or ability to pay tuition. Vouchers also predominantly fund religious schools, and there is no reason to believe this voucher would be different. It is a fundamental principle of religious liberty, however, that government should not compel any citizen to pay for someone else’s religious education. Indeed, this principle has been enshrined in state law since 1786, when Virginia passed the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. It is also enshrined in Articles I, IV, and VIII of the Virginia Constitution. This voucher would violate these core religious freedom protections. For these reasons and more, Americans United opposes HB 2225. To learn about the many problems associated with vouchers, please visit https://www.ncpecoalition.org/facts. Nikolas Nartowicz Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Last Name: Howard Locality: Virginia Beach

We are in favor of School choice for students with special needs who often do not receive the services they need in order to succeed. Additionally, military students often do not have a choice of what school they can attend and may be forced into failing schools without any other options. Under this legislation, these students would have an option. With these Education Empowerment Scholarships, parents could use this money for their children to attend private school, homeschool, therapy services, tutors, etc.

Last Name: Blovad Locality: Virginia Beach

We continue to fail the children of our commonwealth by keeping schools closed yet opening them for SOL’s and sporting events. We teach to SOL’s and miss many important things. Parents should have a choice of where they seek education and their hard earned tax dollars should follow. Why is it fair that my tax dollars go to substandard public education and then I have to pay more money to educate my child privately? The tax dollars should follow the student to ensure all individual needs are addressed.

Last Name: Randall Locality: Virginia Beach

I am in favor of this legislation.

End of Comments