A bill proposed by Colorado state Rep. Patrick Neville would enable parents of students affected by school safety incidents to move their child immediately to a safe school.
Neville (R-Castle Rock), minority leader of the Colorado House of Representatives, introduced the Child Safety Account Act (HB19-1112) on January 15, 2019 to pay eligible expenses for the education of qualified students.
CSAs would be funded using the state’s share of spending per pupil that would otherwise go to the child’s public school. Parents would apply for scholarship money administered by an independent entity under contract with the state and would receive the funds in their child’s account.
The bill would also create an income tax credit for the parents of qualified students to pay eligible expenses above the amount provided through a CSA, and a tax credit for individual or corporate donations to fund the CSAs.
Extending Freedom of Choice
Neville says his legislation is about more than just distributing state education funds—it’s about giving families choice over their education.
“The freedom of choice in education that is afforded to wealthy families should be extended to all families,” said Neville.
Excluding the perpetrators, students directly affected by instances of bullying, sexual harassment or abuse, gangs, and violence would be eligible for CSAs. The funds could be used for tuition at participating private schools, home-based educational programs, or therapy to cope with the trauma of the incident.
Bullying ‘Tragically Too Common’
A survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 18 percent of Colorado high schoolers were bullied on school property in 2017. Another 14.5 percent were “electronically” bullied, 5.8 percent were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property, 5.2 percent skipped school because they felt unsafe there, and 7.2 percent attempted suicide.
Bullying and violence are common in public schools, says Neville, and giving families the choice to remove students from dangerous environments will challenge the norm and create a safer education for students in Colorado.
“Incidents of all forms of bullying are tragically too common in our public-school system, but students and their families should not feel helpless,” said Neville.
Cutting Response Time
Colorado’s current response to unsafe schools is public school transfers, says Timothy Benson, a senior policy analyst at The Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News.
“The state does allow inter- and intra-district transferring for public school students, but a school can deny a transfer for a myriad of reasons, including lack of staff, inadequate facilities, or to maintain compliance with desegregation plans,” said Benson. “The process is also somewhat lengthy.
“Child Safety Accounts would allow parents to get their child into a safe school relatively quickly,” said Benson. “Every Colorado child deserves to have the resources available to allow them to escape an unsafe or unhealthy school environment, and Child Safety Accounts would allow that.”
Hayley Sledge ([email protected]) writes from Dayton, Ohio.
State Rep. Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock):
Tim Benson, “Research & Commentary: Child Safety Accounts Allow All Colorado Students Access to Safe Schools,” The Heartland Institute, Jan. 16, 2019: