Report Title:

Mandatory kindergarten

Description:

Lowers the compulsory education age from six to five years old, making attendance in kindergarten mandatory.

THE SENATE

S.B. NO.

701

TWENTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2003

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 


 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

relating to education.

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

SECTION 1. The legislature finds that many studies show the importance of early childhood education. A federal department of education study reports that all kindergartners increase their knowledge and skills during their school year. First-graders who did not attend kindergarten tend to be behind their peers socially and academically, say educators. Additional research shows that full-day kindergarten programs are more beneficial than half-day programs, especially for at-risk children. According to research by the Annenberg Foundation, the longer day gives teachers more time for individualized attention and social and educational instruction, making full-day kindergartners more creative, cooperative, involved, and able to excel in future grades' reading and achievement tests.

The purpose of this Act is to enhance learning by lowering the compulsory education age from six years to five years, making attendance in kindergarten mandatory, and appropriating funds to the department of education for that purpose.

SECTION 2. Section 302A-411, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (a) to read as follows:

(a) The department shall establish and maintain kindergartens with a program of instruction as a part of the public school system[; provided that attendance shall not be mandatory]. No child shall attend any kindergarten unless the child will be at least five years of age [on or before December 31] before January 1 of the school year; provided that a child attending a school that convenes after the regular school schedule shall be five years of age [on or before one hundred twenty-five] before one hundred twenty-six days following the date the school convenes; and provided further that the board shall develop informational guidance to promote the understanding of a child's readiness for kindergarten."

SECTION 3. Section 302A-1131, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"[[]302A-1131[]] Public schools; attendance. (a) Except as authorized by section 302A-411, no child shall attend any public school unless the child will be at least [six] five years of age before January 1 of the school year; provided that:

(1) A child attending a school that convenes after the regular school schedule shall be [six] five years of age [on or before one hundred twenty-five] before one hundred twenty-six days following the date the school [shall convene;] convenes; and

(2) The department may establish procedures and criteria to determine the psychological and physiological readiness of children for public school and may grant an exception in the case of a child who is found to be ready.

(b) All teachers who teach [in] kindergarten and the first and second grades, and principals of public schools shall enforce this section and require proof of age by birth certificates or certificates of registration, or if none can be obtained, then by satisfactory evidence."

SECTION 4. Section 302A-1132, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (a) to read as follows:

"(a) Unless excluded from school or excepted from attendance, all children who will have arrived at the age of at least [six] five years, and who will not have arrived at the age of eighteen years, by January 1 of any school year, shall attend either a public or private school for, and during, the school year, and any parent, guardian, or other person having the responsibility for, or care of, a child whose attendance at school is obligatory shall send the child to either a public or private school. Attendance at a public or private school shall not be compulsory in the following cases:

(1) Where the child is physically or mentally unable to attend school (deafness and blindness excepted), of which fact the certificate of a duly licensed physician shall be sufficient evidence;

(2) Where the child, who has reached the fifteenth anniversary of birth, is suitably employed and has been excused from school attendance by the superintendent or the superintendent's authorized representative, or by a family court judge;

(3) Where, upon investigation by the family court, it has been shown that for any other reason the child may properly remain away from school;

(4) Where the child has graduated from high school;

(5) Where the child is enrolled in an appropriate alternative educational program as approved by the superintendent or the superintendent's authorized representative in accordance with the plans and policies of the department, or notification of intent to home school has been submitted to the principal of the public school that the child would otherwise be required to attend in accordance with department rules adopted to achieve this result; or

(6) Where:

(A) The child has attained the age of sixteen years;

(B) The principal has determined that:

(i) The child has engaged in behavior which is disruptive to other students, teachers, or staff; or

(ii) The child's non-attendance is chronic and has become a significant factor that hinders the child's learning; and

(C) The principal of the child's school, and the child's teacher or counselor, in consultation with the child and the child's parent, guardian, or other adult having legal responsibility for or care of the child, develops an alternative educational plan for the child. The alternative educational plan shall include a process that shall permit the child to resume school.

The principal of the child's school shall file the plan made pursuant to subparagraph (C) with the child's school record. If the adult having legal responsibility for or care of the child disagrees with the plan, then the adult shall be responsible for obtaining appropriate educational services for the child."

SECTION 5. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $ , or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2003-2004, to lower the compulsory education age from six years to five years.

The sum appropriated shall be expended by the department of education for the purposes of this Act.

SECTION 6. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 7. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2003.

INTRODUCED BY:

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