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CA would-be law seeks tighter controls over nonpublic schools

Readers of our Santa Cruz special education blog at Steven A. Greenburg might reasonably believe that California officials can instantly shut down a nonpublic school when it has unquestionably compromised a child’s safety or health.

As sensible as it sounds, though, it is not the prerogative presently of state authorities.

AB 1172 seeks to change that.

That brief combination of letters and numbers is the shorthand description for legislation recently introduced in the California State Assembly. AB 1172 was drafted by Assemblyman Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay) and sponsored by California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.

Those advocates and a legion of others demand a progressively tighter scrutiny over nonpublic schools. A recent Sacramento Bee article loosely defines those institutions as “private, nonreligious schools that contract with local school districts or the county office of education to serve students with special needs.”

The goings-on at one such school heavily triggered the momentum that now marks AB 1172. A young boy with autism died some months back when he was left in a face-down restraint for nearly two hours by staff members at the Sacramento-area El Dorado Hills School. Authorities quickly revoked the school’s operating credentials. It is now closed.

If AB 1172 is enacted as law, it will mandate a number of new rules and policies. State authorities will no longer have to endure procedural delays prior to taking strong actions in instances where school officials have clearly endangered a student’s health or safety. The proposed bill gives them the power to immediately suspend or revoke a school’s license. AB 1172 also places a mandate on every nonpublic school to have a licensed behavioral analyst onsite during school hours.

We will keep readers updated on any material developments concerning AB 1172 as it moves through the legislative process.

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