It is the Mission of the Nebraska Family Forum (NFF) to promote education policies in our state that preserve and protect parental authority and the integrity of the family. In so doing, we will preserve the cooperative and respectful relationship between school authorities and parents, preserve a family-centered community, and provide a well-rounded education for our kids.
Parents:The new state law regarding
school absences took effect on July 18.As children throughout Nebraska head back to school over the next couple
of weeks, we will begin seeing how our own school districts and county
attorneys handle the changes.(Please
click on this link for a reminder of the primary changes included in the new
new law has returned discretion over attendance back to the school districts,
within the guidelines set forth in LB464, and many of those districts have
revised their attendance policies over the summer.Some
of the new policies look great; others continue to be unreasonable.Case in point is Lincoln Public Schools,
which still categorizes parent-approved illnesses and medical appointments as “unexcused,”
with no differentiation between parents calling their children in sick and kids
who are really skipping school.
Nebraska Family Forum as a group had a great impact on getting state law
changed and returning discretion to the local level.It’s now up to you, the parents of each
district, to communicate with your school boards if you are unhappy with your
local attendance policy.
members of the NFF, myself included, have experience dealing with school boards
and administrators, organizing other parents, and effecting change.We would be happy to guide you through that
process.However, a parent in Omaha, or
a statewide group such as ours, cannot resolve a bad attendance policy in No.
Platte or Lincoln or Hastings.That is
up to individual community members.
be intimidated by your local school board members.You elected them, and they are there to do
what’s best for your children and your families.They are your friends and neighbors and
fellow parishioners.NFF members have
found that school boards are, for the most part, approachable and open to
hearing from the parents they represent.Most of them are parents too, and are more than willing to listen to
advice to all of you is to read your district’s new attendance policy NOW.If you think it’s reasonable, that’s
great.If you have issues with the way
your district plans to implement the changes to state law, I suggest you take
action right now.Don’t let the new
policies catch you by surprise.Be
proactive, instead of being forced into the position of reacting after the
fact.Protect your kids and protect your
family, now rather than later. These are
OUR schools and they exist to educate OUR children.It is our right and responsibility as parents
to speak up and ask for change when school policy is hurting our children.
I suspect this
Arizona story is just a small sampling of what's going on nationwide.
Common Core is an enormous scam on the American public. Pearson, with
the help of its political allies, is making millions. Our children are
Pearson's unpaid guinea pigs, worker bees, data gold mines, and victims.
Americans' tax dollars are being used to victimize their own children in a money making scheme so enormous that it should have the suffix "-gate" after it.
Nebraska parents, we must remain vigilant in our fight against Common
Core in our state, and we must join with other parents nationwide who
are fighting to get rid of this atrocity in the states that have already
implemented CC. Common Core is doing enormous harm to children
throughout this nation and it is our responsibility to stand up and save
I encourage you to join nationwide groups to get more
information about Common Core: Parents and Educators Against Common
Core, Left-Right Alliance for Education, Dump Duncan, Common Crud,
Badass Parents Association, and Badass Teachers Association are a few of
the groups with good information.
Florida is often held up as the "gold standard" by proponents
of charter schools, However, this study found that Florida's charter
schools do not perform better than public schools; that charters are
more segregated than public schools; that many charters funnel money to
religious organizations; that a significant number of charters operate
for profit; and that the charter industry has captured control of key seats in the legislature.
I would like to find out more about the pros and cons of charter
schools. Some people think they are the answer to failing school
districts. Others think they will be the death of the public schools,
because they funnel tax dollars from public schools into private schools
who selectively accept the cream-of-the-crop students, and are run on a
for-profit basis by businessmen and celebrities (did you know the
rapper Pit Bull has a charter school?)
In any case, future discussion of this topic in our legislature promises to be a lively one.
Whenever I talk to the press, I feel nervous that they're going to
misquote me or take my words out of context. So in a nutshell, here's
what I really mean.
The current excessive absenteeism law has harmed many children and families.
Interactions with the justice system have been particularly harmful for
children suffering from mental and behavioral health issues
(depression, autism, etc.)
School districts throughout the state have reported thousands of
children to the county attorney unnecessarily. I don't know why. Some
day I'd like to get a straight answer from educators on what would
possess them to turn struggling kids over to law enforcement without
cause or remorse.
County attorneys have prosecuted children who
were not skipping school and were absent through no fault of their own,
including sick children with doctor's notes. I don't understand this
either. I'm not giving the county attorneys a pass; however, I do know
it's their job to prosecute and get convictions. I understand their
actions more than I understand the actions of the educators, who have
devoted their lives to helping children, yet have caused so much harm.
I am satisfied with the verbiage of Amendment 2164 and feel confident that positive changes will result when it becomes law.
The amendment, if implemented correctly, will resolve the problem of
children with absences due to physical and behavioral health being
turned over to the county attorney. I believe it will prevent thousands
of children from being thrown into the juvenile justice system.
There are children who need help overcoming barriers to attendance. AM
2164 is designed to offer that help rather than punish children who are
I believe Sen. Brad Ashford is doing a good job of
explaining the problems with the current law and why changes need to be
made. I appreciate his willingness to advocate for those changes.
I am particularly grateful for Sen. Mark Christensen's work on this
issue. His advocacy for our families was behind the scenes and many
people will never know the extent of his contribution, but suffice it to
say he is a hero in my book.
Once the changes take effect,
parents will need to work collaboratively with their schools to ensure
the new law is implemented as intended. Parents elect their school
board members and pay the salaries of school employees, so parental
input into policies affecting their kids is crucial. It is the parents'
responsibility to work with their school districts respectfully to
achieve what is best for their children. That is, after all, what we
have been fighting for.
the past three weeks, I have had the privilege of working with a committee
assembled specifically for the purpose of rewriting the excessive absenteeism
law.This committee consisted of school
administrators, social workers, State Department of Education personnel, a
county attorney and a defense attorney, a children’s advocacy group…and me,
committee spent about 15 hours talking, negotiating, and coming to agreement on
how we could prevent children with legitimate absences from being referred to
the county attorney, while still ensuring that children who are truly at risk
are able to get the help they need to overcome barriers to school attendance.
Below is the link to the verbiage that the committee agreed upon.The
amendment is 2164 to LB 464, and it will be debated on the floor very soon, possibly as early as Thursday, March 6.
this law is passed, it will provide safeguards and oversight to prevent schools
from using county attorneys as a first resort to enforce attendance policy, and
it will help put a stop to county attorneys filing charges on students with
legitimate absences.It puts a great
deal of responsibility on the schools to work with the families before
ever referring to the county attorney—a piece that has been missing for the
past four years.
are the key strengths of the new verbiage:
is no mandatory referral to the county attorney.The school is no longer required to refer your
child at 20 days of absence.
schools have six specific steps they must take before even considering referral
to law enforcement.Those steps must be
cornerstone of those six steps is collaboration with the family.Parents and school administrators must agree
on a plan together when a student is struggling with attendance.All factors contributing to absenteeism must
be considered and addressed prior to referral to the county attorney.The county attorney is to be used rarely and only
as a last resort.
all steps are completed and documented, there is a minimum number of absences
(20) that must be reached before the school can even consider referral. Illnesses that make attendance impossible or
impracticable cannot be used in this 20 day tally.
affirmative defense clause has been added.The amendment specifically states that if the school does not complete
and document every step required in the statute, it is a defense to prosecution
of truancy or neglect charges.In other
words, if the school doesn’t do their job, the county attorney has no case.
Council on Student Attendance is created.This council will review attendance policies and practices of every
Nebraska school district and make recommendations for changes.There will be oversight of school districts
who have unreasonable policies and/or are making inappropriate referrals to the
these are very positive changes!With
correct implementation, this amendment should eliminate thousands of children
being referred to the juvenile justice system.Education of parents, schools, county attorneys, and defense attorneys
will be the key to making this work the way it’s supposed to.
NFF is almost 740 strong this morning, and growing every day.We are not going anywhere.Our group will continue to be vigilant as
this law is passed and implemented, and we will not stop pointing out when the
law is being misused and our children are being harmed.However, I believe a great deal of that harm
will be alleviated if this amendment passes.
to all of you brave families for speaking up in defense of our children over
the past four years.WE ARE NOT DONE
YET.I will be posting an urgent call to action on the Facebook page and blog
very shortly, asking for you to immediately CALL AND E-MAIL STATE
SENATORS and ask them to vote for this amendment. Please help make one
last push to get this law passed, for the sake of our children.