McNeill introduces legislation to address children’s educational disruption during district residency disputes

HARRISBURG, Feb. 17 – State Rep. Jeanne McNeill, D-Lehigh, has introduced legislation aimed ensuring a child’s K-12 educational experience isn’t abruptly stopped or disrupted in any way in the event of a residency issue.

“Continuity in education is extremely important,” McNeill said. “Residency disputes between school districts can take weeks or more to be fully resolved. Unfortunately, for our students caught in the middle, those students can be removed from the classroom by the district they’ve been attending. As a result, the child suffers.”

House Bill 458 seeks to provide protection for children in the event of a residency dispute. Under McNeill’s legislation, a school district would not be permitted to remove a child from school until the dispute has been fully resolved and it has been determined which school district should correctly enroll the child.

“Current law allows the young student involved to be removed from school by the school district he or she had been attending until the dispute has been resolved,” McNeill said. “I was upset to learn about this, and even more troubled when I heard of a situation involving a student with a disability. For more than 30 days, this child went without the supportive educational instruction and caring support they so importantly need. This is completely unacceptable, as again, the child is the one who suffers and is being victimized while the adult officials work to resolve the dispute.

“It is our duty as public servants to do everything in our power to protect all Pennsylvanians,” McNeill said. “In particular, we must be certain to responsibly and conscientiously address the needs of children, especially children with special needs who are among our most vulnerable citizens. We simply cannot allow the ball to be dropped in such a seemingly callous, uncaring manner, particularly when it involves the education and care of our children.”

This bill was referred to the House Education Committee on Feb. 9.