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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 4, 2019 08:27 AM
From: Representative Maria P. Donatucci
To: All House members
Subject: Procedure for Closing Public Schools
The closing of any public school -- traditional or charter -- can throw a neighborhood and community into chaos and force parents into a frustrating scramble for alternatives. For example, when the closure of Duquesne High School in Allegheny County was announced in 2007, news outlets reported that residents were upset that the high school was closing with no plans in place regarding where the existing students would attend school the following year. A parent was quoted as fighting back tears while saying, “What plan do you have? There should be a plan in place.” A high school student said she and other students were worried neighboring districts wouldn’t accept them. Additionally, worry over the future of a school can cause strife and turnover among teachers and other staff, even if no closure was announced.

Part of the reason for this turmoil is state law provides no procedures to guide administrators who are in the process of closing a school. That is why I am introducing legislation that will provide a clear process for administrators to follow when closing a school building due to financial, enrollment, or other reasons, or due to charter revocation under the state charter school law. This process includes requiring the school entity to notify parents of the planned closure, along with instructions on how to transfer students to another school district. Not only will this enable school districts to tie up all loose ends before closing a school, but it will also ensure that students and parents do not have to worry about what will become of their educational future.

Please join me in giving students, parents, staff and community members some peace of mind when a school closes. Your consideration and co-sponsorship is appreciated.

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Introduced as HB168