Legislation, Litigation Moves Forward After SLC School Board Vote

Jan 21, 2021, 6:53 AM | Updated: 6:58 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Lawmakers and parents are putting pressure on the Salt Lake City School District, even after the school board voted to resume in-person learning beginning in February.

As parents are preparing to send their children back to school, the Utah Legislature is working on a bill targeting school districts that don’t offer students a choice to learn in person.

That bill is targeting the Salt Lake City School District, which was until recently the only district to have classes entirely online.

The Senate Education Committee passed SB 107 on Wednesday. The bill would hold school districts fiscally accountable if there are no in-person learning options.

Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, is sponsoring the bill. He said if any district fails to return children to the classrooms, then parents can send their kids to other school districts. It’s a move some families have already made.

The bill would also mandate that the funding would follow the student – even if the student goes to a private school.

Weiler said it is a way of holding the Salt Lake City School District accountable on its promise to open classroom doors on Feb. 8.

“Some of these kids are really suffering from mental illness,” he said. “Others simply can’t handle 6 hours of staring at a screen.”

SLCSD officials said they oppose the bill because it encroaches on Utah’s longstanding position of support in local decision making.

Junior high and high school students in the district are slated to return to in-person learning two days a week. Vaccinations are underway for some teachers, but it’s unlikely they will all be inoculated by Feb. 8.

There is also a pending civil rights lawsuit some parents filed against the district. Those parents said they plan on continuing with the suit, saying they want children to be in school four days a week.

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Legislation, Litigation Moves Forward After SLC School Board Vote