Oklahoma State Senator Rob Standridge files school choice legislation to better protect students
Published: January 21st, 2021
State Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, has filed legislation aimed at providing greater educational choice for families dealing with bullying and health issues, particularly during the pandemic.
“The physical and mental health of Oklahoma students is the focus of each of these bills. We should always put children, their futures, and what their parents believe is best, above all else. While families with greater resources have options, others do not,” Standridge said. “These bills are an attempt to give more choice to families whose children are at risk due to health concerns or as a result of bullying.”
Senate Bill 221 creates the Wellness Scholarship Program Act, which would provide scholarships to attend a private school of choice for parents who have health-related concerns. Beginning in the 2022-23 school year, the scholarship would be awarded to a student if their parent or legal guardian is concerned the child is in danger of contracting an infection, including, but not limited to COVID-19, or if they are concerned the student could pose a risk of exposing school employees to an infection.
“I commend all who have worked tirelessly to provide the best possible outcomes for children who absolutely need to be in school in person. Unfortunately, many families have been in a no-win situation due to the health risk to their child or another vulnerable family member,” Standridge said. “In addition, many are concerned about the health of their teachers. The Wellness Scholarship gives parents much needed options to choose a school with a different approach to the health and wellness of their children.”
Senate Bill 222 creates the Hope Scholarship Program Act, providing scholarships to attend a private school of choice for students who have experienced bullying. Beginning in the 2022-23 school year, the scholarship could be awarded to a student if they’ve been the victim of harassment, intimidation or bullying a minimum of three times within a school year. There must be written documentation with confirmation from a licensed mental health professional or physician.
“I have conducted interim studies on bullying and visited at length with parents and students about how damaging this can be. It can affect a child’s mental and physical health, and I’ve talked to grieving parents whose children took their own lives because of bullying,” Standridge said. “My goal is to give more families the choice they need to better protect their children.”