Keeping detained students from falling behind

Submitted photoState Sen. Mike Bohacek, seated left, was on hand Thursday when Gov. Eric Holcomb, seated center, signed a bill requiring school corporations to provide course materials for juvenile detainees for the classes they would be enrolled in if not detained. Also on hand for the signing were state Rep. Ed Clere, seated right, who sponsored the bill; and Brenda Stellema, back left, director of the Court Youth Advocate program in La Porte County. 

INDIANAPOLIS — Juvenile detainees will now be provided course materials and coursework from their school while they are being detained under a new law that takes effect July 1.

Senate Enrolled Act 29, authored by state Sen. Mike Bohacek, R-Michiana Shores, mandates that school corporations provide juvenile detainees with school materials for their approriate grade level. It was ceremonially signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb on Thursday.

The bill requires a school corporation, upon request of a parent or juvenile detention facility, to provide a child who is detained for more than seven days with school materials corresponding to their grade level or the courses they are or would be enrolled in if they were not detained, according to Bohacek spokeswoman Paige Pearson.

This bill also requires the school corporation to deliver coursework at least once every seven days, excluding days that are not considered student instructional days.

“Currently, children who find themselves in one of these facilities are unable to stay up-to-date on their schoolwork and often fall behind academically,” Bohacek said. “SEA 29 helps ensure these children are able to better transition back into the classroom upon their release, and I am hopeful this law will help them get on a better path moving forward.”

Under SEA 29, the school corporation is responsible for the costs associated with preparing and delivering the materials, except for the assessment of rental fees for curricular materials.

It also requires that a suspended student complete all assignments and schoolwork during their suspension.

Schools will also be required to provide expelled students with a list of available alternative education programs or virtual charter schools they may attend during their expulsion.

“Students who are suspended or expelled from school are often already experiencing academic difficulties,” Bohacek said. “This new law will help ensure these students do not fall further behind on their academics and are provided the best opportunity for future success.”

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