An interim study to examine evidence-based behavior interventions for students with disabilities enrolled in public schools will be held Thurs., Oct. 5. The bipartisan study, requested by Rep. John Talley, R-Stillwater, and held in coordination with Sen. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, will study the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and effects of using corporal punishment on a student with a disability. "I'm glad we have another opportunity to continue conversations about how we as a state can ensure children with disabilities can learn and grow in our public schools without suffering the adverse effects that physical punishment may bring," Talley said. Speakers include Andrea Kunkel, general counsel for the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration (CCOSA) and executive director of Oklahoma Directors of Special Services (ODSS), who will share details on the IDEA policy; Dr. Scott Singleton, professor of psychology at the University of Central Oklahoma, who will speak to the consequences of using physical punishment on students with disabilities; and Dr. Gary Duhon, professor of school psychology at Oklahoma State University, who will share evidence-based behavioral reduction interventions for students with disabilities. Talley said the agenda will also include a public school parent sharing the mental toll of physical punishment on their child with disabilities while at school, as well as Dr. Kyle Reynolds, retired Woodward Public Schools superintendent, who will provide a superintendent's perspective. "It must be our goal to ensure our public school policies help each child achieve their greatest potential, but numerous studies show using corporal punishment on students with disabilities can cause tremendous and lasting harm,” Floyd said. “We’ll learn more about that in this study, and hear from Oklahoma experts about how schools can better respond when behavioral issues arise, without resorting to physical punishment.” Talley and Floyd authored House Bill 1028, which passed the House 84-8 in March and remains alive for consideration in the Senate next session. In its current form, the bill prohibits the use of corporal punishment only on students identified with the most significant cognitive disabilities, who account for less than 10% of students with disabilities in Oklahoma's public schools. The interim study is scheduled for Oct. 5 at 1 p.m. in Room 206 at the Oklahoma State Capitol. The study is open to the public and may also be live-streamed on the House website.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Eric Roberts, R-Oklahoma City, recently received the Dragonfly Home Award for Outstanding Efforts in the Fight to End Human Trafficking for authoring House Bill 2054. The bill changes the penalty for purchasing prostitution from a misdemeanor to a felony, a change requested by the Oklahoma City Police Vice Unit. Texas made a similar penalty change and found it successful in reducing trafficking. Many of those engaging in prostitution are victims of human trafficking. "I am grateful to Dragonfly Home for all of their excellent work in helping survivors of human trafficking," Roberts said. "Dragonfly Home meets each individual where they are, providing support and services to help them recover from trafficking abuse. I would like to thank Senator Darrell Weaver and the Oklahoma City Police Vice Unit for their assistance with HB2054 and to a constituent who prompted my interest in running the bill." Under HB2054, a person can be sentenced to up to three years in prison and is subject to a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offense, $2,500 for a second offense and up to $5,000 for a third or subsequent offense. If the victim of the offense is a minor, the penalty is a maximum of ten years imprisonment and provides a fine of up to $5,000 for a first offense, $10,000 for a second offense and up to $15,000 for a third or consecutive offense. The measure would also require the offender to register as a sex offender upon a third conviction. The bill does not increase penalties for people engaging in prostitution. More information on the Dragonfly Home is available at https://www.thedragonflyhome.org/ . -END- PHOTO: Whitney Anderson, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Dragonfly Home, presents award to Rep. Eric Roberts for HB2054.
Rep. Jeff Boatman, R-Tulsa, urged education officials to tone down dangerous, divisive language and work with people from a variety of backgrounds to improve outcomes for Oklahoma students following threats made in recent weeks against several schools in the Union Public Schools district, which Boatman represents. "It is past time for threats against the safety of our schools, students, teachers and administrators to stop. I am certain that the men and women of our law enforcement agencies will work tirelessly until they find the person or persons responsible for these despicable threats and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. However, I take issue with the messaging and controversy that preceded and emboldened last week's threats. Our children are the future of our city, state and nation, and they deserve the very best that we can provide. They deserve for their leaders to sacrifice our pride and personal agendas in favor of setting our kids up for success. Whether we are posting social media content, or reposting it, public servants have a duty to them to put the best interest first of our most vulnerable first. Controversy, divisiveness, and fearmongering are not ever in their best interest. Fighting political battles instead of working together to improve the education system that we offer them is never the foundation of sound policy. I am asking those entrusted with the education of our children at each and every level to hold themselves to a higher standard. It's time we move away from satire, mistrust, hateful rhetoric and threats and instead have a serious, thoughtful discussion on how to move our state’s education system forward. When we fail to rise above, we fail our children and our state. There is a way to do this better, and we owe it to our children to try to find that way."