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Conn. Bill Would Assure Parents Leave for School Activities

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A Connecticut bill that would allow parents to take up to 20 hours of parental leave from their employers to attend their children's school-related activities is under consideration. It was sent to the House Committee on Appropriations on April 3.

Testimony on HB 6501, "An Act Concerning Parental Engagement," was heard before the legislature's Committee on Children last month, with organizations representing parents and educators supporting it, and at least one business and industry association arguing against it.

The bill covers parents, guardians, or grandparents who have custody of a school-age child, and it addresses "qualified" school-related activities, which include parent-teacher conferences, back-to-school nights, and school board meetings. The bill, which was introduced by Committee on Children, would require an annual allotment of 20 hours leave.

"This [proposed law] could be used so that a parent could take time off to chaperone a field trip or attend an event happening at the school during daytime hours," said Marne Usher, Connecticut Parent Teacher Student Association vice president of government relations in a phone interview. It is not necessary that the leave be paid leave, she explained.

Usher spoke before the children's committee on March 5, saying that schools would need to spend another $1,000 more per pupil to get the same gains in student achievement that an involved parent brings.

Eric Gjede, assistant counsel at the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), weighed in against the proposal. According to a blog from the Hartford Courant, Gjede said the bill "disregards the staffing needs of employers and conflicts with their policies for requesting and approving time off that were implemented to provide fairness amongst all employees."

The Connecticut bill mirrors one introduced last year in Maryland. That bill, HB 567 in the 2012 General Session of the Maryland legislature, was dropped after receiving an unfavorable report by the Economic Matters committee.

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