Hoffman's school bill falls short

April 5, 2014 

How does a common-sense bill to improve safety in public schools go so wrong?

State Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Belleville, got a lot of pats on the back earlier this year when he introduced HB 4775, which would have made it possible for school districts to expel students charged with violent crimes -- students like the one who allegedly sexually assaulted a fellow student on the Belleville East campus.

But Hoffman watered down the bill, so now schools can act only after a student is convicted. That would not have prevented the attack at East.

Hoffman bowed to pressure from the Illinois School Management Alliance, which lobbies on behalf of school boards and school administrators and inexplicably opposed the bill. The alliance argued that it didn't want school boards and administrators to have to be law enforcers. But nothing in the bill said schools had to do anything; it just gave them options to deal with potentially dangerous situations.

Hoffman maintains that the bill goes a long way to improving student safety at school. It helps a little, but it's just a shadow of the original bill.

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