Foster child student bill advances to Senate

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Legislation that would make it easier for foster children to change schools after a change in home placement has been approved by the state House.

House Bill 312, sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tem David Meade, R-Stanford, will “ensure that we are immediately meeting the needs of these children who are already in a traumatic situation.”

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Meade said key provisions in the bill will expedite the transfer of the child’s confidential records between school districts, improve state collaboration with local school districts with regard to the child’s needs, require closed foster homes to be placed on a state registry, and clarify rules for foster home placement.

“The KDE (the Kentucky Department of Education) will tell you there is no need for (HB 312),” said Meade. “I’ve got countless emails from teachers across the state as well as administrators across the state who say this is a major problem in their districts.”

HB 312 complements Meade’s “foster child bill of rights” legislation in 2019 HB 158 which became law last year. That legislation provides children in out-of-home placement in Kentucky with 15 statutory rights including the right of a foster child to have their individual educational needs met.

Former school principal Rep. Kim Banta, R-Fort Mitchell, said she would have “loved to have had a bill like this” during her decade as a school administrator.

“We floundered so many times at the expense of children being transferred without all the proper information, and I am just thrilled to be voting ‘yes’ on this today,” said Banta.

Also supporting HB 312 is retired educator and House Minority Caucus Chair Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, who said “being an educator getting this information (between schools) has been very difficult.”

HB 312 passed the House by a 91-0 vote. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.