Bill S5546-2015

Relates to the adoption of instruction in mental health in junior and senior high schools and to provide school districts with current information on drug abuse issues

Relates to requiring the commissioner of education to make recommendations to the board of regents relating to the adoption of instruction in mental health in junior and senior high schools and to provide school districts with current information on drug abuse issues.

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  • May 14, 2015: REFERRED TO EDUCATION

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BILL NUMBER:S5546

TITLE OF BILL:

An act to amend the education law, in relation to requiring the commissioner of education to make recommendations to the board of regents relating to the adoption of instruction in mental health in junior and senior high schools and to provide school districts with current information on drug abuse issues

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:

To have the education commissioner make up to date recommendations relating to the instruction of mental health, alcohol, drug and tobacco use in junior and senior high schools.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:

Section 1 requires the commissioner to make recommendations to the board of regents relating to the adoption of instruction in mental health in junior and senior high schools, AFTER receiving recommendations from:

(i) teachers, school administrators, teacher educators, school psychologists, school social workers and others with educational expertise in the proposed curriculum.

(ii) parents, students and other interested parties

(iii) consideration is given to the time this curriculum will require

(iv) consideration of fiscal impacts are determined

(V) consideration is given to the relevance, based on current, comparable course work.

(vi) consideration is given by any additional factors that the commissioner deems relevant.

The commissioner shall have 180 days after this effective date to provide recommendations to the board of regents.

The board shall have 60 days from receiving such recommendation to accept or reject the commissioners recommendation. The commissioner shall provide, on a biennial basis, school districts with educational information of current drug abuse issues in order to ensure a relevant curriculum.

Section 2 sets forth the effective date.

JUSTIFICATION:

Current law requires the New York State Board of Regents to create a curriculum that promotes mutual respect and understanding of people with disabilities to elementary students. With the number of individuals being diagnosed with a mental health illness on the rise, even among children, it is necessary to consider including instruction on mental health as part of the health curriculum in all of New York state's junior and senior high schools.

In New York, over 300,000 youth live with a serious mental health condition that significantly impairs their daily function. It is important that students be taught about mental health illness and stop the stigma that goes along with a diagnosis. By not talking about conditions like depression, eating disorders and PTSD, we do our young people a disservice. This bill would allow the commissioner the opportunity to make recommendations to the board of regents as to the type of curriculum required, how much time of instruction might be necessary, consider the fiscal impact to school districts and get feedback from a variety of stakeholders. By ensuring that our young people are educated about mental health, the connections these illnesses can have to alcohol, drug and tobacco abuse, we can increase the likelihood that they will be able to more effectively recognize signs in themselves and others.

A component of this bill is to ensure that school districts are provided with up to date information in regards to current drug abuse issues. How and when students are taught drug about the dangers of drug addiction is extremely important. Other than at home, school is seen as the primary place adolescents addiction and its impacts. Drug usage and types of drugs come in waves. In the 80's and 90's crack and cocaine were the commonly used drugs. In the early 2000's we saw a rise in bath salts usage. Now we are in the era of a heroin epidemic.

In Monroe, Livingston, Chemung, Ontario, Orleans, Steuben and Wyoming Counties, heroin killed 65 people in 2013. This was a huge spike compared to 29 in 2012 and only 11 in all of 2011. This issue is not only a regional issue, but a state wide issue. With the significant increase in heroin overdoses over the past few years, it is clear that we need to educate our students on the issue.

It is important that our educational institutions are consistently staying up to date on current drug abuse issues, in order to best serve our students and help prevent drug addiction. The language of this legislation provides flexibility as to what drug abuse issues are to be taught in the classroom. Yesterday was crack, today is heroin, tomorrow it could be something else. Allowing the commissioner to provide information on current drug abuse issues will allow the curriculum to evolve and remain relevant.

The law should provide flexibility to allow the commissioner to respond to the changing needs of the educational community to provide students with the tools and resources to live healthy lives, as it will only serve to improve educational performance and student outcomes.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:

New Bill

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:

To be determined

EFFECTIVE DATE:

This act shall take effect immediately.


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 5546 2015-2016 Regular Sessions IN SENATE May 14, 2015 ___________
Introduced by Sen. FUNKE -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Education AN ACT to amend the education law, in relation to requiring the commis- sioner of education to make recommendations to the board of regents relating to the adoption of instruction in mental health in junior and senior high schools and to provide school districts with current information on drug abuse issues THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 305 of the education law is amended by adding two new subdivisions 53 and 54 to read as follows: 53. A. THE COMMISSIONER SHALL MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE BOARD OF REGENTS RELATING TO THE ADOPTION OF INSTRUCTION IN MENTAL HEALTH IN JUNIOR AND SENIOR HIGH SCHOOLS. B. PRIOR TO MAKING THE RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE BOARD OF REGENTS, THE COMMISSIONER SHALL: (I) SEEK THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF TEACHERS, SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS, TEACHER EDUCATORS, SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS, SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKERS AND OTHERS WITH EDUCATIONAL EXPERTISE IN THE PROPOSED CURRICULUM; (II) SEEK COMMENT FROM PARENTS, STUDENTS AND OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES; (III) CONSIDER THE AMOUNT OF INSTRUCTIONAL TIME SUCH CURRICULUM WILL REQUIRE AND WHETHER SUCH TIME WOULD DETRACT FROM OTHER MANDATED COURSES OF STUDY; (IV) CONSIDER THE FISCAL IMPACT, IF ANY, ON THE STATE AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS; (V) CONSIDER THE RELEVANCE OF EXISTING REGULATIONS PERTAINING TO MENTAL HEALTH AS PART OF THE SCHOOL HEALTH CURRICULUM AS IT RELATES TO THE CURRENT UNDERSTANDING OF MENTAL HEALTH AS AN INTEGRAL PART OF HEALTH AND THE RELATIONSHIP OF MENTAL HEALTH TO THE INSTRUCTION OF ALCOHOL, DRUGS AND TOBACCO; AND (VI) CONSIDER ANY ADDITIONAL FACTORS THE COMMISSIONER DEEMS RELEVANT.
C. NO LATER THAN ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY DAYS AFTER THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS SUBDIVISION, THE COMMISSIONER SHALL PROVIDE A RECOMMENDATION TO THE BOARD OF REGENTS TO EITHER ADOPT AND PROMULGATE APPROPRIATE RULES AND REGULATIONS IMPLEMENTING SUCH CURRICULUM OR REJECT THE IMPLEMENTATION OF SUCH CURRICULUM. UPON RECEIVING A RECOMMENDATION FROM THE COMMISSIONER, PURSUANT TO THIS SUBDIVISION, THE BOARD OF REGENTS SHALL VOTE TO EITHER ACCEPT OR REJECT THE COMMISSIONER'S RECOMMENDATION NO LATER THAN SIXTY DAYS AFTER RECEIVING SUCH RECOMMENDATION. D. IF THE BOARD OF REGENTS ADOPTS SUCH CURRICULUM, THE CURRICULUM REQUIREMENT SHALL TAKE EFFECT NO LATER THAN THE NEXT SCHOOL YEAR AFTER SUCH CURRICULUM HAS BEEN ADOPTED. E. IF THE BOARD OF REGENTS REJECTS SUCH CURRICULUM, THE COMMISSIONER SHALL PROVIDE A REPORT AS TO THE DETERMINATION OF THE BOARD TO THE GOVERNOR, THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, THE SPEAKER OF THE ASSEMBLY AND THE CHAIRS OF THE SENATE AND ASSEMBLY COMMITTEES ON EDUCA- TION PROVIDING THE REASONS FOR SUCH REJECTION NOT LATER THAN THIRTY DAYS AFTER THE BOARD OF REGENTS REJECTS SUCH CURRICULUM. 54. THE COMMISSIONER SHALL ON A BIENNIAL BASIS PROVIDE SCHOOL DISTRICTS WITH EDUCATIONAL INFORMATION RELATING TO CURRENT DRUG ABUSE ISSUES IN ORDER TO ENSURE INSTRUCTION PROVIDED PURSUANT TO SUBDIVISION THREE OF SECTION EIGHT HUNDRED FOUR OF THIS CHAPTER IS RELEVANT AND CURRENT. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.

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