Today is a day to remember that Malloy and the Legislature STOLE Connecticut’s school seat belt money!

From today’s Chattanooga Times Free Pres, 6 students in ICU after school bus driver charged in crash that killed Woodmore Elementary students,

Five students are confirmed dead in the Woodmore Elementary School bus crash and six remain in critical condition this morning.

Three of the students killed were in fourth grade, one was in first grade and another in kindergarten, according to Hamilton County Schools Interim Superintendent Kirk Kelly.

Descriptions from the crash scene appear to confirm that the death and injury toll would have been significantly reduced if children were wearing seat belts.  However, in Tennessee only school buses transporting special education students are required to have seats belts.

By comparison, school buses in California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York must be equipped with seat belts and Texas requires that all school buses purchased after 2010 must be fitted with seat belts.

As Tennessee newspapers are now reporting, State Representative Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, “led an unsuccessful effort to require seat belts on Tennessee school buses last year after two students and a teacher’s aide died in a bus crash in Knoxville. Many lawmakers opposed the proposal, saying it was too expensive.”

But seat belts work…

According to a 2010 study conducted by the University of Alabama, seat belts work.  The three year tracking study found,

  • Students are six to eight times safer riding to school in a school bus than riding to school in their parents’ cars.
  • The addition of seat belts would make already-safe school buses even safer.
  • Based on 170,000 observations of pupils in pilot-project buses, the average seat belt- use rate was 61.5%.
  • Adding seat belts increases the thickness of seat-backs, leading to fewer rows of seats.

School bus seat belts might have made a huge difference in yesterday’s fatal school bus accident, but policy makers deemed that they were “too expensive.”

The cost issue was also raised in Connecticut, as well, when the General Assembly last debated mandating that seat belts be put into school buses.

At the time, a special fund was set up to help town mitigate the cost of installing seat belts.  To pay for the program the state dramatically increased the fee a driver must pay when reinstating their driver’s license.

But while the extra fee has brought in millions of dollars, none of the money has been used to help towns pay for installing seat belts in buses.

Why?

Because Governor Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly STOLE the money from that special fund to help balance the state budget … not once … but twice!

It has been an issue that Wait, What? has written about many times.

For example, in a Wait, What piece entitled, They stole the fricking school bus seat belt money again! and published on June 7, 2016;

Hidden deep inside the new state budget bill negotiated by Governor Dannel Malloy and Democratic legislative leaders, and approved last month by the Democrats in the General Assembly, was a provision that, once again, transferred the money that had been set aside to help school districts retrofit school buses with seat belts into the general fund.

As Wait, What? readers know, this is not the first time Governor Malloy and the Democrats have stolen the School Bus Seatbelt Account in order to make the state budget balance.

Since taking office, Malloy has reached into the special school seat belt fund four times, grabbing close to $10 million dollars.

Rather than use the funds for their intended use – to protect our children – Malloy and the Democrats simply grabbed the money to plug holes in the state budget.

This time, rather than adopt a fair and honest budget, the Democrats added Section 28 to Senate Bill 501 which “transferred” $2 million from the School Bus Seatbelt Account to the General Fund.  The legislature also swept $2 million from the Seat Belt fund to address a small part of the $250 million Fiscal Year 2016 budget deficit.

Previous Wait, What articles on this issue can be found via the following links:

The Train Wreck of the Democrats’ State Budget. [Or for long-time Wait, What? readers file under – Not the Fricking School Bus Seat Belts again!] (6/3/2015)

School Bus Seat Belt Fund: A prime example of Connecticut’s budget gimmickry (1/14/2014)

Remember when school bus seatbelts were a big priority?(12/20/2012)

The School Bus Seat Belt Account was created following the tragic January 2010 school bus accident on Route 84 in Hartford that killed a Rocky Hill student who was attending one of the CREC magnet schools.  Following the accident, the Connecticut legislature kicked into action, passing Public Act 10-83.

The law created the Connecticut School Bus Seat Belt Account, “a separate non-lapsing account in the General Fund” and required that the funds be used to help school districts pay for the cost of equipping school buses with lap/shoulder (3-point) seat belts.

To pay for the program, the Legislature increased the cost associated with restoring a suspended driver’s license from $125 to $ 175, using the extra $50 per person to create a funding stream for the important program.

Now six years later, no school bus seat belts have been installed, thanks to the fact that Connecticut’s governor and legislature have stolen nearly $10 million from the fund.

When these elected officials come looking for support, ask them why they didn’t do more to stop this outrage.

For more on how Connecticut’s elected officials stole the money meant to help ensure seat belts were installed in school buses read these Wait, What? posts;

Democratic Budget Deal – An irresponsible farce (12/8/2015)

The Train Wreck of the Democrats’ State Budget (6/3/2015)

School Bus Seat Belt Fund: A prime example of Connecticut’s budget gimmickry (1/22/2014)

Remember when school bus seatbelts were a big priority?  12/20/2012

They stole the fricking school bus seat belt money again!

Hidden deep inside the new state budget bill negotiated by Governor Dannel Malloy and Democratic legislative leaders, and approved last month by the Democrats in the General Assembly, was a provision that, once again, transferred the money that had been set aside to help school districts retrofit school buses with seat belts into the general fund.

As Wait, What? readers know, this is not the first time Governor Malloy and the Democrats have stolen the School Bus Seatbelt Account in order to make the state budget balance.

Since taking office, Malloy has reached into the special school seat belt fund four times, grabbing close to $10 million dollars.

Rather than use the funds for their intended use – to protect our children – Malloy and the Democrats simply grabbed the money to plug holes in the state budget.

This time, rather than adopt a fair and honest budget, the Democrats added Section 28 to Senate Bill 501 which “transferred” $2 million from the School Bus Seatbelt Account to the General Fund.  The legislature also swept $2 million from the Seat Belt fund to address a small part of the $250 million Fiscal Year 2016 budget deficit.

Previous Wait, What articles on this issue can be found via the following links:

The Train Wreck of the Democrats’ State Budget. [Or for long-time Wait, What? readers file under – Not the Fricking School Bus Seat Belts again!] (6/3/2015)

School Bus Seat Belt Fund: A prime example of Connecticut’s budget gimmickry (1/14/2014)

Remember when school bus seatbelts were a big priority? (12/20/2012)

The School Bus Seat Belt Account was created following the tragic January 2010 school bus accident on Route 84 in Hartford that killed a Rocky Hill student who was attending one of the CREC magnet schools.  Following the accident, the Connecticut legislature kicked into action, passing Public Act 10-83.

The law created the Connecticut School Bus Seat Belt Account, “a separate non-lapsing account in the General Fund” and required that the funds be used to help school districts pay for the cost of equipping school buses with lap/shoulder (3-point) seat belts.

To pay for the program, the Legislature increased the cost associated with restoring a suspended driver’s license from $125 to $ 175, using the extra $50 per person to create a funding stream for the important program.

Now six years later, no school bus seat belts have been installed, thanks to the fact that Connecticut’s governor and legislature have stolen nearly $10 million from the fund.

When these elected officials come looking for support, ask them why they didn’t do more to stop this outrage.

Democratic Budget Deal – An irresponsible farce

The Connecticut General Assembly will return to the state capital today to vote on a “Democratic Budget Deal” that they claim will eliminate this year’s budget deficit by authorizing Governor Dannel Malloy to cut an additional $93 million in unspecified programs and raiding money from a variety of dedicated special funds.

A CT Mirror article written by Keith Phaneuf and entitled, CT deficit plan taps many special funds and one-time sources, pretty much sums of the Democrat’s budget balancing strategy.

One of the most disturbing provisions of the new “Democratic Budget Deal” is that for the third time in three years the Democrats are going to steal the money that has been set-aside to install seatbelts in school buses and use the funds to help balance the state budget.

On December 20, 2012, the Wait, What? headline read; Remember when school bus seatbelts were a big priority?

Following the tragic school bus accident on Route 84 in Hartford in January 2010, a crash that killed a Rocky Hill student who was attending one of the CREC magnet schools, the legislature kicked into action.

On May 1st of that year the General Assembly passed what was to become Public Act 10-83.

The law created the Connecticut School Bus Seat Belt account, “a separate non-lapsing account in the General Fund” and required the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to administer a program to use the funds in the account to help school districts pay for the cost of equipping school buses with lap/shoulder (3-point) seat belts.

To pay for the program, the Legislature increased the cost associated with restoring a suspended driver’s license from $125 to $175.

[On 12/19/2012] the Legislature’s deficit mitigation bill included language overriding the previous law and transferring the $4,700,000 from the School Bus Seat Belt account into the General Fund to help eliminate this year’s $415 million deficit.

Gone is the money for school seat belts.

That tragedy was yesterday’s news.

And besides, who would remember that the account in question grew out of the concern elected officials had for the safety of our children.

Then on June 3, 2015 came, The Train Wreck of the Democrats’ State Budget

[Or for long-time Wait, What? readers file under – Not the Fricking School Bus Seat Belts again!]

After working through the night, the Democratic leaders of the Connecticut State House of Representatives and the Connecticut State Senate finally twisted enough arms to take up the state budget plan that they negotiated with Governor Dannel Malloy.

After hours of debate, the House passed the $40.3 billion, two-year budget plan by a vote of 73 to 70 with eleven Democrats voting against their party’s leadership.

[…]

Section 55(d) of the budget requires that,

“On or before June 30, 2015, the sum of $ 3,000,000 shall be transferred from the school bus seat belt account, established in section 14-50b of the general statutes, and credited to the resources of the General Fund for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015.

Wait, What?

These people would actually steal the money that is dedicated install seat belts into school buses and dump it into this year’s General Fund to make the state deficit look smaller?

Who on earth would do such a terrible thing?

On wait, I remember?

And so will long time Wait, What? readers.

Now, as Keith Phaneuf reports,

Other fund diversions used to supplement the new deficit-mitigation plan include:

  • $22.1 million from reserve accounts from public colleges and universities.

  • $2 million from a biomedical research fund.

  • $2 million from a program to fit school buses with seat belts.

  • And nearly $3.7 million from four miscellaneous accounts.

This additional raid of the School Bus Seatbelt Fund means that over the course of three years, the Democrats have diverted nearly $10 million in funds meant to retrofit school busses with seatbelts and used that money to fill holes in the state budget.

And if that bait and switch maneuver isn’t disturbing enough, imagine if you were a parent of a student attending one of Connecticut’s public colleges and universities.  You’ve paid thousands and thousands of dollars, potentially tens of thousands of dollars, in tuition and fees and now you learn that Connecticut’s elected officials are reaching into the university and college’s “reserve accounts” (funded by tuition) and grabbing $22.1 million to balance the state budget.

The CT Mirror article goes on to explain;

While the General Assembly is expected to adopt a plan in special session Tuesday to close most or all of this fiscal year’s budget deficit, restore some funds for hospitals and finance modest business tax breaks, almost 40 percent of the plan diverts resources from specialized funds and various one-time sources.

[…]

Besides mitigating or eliminating that shortfall, the savings also will be used, Democratic legislative leaders said, to restore some earlier cuts to hospitals and social service programs, as well as to finance modest corporation tax cuts.

The Democratic plan, which Republican minorities in the House and Senate are expected to vote against, also would produce $212 million in savings in the 2016-17 fiscal year, Looney added. According to the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, next fiscal year already faces a built-in hole of $552 million.

But according to a summary of the plan obtained by The Mirror, just over $135 million in general fund savings this fiscal year would come by diverting or raiding other programs, including two of the biggest initiatives Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Democratic legislators built into the current budget.

Just over $35 million in revenues owed to the Special Transportation Fund would be diverted, which probably would force officials to draw down the fund’s reserve. Nonpartisan analysts already have warned that the transportation fund — despite being targeted in June to receive an annual share of general fund sales tax receipts — is on pace to fall into deficit by the 2018-19 fiscal year.

Democrats also would defer a $70.4 million deposit owed to a special new revenue-sharing program designed to help cities and towns control property tax hikes.

Finally, perhaps the most telling point of all is that despite the fact that legislators will be voting today on this “package,” the CT Mirror noted that,

“Though full details of the deficit-mitigation bill weren’t available late Monday, the plan also hinges heavily on the administration’s finding $93 million in undefined savings.”

Rather then fulfill their legal and moral obligation to set Connecticut’s State Budget, Democratic legislators will simply hand that task over to Governor Malloy.

School Safety – Appearance more important than substance for Malloy

The Malloy administration has failed – again – on the issue of safe schools and the State of Connecticut’s school climate and anti-bullying law!

For far too many politicians, all that matters is the publicity.

That disturbing truth is apparent even on the most important issues such as ensuring children have safe and secure schools and positive learning environments.

While Governor Dannel Malloy and his administration consistently claim safe schools and fostering positive school climates are a top priority, they have, yet again, failed to fulfill their legal duty to issue the Connecticut School Climate Report.

Despite the clear and concise responsibility to issue an annual report about developing safe school climates, Malloy’s team have dropped the ball in 2012, 2013, 2014 and now in 2015.

This year’s Connecticut School Climate Report was due on February 1, 2015, however there is still no report … more than six months after its due date.

The problem isn’t the lack of professional staff at the State Department of Education, while relegated to the back offices, SDE’s experts remain engaged in helping Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and schools.

But the disaster lies with the reality that Malloy has appointed agency heads who are more dedicated to making him look good than actually doing the people’s business.

In the case of safe schools and creating better school climates, Malloy’s PR operation has remained in full swing despite the fact that his administration hasn’t done the required work.

Here are the facts;

On July 13, 2011, Governor Dannel Malloy signed into law Public Act 11-232, An Act Concerning the Strengthening of School Bullying laws. This legislation takes comprehensive steps to ensure every child’s right to learn in Connecticut public schools without fear of teasing, humiliation, or assault.

On June 25, 2014, Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman led a ceremony at the Connecticut Children’s Museum in New Haven to celebrate the signing into law of Public Act No. 14-172, An Act Concerning Improvement Opportunities Through Education and Ensuring Safe School Climates.

For background, the foundation of Connecticut’ safe school climate and anti-bullying law is the requirement that the State Department of Education produce a comprehensive report that provides policymakers, parents, teachers and the public with information about the steps school districts are taking to create safer schools.

The law even requires the State Department of Education report provide annual recommendations on what school districts should be doing to ensure safer, more secure and healthier schools for all children.

With the Newtown Massacre highlighting the unacceptably dangerous world in which we live, Governor Malloy backed an effort to reduce bullying and improve school safety through an initiative that included the provision that the State Department of Education release a comprehensive school safety report every two years.

As part of Malloy’s 2014 “gun control” law, the statute was even changed to require that the report be issued annually.

But four years into the process, the Malloy administration has had an absolutely unblemished record of failure when it comes to producing the important report in a timely or appropriate manner.

Like so many  of Malloy’s “initiatives” once the cameras are turned off and the media walk away, the Governor and his top political appointees move on to the next media opportunity without following through with the actual task of governing.

In an April 8, 2013 Wait, What Post entitled, Commissioner Pryor, where is your Department’s mandated report on school safety and bullying? it was noted;

It is one of the most important reports that the State Department of Education produces.

It was supposed to include recommendations for how to create safer school environments.

It WAS DUE February 1, 2012…more than a year ago!

Where is it?

Although Connecticut is learning the hard way that lawyers, with no classroom or education background, don’t make the best education leaders, it’s impossible to believe that Governor Malloy’s Education Commissioner, Stefan Pryor, and his senior leadership team fail to understand that creating a safe school environment is one of the most important educational issues of our time.

At the very least, we would expect that as lawyers, these “education leaders” would appreciate the need to follow the law.  But these days, even that appears to be a reach.

The fact is that parents expect and demand that our state, the Department of Education and our schools are doing everything possible to keep our children safe.  It is especially understood that a safe and healthy school environment is the single most important element in creating successful learning environments.

It is also the law in the State of Connecticut.

[…]

For reasons beyond comprehension, it appears that Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, never released the report.

When Connecticut’s School Climate Report was finally issued, there were simply no recommendations, despite the specific legislative language mandating that recommendations be provided.   See Wait, What? article, Commissioner Pryor issues bullying report without recommendations, despite law… (5/20/2013)

The law required the State Department of Education to issue its report on Safe School Climate Plans in Connecticut no later than February 2012…

Commissioner Pryor issued his report 14 months late, in April 2013, after his failure to follow Connecticut law was reported on here at Wait, What?

The law also mandated that the report include recommendations for reducing school bullying and improving school safety.  In fact, the law actually reads that the Commissioner and the State Department of Education provide recommendations “… regarding additional activities or funding to prevent bullying in schools and improve school climate.”

Now that Pryor’s report is finally out, it turns out that his report FAILS TO MAKE ANY RECOMMENDATIONS for reducing bullying or improving school safety.

One of the most important issues of our time and Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor didn’t have a single recommendation for making our schools safer?

With much fanfare and press releases, the law in question was signed on July 13, 2011 by Governor Dannel Malloy.

It was called An Act Concerning the Strengthening of School Bullying laws.  According to the Malloy Administration, “This legislation takes comprehensive steps to ensure every child’s right to learn in Connecticut public schools without fear of teasing, humiliation, or assault.”

[…]

Commissioner Pryor explained the lateness of the report by writing, “This report is being filed late due in part to personnel changes that occurred in the course of the agency review process.”

Wait, What?

Commissioner Stefan Pryor took office in September 2011, five months before the report was even supposed to be issued and now he wants us to believe that it took him and his personal staff 14 more months to review a 6 page report?  (17 pages if you count the appendices).

[…]

Pryor added, “Given recent legislative activity, including PA 13-3 and a new survey that will be distributed in the Spring of 2013, the CSDE plans to issue recommendations in the January 2014 report so that such recommendations address the current conditions in  Connecticut.”

But come February 2014 the Malloy administration missed the deadline – yet again.  The story was reported in the Wait, What? article, Oh for crying out loud – Pryor misses deadline for vital school safety report AGAIN! (2/10/2014)

And now it is August 2015, Connecticut’s students will be headed back to school in just a couple of weeks and it turns out the Malloy administration never even issued this year’s school climate report.

They failed to issue it on in February or March or April or May or June or July….

It is said that action speaks louder than words.

In this case it is the Malloy administration’s inaction that is speaking volumes about their failure to get the job done and done right – even on the most important issues of our time.

What possible excuse do they have this time?

Speaking of Bullying and Safe School Climates – Another MUST READ piece by Sarah Darer Littman

Sarah Darer Littman is back writing columns for CT Newsjunkie! 

A pro-public education advocate, Sarah Darer Littman is also an award-winning columnist and novelist of books for teens.

In a weekend commentary piece for CT Newsjunkie entitled, When Adults – and Politicians – Are Bystanders to Bullying, she has produced another MUST READ column.

While Hartford Capital Prep Magnet School Principal Steve Perry, the infamous master of bullying seeks to open a new charter school in Bridgeport and Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, fails to produce a required report on bullying, Sarah Darer Littman lays out the truth in a stark reminder of how adults fail our children when they allow themselves to be nothing more than bystanders to bullying.

In the CT Newsjunkie commentary piece, Sarah Darer Littman writes:

On Tuesday evening, I attended a screening in Greenwich of two documentaries about bullying: “The Bully Effect” and “Bystanders: Ending Bullying.” The panel discussion afterward was long overdue, and it’s tragic that it took the suicide of a Greenwich High sophomore, Bart Palosz, on the first day of school, to finally get this conversation to happen.

Palosz’ sister Beata, told the Greenwich Times about the relentless bullying her brother suffered and how it was ignored by the school system.

Watching assistant principal Kim Lockwood’s insensitive dismissal of the parents who came to discuss their son’s treatment gave me a PTSD reaction. It reminded me of how I was fobbed off by the assistant principal at Western Middle School in Greenwich when I went to complain about bullying my son was experiencing.

Western is the same school that Bart Palosz attended. Sadly, it seems that despite the anti-bullying statutes, signed into law by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in 2011, not enough has changed.

But it takes more than signing legislation. It takes willingness to act — consistently. It’s about modeling behavior. This was rightly pointed out by panelist Ed Moran, senior social worker and community educator at Family Centers.

I think this is best summed up by a Dorothy Law Nolte poem my parents had on the wall in my childhood home, “Children Learn What They Live.

The obvious lesson is that “Do as I say, but not as I do” is not an effective parenting strategy; nor is it effective school leadership.

Being a bystander to bullying is what enables it to continue. As Barbara Coloroso defines them in her book, The Bully, The Bullied and The Bystander, bystanders “aid and abet the bully, by acts of omission and commission.”

When the bystanders are adults in the administrative and political infrastructure, as they were in my son’s case and appear to be in Hartford, it is all the more disturbing.

In September 2012, the state Education Department made a site visit to Capital Prep Magnet School as a result of a parent complaint dated May 2012 that had gone unaddressed by Capital Prep administrators and Hartford Superintendent of Schools Christina Kishimoto’s office for months.

The Education Department laid out steps that Capital Prep needed to take to comply with state laws and regulations. Despite this, Capital Prep didn’t file a Corrective Action Plan on its bullying policies until October 2013, some 13 months after the site visit. Not only that, but as has been reported by Jonathan Pelto based on documents obtained through an FOI request, as of Dec. 23, 2013, even after the long delay, Capital Prep still wasn’t in compliance on its Corrective Action Plan.

Let’s reiterate for the sake of clarity: 19 months after parents filed a complaint with the Education Department regarding the bullying experienced by their child at the school, Capital Prep still wasn’t in compliance.

Yet, Kishimoto appears to be doing nothing about it. Even more astonishing, the Hartford Board of Education was ready to reward Perry for his negligence and non-compliance with another school.

Even more disturbing is that State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor is seriously considering rewarding Perry with a charter school in Bridgeport. There are several ethical issues in need of investigation surrounding the formation of Perry’s charter company, but that is fodder for another column. It’s gotten to the point where I’m starting to wonder whether Perry has photos of all these people in compromising positions, because it seems to be the only rational explanation for continuing to ignore, condone, and reward his behavior.

That’s all before I’ve even mentioned Perry’s conduct on the Internet. We all know about the infamous “Strap up, there will be head injuries” tweet, which the principal then claimed was a “metaphor,” suggesting that perhaps he needs a remedial English class to learn the actual meaning and use of metaphor.

You can find this rest of this Must Read piece at:  http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/when_adults_-_and_politicians_-_are_bystanders_to_bullying/

 

Oh for crying out loud – Pryor misses deadline for vital school safety report AGAIN!

February 1, 2014 has come and gone and Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor has FAILED AGAIN to produce a mandatory report on bullying, school climate and how to make our schools safer.

And this isn’t the first time that Stefan Pryor has failed to fulfill his legal obligations when it comes to this critically important issue.

On April 8, 2013, the Wait What? headline read:

Commissioner Pryor, where is your Department’s mandated report on school safety and bullying?

It is one of the most important reports that the State Department of Education produces.

It was supposed to include recommendations for how to create safer school environments.

It WAS DUE February 1, 2012…almost fifteen months ago!

Where is it?

Six weeks later, on May 20, 2013, the What What? headline read:

Commissioner Pryor issues bullying report without recommendations, despite law…

The law required the State Department of Education to issue its report on Safe School Climate Plans in Connecticut no later than February 2012…

Commissioner Pryor issued his report 14 months late, in April 2013, after his failure to follow Connecticut law was reported on here at Wait, What?

The law also mandated that the report include recommendations for reducing school bullying and improving school safety.  In fact, the law actually reads that the Commissioner and the State Department of Education provide recommendations “… regarding additional activities or funding to prevent bullying in schools and improve school climate.”

Now that Pryor’s report is finally out, it turns out that his report FAILS TO MAKE ANY RECOMMENDATIONS for reducing bullying or improving school safety.

One of the most important issues of our time and Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor didn’t have a single recommendation for making our schools safer?

The law requiring that the Commissioner of Education produce a report on bullying and safe school climates has been on the books for years.

And as part of Governor Malloy’s “gun bill”, the legislature required the report be submitted annually instead of biennially.

Regardless, Commissioner Pryor’s report on making our schools safer was due “On or before February 1, 2014.

But despite the law, that date came and went with no report about;

“the number of verified acts of bullying in the state, an analysis of the responsive action taken by school districts and any recommendations it may have regarding additional activities or funding to prevent bullying in schools and improve school climate to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education and children and to the speaker of the House of Representatives, the president pro tempore of the Senate and the majority and minority leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate” was submitted.

It is Ironic, to say the least, that the Malloy administration managed to implement the portion of his gun law that required the registration of assault weapons but failed to produce a report “regarding additional activities or funding to prevent bullying in schools and improve school climate.

If anyone sees Stefan Pryor and corporate education reform industry entourage, perhaps you could urge him to take a break from belittling and demeaning teachers and undermining public education and actually perform the task he was appointed to do.

Considering that Pryor’s salary and benefit package exceeds $212,100 a year, asking him to fulfil his legal duties, especially when it comes to the issue of school safety, certainly doesn’t seem to be too much to ask.

Once again we find ourselves saying, when it comes to the Malloy administration, you just couldn’t make this s**t up.

Commissioner Pryor issues bullying report without recommendations, despite law…

The law required the State Department of Education to issue its report on Safe School Climate Plans in Connecticut no later than February 2012…

Commissioner Pryor issued his report 14 months late, in April 2013, after his failure to follow Connecticut law was reported on here at Wait, What?

The law also mandated that the report include recommendations for reducing school bullying and improving school safety.  In fact, the law actually reads that the Commissioner and the State Department of Education provide recommendations “… regarding additional activities or funding to prevent bullying in schools and improve school climate.”

Now that Pryor’s report is finally out, it turns out that his report FAILS TO MAKE ANY RECOMMENDATIONS for reducing bullying or improving school safety.

One of the most important issues of our time and Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor didn’t have a single recommendation for making our schools safer?

With much fanfare and press releases, the law in question was signed on July 13, 2011 by Governor Dannel Malloy.

It was called An Act Concerning the Strengthening of School Bullying laws.  According to the Malloy Administration, “This legislation takes comprehensive steps to ensure every child’s right to learn in Connecticut public schools without fear of teasing, humiliation, or assault.”

The 2011 law built on an earlier 2008 legislative action that required then Commissioner of Education, Mark McQuillan, to also make recommendation in a report to the legislature.  That report included four major recommendations for making schools safer.

But this time, Malloy’s Commissioner failed to even produce the report in a timely manner and then didn’t have a single recommendation on this vital education and public safety issue.

Commissioner Pryor explained the lateness of the report by writing, “This report is being filed late due in part to personnel changes that occurred in the course of the agency review process.”

Wait, What?  Commissioner Stefan Pryor took office in September 2011, five months before the report was even supposed to be issued and now he wants us to believe that it took him and his personal staff 14 more months to review a 6 page report?  (17 pages if you count the appendices).

And during these past 14 months we witnessed the Newtown nightmare…and he still couldn’t come up with a single recommendation to make schools safer?

Instead he wrote, “Given recent legislative activity, including PA 13-3 and a new survey that will be distributed in the Spring of 2013, the CSDE plans to issue recommendations in the January 2014 report so that such recommendations address the current conditions in  Connecticut.”

You mean we need another survey and another year before he can come up with a recommendation?

The issue is school safety and bullying.

The Connecticut Legislature passed a bill.

Governor Malloy signed that bill into law.

And Malloy’s Commissioner of Education produces a report on the issue 14 months late and then has the gall to say he will get around to providing some recommendations on the issue next year.

Any place else but in the Malloy Administration and the person would be shown the door.

Oh, and PS…the new law he is referring to PA 13-3 is the gun control bill.  As part of that legislation the Connecticut General Assembly made this school safety report due every year instead of every other year.  So now the report that Commissioner Pryor was 14 months late on is required to be produced every 12 months.  It will be interesting to see if he decides to follow the law this time around.

Commissioner Pryor, where is your Department’s mandated report on school safety and bullying?

It is one of the most important reports that the State Department of Education produces.

It was supposed to include recommendations for how to create safer school environments.

It WAS DUE February 1, 2012…almost fifteen months ago!

Where is it?

Although Connecticut is learning the hard way that lawyers, with no classroom or education background, don’t make the best education leaders, it’s impossible to believe that Governor Malloy’s Education Commissioner, Stefan Pryor, and his senior leadership team fail to understand that creating a safe school environment is one of the most important educational issues of our time.

At the very least, we would expect that as lawyers, these “education leaders” would appreciate the need to follow the law.  But these days, even that appears to be a reach.

The fact is that parents expect and demand that our state, the Department of Education and our schools are doing everything possible to keep our children safe.  It is especially understood that a safe and healthy school environment is the single most important element in creating successful learning environments.

It is also the law in the State of Connecticut.

Although some elected officials can’t seem to get enough of the limelight on school safety issues since the nightmare of Newtown, some of our most dedicated elected officials have made creating a safer school environment a top priority for years.

Connecticut’s initial school bullying law dates back to 2002.  It was passed following the tragic suicide of a Meriden student who killed himself after being bullied.  The law was significantly expanded in 2007 and included additional responsibilities for the State Department of Education including a requirement that the Commissioner of Education submit a Bullying Policies in Connecticut Schools report on February 1, 2010.  (See http://www.cga.ct.gov/coc/PDFs/bullying/SDE_bullying_report_02-01-10.pdf)

Reading news headlines over the past few weeks, one might think today’s leaders are coming to the school safety issue for the first time.  However, in July 2011, Governor Malloy signed Public Act 11-232, An Act Concerning the Strengthening of School Bullying laws.

This comprehensive new law was called one of the most important school safety initiatives in the nation.

The legislation required schools and districts to develop “safe school climate plans,”  it established deadlines for reporting, investigating, and notifying parents about bullying incidents, it prohibited retaliation against those who report bullying (i.e. the Torrington situation) and required school officials to notify police when they believe bullying conduct constitutes a crime.

The law further required that no later than February 1, 2012, the Connecticut State Department of Education submit a report on “the number of verified acts of bullying in the state, an analysis of the responsive action taken by school districts and any recommendations it may have regarding additional activities or funding to prevent bullying in schools and improve school climate.”

For reasons beyond comprehension, it appears that Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, never released the report.

At a legislative public hearing on this major safe schools legislation, those who spoke or wrote in support of the legislation included Attorney General George Jepsen, Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, State Representatives Mary Mushinsky and Catherine Abercrombie, State Senator Edith Prague, the Executive Director for the CT Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, the Executive Director of the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, the Legislative Analyst of the African-American Affairs Commission (AAAC), the state’s Victim Advocate, the Connecticut Education Association,  CT Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL),  CT Association of School Psychologists (CASP),  National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI-CT) , Governor’s Partnership to Protect CT’s Workforce , Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network,  Family Equity Council , Planned Parenthood of Southern New England,  CT Psychological Association  and dozens of students, parents and school administrators who recounted their own experiences with bulling and the effects of bullying.

The legislation passed multiple committees, the Connecticut State Senate and the Connecticut House of Representatives

As the Vice President of the United States, Joe Bidden, would say…it was a “Big F***ing Deal.”

But the vital report required by Public Act 11-232 was never forthcoming.

Yet the law required the report be given to the Legislature.

And the report would certainly have contained vitally important information.

But the report is nowhere to be found!

Making the whole situation even more disturbing is the fact that just last week, with extraordinary bipartisan fanfare, Governor Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly passed and signed into law Connecticut’s response to the Newtown tragedy.

In addition to what is being described as the nation’s toughest gun control law, the measure included a series of provisions designed to create safer school environments.

Leading the way is Section 89 of the new gun control and school safety bill.  It seeks to strengthen Connecticut’s anti-bullying and school climate laws by requiring the State Department of Education to do more to determine what schools are doing, identify best practices, to provide training to  school districts and generally ensure that schools are doing everything they can to create safer learning environments for their students.

And the cornerstone of that new effort is?

(You can guess what’s coming)

The report that the State Department of Education was supposed to produce on a biennial basis must now be produced on an annual basis.

The VERY REPORT that the Governor and General Assembly are expecting to use on an annual basis to track the school safety elements of this new legislation is the VERY REPORT that Commissioner Pryor failed to produce despite the law requiring him to do so.

All the speeches, all the reporters, all the cameras, all the publicity and neither the Governor nor his Commissioner of Education bothered to admit or explain how it is possible that Commissioner Pryor and the Malloy Administration failed to fulfill the existing law on creating a safer school climate.

The President of the United States is coming to Connecticut to get in on the act.  He will undoubtedly use Connecticut’s new law as a clarion call for action in Washington.

Let’s just hope that no one tells him that inside this new law are elements of the very problem that people find so frustrating.  As we have all come to recognize, it doesn’t do any good to have strong laws, if you have leaders who are unable or unwilling to enforce those laws.

So I ask again…Commissioner Pryor, where is the State Department of Education’s mandated report on school safety and bullying and why wasn’t it released, as legally required, no later than February 1, 2012?