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Bill requiring student reps on Va. school boards gets revamped

Requirement in legislation by Del. Alfonso Lopez was watered down in subcommittee

Arlington School Board members would not be required to include a student member among their ranks, but would be encouraged to involve students more in their workings, if a significantly overhauled piece of legislation makes it through the General Assembly this session.

Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington-Alexandria) had proposed legislation that would have required each of Virginia’s local school boards to include an elected or appointed student representative. Currently, some school districts (including Fairfax County) do, but most (including Arlington) do not.

Lopez last year had introduced similar legislation, which died. This time, is seems to be getting more traction, albeit in a significantly watered down fashion.

A subcommittee of the House Committee on Education on Feb. 6 approved a substitute measure, stripping out the mandate and instead directing in the commonwealth’s Commission on Civic Education to develop guidance to local school boards for better inclusion of student voices in decision-making.

The language seems to neither require nor prohibit localities from including student representatives on those bodies, but it does required the commission to formulate its proposals by the end of the year.

The measure, HB 958, was approved 13-9 in the full committee and goes to the floor of the House of Delegates.