New Law Gives Parents Time Off to Get Involved in Child's Education

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

Monday, Governor Ritter signed the Parental Involvement in K-12 Education Act into law, requiring businesses to give employees with students time off to attend certain school activities.

As an employee at the Hilltop Child and Family Center and as a mom, Cathy Story says there's nothing better a parent can do for their student than involved in their education.

"Research shows time and time again that parents involved in their children's schooling, in their activities, their kids are more successful," said Story. "Period, end of sentence."

State leaders hope a new law signed Monday by the Governor will do just that. Under the Parental Involvement in K-12 Education Act, businesses that employ 50 or more people are required to give employees with students time off to attend activities like parent-teacher conferences.

"It's crucial for parents to understand that so they can follow their kids and reinforce at home what they're learning at school," said Story.

Under the law, parents are given 18 hours each year to attend academic activities. They can use up to 6 hours each month and cannot use more than 3 hours in one day. While Story says she applauds the idea --

"Is it best for children and families? Yes, parents need to be involved," said Story.

-- She's disappointed a law had to be made in the first place.

"It's a shame there are businesses out there that don't see the value as a perk for their employees," said Story.

The Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce says it's also disappointed a law had to be made -- but for a different reason.

"I'm not sure this wasn't a solution in search of a problem," said Diane Schwenke, President of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce. "I haven't heard a lot of parents say I couldn't be involved because my employer wouldn't give me the time off."

The Chamber says most local businesses already do give parents time off for school functions.

"We think that's very important and healthy for the community," said Schwenke. "But it's another mandate that you're putting on business."

The Chamber also worries the law could hurt productivity as businesses are forced to juggle schedules and deadlines to meet the new requirements.

"While it may not cause severe hardship, it's just one more thing in terms of adding to the burden on business," said Schwenke.

Then, they say, there's the issue of whether or not parents will use it. Under the law, they have to let their employers know they'll need the time off one week before the event. If their employer requests it, they'll also have to get a signed note from the school verifying they attended the school activity. Plus, employers are not required to pay them for that time off.

But at the end of the day, some say having that option is a very important thing for those parents who do choose to use it.

"I'm sorry it took legislation to get here," said Story. "But it's crucial."

The new law is set to take effect in August.

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