By Dana Tofig
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Students who don't show up for school or misbehave when they
do could lose their driver's license under Gov. Sonny Perdue's
new education package.
A bill on school discipline and attendance, introduced in
the state House on Monday, would keep a 16- or 17-year-old
who is not enrolled in some type of secondary education from
receiving or keeping a driver's license. Also under the bill,
students would lose their right to drive if they are suspended
from school for 10 days or have 10 unexcused absences.
Also, schools would be required to write a policy on how
and when disruptive students should be removed from class,
making the rules clear for teachers, students and principals.
"Teachers should be able to remove disruptive students
so they can focus their time on the students who want to learn,"
said Derrick Dickey, a spokesman for the governor. "Driver's
licenses are also an excellent incentive for students to attend
and behave in school."
The governor's education proposal is spread over three bills.
The second bill introduced in the House Monday addresses spending
flexibility and accountability. If passed, it would, for a
second straight year, delay implementation of state-mandated
It also would permanently restore spending flexibility to
local school districts. The massive state school reform law
passed in 2000 directed local school systems on how to spend
most of their funds. For instance, money for library and media
had to go to library and media. Last year, the state Legislature
gave systems some flexibility for one year because of budget
The governor's new bill would let school systems keep that
flexibility as long as the districts continue to meet state
"Last year, the House Education Committee gave local
school districts one year of flexibility. This was mainly
due to budget concerns," said Dickey. "Now they
should have a better understanding for the need of local schools
to target resources to their unique problem areas."
But state Rep. Bob Holmes (D-Atlanta), chairman of the House
Education Committee, said Monday he had not seen any data
to tell him whether that flexibility has helped teachers and
students. "We are talking about spending hundreds of
millions of dollars," Holmes said. "They want us
to give all 180 school systems flexibility when obviously
all 180 of them haven't done a good job."
Holmes also said he has not seen any details on exactly how
the governor's discipline and attendance plan would actually
State Sen. Joey Brush (R-Appling), head of the Republican-led
Senate Education Committee, said the two bills were introduced
Friday in the Senate and will be discussed this week.
The third part of the governor's education plan would combine
the state's disparate early education programs including
the federally funded Head Start and day care licensure
under the Office of School Readiness, Dickey said.
That bill should be introduced later this week.