The Fairfax County School Board will go to the Virginia General Assembly this year with only a handful of requests, anticipating that lawmakers will spend most of their time haggling over the effects of federal cuts on the state budget rather than debating proposed laws from local school boards.
The school board approved its legislative package last week, voting to concentrate on four proposals, three involving special education students and one suggesting changes in the state Freedom of Information Act.
The board also plans to outline its positions on a wide range of school-related issues that could surface on the legislative calendar in the 1982 session.
One board proposal would transfer responsibilities and costs involved in placing handicapped students in private residential facilities from school systems to welfare agencies.
Regulations now require local school boards to pay educational costs when a handicapped student is placed in a residential facility by other public agencies for noneducational reasons. In addition, the boards must obtain approval of the state Department of Welfare before putting a student in an out-of-state residential facility for educational reasons.
Fairfax officials say transferring all the responsiblity to local welfare departments would cut through much of the red tape now involved in the cumbersome process.
Another proposal is intended to head off the potentially expensive effects of an issue now being considered by the Virginia Supreme Court. If upheld, the opinion would prohibit nonlawyers from representing school systems or parents in special education due process hearings, a ruling Fairfax school officials say could cost thousands of dollars in legal fees.
The school board now uses legal counsel at the hearings only when parents also choose to do so. Current law provides that an employe of a state agency may represent that agency in administrative hearings involving personnel matters. The Fairfax School Board proposes extending that law to cover special education hearings.
The Fairfax board also has submitted a proposal that would erase a 1981 law giving the Virginia Board of Education authority to award handicapped students special high school diplomas when they cannot meet local minimum competency standards.
The Virginia Freedom of Information Act would be loosened for local school boards under another proposal that will be pushed by the board.
The Fairfax board's proposal would amend the law to require recordings of minutes only at public meetings where a majority of the total board is present. Current law requires that minutes be recorded whenever there is a meeting of two or more members of a three-member board or three or more members of a board with four or more members.
The board is submitting only four proposed laws "because legislators will be occupied with budget matters relating to the federal cuts and the biennium budget," according to the board's legislative package.
But just in case lawmakers extend their range of interests, the school board submitted position statements on 27 items ranging from collective bargaining to drug and alcohol abuse laws.
The board has stated its opposition to several issues that have been introduced in the General Assembly in past years including mandated collective bargaining with school employes and required full-time kindergarten programs.
The board has voted to support bills increasing parents' financial liability for their childrens' acts of vandalism on school property, requiring mandatory sentencing for persons convicted of selling illegal drugs on school grounds, and proposals to increase state support of school lunch programs.