Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 106

03/02/2015 08:00 AM House EDUCATION

Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
            HB  98-JURY DUTY EXEMPTION FOR TEACHERS                                                                         
8:53:54 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COLVER said HB 98  exempts teachers from jury duty                                                               
during the school year. He said  he wants to keep teachers in the                                                               
classroom  and improve  student learning.  There have  been cases                                                               
where a  class needs  a long-term  substitute, and  both teachers                                                               
are paid. It impacts the continuity  of the learning plan, and it                                                               
is difficult for a teacher to  come back into the classroom after                                                               
a  long absence.  Teachers  will be  evaluated  based on  student                                                               
performance, so  anything that impacts student  learning reflects                                                               
back  on the  teacher.  Alaska  should want  our  teachers to  be                                                               
teaching,  and  "we  are  all focused  on  student  learning  and                                                               
results and  I think we  could get  the best results  by allowing                                                               
teachers … to opt out of a  long jury trial," which could be made                                                               
up in the summer season.                                                                                                        
8:56:19 AM                                                                                                                    
DAVID  SCOTT,  Staff,  to  Representative  Colver,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, He  noted that there  is a current exemption  in law                                                               
for  teachers, but  it only  applies teachers  in underperforming                                                               
schools. He  said Section  2 of  HB 98 refers  to the  court rule                                                               
amendment  requirement,  which  is  a  two-thirds  majority.  The                                                               
committee  should  consider   the  two  competing  constitutional                                                               
provisions  of   the  right  to   a  jury  and  the   policy  for                                                               
establishing schools, he explained.                                                                                             
8:58:29 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked how many teachers this would impact.                                                                
8:58:55 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SCOTT  said  he  did  not  know,  and  he  added  that  some                                                               
legislators think HB  98 is too broad. One suggestion  is an opt-                                                               
out  provision,  should a  teacher  want  to serve  when  called.                                                               
Another option would  be to have judges decide  that teachers can                                                               
be excused when faced with a potentially long trial, he said.                                                                   
9:00:04 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KELLER asked if judges  already have that discretion and if                                                               
there are other legislative exemptions for certain professions.                                                                 
MR. SCOTT  offered that in  the early  history of the  state some                                                               
may existed, and  it gets to be a slippery  slope of adding other                                                               
exemptions, so the legislature decided  to remove the exemptions.                                                               
The exemptions  for teachers  started in 2004,  and that  is when                                                               
the No Child Left Behind Act [was enacted], he said.                                                                            
9:02:22 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE VAZQUEZ  said teachers have summer  vacations. She                                                               
has personally asked for a rescheduling  of her jury duty so that                                                               
it does not interfere her job, she explained.                                                                                   
CHAIR KELLER said he does not  want to move the bill today. Every                                                               
legislator needs to understand its constitutional ramifications.                                                                
9:03:36 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COLVER highlighted the zero fiscal note.                                                                         
9:04:04 AM                                                                                                                    
NANCY  MEADE,  General Council,  Alaska  Court  System, said  the                                                               
existing  exemption allows  teachers from  low-performing schools                                                               
to serve  if they wish. Judges  have the discretion to  exempt or                                                               
defer  jurors who  express a  hardship, she  clarified. The  jury                                                               
summons includes  questions to  determine a  person's eligibility                                                               
to serve,  as well  as an  option to request  serving at  a later                                                               
date. The courts are extremely  lenient, she stated. She said she                                                               
looked at  the exemption rates  for teachers  from low-performing                                                               
schools,  but most  courts  do not  require  potential jurors  to                                                               
state a  reason for  a deferral.  For the  courts that  require a                                                               
reason,  she  found that  teacher  exemptions  are not  "terribly                                                               
common." People are entitled to a  jury of peers, and excluding a                                                               
group  changes  the overall  jury  pool,  especially in  a  small                                                               
community. When one category or  profession is exempt, it creates                                                               
an  increase in  the jury  burden on  other citizens,  she noted.                                                               
Jury service can be inconvenient and  the courts try to work with                                                               
people,  but  by excluding  one  group,  another group,  such  as                                                               
fishermen, might  express the same  desire. She gave  examples of                                                               
small business owners and daycare  providers. Finally, there used                                                               
to be  a number  of exemptions  in statute,  including attorneys,                                                               
judges,  priests,  minister,  teachers,  doctors,  dentists,  and                                                               
certain  civil officers,  and with  the thought  that the  burden                                                               
ought to be equally shared, those were repealed.                                                                                
9:08:34 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  said the jury  pool would not  be mandated                                                               
to  be smaller;  it  would  be optional  for  teachers. How  many                                                               
teachers  from low-performing  schools  actually  serve during  a                                                               
school year?                                                                                                                    
MS.  MEADE said  she only  has  anecdotes, and  teachers in  some                                                               
communities use the exemption, and  others are pleased to be able                                                               
to serve  outside of the  summer months.  The court uses  the PFD                                                               
[Permanent Fund Dividend] application as  its jury list, and then                                                               
it is all randomized, she added                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON noted  that  the current  law provides  an                                                               
exemption only from the school year,  and the teacher would be in                                                               
the pool for the summer months.                                                                                                 
MS. MEADE said  the exemption is just during the  school term, so                                                               
it really is a deferral until the summer.                                                                                       
9:11:01 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  KELLER opened  public testimony.  He  commented that  jury                                                               
duty is a  privilege and responsibility. Alaska has  a common law                                                               
system,  and   trial  by  jury   is  important.  Voting   can  be                                                               
inconvenient, he offered.                                                                                                       
9:12:13 AM                                                                                                                    
DAVID  NEES, said  he  opposed HB  98, and  he  noted an  earlier                                                               
conversation  when five  of the  eleven teachers  from the  lower                                                               
Yukon-Kuskokwim  school district  were  called to  jury duty.  He                                                               
said he is opposed to the  bill, because Alaska is the only state                                                               
that  made an  exemption in  response to  NCLB. About  six states                                                               
allow  a  deferral  for  primary teachers  and  for  the  primary                                                               
caregiver,  but most  do  not make  a  categorical exemption,  he                                                               
stated. He said  he taught for 28 years, got  called to jury duty                                                               
only once, and  the judge allowed him to defer  service until the                                                               
summer  months. Teachers  are important  as role  models, and  if                                                               
they  do not  serve because  they are  important, then  a medical                                                               
person  may seem  to  not be  important, he  stated.  He said  he                                                               
included testimony  from 2004, and  he asked what the  next group                                                               
will be who claims to be  important. If this is just about saving                                                               
money, that is another argument, he concluded.                                                                                  
9:14:54 AM                                                                                                                    
BARBARA  GERARD,  Principal,  Academy Charter  School,  said  her                                                               
responsibility  is   to  ensure   her  students  have   the  best                                                               
instruction every  single day  of their  school year.  That means                                                               
having good teachers  who know their curriculum and  how to teach                                                               
it, and who are bonded with  the students. It is an uphill battle                                                               
when it comes to  jury duty; last year 7 out  of her 22 certified                                                               
staff served on jury duty, and  this year, 9 have served already.                                                               
It is costly to pay for  substitute teachers, it is unfair to the                                                               
teachers who  are accountable to  their students'  learning, and,                                                               
most importantly,  it is unfair  to students. Students  have only                                                               
one year  for each grade, and  when the teachers are  away, their                                                               
opportunity to learn the material  from a master teacher is gone,                                                               
she stated.  Please support HB  98 and  keep our teachers  in the                                                               
9:16:54 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked  if a deferral would  be as effective                                                               
as an exemption.                                                                                                                
MS.  GERARD said  she  supports any  language  that protects  the                                                               
school season.                                                                                                                  
9:17:50 AM                                                                                                                    
KATHERINE  GARDNER, Human  Resources Director,  Matanuska-Susitna                                                               
Borough School District,  said she supports HB 98,  and she noted                                                               
that  last year,  the Matanuska-Susitna  Borough School  District                                                               
had 1,412  hours with  teachers out of  the classroom,  and, this                                                               
year, it  will be  976 hours specifically  for jury  duty. Highly                                                               
effective teachers have the greatest  impact on student learning,                                                               
she  said, and  HB 98  will  allow them  to stay  on staff.  When                                                               
teachers are  gone for lengthy  jury service, it  really disrupts                                                               
the learning environment,  and that is her  greatest concern, she                                                               
CHAIR KELLER  asked if  any teachers  want to  keep the  right to                                                               
serve on a jury.                                                                                                                
SEAN REILLY, Teacher, said he  teaches seventh grade and supports                                                               
HB  98, but  he believes  people should  be judged  by a  jury of                                                               
their peers. Teachers  should serve jury duty;  however, this law                                                               
would provide  leniency for when  they serve. Teachers  have free                                                               
time  in the  summer, and,  by  serving in  that season,  schools                                                               
would not  suffer the huge  economic loss from  paying substitute                                                               
teachers. He  stated that it  is very difficult for  a substitute                                                               
to continue  with curricula,  and teachers  are evaluated  on how                                                               
well students  are advancing. He suggested  that "postpone" could                                                               
replace "exempt" in HB 98.                                                                                                      
9:24:54 AM                                                                                                                    
STACY MOLINA,  Teacher, said  she supports HB  98 and  she agrees                                                               
with what has been said. She  said she was summoned for jury duty                                                               
in  January and  was very  willing to  serve and  she shared  her                                                               
experience with her classroom. However,  later in January she was                                                               
impaneled to  a jury that was  scheduled to last into  March, and                                                               
she expressed concerns about being  out of her classroom, and the                                                               
court clerk assured her that she  would be excused, but the judge                                                               
made it very  clear that she does not excuse  teachers. The judge                                                               
said  there were  ample substitutes  in the  district, and  union                                                               
contracts protected her  paycheck. The judge would  not listen to                                                               
the  academic  impact that  would  fall  upon her  students,  she                                                               
stated.  Ultimately, she  said,  she was  excused  from the  duty                                                               
because  she had  airplane tickets  and travel  plans. She  noted                                                               
that her professional evaluation would  have been impacted by her                                                               
9:27:54 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  asked if she  will ask for a  deferral the                                                               
next time she receives a jury notice.                                                                                           
MS. MOLINA answered  yes, and she pointed out  that teachers only                                                               
have July to  serve, because the beginning and end  of the school                                                               
year are  detrimental times to serve.  She said that she  did not                                                               
ask for  a July deferral,  because the  court had said  that very                                                               
little  is done  in July,  and the  courts are  hesitant to  give                                                               
deferrals  at  that time  because  everybody  asks for  the  same                                                               
period of time.  She said that many trials are  not held in July,                                                               
because people like to go fishing then, including judges.                                                                       
9:29:28 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KELLER  repeated his question  about some  teachers wanting                                                               
to serve on a jury.                                                                                                             
KATHERINE  GARDNER said  some  teachers may  choose  not to  take                                                               
advantage  of the  deferral,  because of  their  summer plans  or                                                               
other reasons.  The greatest concern  is the lengthy  trials, and                                                               
she does not know if that can be written into the law.                                                                          
9:31:09 AM                                                                                                                    
POSIE BOGGS,  Literacy Volunteer,  stated her  support of  HB 98,                                                               
giving  teachers the  ability to  postpone jury  duty. Dr.  Nancy                                                               
Mather  is  a  co-author   of  the  Woodcock-Johnson  [Diagnostic                                                               
Reading]  Battery,  which  diagnoses literacy  in  children,  she                                                               
said. Dr. Mather  attributes low literacy to  teachers not having                                                               
enough time to  teach reading. She stated that  not every teacher                                                               
is fantastic at  teaching reading, but we have to  make sure that                                                               
our   children   receive   many  intensive   hours   in   reading                                                               
instruction, especially if they struggle.                                                                                       
9:33:21 AM                                                                                                                    
DAVID BOYLE,  said HB 98 should  also include those who  teach in                                                               
private and religious schools.                                                                                                  
9:34:40 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS referred  to Ms. Gerard's testimony                                                               
and  said   it  appears  that   the  ratio  was  very   high  and                                                               
disproportionate for teachers in the Academy Charter School.                                                                    
MS. MEADE  replied that jury  service is  random, and she  has no                                                               
explanation  for  that  high  proportion,   but  the  larger  the                                                               
population base, the less often people are called for service.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS noted that  since it is random, one                                                               
might  conclude that  45 percent  of Palmer  residents were  also                                                               
solicited to be on the jury.                                                                                                    
MS. MEADE said 45 percent of  the eligible residents in Palmer in                                                               
a year seems high.                                                                                                              
9:36:31 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  noted that  the current statute  gives the                                                               
wrong impression by using the  term "exemption" and he would like                                                               
to see it written as a  deferral from the regular school year. He                                                               
asked how the court would respond to that.                                                                                      
9:37:25 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. MEADE said  the court would implement it as  written as there                                                               
is a statute  allowing deferrals, and teachers could  be added to                                                               
that language. She  noted that anyone can request  a deferral for                                                               
a  hardship, and  such requests  are almost  always accommodated,                                                               
although  one of  the callers  said otherwise.  "I don't  want to                                                               
downplay the inconvenience that juries  can cause to citizens. We                                                               
try to minimize it, but we don't have that control," she said.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON noted that  his personal requests deferring                                                               
jury duty  outside of  the legislative  session have  always been                                                               
granted.  "I presume  that that  allows the  court to  manage its                                                               
jury pool better so maybe in  the meantime or following up on the                                                               
hearings we  can get some feedback  from you as if  a deferral at                                                               
the  time of  getting  jury  notice would  be  more effective  in                                                               
allowing  the court  to control  its jury  pool and  people other                                                               
than being                                                                                                                      
MS.  MEADE  asked whether  he  was  suggesting that  rather  than                                                               
random summons,  have a list  of people  not to summons  during a                                                               
certain time  period. She related  it would be more  difficult as                                                               
it easier  for the  court to  send out a  summons and  allow that                                                               
citizen to respond with their request for a deferral.                                                                           
9:40:55 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON surmised  that this  bill is  an exemption                                                               
rather  than  when an  individual  is  summoned but  actually  an                                                               
individual appears for  jury duty then the  exemption would apply                                                               
which appears it  does not allow the court to  plan far enough in                                                               
advance as to who they are calling to jury duty.                                                                                
MS.  MEADE responded  that  when an  individual  receives a  jury                                                               
summons and questionnaire they have  an opportunity to request an                                                               
exemption for  another date.  She remarked the  same is  true for                                                               
teachers  and they  may  claim the  exception  during the  school                                                               
year, which is routinely granted.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  surmised that  at receipt of  the summons,                                                               
an individual  can claim a  deferral rather  than at the  time of                                                               
trial if called during a school year.                                                                                           
MS.  MEADE responded  that the  deferral is  applied in  the same                                                               
manner for everyone and when  teachers receive their summons they                                                               
write on  the list they would  like to defer until  June, and are                                                               
routinely  granted. She  added that  if individuals  do not  send                                                               
their request  to be deferred,  they appear on the  date required                                                               
and have  an opportunity to advise  the judge they would  like to                                                               
defer and offer a reason.                                                                                                       
9:44:04 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE VAZQUEZ questioned whether  there is a distinction                                                               
between exemption and deferral.                                                                                                 
MS.  MEADE replied  that some  people are  permanently exempt  if                                                               
they  have a  certain disability,  over 70  years of  age, cannot                                                               
speak or read English, and other rare reasons.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  VAZQUEZ surmised  that if  the intent  is to  not                                                               
have a permanent exemption but  to have teachers serve during the                                                               
summer  months,  the  appropriate  wording is  deferral  and  not                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE VAZQUEZ  replied that is  the effect of how  it is                                                               
applied as it  reads "exempt during the school  year" which means                                                               
to  the jury  clerks  that  they are  put  to  another time.  She                                                               
described  it as  a semantic  difference  but the  effect is  the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE VAZQUEZ  pointed out  that the exemption  would be                                                               
qualified  to   "during  the  school  year,"   otherwise  if  the                                                               
qualification was not included they would be totally exempt.                                                                    
MS.  MEADE answered  in  the affirmative,  that  the statute  now                                                               
reads "during the school term," and  that is the phrase the court                                                               
replies upon to defer.                                                                                                          
9:45:51 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  noted that the  exemption appears to  be a                                                               
personal  exemption   and  referred  to  testimony   from  school                                                               
districts  regarding the  disruptions  to  schools with  teachers                                                               
being out. He asked whether  the requirement that a teacher apply                                                               
for the  exemption be subject to  collective bargaining requiring                                                               
that  all teachers  exercise  the exemption  which  would have  a                                                               
different impact on schools and the court.                                                                                      
CHAIR KELLER did not require Ms.  Meade to respond and found it a                                                               
good question to put on record.                                                                                                 
9:47:53 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COLVER  pointed out that according  to Ms. Meade's                                                               
testimony, the court would implement  a mandatory exemption as if                                                               
it  were  on  automatic  deferral  to  the  non-school  year.  He                                                               
commented  regarding  the question  whether  to  change it  to  a                                                               
referral versus  a mandatory exemption  would, in effect,  be the                                                               
9:49:03 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. GERARD advised  that the Academy Charter School has  9 out of                                                               
her  22 staff  members serving  on juries  this year  of which  7                                                               
served penal  jury duty, and  2 served grand jury  which affected                                                               
their classrooms.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  VAZQUEZ asked  whether  they were  all called  to                                                               
duty in state court.                                                                                                            
MS. GERARD answered  that 7 were in Palmer and  2 served in grand                                                               
jury and believes it was all state court.                                                                                       
9:50:09 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON questioned  whether schools might negotiate                                                               
this as a  condition of employment that teachers  would apply for                                                               
the option  to serve during  the summer. He queried  whether that                                                               
could  potentially  solve  the problem  rather  than  individuals                                                               
individually applying for exemption or deferral.                                                                                
MS.  GERARD asked  whether  he was  asking  whether the  district                                                               
would negotiate  with the teachers  union to add to  a negotiated                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON replied yes.                                                                                              
MS. GERARD  responded that  it would  be a  large task  since the                                                               
district just completed their 3-year  negotiated contract and she                                                               
did not  know the  steps to go  back and bargain.  She said  as a                                                               
principal  she is  trying to  protect the  classroom and  did not                                                               
know how the union would look at it.                                                                                            
9:52:34 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KELLER  closed public testimony  after ascertaining  no one                                                               
further wished to testify.                                                                                                      
9:52:57 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND expressed concern  in supporting the bill                                                               
as worded "a  person may claim exemption" language  as the intent                                                               
of the sponsor  is to keep classrooms whole and  keep teachers in                                                               
their classrooms  during the  regular school  year.   She pointed                                                               
out  that the  "may" language  does  not require  any teacher  to                                                               
request the exemption  and she is sure there are  people who will                                                               
not chose to use this  exemption. She suggested speaking with the                                                               
human  resources directors  of school  districts due  to all  the                                                               
questions  regarding negotiated  contracts. She  opined that  the                                                               
bill  should go  to the  House Judiciary  Standing Committee  and                                                               
then come back to the  House Education Standing Committee as many                                                               
questions have been raised. However,  she stated she supports the                                                               
intent of HB 98.                                                                                                                
9:54:44 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE VAZQUEZ  remarked that she supports  the intent of                                                               
this bill but  wordsmithing should be involved  and adding school                                                               
district employees and charter schools working in the classroom.                                                                
9:55:35 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON echoed  support for the intent  of the bill                                                               
and suggested  including uncertified teachers in  private schools                                                               
such as  aides and  other people  in contact  with students.   He                                                               
said  he did  not  know how  to  draw that  line  as private  and                                                               
religious schools generally are not regulated.                                                                                  
9:56:43 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KELLER added that the impact  to children would be the same                                                               
in either case.                                                                                                                 
9:56:56 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  COLVER pointed  out  that  obtaining a  deferment                                                               
from a  lengthy trial during the  school year was offered  and he                                                               
suggested looking at the tools  available to keep teachers in the                                                               
9:58:04 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON surmised that  the problems identified have                                                               
been people  that haven't  requested a  deferment until  and went                                                               
into  jury service  and then  said they  have a  hardship to  the                                                               
judge. He  said he was not  sure whether the problem  is somewhat                                                               
created by teachers not exercising the option of deferral.                                                                      
CHAIR KELLER announced that HB 98 was held.                                                                                     

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 97.pdf HEDC 3/2/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 97
HB 97 - Sponsor Statement.PDF HEDC 3/2/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 97
HB 97 - what is FAFSA.PDF HEDC 3/2/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 97
HB 97 -- FAFSA paper application.pdf HEDC 3/2/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 97
HB 97 - APS.PDF HEDC 3/2/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 97
HB 97 -- 20 U.S.C. 1090.PDF HEDC 3/2/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 97
HB 97 -- 20 U.S.C. 1082 (m)(1)(c).PDF HEDC 3/2/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 97
20 AAC 16.215.PDF HEDC 3/2/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB97 Fiscal Noten2.pdf HEDC 3/2/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 97
HB97 Fiscal Note.pdf HEDC 3/2/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 97
HB 98.pdf HEDC 3/2/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 98
HB 98 - SPONSOR STATEMENT.docx HEDC 3/2/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 98
HB098-ACS-TRC-02-26-15 Fiscal Note.pdf HEDC 3/2/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 98
HB 98 Letter of Support Academy.pdf HEDC 3/2/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 98
HB98 Letter of Support NEA.pdf HEDC 3/2/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 98