Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 106

04/06/2015 08:00 AM House EDUCATION

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        HB  44-SEXUAL ABUSE/ASSAULT PREVENTION PROGRAMS                                                                     
8:04:03 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KELLER announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 44, "An Act  relating to sexual abuse  and sexual                                                               
assault awareness and prevention efforts in public schools."                                                                    
8:04:23 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CHARISSE   MILLETT,  Alaska   State  Legislature,                                                               
speaking as the sponsor, introduced  HB 44, paraphrasing from the                                                               
sponsor  statement which  read as  follows [original  punctuation                                                               
     Alaska has  a crucial need for  increased education and                                                                    
     awareness of  the devastating  problem of  child sexual                                                                    
     abuse. According  to the Office of  Children's Services                                                                    
     in 2014,  there were 2,640 allegations  of child sexual                                                                    
     abuse  with 2,110  unique victims.  897 of  these cases                                                                    
     were sent to law enforcement  and OCS went on to assess                                                                    
     1,028  allegations.  This  a  problem  that  will  only                                                                    
     improve  with  the  attention  and  dedication  of  all                                                                    
     Alaskans, and  this includes those Alaskans  working in                                                                    
     and attending our schools.                                                                                                 
     Named in  honor of child sexual  abuse survivors across                                                                    
     the  state of  Alaska,  this bill  empowers schools  to                                                                    
     implement a  program to  educate and  provide resources                                                                    
     for  students,   staff,  and   parents  about   how  to                                                                    
     recognize the  warning signs of child  sexual abuse. In                                                                    
     recognizing that  every community has their  own unique                                                                    
     needs,  The Alaska  Safe Children's  Act allows  Alaska                                                                    
     public schools to  create age-appropriate curricula and                                                                    
     trainings  that  are  the   most  beneficial  to  their                                                                    
     Curricula should  include the  warning signs  of sexual                                                                    
     abuse,  referral and  resource information,  counseling                                                                    
     and   educational  support,   methods  for   increasing                                                                    
     awareness   of  issues   regarding   sexual  abuse   of                                                                    
     children, a  method through which  a parent  can excuse                                                                    
     their child  from this curricula,  and actions  a child                                                                    
     may take to  prevent and report sexual  abuse or sexual                                                                    
     By  utilizing  the  wisdom   of  our  communities,  the                                                                    
     experience of  experts, and  strengthening individuals'                                                                    
     knowledge and  skills we can collectively  work towards                                                                    
     an end to child sexual abuse.                                                                                              
8:07:03 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  VAZQUEZ moved  to  adopt  the proposed  committee                                                               
substitute    (CS)    for    HB    44,    labeled    29-LS0258\E,                                                               
Strasbaugh/Glover, 4/1/15, as the working draft.                                                                                
[There being no objection, Version E was before the committee.]                                                                 
8:07:25 AM                                                                                                                    
GRACE  ABBOTT,  Staff,  Representative Charisse  Millett,  Alaska                                                               
State Legislature, speaking on  behalf of Representative Millett,                                                               
presented the changes in the  proposed committee substitute to HB
44, labeled  Version E.  Ms.  Abbott said in Version  E, the bill                                                               
short title becomes  "the Alaska Safe Children's  Act" in section                                                               
1.  Section  2 provides that a school district's  school board or                                                               
governing body  adopt child sexual assault  prevention curriculum                                                               
as well as  training for staff, and parental notices.   Section 3                                                               
requires  that   schools  provide   age-appropriate  information,                                                               
warning  signs  of  abuse,  resources,  counseling,  and  opt-out                                                               
provisions for parents.  Additionally,  this section provides for                                                               
the adoption  of dating violence and  abuse prevention curriculum                                                               
for  teens.   Ms. Abbott  closed, saying  research shows  that at                                                               
least 21 school districts in  Alaska have already adopted related                                                               
curricula,  which  is available  at  no  cost; for  example,  the                                                               
Anchorage  School  District  includes teen  dating  violence  and                                                               
child sexual abuse prevention with its health curriculum.                                                                       
8:10:18 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT  informed  the  committee  Alaska  school                                                               
districts that  have already adopted  the Alaska  Safe Children's                                                               
Act  include Anchorage  School  District,  Mat-Su Borough  School                                                               
District, Fairbanks  North Star  Borough School  District, Alaska                                                               
Gateway  School   District,  Aleutian  Region   School  District,                                                               
Aleutian East  Borough School District, Chugach  School District,                                                               
Craig City School District,  Delta-Greely School District, Juneau                                                               
Borough  School  District,  Kashunamiut  School  District,  Kenai                                                               
Peninsula  Borough  School  District, Ketchikan  Gateway  Borough                                                               
School  District, Kodiak  Island Borough  School District,  Lower                                                               
Kuskokwim  School District,  Nenana City  School District,  North                                                               
Slope   Borough  School   District,  Petersburg   Borough  School                                                               
District, Sitka  School District, Unalaska City  School District,                                                               
and  Valdez City  School District.    She opined  the variety  of                                                               
school districts  shows that  the program  can be  implemented at                                                               
minimal cost.   Although  data has not  yet shown  the curriculum                                                               
has  lowered  the   number  of  assaults,  it   is  important  in                                                               
conjunction with other prevention programs around the state.                                                                    
MS.  ABBOTT added  that the  participating school  districts have                                                               
information  online   that  can   be  modeled  by   other  school                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  asked for  the  longest  period that  a                                                               
district has had the curricula in place.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT said she did not have dates.                                                                             
MS.  ABBOTT  told  of her  personal  experience  while  attending                                                               
school in the  Anchorage School District about 10 years  ago.  At                                                               
that time, as now, the curriculum  was provided by the Great Body                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  asked  if  it is  known  whether  other                                                               
unfunded mandates would be eliminated  in order to allow time and                                                               
funding for the program mandated by the bill.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT  said she  was unsure; however,  these are                                                               
options on which school boards decide on a local level.                                                                         
8:15:05 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  acknowledged  that  a  number  of  school                                                               
districts have policies  in place, and asked  whether the passage                                                               
of  HB  44  would  require those  districts  to  revamp  existing                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT advised that  most of the school districts                                                               
have policies in place that mirror the proposed legislation.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   SEATON  asked   whether  there   are  statistics                                                               
available comparing  sexual abuse  or teen date  violence between                                                               
districts which do, or do not, have policies in place.                                                                          
MS. ABBOTT  stated that  the anticipated  data will  be anecdotal                                                               
through  teachers'  experience  or through  mandatory  reporters.                                                               
She stressed that the intent of the bill is for prevention.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  surmised data has been  requested from the                                                               
school districts.                                                                                                               
MS.  ABBOTT said  absolutely; however,  due to  privacy concerns,                                                               
data will not be widely available.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  VAZQUEZ referred  to  the  sponsor statement  and                                                               
asked what is meant by the term "unique victims."                                                                               
MS. ABBOTT explained "unique victims"  refers to the children who                                                               
experienced  abuse, and  the numbers  indicate that  the children                                                               
may have  been abused  more than  once.   In further  response to                                                               
Representative Vazquez,  she said  of the 834  cases sent  to law                                                               
enforcement,  she  did not  have  information  on how  many  were                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  VAZQUEZ reread  the  statistics  provided by  the                                                               
Office  of Children's  Services (OCS),  Department of  Health and                                                               
Social Services (DHSS), and questioned their meaning.                                                                           
MS. ABBOTT offered to obtain further information from OCS.                                                                      
8:21:04 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON directed  attention to the bill  on page 2,                                                               
line 10 which read:                                                                                                             
     a procedure allowing a student to be excused                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  asked whether  the intent  is if  a parent                                                               
requests, it  is mandatory  that the student  is excused,  or "is                                                               
that optional by the district to have in their policy."                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT  said the foregoing opt-out  provision was                                                               
written by Legislative  Legal Services for parents,  and that the                                                               
provision  recognizes parental  rights.   This  language will  be                                                               
"mimicked" in school district policy  for a parent to allow their                                                               
child to opt out.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  surmised  that   the  idea  is  that  the                                                               
procedure to allow  a student to be excused means:   If an excuse                                                               
is requested, it must be granted.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT  said  correct.    She  returned  to  the                                                               
earlier  discussion  of  statistics  and  added  that  statistics                                                               
around child  sexual assault  are difficult to  compile.   Due to                                                               
court proceedings,  it is  hard to identify  what victims  are in                                                               
the reporting  requirements because of  the nature of  the crime,                                                               
what is prosecuted, and what is  settled with plea bargains.  One                                                               
of  the  difficulties in  bringing  legislation  has to  do  with                                                               
determining  the  best way  to  teach  and identify  what  school                                                               
teachers, social  workers, and school nurses  report hearing from                                                               
children.    Any  possibility  of  child  sexual  abuse  must  be                                                               
reported based on the school's requirements.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  directed  attention  to  page  2  of  the                                                               
document  found  in the  committee  packet  provided by  OCS  and                                                               
entitled "For  State Fiscal  Year 2014 Source:   State  of Alaska                                                               
Office  of Childrens  Services"  and  subtitled, "Allegations  of                                                               
Sexual Abuse Screened In."   He noted allegations of sexual abuse                                                               
screened  in  numbered 1,028,  with  165  substantiated, 808  not                                                               
substantiated,  and 55  closed without  finding.   Representative                                                               
Seaton  asked  whether total  sexual  abuse  numbers reported  in                                                               
national  standings  are  based  on  substantiated  cases  or  on                                                               
reports of sexual abuse.                                                                                                        
MS. ABBOTT said  OCS is required to gather information  on all of                                                               
the cases and then they are screened.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  observed that the  state has a  very broad                                                               
category  of mandatory  reporters.   He  asked whether  state-to-                                                               
state comparisons are based on substantiated allegations.                                                                       
MS. ABBOTT  stated her  understanding that  it represents  all of                                                               
the  allegations,  but  she  will  obtain  confirmation  for  the                                                               
8:26:11 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  VAZQUEZ  returned  attention  to page  2  of  the                                                               
document found in the committee  packet provided by OCS entitled,                                                               
"For State  Fiscal Year  2014 Source: State  of Alaska  Office of                                                               
Childrens Services" and subtitled,  "Unique Victims in Allegation                                                               
of Sexual  Abuse Screened  In."  She  questioned whether  152 was                                                               
the number in the OCS  screening process, or in the prosecutorial                                                               
screening  process.   Representative  Vazquez  agreed that  these                                                               
cases are  extremely difficult to  prosecute; there is  a special                                                               
team  in  the  District Attorney's  office,  special  counselors,                                                               
special  paralegals,  and  prosecutors  who  specialize  in  this                                                               
delicate area.  She further  questioned the source and meaning of                                                               
the statistics.   She said this is  a very good bill,  but she is                                                               
"thinking about other issues that dovetail."                                                                                    
MS. ABBOTT  said she  would obtain from  OCS more  information in                                                               
regard  to   screening  and  the   process,  and   possibly  more                                                               
information on the screening to actual prosecution.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  VAZQUEZ inquired  as to  whether any  delays that                                                               
impede the  prosecution of  these cases  are attributable  to the                                                               
backlog at the state crime lab.                                                                                                 
MS. ABBOTT deferred to OCS.                                                                                                     
8:28:51 AM                                                                                                                    
CINDY MOORE  stated that she  has lived  in Alaska for  30 years,                                                               
and raised three  daughters.  She asked the committee  to vote in                                                               
favor  of HB  44,  the Alaska  Safe Children's  Act.   Ms.  Moore                                                               
paraphrased  from her  3/11/15 letter  to Senator  Mike Dunleavy,                                                               
found in  the committee packet, as  follows [original punctuation                                                               
     This new bill will require  for school districts to set                                                                    
     up a  policy and training program  for staff, students,                                                                    
     and parents on the topics  of sexual assault and dating                                                                    
     violence (combining the ideas  of Erin's Law and Bree's                                                                    
     Law.)    Despite  its  alarmingly  high  incidence  and                                                                    
     proven  negative  impact  on  healthy  development  and                                                                    
     education  of our  youth, Alaska  law does  not mandate                                                                    
     schools to address dating abuse.  The fact is, patterns                                                                    
     of dating violence that start  early escalate over time                                                                    
     and carry over into  adult relationships. As this cycle                                                                    
     of violence  continues, it  deteriorates the  fabric of                                                                    
     our families  and communities. Our  state is  a perfect                                                                    
     example of  this; our shockingly high  rate of domestic                                                                    
     abuse,  rape, and  murder prove  that we  need to  take                                                                    
     immediate action  to change the social  norms about the                                                                    
     acceptability  of domestic  violence. Now  is the  time                                                                    
     for  us to  protect our  children. Now  is the  time to                                                                    
     stop the violence.                                                                                                         
     Teen  dating  violence  has affected  my  family  in  a                                                                    
     profound and life changing way.   About 6:00 am on June                                                                    
     26, 2014,  my husband, pale  and barely able  to speak,                                                                    
     awakened me.   His hands were shaking and  in an almost                                                                    
     inaudible  whisper he  said, "Cindy,  you need  to come                                                                    
     downstairs  right now!"  At the  bottom of  the stairs,                                                                    
     stood  two  uniformed  police  officers,  who  somberly                                                                    
     broke the  horrifying news;  that our  daughter Breanna                                                                    
     had  been killed,  by  a single  gunshot  wound to  the                                                                    
     head, at the hands of her boyfriend.                                                                                       
     Since  that fateful  day, our  lives have  been forever                                                                    
     changed  and with  so  many  unanswered questions.  How                                                                    
     could have  happened to such  a strong,  beautiful, and                                                                    
     independent young  woman? Why didn't she  say something                                                                    
     about  the continuing  abuse we  later discovered?  Why                                                                    
     did she  stay? Why did  she not seek help?  As parents,                                                                    
     we did  we not see  the signs?  What I am  learning, is                                                                    
     that these  are all questions  that can and need  to be                                                                    
     answered.  I am  hoping  that through  the  loss of  my                                                                    
     daughter, that I  can inspire the leaders  of our state                                                                    
     to  spare  our  young   people  the  pain  and  lasting                                                                    
     detrimental  effects of  abuse. You  have the  power to                                                                    
     change  this! Please  fight for  every young  person in                                                                    
     our state.   Doing nothing is unacceptable,  as it puts                                                                    
     our  children at  increased  risk  of substance  abuse,                                                                    
     depression, poor academic  performance, suicide, future                                                                    
     violence and death.                                                                                                        
     Please   think   of   your  own   daughters   &   sons,                                                                    
     granddaughters  & grandsons,  nieces  &  nephews, as  I                                                                    
     share with  you some staggering national  statistics on                                                                    
     teen dating violence:                                                                                                      
          Girls and young women between 16-24 are four                                                                          
     times  more likely  than the  general population  to be                                                                    
     victims of partner violence.                                                                                               
          Dating violence is the leading cause of injury to                                                                     
          As intimate partner committed 22% of all                                                                              
     homicides against females 16-19.                                                                                           
          100%    of     middle-schoolers    thought    that                                                                    
     possessiveness  and jealousy  are  part  of true  love.                                                                    
     Based  on  testing  done by  Dr.  Elizabeth  Miller,  a                                                                    
     leading expert on teen dating violence.                                                                                    
          80% of girls who have been physically abused in                                                                       
     their  intimate  relationships  continue  to  date  the                                                                    
     The appalling  statistics here in  Alaska are  proof we                                                                    
     desperately  need to  shift  our  focus to  prevention;                                                                    
     because how  our state  is currently  handling domestic                                                                    
     violence  awareness is  not  working!  This is  clearly                                                                    
     shown by the statistics:                                                                                                   
          Alaska most dangerous state in America. Alaska                                                                        
     has replaced  Tennessee as the most  dangerous state in                                                                    
     the United  States in 2015.  Based on FBI's  four major                                                                    
     violent crime  categories: murder,  aggravated assault,                                                                    
     robbery, and incidents of forcible rape.                                                                                   
          Anchorage and Fairbanks are #2 and #3 on a Forbes                                                                     
     list of the nation's most dangerous cities for women.                                                                      
          Alaska leads the nation in rapes per capita -                                                                         
     three times national average.                                                                                              
          Alaska has the nation's highest rate of women                                                                         
     murdered by men - two times the national average.                                                                          
          Physical teen dating violence for high school                                                                         
     students  in Alaska  is 30%  higher  than the  national                                                                    
     average,   based   on   most  current   2013   "Alaskan                                                                    
     Dashboard" data.                                                                                                           
          Sexual teen dating violence for high school                                                                           
     students  in Alaska  is 20%  higher  than the  national                                                                    
     average,   based   on   most  current   2013   "Alaskan                                                                    
     Dashboard" data.                                                                                                           
          Alaska also has the highest rate of suicide per                                                                       
     capita in the country.                                                                                                     
          UAA Justice Center survey concluded that almost                                                                       
     59%  of  women  in   Alaska  had  experienced  physical                                                                    
     violence,  threats of  it, or  sexual  violence from  a                                                                    
     partner at some point in their lives.                                                                                      
     I  wish   teen  dating  violence  awareness   had  been                                                                    
     mandatory  curriculum for  my daughter,  Breanna Moore,                                                                    
     in grades  7-12.  If  she knew what signs  and patterns                                                                    
     to  look  for, that  it's  ok  to talk  about  domestic                                                                    
     violence, and where  to go to help, she  might still be                                                                    
     alive today.                                                                                                               
     As  a mother  who has  lost a  daughter to  teen dating                                                                    
     violence, I hope  to open the eyes of others  - this is                                                                    
     a preventable epidemic!  What cost do we  put on saving                                                                    
     an innocent human  life; from saving a  family from the                                                                    
     heartache and tragedy  of losing a loved  one to dating                                                                    
     violence?  If  we save one life - one  family from this                                                                    
     fate  - the  return?  What  value do  you  put on  your                                                                    
     child's life?                                                                                                              
8:34:52 AM                                                                                                                    
BUTCH MOORE said  he is Breanna Moore's father.   He advised that                                                               
after his  daughter was murdered,  four of her friends  said they                                                               
were aware that Breanna was being  abused by her boyfriend.  They                                                               
said they had  seen her three to four different  times with black                                                               
eyes, and  each one  expressed they  didn't know  what to  do, or                                                               
what they could  do, or what to say, and  had they done something                                                               
or said  anything she  might be  alive today.   He said  that the                                                               
education  Breanna  had in  terms  of  teen dating  violence  was                                                               
potentially  in 7th  or  8th grade  in one  class.   Should  this                                                               
education have been in place,  ten or twenty years ago, educating                                                               
both men,  women, boys, and  girls in high school,  Breanna might                                                               
be alive today.  He directed  attention to [Version E] on page 2,                                                               
lines 6 and 7 which read:                                                                                                       
        (5) methods for increasing teacher, student, and                                                                        
      parent awareness of issues regarding sexual abuse of                                                                      
MR. MOORE requested the addition  of specific language explaining                                                               
what  to  do  if one  is  aware  of  teen  dating violence.    He                                                               
suggested the following language:                                                                                               
        measures to prevent and stop dating violence and                                                                        
     abuse, and what to do when someone witnesses or knows                                                                      
     of a case of violence.                                                                                                     
MR. MOORE  restated that  Breanna's friends  were aware,  but did                                                               
not know what  to do.  Referring to the  "opt-out" procedures, he                                                               
acknowledged the rights  of parents and children,  and repeated a                                                               
question heard  during debate  in the  Alaska State  Senate, "who                                                               
would not  want their child  to receive  this education.   And if                                                               
someone was  abusing their  child, wouldn't they  opt out?"   Mr.                                                               
Moore turned  to the subject  of the  time and cost  of mandating                                                               
education,  and advised  that in  2007, Rhode  Island implemented                                                               
the  Lindsay  Ann  Burke  Act for  grades  7-12,  which  educates                                                               
students  about teen  dating violence.   After  seven years,  the                                                               
physical teen  dating violence  in Rhode  Island dropped  by one-                                                               
half.     Although   there  has   been   testimony  from   school                                                               
administrators regarding  the cost, time, and  energy required of                                                               
educational  mandates,  there  has  also been  testimony  from  a                                                               
sexual assault  victim that this  is an emergency  which requires                                                               
immediate  action,   and  if  there   is  a  mandate   of  lesser                                                               
importance,  to take  it out  and make  room for  this one.   Mr.                                                               
Moore  reminded   the  committee   that  in  1960   the  National                                                               
Transportation  Safety Board  declared  that  seat belts  reduced                                                               
serious crash-related  injuries and  death by  approximately one-                                                               
half.  When reviewing Rhode Island  and the fact that teen dating                                                               
violence has been cut in half,  the question becomes "what is the                                                               
value  that we  place  on  our children?"    He  stated that  his                                                               
daughter was murdered  and her boyfriend will  probably spend the                                                               
rest  of  his   life  in  prison;  however,   with  the  proposed                                                               
education, there could have been  an entirely different situation                                                               
today.  Mr. Moore restated that  education has been shown to work                                                               
when  implemented in  grades  7-12.   He  opined  that no  school                                                               
superintendent   would  advocate   that  their   children,  their                                                               
students, and parents not wear their  seat belts or not use child                                                               
safety seats, because it is  known that seat belts are effective,                                                               
as is education.                                                                                                                
8:40:13 AM                                                                                                                    
POLLY ANDREWS,  Southcentral Foundation,  said she  is originally                                                               
from Chevak  and works  as an outreach  advocate with  the Family                                                               
Wellness   Warriors   Initiative    (FWWI),   a   department   of                                                               
Southcentral  Foundation, which  provides education  and training                                                               
programs  for healthy  relationships, in  leadership development,                                                               
parent  education,  and  family   and  continued  support.    She                                                               
observed  that  there  are  other forms  of  harm  that  children                                                               
experience besides  sexual abuse,  such as domestic  violence and                                                               
neglect, and  advised there  is a  larger scope  to the  issue of                                                               
addressing  sexual abuse  awareness  and  prevention, and  giving                                                               
children a  voice.  Ms.  Andrews recalled statistics  that Alaska                                                               
is "number  one," and that sexual  harm is at an  epidemic level;                                                               
in  fact, in  the  villages  of Chevak  and  Lower Kalskag,  most                                                               
families have  been impacted  by sexual harm  and the  message to                                                               
children has been to remain  silent.  In her personal experience,                                                               
Ms. Andrews  said her trusted  relatives protected those  who did                                                               
harm, and  her abuser  told her  to keep "a  very dark  and heavy                                                               
secret."   Between four  and six  years of age,  she said  it was                                                               
instilled in her that  she was bad and shameful.   She said if as                                                               
a little  girl, she  had the tools  for what to  do and  where to                                                               
find  a  trusted  adult  for  help, it  could  have  changed  her                                                               
childhood.  At the  age of ten, she was in a  court room with her                                                               
abuser and  a jury of  strangers, and for  two years had  to tell                                                               
her  story  in  a  frightening   setting.    Children  should  be                                                               
protected  so this  never  happens.   Ms.  Andrews expressed  her                                                               
support of  HB 44 and  stressed that  the curriculum needs  to be                                                               
culturally competent;  Alaska Native leaders need  to be involved                                                               
with the curriculum design and  all cultural groups should have a                                                               
voice.   Further,  schools  need to  be ready  so  that when  the                                                               
training  starts  and  there are  disclosures  of  emotional  and                                                               
physical  harm,   children  and  families  will   receive  needed                                                               
support.   Teachers and  first responders  need training  in safe                                                               
language  and  safe  approaches.   She  offered  assistance  from                                                               
Southcentral Foundation, and closed,  saying the bill will change                                                               
lives,  create   safety  for  children,   and  ensure   that  her                                                               
experience will not be repeated.                                                                                                
CHAIR  KELLER  credited  the  witness  with  originating  several                                                               
programs for training and education, and thanked her.                                                                           
8:49:00 AM                                                                                                                    
JEFF JESSEE, Chief Executive Officer,  Alaska Mental Health Trust                                                               
Authority (the  Trust), stated his organization's  support for HB
44  and said  it has  been established  that early  trauma has  a                                                               
lifelong effect on  a child, which may translate  into adult life                                                               
as depression, substance abuse, as  well as health issues such as                                                               
diabetes  and heart  problems.   He recalled  the Bring  the Kids                                                               
Home initiative, a partnership of  the Trust and DHSS, which also                                                               
enlisted  schools as  partners;  in fact,  the two  bureaucracies                                                               
that are the  most challenged to meet their  missions are schools                                                               
and  the  Office of  Children's  Services.   Their  missions  are                                                               
complicated  by issues  of trauma,  substance  abuse, and  mental                                                               
health   issues,   and  when   children   come   to  school   not                                                               
psychologically  ready  to learn,  it  is  a problem  for  school                                                               
districts.   Mr. Jessee said the  intent was not to  make schools                                                               
the state's response  to child sexual abuse,  dating violence, or                                                               
domestic violence,  but to  engage the  educational system  as an                                                               
"early  warning system"  and to  prevent and  identify trauma  so                                                               
other agencies  can intervene.   He  disagreed that  the proposed                                                               
bill  is  an  unfunded  mandate,  noting  that  preventing  these                                                               
problems would  save school districts  a lot of time  and effort,                                                               
and  the bill  would assist  schools in  being proactive.   Also,                                                               
children who are sexually abused  or experience domestic violence                                                               
often  display  behavioral  issues   in  a  classroom  which  are                                                               
misinterpreted.  Mr. Jessee  stressed that without understanding,                                                               
a   teacher   or   principal  risks   taking   an   inappropriate                                                               
disciplinary approach  to a  student's behavior.   On  a national                                                               
basis, schools  that are utilizing a  trauma-informed approach to                                                               
discipline  have  found  success   and  better  performance  from                                                               
students.  He restated the Trust's  support of the bill and urged                                                               
for the committee to move the bill forward.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON requested  information about  case studies                                                               
or data related to trauma-informed [discipline].                                                                                
MR. JESSEE agreed to provide further information.                                                                               
8:56:52 AM                                                                                                                    
MIKE  HANLEY, Commissioner,  Department  of  Education and  Early                                                               
Development (EED), stated EED's support for HB 44.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked whether  the teen dating violence and                                                               
healthy relationship programs that  are currently offered in some                                                               
schools differ from the programs required by the bill.                                                                          
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  advised  that   the  districts  with  those                                                               
programs would  best speak  to whether  the programs  address the                                                               
items in the bill.                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON inquired  as to  any duplication  or extra                                                               
effort  that this  legislation may  cause districts  that already                                                               
have programs and policies in  place.  Statistical information is                                                               
not necessary,  but an understanding  of the curriculum  would be                                                               
COMMISSIONER HANLEY agreed to provide the requested information.                                                                
8:59:29 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE VAZQUEZ  referred to  the proposed  CS for  HB 44,                                                               
Version E, on page 1, lines 11-13 which read:                                                                                   
     (a) The  governing body of  each school  district shall                                                                    
     adopt  and implement  a policy,  establish a  mandatory                                                                    
     training  program  for   employees  and  students,  and                                                                    
     provide parent, student, and  staff notices relating to                                                                    
     sexual abuse and sexual assault awareness                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  VAZQUEZ  asked what  is  meant  by the  foregoing                                                               
MS.  ABBOTT  directed  attention  to   an  example  of  a  parent                                                               
information notice  from the Anchorage  School District  found in                                                               
the committee  packet entitled, "Parent Information  Child Sexual                                                               
Abuse Prevention Instruction from the  GBS."  The notice included                                                               
information  on the  units of  instruction and  provided a  brief                                                               
description; for example, in kindergarten,  Unit 1 is called "How                                                               
to Stay Safe,"  and Unit 5 is  called "My Body is  Special."  The                                                               
parent information is  available on the school  district web site                                                               
and serves "as a model of  the intent."  This information fits in                                                               
with the opt-out  provision in the bill, so parents  can be aware                                                               
of what is being instructed in  the classroom, and can base their                                                               
decision on this information.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  VAZQUEZ pointed  out  that line  12 identified  a                                                               
mandatory training  program for employees and  students, yet line                                                               
13 identified notices for parent,  student, and staff.  She asked                                                               
whether there was a distinction between these two groups.                                                                       
MS. ABBOTT  expressed her understanding  that this  is conforming                                                               
language.  She was unsure of the purpose.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE   VAZQUEZ   turned   attention  to   two   sponsor                                                               
statements  that  are found  in  the  committee packet  and  that                                                               
reflect  varying statistics.   She  assumed that  the differences                                                               
may relate to the timeframe  in which the statement was authored,                                                               
and asked for  the specific timeframe pertaining  to each sponsor                                                               
MS. ABBOTT  explained the updated  sponsor statement  is entitled                                                               
"House Bill 44:   'The Alaska Safe Children's  Act'" and contains                                                               
information from OCS, updated by one month.                                                                                     
9:03:46 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  VAZQUEZ  asked  what   agency  keeps  records  of                                                               
mandatory reports filed by school employees.                                                                                    
MS. ABBOTT  answered the Department  of Public Safety  (DPS), and                                                               
the  training is  through the  Council on  Domestic Violence  and                                                               
Sexual  Assault,  DPS.   In  further  response to  Representative                                                               
Vazquez, she  said a report  is required  to be submitted  to law                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  VAZQUEZ said  it would  be helpful  to understand                                                               
the data  to know if the  procedures are making a  difference and                                                               
if so, in what way.                                                                                                             
COMNMISSIONER  HANLEY said  a mandatory  report  is submitted  to                                                               
OCS, and "there is a connection  to Public Safety, as well."  The                                                               
records  are  kept by  the  school  district  to confirm  that  a                                                               
mandatory reporter reported  a concern of potential harm.   It is                                                               
not  reported  for  data.   Commissioner  Hanley  said  from  his                                                               
personal  experience  at  the   Anchorage  School  District,  the                                                               
purpose  of  maintaining  the  records   is  to  prove  that  the                                                               
requirements  regarding records  of instances  of potential  harm                                                               
have been met.                                                                                                                  
9:06:50 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT  said it is  a parent's choice to  opt out                                                               
as parents do  have the ultimate responsibility.   In the absence                                                               
of parents who  are involved, the bill provides a  safety net for                                                               
kids who  do not have parents  who are making "the  ultimate good                                                               
decisions we hope all parents do."   She described a situation in                                                               
which  loving parents  did not  recognize what  was happening  to                                                               
their  child.    This  is   a  difficult  situation  to  discuss,                                                               
especially  in  certain  cultures  -  although  there  have  been                                                               
changes -  and the bill  attempts to start  conversations between                                                               
generations.   Representative Millett  stated the intent  is also                                                               
to  allow parents  enough comfort  to talk  about their  children                                                               
without fear of consequences.  The  bill is an avenue to continue                                                               
the conversation  and hopefully  save a child  from trauma.   She                                                               
welcomed  further discussion  to  improve the  bill and  stressed                                                               
that the  health and safety  of children is paramount  to healthy                                                               
CHAIR KELLER  said the Family  Wellness Warrior  Initiative visit                                                               
was  powerful, and  he  said  male elders  in  rural Alaska  have                                                               
addressed  this  issue.   He  encouraged  parents, who  have  the                                                               
ultimate responsibility, to be unafraid  of the issue and to talk                                                               
within their communities.                                                                                                       
9:11:44 AM                                                                                                                    
[Further discussion of HB 44 followed the next agenda item.]                                                                    
        HB  44-SEXUAL ABUSE/ASSAULT PREVENTION PROGRAMS                                                                     
9:22:00 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KELLER announced  that HB 44 would be taken  up for further                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  COLVER requested  that OCS  testify with  further                                                               
information  on the  statistics that  have been  provided on  the                                                               
number of  cases reported, and  on the disposition of  said cases                                                               
in 2014 and through March, 2015.                                                                                                
CHAIR KELLER  clarified that the  document referred to  was found                                                               
in  the committee  packet [entitled  "For January  through March,                                                               
2015; Source:  State of Alaska Office of Childrens Services"].                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE   DRUMMOND   expressed   alarm   at   nearly   800                                                               
allegations of sexual  abuse for the first quarter of  2015.  She                                                               
requested seasonal information from  winters of previous years in                                                               
order to  determine whether  there is  a correlation,  or whether                                                               
the statistics for 2015 are unusual.                                                                                            
CHAIR KELLER announced HB 44 was held over.                                                                                     

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB85 ver N.pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 85
HB85 Sponsor Statement.docx HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 85
HB85 Sectional Analysis.pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 85
HB85 Draft Proposal CS v P.pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 85
HB44 Sponsor Statement.pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 44
HB44 Blank CS Version E.pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 44
HB44 Version A.PDF HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 44
HB44 Sectional Analysis.pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 44
HB44 Explanation of Changes.pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 44
HB44 Explanation of Changes Version E.pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 44
HB44 Letter of Support Vera Starbard.pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 44
HB44 Letter of Support APOA.pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 44
HB44 Letter of Support ANDVSA.pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 44
HB44 Curriculum - Committee for Children.pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 44
HB44 Anchorage School District Parent Information.pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 44
HB44 Child Sexual Abuse in the Bering Strait Region 2-17-14 (1).pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 44
HB44 FNSB School Board Erin's Policy.pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 44
HB44 Curriculum - Child Lures.pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 44
HB44 FiscalNote.pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB44 Fiscal Note.pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 44
HB44 OCS Child Sexual Abuse Stats Jan thru March 15.pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 44
HB44 OCS Child Sexual Abuse Stats FY14.pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 44
HB 44 School district curriculum descriptions.pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 44
HB44 Teen Dating Violence Information.pdf HEDC 4/6/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 44