Parents can now decide if their kids need to repeat a grade in school to make up for pandemic losses

PITTSBURGH — It’s been a difficult school year for a lot of students as many struggled with virtual learning, including Sarah Deiters’ son.

Gov. Tom Wolf just signed Senate Bill 664 into law – giving parents the power to decide if their kids should repeat a grade next school year to help catch up on learning loss due to the pandemic.

The new law gives parents the final say in the decision, not just the school and teacher.

Deiters said, “He really fell behind. He wasn’t able to sit for virtual learning. He didn’t want to do it. It was a big fight.”

Her son attends Avonworth School District. She shared this video of him doing classes at home. She said he has ADHD so online learning was a challenge.

“I decided to hold him back so he actually repeated kindergarten this year.”

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She said a do-over was the right thing for her son and now parents have the final say in this decision – not just the school and teacher.

Brian White, Butler Area School District Superintendent, said, “Well, I think anytime you empower parents to make good decisions for kids is a good thing. The reality for us the bill doesn’t change whole lot of things except for some kids, particularly our kids that have been aging out of our special education.”

The new law allows an extra school year for special education students even if they are at the maximum age of 21. But the number of kids in IEP may cause some funding issues.

“Paying for that will be a challenge for some districts but Butler Area Schools we are very fortunate the state distributed some of the stimulus money we have resources to help off set those kind of expenses.”

The superintendent of Butler Area Schools says they don’t anticipate major enrollment challenges. He also says parents should work together with educators to determine what’s best for their child for the upcoming school year.