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Eye On Boise

Heider pulls bill to ban kids with criminal records from public schools

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The sponsor of a bill intended to keep convicted felons out of Idaho's public schools has pulled the legislation. Republican Sen. Lee Heider of Twin Falls said Wednesday he decided to remove the bill from the Senate Education Committee after realizing it may have unintended consequences for young people who get into trouble. The bill would require school boards to deny enrollment to anyone convicted of a violent felony. Heider says felons are more likely to be involved in gangs or peddle drugs than their peers. But he said Wednesday the bill's current language could result in punishing students who aren't criminals, but simply get involved school fights. Heider says he's not sure if he will seek amendments to the bill or drop it altogether for this year.

Click below for a full report from AP reporter Hannah Furfaro.

Senator pulls bill banning felons from schools
HANNAH FURFARO,Associated Press



BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A Magic Valley Senator has decided to withdraw proposed legislation designed to keep convicted felons from enrolling in Idaho's public schools.

Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, pulled the bill Wednesday, hours before it was scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Education Committee.

Heider said he realized language in the legislation could create unintended consequences for young people who get into trouble.

"The intent is to not have criminals who have been incarcerated for more than a year go back to high school," Heider told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "But it's not to punish the kid on the playground who has a fight with his buddy over a girlfriend, or is getting into trouble and may have mental challenges."

The version introduced in the committee earlier this month would require public school boards to deny enrollment to any student convicted of a violent felony and youths sentenced for any misdemeanor that carries a year or more in prison.

In his initial pitch for the bill, Heider said felons are more likely to be involved in gangs, peddle drugs and be more sexually active than their peers. He said the presence of felons in schools poses a threat to students and school safety, and he shared with the committee vague details of two felons who enrolled in Magic Valley schools and posed problems for peers and administrators alike.

But the bill has generated opposition, including criticism in an editorial published this week in his hometown newspaper. The Times-News editorial published Wednesday complained that the bill strips young criminals of a chance to turn their lives around by keeping them out of public schools.

Heider bristled at the criticism but said he understands the current wording in the bill could unfairly punish some students.

He says he's not sure if he will seek amendments and bring the bill back again or drop it altogether for the year.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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