'Twins bill' will move to the Missouri House floor

Wednesday, March 5, 2008 | 8:34 p.m. CST; updated 11:08 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — A Columbia representative’s “twins bill” will move to the Missouri House floor, the Education Committee decided Wednesday.

Rep. Ed Robb, R-Columbia, worked to pass a bill that would give parents of multiple-birth siblings authority over their children’s classroom assignments.

“In some school districts, it’s up to the parents, but in other districts, it’s up to school officials,” Robb said. “We want to keep this at the lowest level of local control — the parents.”

Tanya Alberty, president of the Columbia Mothers of Multiples Club and mother of 4-year-old triplets, said school districts shouldn’t have a blanket policy for deciding classroom placement.

“Placement should be individually tailored,” she said. “This should not be a one-size-fits-all policy.”

Columbia Public Schools has no districtwide policy on the placement of multiples, leaving the decision up to individual school principals and to parents.

Alberty said classroom placement will likely change as children grow.

“It should be assessed on a yearly basis because the needs of children change,” she said.

Melissa Bodey, mother of 7-year-old twin boys in first grade, said the boys’ school granted her request to keep her children together in kindergarten but changed its policy the next year.

“Based on their kindergarten teacher’s recommendation, the school wanted them separated in first grade,” she said.

Bodey said the boys’ behavior changed drastically upon their being separated. The boy who was usually outgoing became withdrawn and quiet. The other started acting out, threatening girls and defying teachers.

But after months of working to get them together, the Bodey family got what they wanted.

“They’re together now, and they don’t get in any more trouble than any other first-grade boys,” she said. “But the time we spent fighting this took away time for homework and reading to them.”

Bodey said this law could keep other parents from experiencing the same frustration she did.

“I think that a law in place would keep the school from overpowering the parents,” she said.

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