ONE QUESTION … FOR LAKEWOOD HIGH CIVICS TEACHER WENDY SALAYABy Dave Wielenga
The back story: Wendy Salaya, who left a career in retail sales to teach at Lakewood High School in 2004, last year used a mixture of good instruction, good students and good fortune to transform a seniors-only civics course in legislative advocacy into a real-world trip through the California legislative process. With the help of Assemblymember Warren Furutani, they wrote a Assembly Bill 1174—which would shield minor-aged public school students from being solicited by adults as they come or go to class—then went to Sacramento to lobby lawmakers. The Assemblypassed the bill, sending it on to the state Senate, where this year’s Lakewood High seniors were to take over. But Furutani is leaving the legislature and running for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council.
The question: Without the students who wrote AB 1174 and without the state legislator who helped shepherd it through votes by committee after committee and finally the entire state assembly, what happens to the opportunity to get this bill approved by the state Senate, signed by Governor Brown and turned into state law?
Wendy Salaya’s answer: We turned this into a two-year bill long before Assembly member Furutani decided to run for the LA City Council. And to get the new students familiar with the bill and the process, I had decided we wouldn’t be doing any work on the bill, itself, until January, when the state Senate reconvenes after the holidays. So that plan is still the same—to present AB 1174 to the state Senate public safety committee, where it will hopefully pass, and then present it on the state Senate floor.
Perhaps a bigger obstacle to our bill than Assembly member Furutani’s LA City Council campaign is that another bill very similar to ours—except it only prevented adult solicitation of children in grades kindergarten to 8th grade and it included “intent” language (the perpetrator must show intent to harm the students) that we rejected—was passed by both houses in Sacramento and signed by the Governor Brown. After that, there will probably be some question about whether we even want to pursue our bill. But we’ll find out soon. I will be meeting with the new class of kids on Friday. Call back then.