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NC House bill would require health exams for all new public school students

A new bill progressing rapidly through the N.C. House would require all new public school students to get a medical exam before starting school, not just kindergartners.

Should it pass, the bill could create logistical problems for areas such as Charlotte, which see a lot of newcomers each year. But it also could mean that more students get the special attention they need when they begin school.

House Bill 13 was introduced by N.C. Rep. John Torbett, a Gaston County Republican. It requires the parents or guardians of every child in the state to provide proof that their child received a health exam before being allowed to begin school for the first time. Before, this requirement only applied to incoming kindergarten students, and includes a list of required vaccinations. Should it pass, the requirement would go into effect for the 2015-16 school year.

It’s unclear how many more students would need to get physical exams, besides the 12,000 or so kindergarten students who enter Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools each year.

The Charlotte Chamber says about 66,000 new people move into Mecklenburg County each year, though other North Carolina counties make up a large percentage of their beginning points.

The bill is starting to get some attention among opponents. Elyse Dashew, who is running for an at-large seat on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board, wrote an email to members of the N.C. House asking them to vote no. She argued that the requirement would be a burden on poor families, overtax school nurses and county health departments, and be a “logistical nightmare” for families moving into the state.

CMS refers parents to a list of providers that do low-cost physicals. They tend to fill up around the start of school.

The bill passed its second reading in the N.C. House on Wednesday by a 94-24 vote but still needs a final vote. The N.C. Senate has yet to take up the bill.

Dunn: 704-358-5235;

Twitter: @andrew_dunn