Proposed law might give California students a later start

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Parents know just how hard it is to get most kids up in the morning. Now, a proposed law pushing class start times could help ease those back-to-school blues.

For fifth-grader Casey O'Connell, an 8 a.m. start time means he has to be up early. "My bus waits for three minutes, then it leaves," he said.

His 15-year-old brother Cooper said switching back to a school schedule from the summer hurts. "I'm just going to have to do it -- have my parents wake me up in the morning until I get out of bed and force me out of bed."

Getting groggy kids off to school can be a big challenge, but proposed Senate Bill 328 would make California the first state to prohibit public middle and high schools from starting any earlier than 8:30 a.m.

It supports research that shows two-thirds of teens aren't getting enough sleep, some experts say sleep-deprived teens may even be at higher risk for depression or drug use.

Dr. Stephanie Marcy is a child psychologist at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. She said the hope is that kids will get more sleep, but she's concerned the proposed law may not solve the problem.

"I worry that having that extra hour may just be an excuse for doing everything an hour later," Marcy said.

The O'Connell family is worried it'll increase traffic, make parents late for work and disrupt after-school activities and dinner.

"I guess I might be able to wake up later, but I would rather go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier," said Cooper.

Whether the bill passes or not, Dr. Marcy said the best way for kids to get more sleep starts with better habits at home.

Parents should enforce earlier bedtimes, stricter screen time rules and encourage better time management. Marcy said having this discussion will help families all get on the same page.

Casey and Cooper's mom, Heather, is all for that.

"We need to set limits and structure for our kids and set them up for success," she said.
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