Thursday, November 15, 2018

House Select Committee on School Safety Makes Recommendations

The House Select Committee on School Safety met yesterday.  Speaker Cox presented 25 recommendations to be advanced.  Click here to download the presentation.  The recommendations include 19 legislative (or budgetary) items and 5 "miscellaneous" recommendations for localities and school board.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

November is "VSBA Take Your Legislator to School" Month


November is "VSBA Take Your Legislator to School" Month 

The start of VSBA Take Your Legislator to School Month is less than a month away! We hope that your division has invited at least one of your legislators to visit during the month of November. There are many benefits from participating in VSBA Take Your Legislator to School Month, including strengthening ties between school divisions, local communities, and our elected officials, and creating opportunities for productive dialogue so that educational and political leaders can work together to ensure that we provide the best possible education for our students.

The VSBA encourages school divisions to choose an area of focus for your legislative visits. Is there a program or initiative in your division that you are most proud of or wish to highlight? What would you like your elected representatives to know about our schools? Don’t be afraid to share your challenges, as well as your successes. Your legislator(s) should end their visit with a better appreciation of public education and what can be done to improve it.

We ask that you please share photos of your legislative visits with VSBA so that we can use them in future publications. I am also including a link to our website where you will find additional resources and a video message from VSBA President Scott Albrecht: http://www.vsba.org/resources/take_legislators_to_school.

Thank you for your continued efforts on behalf of Virginia’s education system. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me. 


Friday, March 16, 2018

Sine Die Report 2018


Below is a summary of some of the most significant education-related legislation that was passed and that was defeated by the General Assembly during the 2018 session. The state budget remains to be resolved and Governor Northam will reconvene the General Assembly for a special session on April 11th.

This session, VSBA worked on approximately 300 bills that were directly or indirectly related to K-12 education. We have had numerous significant successes in defeating or amending unfavorable legislation and in passing favorable legislation. Thank you to all of you who engaged in advocacy with the General Assembly. Your voice makes a difference in Richmond as legislators make decisions that impact your school divisions. We greatly appreciate your help and thank you again for your continued support of VSBA!

Passed Legislation 
HB 1 (Wilt) – This bill makes significant changes to the way that student directory information must be handled.  Specifically, the bill provides that except as provided otherwise by federal law or regulation, a school shall not release the address, phone number, or email address of a student unless the parent, legal guardian, or eligible student has affirmatively consented in writing to the disclosure.  Under current law, a school could designate student addresses, phone numbers and email address as directory information and then could disclose such information unless the parent, legal guardian, or eligible student opted out of such disclosure.

HB 2 (Bell, Richard) – This bill requires the Board of Education to provide for teacher licensure by reciprocity for any spouse of an active duty member of the Armed Forces of the United States or the Commonwealth, provided that such spouse has obtained a valid out-of-state license, with full credentials and without deficiencies, that is in force at the time the application for a Virginia license is received by the Department of Education. The bill provides that no service requirements or licensing assessments shall be required for such an individual. The bill is identical to SB 103 (Suetterlein). VSBA supported this legislation.

HB 3 (Landes) – This bill requires the State Board to develop and implement, in coordination with the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the Department of Education, and the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, (i) a plan to achieve and maintain the same standards regarding quality, consistency and level of evaluation for dual enrollment courses offered by local school divisions, (ii) a process and criteria for determining whether any dual enrollment courses meet or exceed such quality standards  is transferable to a public institution of higher education as (a) a uniform certificate of general studies program or passport program course credit, (b) a general elective course credit, or (c) a course credit meeting other academic requirements of a public institution of higher education. VSBA supported this bill.

HB 50 (Hope) – This bill requires each local school board to adopt policies that (i) prohibit school board employees from requiring a student who cannot pay for a meal at school or who owes a school meal debt to do chores or other work to pay for such meals or wear a wristband or hand stamp and (ii) require school board employees to direct any communication relating to a school meal debt to the student's parent, which may be made by a letter addressed to the parent to be sent home with the student.

HB 129 (Yancey) – This bill modifies the worker retraining tax credit by allowing credit to manufacturers conducting a manufacturing orientation, instruction, and training program that is (i) provided to students in grades six through 12, (ii) coordinated with the local school division and certified as qualified for tax credit by the Virginia Economic Partnership Development Authority, and (iii) conducted either at a plant or facility used by the manufacturer or at a public middle or high school in Virginia. The credit would equal 35 percent of the manufacturer's direct costs in providing the program, not to exceed $2,000 for any year.

HB 150 (Bulova) – This bill requires local departments of social services to notify the appropriate school board without delay if the subject of a founded complaint of child abuse or neglect was, at the time of the investigation or the conduct that led to the report, an employee of a school division located within the Commonwealth. Currently, such reporting is only required if the subject of the complaint is an employee of a school division at the time the complaint is determined to be founded.

HB 212 (Wright) – This bill allows any school board to hire close family members of school board members if (i) the member certifies that he had no involvement with the hiring decision and (ii) the superintendent certifies to the remaining members of the governing body in writing that the employment is based upon merit and fitness and the competitive rating of the qualifications of the individual and that no member of the board had any involvement with the hiring decision. Current law limits use of the exemption to only those school districts located in Planning Districts 3, 4, 11, 12, 13, and 17. This bill is identical to SB 124 (Black). VSBA supported this bill.

HB 215 (Knight) – This bill creates a renewable one-year license for any individual who has (i) received a graduate degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education; (ii) completed at least 30 credit hours of teaching experience as an instructor at a regionally accredited institution of higher education; and (iii) received qualifying scores on the professional teacher's assessments prescribed by the Board, including the communication and literacy assessment and the content-area assessment for the endorsement sought and (iv) completed certain other licensure requirements. VSBA supported this bill.

HB 507 (Mullin) – This bill provides that (i) the instructional programs for students with limited English proficiency implemented by each local school board may include dual language programs whereby such students receive instruction in English and in a second language and (ii) the additional full-time equivalent instructional positions for students identified as having limited English proficiency that are funded pursuant to the general appropriation act may include dual language teachers who provide instruction in English and in a second language. VSBA supported this bill.

HB 544 (Freitas) – This bill permits each local school board to (i) establish High School to Work Partnerships (Partnerships) between public high schools and local businesses to create opportunities for high school students to (a) participate in an apprenticeship, internship, or job shadow program in a variety of trades and skilled labor positions or (b) tour local businesses and meet with owners and employees or (ii) delegate the authority to establish Partnerships to the local school division's career and technical education administrator or his designee, in collaboration with the guidance counselor office of each public high school in the school division. The bill requires such local school boards to educate high school students about opportunities available through such Partnerships. The bill also requires the Board of Education, the Department of Labor and Industry, and the State Board for Community Colleges to identify Partnerships that may be eligible for exemptions from certain federal and state labor laws and regulations and establish procedures by which such exemptions may be obtained for such Partnerships. VSBA supported this bill.

HB 632 (Bulova) – This bill requires the Board of Education (Board) to (i) establish content standards and curriculum guidelines for courses in career investigation; (ii) develop, in consultation with certain stakeholders, resource materials that are designed to ensure that students have the ability to further explore interest in career and technical education opportunities in middle and high school; and (iii) disseminate such career investigation resource materials to each school board. The bill directs each school board to require each middle school student to take at least one course or alternative program of instruction in career investigation.

HB 638 (Collins) – This bill prohibits political subdivisions of the Commonwealth, which includes local school boards, from regulating the use of privately owned, unmanned aircraft system (e.g. drones).  The bill contains certain provisions prohibiting the use of a drones without permission near dwellings. The bill also contains limitations on the use of drones by registered sex offenders and by persons who are the subject of protective orders.

HB 803 (O’Quinn) – This bill extends eligibility to participate in programs of preparation and instruction to take a high school equivalency examination approved by the Board of Education to individuals who are at least 16 years of age. Under current law, such programs are available only to adults who did not complete high school, students who have been granted permission by their division superintendent, and those who have been ordered by a court to participate in the program.

HB 810 (O’Quinn) – This bill reduces the training requirements for school bus driver applicant who do not possess an commercial driver's license to the following: (i) a minimum of 24 hours of classroom training and (ii) six hours of behind-the-wheel training on a school bus that contains no pupil passengers and requires any school bus operator applicant who possesses a commercial driver's license to receive (a) a minimum of four hours of classroom training and (b) three hours of behind-the-wheel training on a school bus that contains no pupil passengers. Current law leaves the setting of such hourly requirements to the Department of Education.

HB 1000 (Gilbert) – This bill was intended to address the decision of the Virginia Supreme Court in Butler v. Fairfax County School Board, in which the Court held that school boards were not permitted to employ individuals who had any prior felony conviction.  The Court’s decision resulted in some local school boards terminating employees who had been hired with prior felony convictions.  The bill permits those school boards to re-hire such individuals who had been employed by the school board as of December 17, 2015 (the date of the Court’s decision), provided that the individual has been granted a simple pardon by the Governor and has had his civil rights restored by the Governor.

HB 1044 (Torian) – This bill  requires each school board to adopt policies to (i) prohibit abusive work environments in the school division, (ii) provide for the appropriate discipline of any school board employee who contributes to an abusive work environment, and (iii) prohibit retaliation or reprisal against a school board employee who alleges an abusive work environment or assists in the investigation of an allegation of an abusive work environment.

HB 1085 (Yancey) – This bill requires any local school board of a school division in which a military installation or other military housing is located to establish and implement policies to provide for the enrollment to any school of any military student residing on a military installation or in military housing within the school division, upon the request of his parent. The bill permits such policies to include certain conditions. The bill requires a copy of such policies to be posted on the division's website and to be available to the public upon request.

HB 1125 (Landes) – This bill makes several changes to the teacher licensure process, including (i) permitting teachers with a valid out-of-state license, with full credentials and without deficiencies, to receive licensure by reciprocity without passing additional licensing assessments and (ii) specifying that for the purpose of Board of Education regulations for the approval of teacher education programs, the term "education preparation program" includes four-year bachelor's degree programs in teacher education. VSBA supported this bill.

HB 1156 (Wilt) -  This bill requires the Board of Education, in its regulations governing licensure, to provide for licensure of teachers with an endorsement in dual language instruction pre-kindergarten through grade six. The bill defines "dual language instruction" as instruction in English and in a second language. The bill requires the Board, in establishing the requirements for such endorsement, to require, at minimum, coursework in dual language education; bilingual literacy development; methods of second language acquisition; theories of second language acquisition; instructional strategies for classroom management for the elementary classroom; and content-based curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The bill provides that (i) each teacher with such an endorsement is exempt from the Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment requirement but is subject to the subject matter-specific professional teacher's assessment requirements and (ii) no teacher with such an endorsement is required to obtain an additional endorsement in early/primary education pre-kindergarten through grade three or elementary education pre-kindergarten through grade six in order to teach in pre-kindergarten through grade six. VSBA supported this bill.

HB 1419 (Delaney) – This bill requires local school boards to provide (i) a minimum of 680 hours of instructional time to students in elementary, except for students in half-day kindergarten, in the four academic disciplines of English, mathematics, science, and history and social science and (ii) a minimum of 375 hours of instructional time to students in half-day kindergarten in the four academic disciplines of English, mathematics, science, and history and social science. The bill authorizes local school boards to include and require the Board of Education to accept, elementary school, unstructured recreational time that is intended to develop teamwork, social skills, and overall physical fitness in any calculation of total instructional time or teaching hours, provided that such unstructured recreational time does not exceed 15 percent of total instructional time or teaching hours.

HB 1600 (Bourne) – This bill reduces the maximum length of a long-term suspension from 364 calendar days to 45 school days. The bill permits a long-term suspension to extend beyond a 45-school-day period if (i) the offense involved firearms, drugs, or serious bodily injury or (ii) the local school board or the division superintendent or his designee finds that aggravating circumstances exist, as defined by the Department of Education.

SB 76 (Favola) – This bill specifies that for the purpose of Board of Education regulations for the approval of teacher education programs, the term "education preparation program" includes four-year bachelor's degree programs in teacher education. VSBA supported this bill.

SB 170 (Stanley) – This bill provides that no student in preschool through grade three shall be suspended for more than three school days or expelled from attendance at school unless (i) the offense involved physical harm or credible threat of physical harm to others or (ii) the local school board or the division superintendent or his designee finds that aggravating circumstances exist, as defined by the Department of Education.

SB 229 (Hanger) – This bill requires the Board of Education to establish a training program for school board employees who assist in the transportation of students on school buses, including individuals employed to operate school buses and school bus aides, on autism spectrum disorders, including the characteristics of autism spectrum disorders, strategies for interacting with students with autism spectrum disorders, and collaboration with other employees who assist in the transportation of students on school buses. The bill requires each school board employee who assists in the transportation of students with autism spectrum disorders on school buses to participate in such training program. 

SB 273 (Petersen) – This bill requires local school boards to provide (i) a minimum of 680 hours of instructional time to students in elementary, except for students in half-day kindergarten, in the four academic disciplines of English, mathematics, science, and history and social science and (ii) a minimum of 375 hours of instructional time to students in half-day kindergarten in the four academic disciplines of English, mathematics, science, and history and social science. The bill authorizes local school boards to include and require the Board of Education to accept, elementary school, unstructured recreational time that is intended to develop teamwork, social skills, and overall physical fitness in any calculation of total instructional time or teaching hours, provided that such unstructured recreational time does not exceed 15 percent of total instructional time or teaching hours. The bill is identical to HB 1419 (Delaney).

SB 343 (Peake) – This bill was intended to address the decision of the Virginia Supreme Court in Butler v. Fairfax County School Board, in which the Court held that school boards were not permitted to employ individuals who had any prior felony conviction.  The Court’s decision resulted in some local school boards terminating employees who had been hired with prior felony convictions.  The bill permits those school boards to re-hire such individuals who had been employed by the school board as of December 17, 2015 (the date of the Court’s decision), provided that the individual has been granted a simple pardon by the Governor and has had his civil rights restored by the Governor. The bill is identical to HB 1000 (Gilbert).

SB 349 (Peake) – This bill makes several changes to the teacher licensure process, including (i) permitting teachers with a valid out-of-state license, with full credentials and without deficiencies, to receive licensure by reciprocity without passing additional licensing assessments and (ii) specifying that for the purpose of Board of Education regulations for the approval of teacher education programs, the term "education preparation program" includes four-year bachelor's degree programs in teacher education. VSBA supported this bill. The bill is identical to HB 1125 (Landes).

SB 526 (Obenshain) – This bill prohibits political subdivisions of the Commonwealth, which includes local school boards, from regulating the use of privately owned, unmanned aircraft system (e.g. drones).  The bill contains certain provisions prohibiting the use of a drones without permission near dwellings,  The bill also contains limitations on the use of drones by registered sex offenders and by persons who are the subject of protective orders.  This bill is identical to HB 638 (Collins).

SB 557 (Hanger) – This bill reduces the training requirements for school bus driver applicant who do not possess an commercial driver's license to the following: (i) a minimum of 24 hours of classroom training and (ii) six hours of behind-the-wheel training on a school bus that contains no pupil passengers and requires any school bus operator applicant who possesses a commercial driver's license to receive (a) a minimum of four hours of classroom training and (b) three hours of behind-the-wheel training on a school bus that contains no pupil passengers. Current law leaves the setting of such hourly requirements to the Department of Education. This bill is identical to HB 810 (O’Quinn).

SB 840 (Favola) – This bill requires each local school board to adopt policies that (i) prohibit school board employees from requiring a student who cannot pay for a meal at school or who owes a school meal debt to do chores or other work to pay for such meals or wear a wristband or hand stamp and (ii) require school board employees to direct any communication relating to a school meal debt to the student's parent, which may be made by a letter addressed to the parent to be sent home with the student. This bill is identical to HB 50 (Hope) .

Defeated Legislation  
HB 13 (Kory) – This bill would have required state funding to be provided pursuant to the general appropriation act to support 20 full-time equivalent instructional positions for each 1,000 students identified as having limited English proficiency. Current law requires state funding to support 17 such positions for each 1,000 such students. The bill was left in the House Appropriations Committee.  

HB 15 (Mullin) – This bill would have required a principal to first take appropriate alternative disciplinary action or determine that no such appropriate alternative disciplinary action exists before referring to the local law-enforcement agency student incidents of assault and assault and battery without bodily injury. The bill was left in the House Courts of Justice Committee.

HB 90 (Bell, John) – This bill would have permitted a school board to conduct a teacher grievance hearing before a three-member fact-finding panel consisting of one member selected by the teacher, one member selected by the division superintendent, and an impartial hearing officer, selected by the other two panel members, to serve as the chairman of the panel. Under current law, the school board has the option of appointing a hearing officer or conducting such hearing itself. The bill would also have remove the requirement that a teacher grievance hearing be set within 15 days of the request for such hearing and extend from five days to 10 days the minimum period of advanced written notice to the teacher of the time and place of such hearing. VSBA opposed this bill. The bill was passed left in the House Education Committee.

HB 159 (Rasoul) – This bill would have required each local school board to implement a comprehensive, sequential family life education curriculum in grades kindergarten through 12 that is consistent with the family life education Standards of Learning or curriculum guidelines developed by the Board of Education and removes from such standards and guidelines the requirement for instruction in the benefits, challenges, responsibilities, and value of marriage for men, women, children, and communities; abstinence education; the value of postponing sexual activity; and the benefits of adoption as a positive choice in the event of an unwanted pregnancy. VSBA opposed this bill. The bill was passed by indefinitely by the House Education Committee.

HB 221 (Miyares) – This bill would have broadened the eligibility criteria for students with a disability to include students with an Individualized Instructional Plan (IIP) attending a school for students with a disability licensed by the Department of Education and accredited by an agency approved by Virginia Council of Private Education. Under current law, only students who have obtained an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) pursuant to the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) may meet the criteria for the Education Improvement Scholarships tax credits program. The remaining criteria for students with a disability (residence in Virginia and family household income not more than 400 percent of the poverty level) would have continued to apply regardless of whether the student had an IIP or an IEP. The bill would have increased the scholarship amount available for an eligible student with a disability from 100 percent to 300 percent of the per-pupil amount distributed to the local school division as the state's share of the standards of quality costs. VSBA opposed this bill. The bill was left in the House Finance Committee. 

HB 224 (Krizek) – This bill would have required the Board of Education to make regulations to require each new public school bus purchased for the transportation of students to be equipped with a seat belt consisting of a lap belt and shoulder strap or harness in every seat. The bill would have required each school board to ensure that no later than July 1, 2036, each school bus that it uses for the transportation of students is equipped with a seat belt in every seat. VSBA opposed this bill. The bill was left in the House Education Committee. 

HB 252 (Guzman) – This bill would have required each school board to employ at least one mental health counselor per 250 students in each high school in the local school division. VSBA opposed this bill. The bill was left in the House Education Committee. 

HB 253 (Guzman) – This bill would have provided that the maximum caseload for each full-time special education aide is five students. VSBA opposed this bill. The bill was left in the House Education Committee.

HB 296 (Bell, Richard) – This bill would have prohibited students in preschool through grade three from being suspended or expelled except for drug offenses, firearm offenses, or certain criminal acts. VSBA strongly opposed this bill. The bill was passed by indefinitely by the House Education Committee.

HB 372 (Robinson) – This bill would have made local school boards responsible for setting the school calendar and determining the opening day of the school year and eliminates the post-Labor Day opening requirement and "good cause" scenarios for which the Board of Education may grant waivers of this requirement. The bill would require local school boards that set the school calendar with a pre-Labor Day opening date, except those schools that were granted a "good cause" waiver for the 2017-2018 school year, to close all schools in the division from (i) the Thursday immediately preceding Labor Day through Labor Day or (ii) the Friday immediately preceding Labor Day through the Tuesday immediately succeeding Labor Day. The bill was continued to 2019 by the Senate Education and Health Committee.

HB 395 (Davis) – This bill would have eliminated the requirement that a student must currently attend or have recently attended a public school in order to qualify for a scholarship from a scholarship foundation that provides tax-credit-derived scholarships. The bill would have increased the maximum annual scholarship amount from 100 percent of the per pupil amount distributed to the local school division as its share of standards of quality costs (i) for a student with a disability, to 400 percent of such amount, and (ii) for a student who has an autism spectrum disorder, to $26,000. The bill would add to the definition of "qualified educational expenses" expenditures made in connection to summer education. VSBA opposed the bill. The bill was left in the House Finance Committee.

HB 445 (Carroll Foy) – This bill would have eliminated the requirement that school principals report certain enumerated acts that may constitute a misdemeanor offense to law enforcement. VSBA supported the bill. The bill was left in the House Courts of Justice Committee.

HB 496 (Bell, Robert) – This bill (also known as the “Tebow Bill”) would have prohibit public schools from joining an organization governing interscholastic programs that does not deem eligible for participation a student who (i) receives home instruction; (ii) has demonstrated evidence of progress for two consecutive academic years; (iii) is in compliance with immunization requirements; (iv) is entitled to free tuition in a public school; (v) has not reached the age of 19 by August 1 of the current academic year; (vi) is an amateur who receives no compensation but participates solely for the educational, physical, mental, and social benefits of the activity; (vii) complies with all disciplinary rules and is subject to all codes of conduct applicable to all public high school athletes; and (viii) complies with all other rules governing awards, all-star games, maximum consecutive semesters of high school enrollment, parental consents, physical examinations, and transfers applicable to all high school athletes. The bill would have provided that no local school board is required to establish a policy to permit students who receive home instruction to participate in interscholastic programs among other provisions. VSBA opposed this bill. The bill was defeated in the House Education Committee.

HB 688 (McQuinn) – This bill would have required local school boards to provide alternative education programs for suspended students. VSBA strongly opposed this bill as an unfunded mandate. The bill was left in the House Appropriations Committee.

HB 809 (O’Quinn) – This bill would have permitted local school boards to display commercial advertising material on the sides of school buses between the rear wheels and the rear of the bus, provided that no such material (i) obstructs the name of the school division or the number of the school bus, (ii) is sexually explicit, or (iii) pertains to alcohol; food or beverages that do not meet the nutrition standards developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture pursuant to the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 or any additional state or local nutrition standards for food or beverages sold to students in school; gambling; politics; or tobacco. The bill was continued to 2019 by the Senate Education and Health Committee.

HB 831 (Bagby) – This bill would have required the Virtual Virginia program, established by the Department of Education, to be made available to all public middle and high schools. The bill would provide that such program may be made available to all public elementary schools. Under current law, Virtual Virginia is required to be made available to public high schools only. The bill would also have replaced the term "statewide electronic classroom" with "online learning program" to more accurately reflect the Virtual Virginia program. VSBA supported the bill. The bill was left in the House Appropriations Committee.

HB 1020 (Adams, L.R.) – This bill would have make local school boards responsible for setting the school calendar and determining the opening day of the school year and eliminates the post-Labor Day opening requirement and "good cause" scenarios for which the Board of Education may grant waivers of this requirement. VSBA supported this bill. The bill was incorporated by Senate Education and Health into HB 372 (Robinson).

HB 1033 (Price) – This bill would have allowed a magistrate or a general district court to issue an order requiring a person to provide a blood specimen for testing for human immunodeficiency virus or the hepatitis B or C virus when exposure to bodily fluids occurs between a person and any health care provider, person employed by or under the direction and control of a health care provider, law-enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical services personnel, person employed by a public safety agency, or school board employee and the person whose blood specimen is sought refuses to consent to providing such specimen. Currently, only the general district court may issue such order. The bill would have allowed a testing order to be issued based on a finding that there is probable cause to believe that exposure has occurred. Currently, there must be a finding by a preponderance of the evidence that exposure has occurred. VSBA supported this bill. The bill was continued to 2019 by the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.

HB 1101 (Robinson) – This bill would have required that every public body, except for governing boards of public institutions of higher education, afford an opportunity for public comment during any open meeting. The bill provided, however, that if a public body holds more than four meetings in a calendar year, such public body may, by recorded vote, limit the number of meetings at which an opportunity for public comment is afforded to four meetings per calendar year. The bill would have required that the notice given by a public body prior to a meeting include information as to the approximate point during the meeting when public comment will be received. In current law, this requirement applies only to public bodies where at least one member has been appointed by the Governor. The bill would have permitted public bodies to choose the approximate point during the meeting when public comment will be received and permits public bodies to adopt reasonable rules governing the public comment portion of the meeting, including imposing reasonable restrictions on time, place, and manner, but prohibited public bodies from limiting public comment to only the submission of written comments. The bill was left in the House General Laws Committee.

HB 1286 (LaRock) – This bill would have permitted the parents of certain children to apply to the school division in which the child resides for a one-year, renewable Parental Choice Education Savings Account that consists of an amount that is equivalent to a certain percentage of all applicable annual Standards of Quality per pupil state funds appropriated for public school purposes and apportioned to the resident school division in which the student resides, including the per pupil share of state sales tax funding in basic aid and any state per pupil share of special education funding for which the student is eligible. The bill would have permitted the parent to use the moneys in such account for certain education-related expenses of the student, including tuition, deposits, fees, and required textbooks at a private elementary school or secondary school that is located in the Commonwealth. VSBA opposed the bill. The bill was left in the House Education Committee.

HB 1416 (Edmunds) – This bill would have extended the term of the waiver of the teacher licensure requirements that a division superintendent may apply to the Board of Education for any individual whom the local school board hires or seeks to hire to teach in a trade and industrial education program and removes the requirement that such individual has at least 4,000 hours of recent and relevant employment experience. The bill would have also removed requirements that an individual seeking a three-year career and technical license (i) has at least four years of full-time work experience or its equivalent in the specific career and technical education subject area in which the individual seeks to teach and (ii) has obtained qualifying scores on the communication and literacy professional teacher's assessment prescribed by the Board. VSBA supported this bill. The bill was left in the House Education Committee

HB 1471 (Hugo) – This bill would have permitted a school board to conduct a teacher grievance hearing before a three-member fact-finding panel. Under current law, the school board has the option of appointing a hearing officer or conducting such hearing itself. VSBA opposed this bill. The bill was left in the House Committee on Counties, Cities, and Towns.

HB 1504 (Cline) – This bill would have required enrollment in the Virtual Virginia online learning program during the school year to be open, on a space-available basis, to each public high school student in the Commonwealth and each high school student in the Commonwealth who receives home instruction. VSBA opposed the bill original version of the bill.. The House failed to adopt the conference report of the bill and, therefore, the bill was defeated on a close vote of 45-46.

HJ 19 (Bell, Richard) – This bill would have continued for one additional year the Joint Committee of the House Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Education and Health to Study the Future of Public Elementary and Secondary Education in the Commonwealth, consisting of seven members of the House Committee on Education and six members of the Senate. The Senate Committee on Rules carried the bill over to 2019.

HJ 88 (Bagby) – This bill would have requested the Department of Education to study the teacher licensure process and the assessment requirements therein for any inherent biases that may prevent minority teacher candidates from entering the profession. VSBA supported this bill. The bill was left in the House Rules Committee.

SB 169 (Stanley) – This bill would have effectively required VHSL to establish, by July 1, 2021, a varsity level robotics team competition program that includes state championships. The bill was defeated in the House on a vote of 18-80.

SB 252 (Dance) – This bill would have prohibited state agencies from including on any employment application a question inquiring whether the prospective employee has ever been arrested or charged with, or convicted of, any crime, subject to certain exceptions. The bill would have also authorized localities to prohibit such inquiries. The bill was left in House General Laws.

SB 261 (Suetterlein) – This bill would have provided that a local school board that is required to employ two full-time librarians for any middle school or high school may meet such requirement by employing two full-time librarians, or one full-time librarian and one full-time media specialist, or instructional resource teacher. The bill also provided that a local school board that is required to employ a full-time school-based clerical person for the library for any middle school or high school may meet such requirement by employing one full-time school-based clerical person for the library, for instruction, or for assessment or career planning, or by employing one full-time classroom instructional assistant. VSBA supported this bill. The bill was defeated in the House Education Committee.

SB 336 (Peake) – The bill would have required that every elected public body afford an opportunity for public comment during any open meeting. The bill would have permitted elected public bodies to choose the approximate point during the meeting when public comment will be received and to adopt reasonable rules governing the public comment portion of the meeting, including imposing reasonable restrictions on time, place, and manner. Such rules shall not limit public comment to only the submission of written comments. The bill would have required that the notice given by any public body prior to a meeting include information as to the approximate point during the meeting when public comment will be received. VSBA opposed the bill. The bill was left in the House Committee on General Laws.

SB 476 (Reeves) – This bill would have provide that school principals are not required to report criminal misdemeanors or status offenses to law enforcement if in the principal's discretion, based on a totality of the circumstances and consistent with Board of Education guidelines, such report is not warranted. The bill would have required the Board of Education, in consultation with the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Office of the Attorney General, and any interested stakeholders, to update its Student Conduct Policy Guidelines to provide guidance for principals in exercising such discretion. VSBA supported the bill. The bill was continued to 2019 by the House Courts of Justice Committee.

SB 516 (Obenshain) – This bill would have authorized the Board of Education to establish regional charter school divisions consisting of at least two but not more than three existing school divisions in regions in which each underlying school division has (i) an enrollment of more than 3,000 students and (ii) one or more schools that have accreditation denied status for two out of the past three years. The bill would require such regional charter school divisions to be supervised by a school board that consists of eight members appointed by the Board and one member appointed by the localities of each of the underlying divisions. The bill would have authorized the school board, after a review by the Board, to review and approve public charter school applications in the regional charter school divisions and to contract with the applicant. The bill would require that the state share of Standards of Quality per pupil funding of the underlying school district in which the student resides be transferred to such school. VSBA strongly opposed this bill. Senate Finance continued the bill to 2019.

SB 751 (Sturtevant) – This bill would have required every locality with a population greater than 25,000 and each school division with greater than 5,000 students to post quarterly on the public government website of such locality or school division a register of all funds expended, showing vendor name, date of payment, amount, and a description of the type of expense, including credit card purchases with the same information. The bill would have allowed any locality or school division to exclude from such posting any information that is exempt from mandatory disclosure under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, any personal identifying information related to a court-ordered payment, and any information related to undercover law-enforcement officers. The bill would have a delayed effective date of July 1, 2019. VSBA opposed the bill. The bill was left in House Committee on Counties, Cities, and Towns.

SB 785 (Surovell) – This bill would have prohibited local school boards from requiring the use of any electronic textbook in any course in grades six through 12 unless the school board adopts a plan to ensure that on or before July 1, 2020, (i) each student enrolled in such course will have actual access at school and, if any assignment requires the use of such electronic textbook outside of school hours, in his residence to at least one personal computing device not shared with another student that contains an operating system and the hardware necessary to support the format of each electronic textbook expected to be used in such course and (ii) the relevant school has adequate connectivity, which the bill defines as bandwidth of at least 100 kilobits per second per enrolled student. VSBA opposed this bill. The bill was left in the House Appropriations Committee.

SB 786 (Surovell) – This bill would have provided that no student who resides in Planning District 8 and is eligible for free or reduced price meals in the federally funded lunch program shall be charged fees for enrolling in any online course or virtual program that is required or is offered by the school division in which he resides and such enrolled students shall be provided, free of charge, a computer or other electronic device necessary to take the course or program. VSBA opposed the bill. The bill was elft in the House Appropriations Committee.

SB 914 (Chase) – This bill would have make local school boards responsible for setting the school calendar and determining the opening day of the school year and eliminates the post-Labor Day opening requirement and "good cause" scenarios for which the Board of Education may grant waivers of this requirement. The bill would have required local school boards that set the school calendar with a pre-Labor Day opening date, except those schools that were granted a "good cause" waiver for the 2017-2018 school year, to close all schools in the division from (i) the Thursday immediately preceding Labor Day through Labor Day or (ii) the Friday immediately preceding Labor Day through the Tuesday immediately succeeding Labor Day. VSBA supported this bill. The bill was passed by indefinitely bu the Senate Education and Health Committee.

SB 969 (Newman) – This bill would have  required the Board of Education, in establishing high school graduation requirements, to require students to earn one verified credit in history and social science by (i) the successful completion of a Board-developed end-of-course Standards of Learning assessment; (ii) achievement of a passing score on a Board-approved standardized test administered on a statewide, multistate, or international basis that measures content that incorporates or exceeds the Standards of Learning content in the course for which the verified credit is given; or (iii) achievement of criteria for the receipt of a locally awarded verified credit from the local school board in accordance with criteria established in Board guidelines when the student has not passed a corresponding Standards of Learning assessment. The bill would have prohibited such end-of-course Standards of Learning assessment from being a performance-based assessment. The bill was left in the House Appropriations Committee.

SJ 6 (Locke) – This bill would have requested the Department of Education to study the teacher licensure process and the assessment requirements therein for any inherent biases that may prevent minority teacher candidates from entering the profession. VSBA supported this bill. It was continued to 2019 in the House Rules Committee.



Friday, March 9, 2018

General Assembly Update 3/8/18

VSBA staff continue to work with legislators and fellow education advocates on the remaining bills of interest to our organization that are currently in conference committees between members of the House and Senate. We are also monitoring activity on the floor of both bodies as we race towards the finish line. The General Assembly theoretically has until Saturday, March 10th to conclude its business for the 2018 session.

One item of interest announced today was the creation by House Speaker Kirk Cox of the Select Committee on School Safety. The committee was created in response to the school shooting last month in Parkland, Florida. The Speaker will serve as chairman of the committee, which will be comprised of 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats. A letter from the Speaker to the Clerk of the House outlying the scope, membership, and work-plan of the committee can be found here. This will be the first Select Committee created by the House of Delegates in 155 years.

Regarding the budget, House Appropriations Chairman Chris Jones announced today that the General Assembly will not be able to pass a budget by Saturday's scheduled conclusion. An impasse over the two vastly different House and Senate budget proposals will cause the General Assembly to either extend the current session or convene for a special session in order come to an agreement. A budget plan must be in place before July 1st or the state government will shut down. 

We will continue to keep you apprised of the latest developments as they occur. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

General Assembly Update 3/5/18

This morning, VSBA staff attended the full committee meeting of House Education. One bill of interest was discussed:


SB 261 (Suetterlein)This bill would provide that a local school board that is required to employ two full-time librarians for any middle school or high school may meet such requirement by employing two full-time librarians or one full-time librarian and one full-time media specialist or instructional resource teacher. The bill would also provide that a local school board that is required to employ a full-time school-based clerical person for the library for any middle school or high school may meet such requirement by employing one full-time school-based clerical person for the library, for instruction, or for assessment or career planning, or by employing one full-time classroom instructional assistant. VSBA spoke in support of this bill. The committee failed to report the bill (10-11).

Following this, VSBA staff attended the meeting of House Appropriations. One bill of interest to our organization was discussed:

SB 229 (Hanger) – This bill would require the Board of Education to establish a training program for school board employees who assist in the transportation of students on school buses, including individuals employed to operate school buses and school bus aides, on autism spectrum disorders, including the characteristics of autism spectrum disorders, strategies for interacting with students with autism spectrum disorders, and collaboration with other employees who assist in the transportation of students on school buses. The bill would require each school board employee who assists in the transportation of students with autism spectrum disorders on school buses to participate in such training program. VSBA worked with the patron to modify the billto place less of a burden on local school divisions while still carrying out the intent of the bill. The committee reported the bill (22-0).

VSBA staff continues to work with Legislators on remaining bills of interest in conference committee and to monitor action on the floor of both chambers. As always, we will keep you posted of any major policy or budget updates.


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Genera; Assembly Update 3/2/18

Today, VSBA staff attended the meeting of House Appropriations Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee. Bills of interest to VSBA discussed included:


SB 969 (Newman) – This bill would require the Board of Education, in establishing high school graduation requirements, to require students to earn one verified credit in history and social science by (i) the successful completion of a Board-developed end-of-course Standards of Learning assessment; (ii) achievement of a passing score on a Board-approved standardized test administered on a statewide, multistate, or international basis that measures content that incorporates or exceeds the Standards of Learning content in the course for which the verified credit is given; or (iii) achievement of criteria for the receipt of a locally awarded verified credit from the local school board in accordance with criteria established in Board guidelines when the student has not passed a corresponding Standards of Learning assessment. The bill would prohibit such end-of-course Standards of Learning assessment from being a performance-based assessment. The subcommittee laid the bill on the table (6-2).

SB 205 (Stuart) – This bill would expand eligibility for services under the Children's Services Act to students who transfer from an approved private school special education program to a public school special education program established and funded jointly by a local governing body and school division located within Planning District 16 for the purpose of providing special education and related services when (i) the public school special education program is able to provide services comparable to those of an approved private school special education program and (ii) the student would require placement in an approved private school special education program but for the availability of the public school special education program. The provisions of the bill are contingent on funding in a general appropriation act. The subcommittee laid the bill on the table (8-0).

SB 785 (Surovell) – This bill would prohibit local school boards from requiring the use of any electronic textbook in any course in grades six through 12 unless the school board adopts a plan to ensure that on or before July 1, 2020, (i) each student enrolled in such course will have actual access at school and, if any assignment requires the use of such electronic textbook outside of school hours, in his residence to at least one personal computing device not shared with another student that contains an operating system and the hardware necessary to support the format of each electronic textbook expected to be used in such course and (ii) the relevant school has adequate connectivity, which the bill defines as bandwidth of at least 100 kilobits per second per enrolled student. VSBA spoke in opposition to the bill. The subcommittee laid the bill on the table (5-3).

In other news, as discussed in previous posts, the House and Senate budget proposals have now been introduced in addition to the original proposal from Governor Northam. Vast differences exsit between the budgets. The Department of Education recently released a Superintendent's Memo detailing the impact to local divisions and education funding in the Commonwealth as a whole. The memo and its attachments can be found here. VSBA staff will provide you with additional updates on the budget as we approach Sine Die. 

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Sunday, March 4, 2018

General Assembly Update 3/1/18

Today, VSBA staff attended the full meeting of Senate Education and Health. Numerous bills of interest to the Association were discussed:

HB 3 (Landes)This bill would require the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (the Council), in consultation with the Department of Education and each public institution of higher education, to establish (i) quality standards for dual enrollment courses, including quality standards for course instructors, materials, and content; (ii) a process by which dual enrollment courses that meet or exceed such quality standards are certified as universal transfer courses that satisfy course credit or other academic requirements at any public institution of higher education; and (iii) a policy for the satisfaction of course credit or other academic requirements through the successful completion of universal transfer courses by entering students that (a) identifies the course credit or other academic requirements of each public institution of higher education that the student satisfies by successfully completing a universal transfer course and (b) ensures, to the extent possible, that the satisfaction of course credit or other academic requirements is consistent across each public institution of higher education and each such universal transfer course. The provisions of the bill would replace existing provisions that require the Council and each public institution of higher education to establish policies relating to course credit for dual enrollment courses but that do not provide for quality standards or the universal transfer designation for such courses. VSBA supports this biThe committee conformed bill to HB 919 (Jones). The committee reported the bill 15-0.

HB 167 (Miyares) – This bill would require the Board of Education to establish criteria for awarding a diploma seal for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for the Board of Education-approved diplomas. Under current law, such diploma seal is limited in scope to technology and advanced mathematics. The committee reported the bill (13-0).

HB 329 (Yancey) – This bill would require the Board of Education, in establishing high school graduation requirements, to permit students to exceed a full course load in order to participate in courses offered by an institution of higher education that lead to a degree, certificate, or credential at such institution. VSBA supports this bill. The committee reported the bill (12-0).

HB 443 (Carroll Foy) – This bill would require the Board of Education, in establishing high school graduation requirements, to (i) provide for the substitution of computer coding course credit for any foreign language course credit required to graduate with a standard or advanced diploma for children with disabilities and (ii) permit any English language learner who previously earned a sufficient score on an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate foreign language examination to substitute computer coding course credit for any foreign language course credit required to graduate, except in cases in which such foreign language course credit is required to earn an advanced diploma offered by a nationally recognized provider of college-level courses. The committee reported the bill (13-0).

HB 632 (Bulova) – This bill would require the Board of Education (Board) to (i) establish content standards and curriculum guidelines for courses in career investigation; (ii) develop, in consultation with certain stakeholders, resource materials that are designed to ensure that students have the ability to further explore interest in career and technical education opportunities in middle and high school; and (iii) disseminate such career investigation resource materials to each school board. The bill directs each school board to require each middle school student to take at least one course or alternative program of instruction in career investigation. The committee reported the bill (14-0).

HB 803 (O'Quinn) – This bill would extend eligibility to participate in programs of preparation and instruction to take a high school equivalency examination approved by the Board of Education to individuals who are at least 16 years of age. Under current law, such programs are available only to adults who did not complete high school, students who have been granted permission by their division superintendent, and those who have been ordered by a court to participate in the program. The committee reported the bill (14-0).

HB 829 (Bagby) – This bill would clarify that each parent of a school-age child in the Commonwealth is required to cause his child to attend school. Current law requires each such parent to send his child to school. The committee reported the bill (14-0).

HB 1044 (Torian) – This bill would require each school board to adopt policies to (i) prohibit abusive work environments in the school division, (ii) provide for the appropriate discipline of any school board employee who contributes to an abusive work environment, and (iii) prohibit retaliation or reprisal against a school board employee who alleges an abusive work environment or assists in the investigation of an allegation of an abusive work environment. The bill would define an abusive work environment as one in which a school board employee engages in conduct in the workplace that a reasonable person would find hostile and that is severe enough to cause physical harm or psychological harm to another school board employee. The bill was amended in subcommittee to remove certain restrictive language to school boards. The committee reported the bill (14-1).

HB 1125 (Landes) – This bill would make several changes to the teacher licensure process, including (i) permitting teachers with a valid out-of-state license, with full credentials and without deficiencies, to receive licensure by reciprocity without passing additional licensing assessments and (ii) specifying that for the purpose of Board of Education regulations for the approval of teacher education programs, the term "education preparation program" includes four-year bachelor's degree programs in teacher education. VSBA supports the bill. The committee reported the bill with a financial clause 15-0.

HB 1320 (Habeeb) – This bill would require the Department of Education to develop and distribute to each local school division a resource guide on the local development and implementation of performance assessments that includes (i) detailed recommendations for methods of ensuring (a) the quality, validity, and reliability of such assessments, such as assurances, sampling, and auditing, and (b) the alignment of such assessments with the desired student outcomes of critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship and (ii) a collection of division-level performance assessment exemplars. VSBA supports the bill. The committee carried the bill over to 2019.

HB 1370 (Pogge) – This bill would clarify that a parent who provides home instruction through a program of study or curriculum is required to provide his child with such program of study or curriculum to satisfy the requirements for the home instruction of such child. The committee reported the bill (15-0).

HB 1530 (Davis) – This bill would require the Board of Education to make recommendations to the Governor and the Chairmen of the House Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Education and Health no later than November 1, 2018, relating to (i) strategies for eliminating any stigma associated with high school career and technical education pathways and the choice of high school students to pursue coursework and other educational opportunities in career and technical education and related fields such as computer science and robotics and (ii) the consolidation of the standard and advanced diplomas into a single diploma and the creation of multiple endorsements for such diploma to recognize student competencies and achievements in specific subject matter areas. The committee reported the bill (15-0).x
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