Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Update on Public Employee Collective Bargaining Legislation

There are still two bills before the General Assembly that would authorize collective bargaining for public employees, including school board employees.

HB582 (Guzman) would require public employers, including school boards, to engage in collective bargaining with employee organizations.  This bill gives school boards no discretion. 

SB939 (Saslaw) is permissive and would allow local governing bodies, including school boards, to authorize collective bargaining.  Even though this bill is permissive, there are still problems with this bill.  For example, the bill is ambiguous regarding which body – the local school board or the local governing body – can authorize collective bargaining.  Even more troubling, the bill arguably permits teacher strikes (while maintaining the ban or law enforcement and other public employee strikes). 

HB582 passed the House of Delegates and crossed over to the Senate.  Earlier this week, the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee conformed the bill to the language of SB939 as it passed the Senate (in other words, the Committee changed HB582 to the permissive language) and reported and rereferred the bill to the Senate Finance Committee.  

SB939 passed the Senate and crossed over to the House.  Earlier this week, the House Labor and Commerce Committee conformed the bill to the language of HB582 as it passed the House (in other words, the Committee changed SB939 to the mandatory language) and reported and rereferred the bill to the House Appropriations Committee. 

Put another way, the House is sticking with its mandatory language and the Senate is sticking with its permissive language.  It is likely that both bills will end up in conference, where a small group of legislators will work out the differences between the bills. 

VSBA opposes both forms of these bills.  VSBA has Legislative Position, 4.3, to oppose any legislation which would permit or expand the authority of any school board to engage in collective bargaining.  Click here and here to see more about our arguments against these bills.

It is important that legislators continue to hear from school board members about this legislation.  Please contact your Senator and your Delegate and ask them to OPPOSE these bills in any form.    


Monday, February 24, 2020

House Committee on Education Meeting, February 24, 2020


The House Committee on Education met Monday, February 24, 2020 and considered the following pieces of legislation. 

SB238 (Barker) Increases from 540 hours to 990 hours the minimum instructional hours in a school year for students in kindergarten, beginning July 1,2022. The bill directs the Board of Education to adopt regulations by July 1, 2022, establishing standards for accreditation that include a requirement that the standard school day for students in kindergarten average at least 5.5 instructional hours in order to qualify for full accreditation. The bill reported 14-3.

SB323 (Barker)  Requires the Board of Education, in establishing high school graduation requirements, to permit a student who is pursuing an advanced diploma and whose individualized education program specifies a credit accommodation for world language to substitute two standard units of credit in computer science for two standard units of credit in a world language. The bill provides that for any student electing to substitute a credit in computer science for credit in world language, his or her school counselor must provide notice to the student and parent or guardian of possible impacts related to college entrance requirements. The bill reported 11-6.
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SB366 (Dunnavant) Directs the Department of Education to obtain a statewide learning management system for use in public schools by the start of the 2022-2023 school year. The bill was reported and referred to the House Committee on Appropriations 15-2.

SB392 (McPike) Requires each local school board to submit its plan to test and remediate certain potable water sources and report the results of any such test to the Department of Health. The bill requires the plan to be consistent with guidelines published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Health. The bill also requires each local school board to take all steps necessary to notify parents if testing results indicate lead contamination that exceeds 10 parts per billion. The bill was was reported and amended and referred to the House Committee on Appropriations 18-0.

SB420 (DeSteph) Provides for the submission and utilization of seizure management and action plans for students with a seizure disorder. The bill requires that school nurses and certain school division employees biennially complete a Board of Education-approved online course of instruction regarding treating students with seizure disorders. The bill also provides immunity from civil liability for acts or omissions related to providing for the care of a student under a seizure management and action plan. The bill was carried over until 2021.

SB933 (Favoloa) The bill requires that the Board of Education evaluate the supports and programs available to "students with limited or interrupted formal education" in local school divisions to determine whether the calculations for the school quality indicators within the Board's Regulations Establishing the Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia are appropriate or whether changes in methodology could be made to more comprehensively measure the academic and nonacademic achievement of such student population. The bill was reported 16-2.

SB904 (Vogel) Directs the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to facilitate the development of a statewide coalition of public institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth to gather and share information on the latest evidence-based methods and approaches to effectively educate K-12 students in reading, including multisensory structured language education to instruct students with dyslexia. The bill provides that the coalition shall meet twice annually, and relevant stakeholders shall be permitted to attend such meetings to provide input and contribute to discussions. The bill allows each public institution's school of education, education department, or relevant department for the career paths of K-12 reading specialists and teachers to collect such information and collaborate with other public institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth regarding the latest reliable research for reading instruction to all K-12 students, with an emphasis on improving reading instruction to students with dyslexia. The bill was reported as amended 18-1.


House Subcommittee on SOL & SOQ Meeting, February 24, 2020


The House Subcommittee on SOL & SOQ met Monday, February 24, 2020 and considered the following pieces of legislation.

SB238 (Barker) Increases from 540 hours to 990 hours the minimum instructional hours in a school year for students in kindergarten, beginning July 1,2022. The bill directs the Board of Education to adopt regulations by July 1, 2022, establishing standards for accreditation that include a requirement that the standard school day for students in kindergarten average at least 5.5 instructional hours in order to qualify for full accreditation. The bill was recommended for reporting 8-0.

SB323 (Barker)  Requires the Board of Education, in establishing high school graduation requirements, to permit a student who is pursuing an advanced diploma and whose individualized education program specifies a credit accommodation for world language to substitute two standard units of credit in computer science for two standard units of credit in a world language. The bill provides that for any student electing to substitute a credit in computer science for credit in world language, his or her school counselor must provide notice to the student and parent or guardian of possible impacts related to college entrance requirements. The bill was recommended for reporting 6-2.

SB366 (Dunnavant) Directs the Department of Education to obtain a statewide learning management system for use in public schools by the start of the 2022-2023 school year. The bill was passed by temporarily to be heard in full committee.

SB392 (McPike) Requires each local school board to submit its plan to test and remediate certain potable water sources and report the results of any such test to the Department of Health. The bill requires the plan to be consistent with guidelines published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Health. The bill also requires each local school board to take all steps necessary to notify parents if testing results indicate lead contamination that exceeds 10 parts per billion. The bill was recommended as amended to report and be referred to the House Committee on Appropriations 6-0.

SB420 (DeSteph) Provides for the submission and utilization of seizure management and action plans for students with a seizure disorder. The bill requires that school nurses and certain school division employees biennially complete a Board of Education-approved online course of instruction regarding treating students with seizure disorders. The bill also provides immunity from civil liability for acts or omissions related to providing for the care of a student under a seizure management and action plan. The bill was recommended to be carried over until 2021.

SB933 (Favoloa) The bill requires that the Board of Education evaluate the supports and programs available to "students with limited or interrupted formal education" in local school divisions to determine whether the calculations for the school quality indicators within the Board's Regulations Establishing the Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia are appropriate or whether changes in methodology could be made to more comprehensively measure the academic and nonacademic achievement of such student population. The bill was recommended for reporting 8-0.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

FCC Seeks Public Comment about Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has invited public comment on aspects of the agency’s Net Neutrality decision, which were overturned by a recent court decision. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals remanded key elements of the FCC’s rollback of net neutrality. In particular, the court decision said the agency must consider how the FCC’s decision affects public safety, Lifeline service, and broadband infrastructure. The rule making provides an opportunity for school districts to urge the FCC to provide protections to ensure that schools and students are not harmed by carrier decisions to block websites, “throttle” services, and preference their own or their partners’ online content. Public comments must be submitted on or before March 30, 2020.

FCC Public Noticehttps://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-20-168A1.pdf


To leave public comment: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/

Friday, February 21, 2020

Legislative Action Alert: Vote NO on SB420

Please contact your Delegate TODAY and urge him or her to VOTE NO on SB420.

SB420 (DeSteph) mandates that all school nurses and all school division employees who have regular contact with students to be trained every two years regarding treating students with seizures and seizure disorders.  Virtually all school-based staff, even those not directly responsible for supervising students and those who do not even have contact with students with seizure disorders, will be required to complete this training.  This is an unfunded mandate. 

SB420 also allows parents of such students to submit a seizure management plan to the school.  There will be no opportunity for school staff to have any input into the plan.  This will allow parents to unilaterally dictate to school staff how a student will be accommodated within the school.  This is contrary to how all other medical conditions are handled in schools, in which school staff and parents work in cooperation to develop Section 504 plans and/or health plans. 

SB420 is unnecessary.  Local school divisions are in the best position to determine  which staff require training and school staff should be involved in the development of the seizure management plan.   
   
Please ask your Delegate to VOTE NO on SB420. 

Here is a link to find your Delegate: https://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/

Here is a link to the bill: https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?ses=201&typ=bil&val=sb420

Legislative Action Alert: VOTE NO on SB377


Please contact your Delegate TODAY and urge him or her to VOTE NO on SB377.

SB377 (Bell) will reinstate the three-member fact finding panel for teacher grievances and it will also eliminate the fifteen-day time period for scheduling grievance hearings.  The problem with this bill is that, with no timeframe for setting the hearing, the teacher and their representative can delay the grievance process for weeks and even months.  (This is, in fact what used to happen and was one of the main reasons for the changes that were made to the grievance procedure several years ago.) 

SB377 erodes a local school board’s ability to resolve teacher grievances in a prompt manner. This unnecessary legislation will lead to costly and prolonged legal proceedings for school boards seeking to remove ineffective teachers, during which students are most often being taught by long-term substitutes.
The current grievance procedure is designed to provide ample due process to teachers while also ensuring each of our students have an effective teacher in the classroom. SB377 will prevent the swift resolution of grievances, while benefiting ineffective teachers and their lawyers to the detriment of our students.

Please ask your Delegate to VOTE NO on SB377. 

Here is a link to find your Delegate: https://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/

Here is a link to the bill: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+sum+SB377

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Senate Education and Health Committee Meeting, February 20, 2020


The Senate Education and Health Committee met at 8:00 a.m., Thursday, February 20, 2020 and considered the following pieces of legislation. If you have questions, please contact VSBA Chief Lobbyist, Stacy Haney, at Shaney@haneyphinyo.com, or VSBA Government Relations Specialist, J.T. Kessler, at jason@vsba.org.

H.B. 270 (VanValkenburg) Requires every public school to provide the parents of enrolled students with at least 24 hours' notice before the school conducts any lock-down drill. The bill specifies that no such notice is required to include the exact date and time of the lock-down drill. The bill reported 15-0.

H.B. 308 (Hope) Requires the Department of Education to establish and distribute to each school board no later than August 1, 2020, guidelines for the granting of excused absences to students who are absent from school due to mental or behavioral health and requires any student who is absent from school due to his mental or behavioral health to be granted an excused absence, subject to such guidelines. The bill was amended to change the date for the Department of Education to establish and distribute to each school board no later than December 31, 2020. The bill reported with amendment 15-0.

H.B. 392 (Ward) Prohibits each school board from employing any individual who has been convicted of a violent felony set forth in the definition of barrier crime in subsection A of § 19.2-392.02 of the Code of Virginia or any offense involving the sexual molestation, physical or sexual abuse, or rape of a child. The bill permits each school board to employ any individual who has been convicted of any felony or crime of moral turpitude that is not set forth in the definition of barrier crime in subsection A of § 19.2-392.02 of the Code of Virginia and does not involve the sexual molestation, physical or sexual abuse, or rape of a child, provided that in the case of a felony conviction, such individual has had his civil rights restored by the Governor. The bill contains parallel provisions for contractors and their employees who have direct contact with students on school property during regular school hours or during school-sponsored activities. Current law provides that any felony conviction is a bar to employment and contract work in public schools. The bill reported 15-0.

H.B. 402 (Keam) Requires every public school to hold at least one lock-down drill after the first 60 days of the school session, in addition to the two lock-down drills required to be held during the first 20 days of the school session at each such school. Current law requires each public school to hold at least two lock-down drills after the first 20 days of the school session. The bill requires kindergarten students to be exempt from mandatory participation in lock-down drills during the first 60 days of the school session and requires the principal at each relevant school to implement such exemption by either (i) conducting teacher-only drills or otherwise providing suitable training for kindergarten teachers or (ii) notifying each parent of a kindergarten student at least five school days in advance of each planned lock-down drill and permitting each such parent to opt his child out of participation in such lock-down drill. The bill was amended to add Pre-K as exempt from mandatory participation in lock-down drills. The bill was reported as amended 15-0.

H.B. 410 (Delaney) Requires each local school board to enact a policy to require that timely written notification is provided to the parents of any student who (i) undergoes literacy and Response to Intervention screening and services or (ii) does not meet the benchmark on any assessment used to determine at-risk learners in preschool through grade 12, which notification shall include all such assessment scores and subscores and any intervention plan that results from such assessment scores or subscores. The bill reported 15-0.

H.B. 415 (Delaney) Requires school boards to adopt policies and procedures to ensure suspended students are able to access and complete graded work during and after the suspension. The bill reported 15-0.

H.B. 501 (Krizek) Permits each school board to designate another entity or individual to participate on its behalf in the annual review of its written school crisis, emergency management, and medical emergency response plan. The bill reported 15-0.

H.B. 753 (Rasoul) Requires the Department of Education to (i) establish a uniform definition of social-emotional learning and develop guidance standards for social-emotional learning for all public students in grades kindergarten through 12 in the Commonwealth; (ii) make such standards available to each local school division no later than July 1, 2021; and (iii) issue a report no later than November 1, 2021, on the resources needed to successfully support local school divisions with the implementation of a statewide social-emotional learning program. The bill reported 14-1.

H.B. 817 (Hope) Requires the Department of Education, in collaboration with the Department of Health and medical professional societies, to develop and implement health and safety best practice guidelines for the use of digital devices in public schools no later than the 2021-2022 school year. The bill was reported as amended on a 9-5-1 vote.

H.B. 836 (Carroll Foy) Requires the Department of Education to develop a plan to adopt and implement standards for microcredentials used toward add-on endorsements and renewal of licenses earned by Virginia license holders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The bill requires such plan to include (i) a process for reviewing and administering educator microcredentials; (ii) assurances that educator microcredentials rely upon demonstrable evidence from the submission of artifacts, such as student projects and teacher lesson plans, that are then objectively scored against existing rubrics; and (iii) assurances that educator microcredentials focus on interrelated competencies leading to logical teacher professional development pathways and stacks of educator microcredentials and align with the Board of Education's ongoing work on educator professional development. Such plan shall also include the resources needed for statewide implementation. The bill requires the Department of Education to complete and submit the plan to the Chairmen of the House Committee on Education, the House Committee on Appropriations, the Senate Committee on Education and Health, and the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations no later than December 1, 2020. The bill reported 15-0.

H.B. 928 (Coyner) Permits the Chesterfield County School Board to establish a recovery high school in the school division as a year-round high school (i) for which enrollment is open to any high school student who resides in Superintendent's Region 1 and is in the early stages of recovery from substance use disorder or dependency and (ii) for the purpose of providing such students with the academic, emotional, and social support necessary to make progress toward earning a high school diploma and reintegrating into a traditional high school setting. The bill was reported and referred to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee 15-0.

H.B. 999 (Bell) Requires each school board's policies on the possession and administration of epinephrine in every school in the local school division to require that at least one school nurse, employee of the school board, employee of a local governing body, or employee of a local health department who is authorized by a prescriber and trained in the administration of epinephrine has the means to access at all times during regular school hours any such epinephrine that is stored in a locked or otherwise generally inaccessible container or area. The bill reported 15-0.

H.B. 1073 (Kory) Requires each school board to annually provide parents of pupils in grades kindergarten through 12 information regarding the health dangers of tobacco and nicotine vapor products. The bill requires that the information provided be consistent with guidelines set forth by the Department of Education. The bill reported 14-1.

H.B. 1208 (Tran) Each school board that provides for the transportation of students and that has established a rule, regulation, or policy to exclude certain students who reside within a certain distance from the school at which they are enrolled from accessing such transportation to establish a process for waiving, on a case-by-case and space-available basis, such exclusion and providing transportation to any such student whose parent is unable to provide adequate transportation for his child to attend school because the parent is providing necessary medical care to another family member who resides in the same household, as evidenced by a written explanation submitted by a licensed health care provider who provides care to such family member. The bill reported on a vote of 13-1-1.

H.B. 1336 (Keam) Requires the Board of Education, in conducting its regular review and revision of the Standards of Learning and curriculum guidelines for family life education, to consult relevant stakeholders to ensure that revisions reflect contemporary community standards. The bill requires the next such review and revision to be completed no later than June 30, 2021. The bill requires each school board to conduct a review of its family life education curricula at least once every seven years. The bill was reported and referred to the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations.

H.B. 1344 (Askew) Provides that when adopting regulations regarding the issuance of written reprimands of teachers and other school personnel required to hold a license, the Board of Education shall establish in such regulations the grounds for such written reprimands and provides that for a teacher who breaches his contract, the local board of education or division superintendent, in addition to a written reprimand or revocation of the teacher's license as in current law, may issue a suspension of the teacher's license. The bill reported  15-0.

H.B. 1394 (Leftwich) Requires each local school board that offers a family life education program to post for public viewing (i) on the local school division's official website a summary of such program and (ii) on the local school division's official website or a parental portal a complete copy of all printed family life education program materials not subject to copyright protection and a description of all family life education program audio-visual materials. The bill requires each local school board to implement the foregoing provisions no later than the start of the 2021-2022 school year. The bill reported as amended 11-3.

H.B. 1469  (Gooditis) Requires the Board of Education to extend for at least one additional year, but for no more than two additional years, the three-year provisional license of a teacher employed in an accredited private elementary or secondary school or a school for students with disabilities that is licensed by the Board upon receiving from the school administrator of such school (i) a recommendation for such extension and (ii) satisfactory performance evaluations for such teacher for each year of the original three-year provisional license. This bill incorporates HB 725. The bill reported 15.0

H.B. 1491 (Guy) Requires each public high school to provide to any enrolled student who is of voting age or otherwise eligible to register to vote access to Virginia voter registration information and applications and the opportunity to complete such application during the normal course of the school day. The bill reported on a 10-5 vote.

H.B. 1557 (Fowler) Eliminates the annual salary limits for appointed school board members and permits any appointed school board to pay each of its members an annual salary that is consistent with the salary procedures and no more than the salary limits provided for local governments in Article 1.1 (§ 15.2-1414.1 et seq.) of Chapter 14 of Title 15.2 (Counties, Cities and Towns) or as provided by charter. This bill incorporates HB 1578. The subcommittee failed to recommend reporting this bill on a 2-3 vote. A substitute motion was made to report the bill. The bill was reported and referred to the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations on a 8-7 vote.

H.B. 1613 (Brewer) Requires the Board of Education, pursuant to regulation, to permit any individual who seeks a technical professional license to substitute the successful completion of an intensive, job-embedded, three-year program of professional development for the nine semester hours of professional studies required for such license. The bill reported 15-0.

H.B. 1630 (Kilgore) Permits any school board and division superintendent to extend from three months to six months the period within which the provisional license of an individual seeking initial teacher licensure who has not completed professional assessments will expire for the purpose of establishing such individual's eligibility for initial licensure, provided that such individual has received a satisfactory mid-year performance review in the current school year and meets all other eligibility criteria. The bill reported 15-0.