Thursday, February 7, 2013

House Bills Sail Through Senate Education and Health

The Senate Education and Health Committee reported a number of relatively non-controversial bills this morning.  Below is a summary.

HB1344 (Bell) permits - but does not require - IEP teams for students who are deaf and heard of hearing to consider certain factors when developing the IEP.  The bill was amended on the House side to make it permissive rather than mandatory.  The bill was reported unanimously.

HB1388 (Habeeb) changes the deadline for notifying principals, assistant principals, and supervisors of reassignment from April 15 to June 15.  The bill was reported unanimously.

HB1406 (Bell) requires school boards to provide information regarding eating disorders to parents of students in grades 5-12.  The information can be provided in paper or electronically, including by posting on the school system's website.  The bill was reported unanimously. 

HB1864 (Robinson) clarifies that while principals are required to report certain offenses to law enforcement, law enforcement is not required to file delinquency charges in all such cases.  It also directs the BOE and the Department of Criminal Justice Services to develop a model cooperative agreement between schools and local law-enforcement agencies for dealing with school-based offenses.  The bill was reported unanimously. 

HB1866 (Robinson) simplifies the code sections dealing with mandatory expulsions for firearms offenses.  Currently, the definition of "firearm" includes many weapons  and items (like knives and slingshots) that are not actually firearms.  The bill those other weapons and items from the definition of firearm.  School boards can still have weapons policies prohibiting these items and can still expel students for such violations.  Under this bill, however, those violations would no longer carry a mandatory recommendation of expulsion, thus restoring discretion to administrators and school boards to determine what offenses merit expulsion.  The bill was reported unanimously.

HB1889 (LeMunyon) makes teacher performance indicators and other data used by the school boards to judge the growth or quality of a teacher confidential.  Currently, this information may be disclosed pursuant to FOIA.  The bill was reported unanimously. 

HB2066 (Peace) would allow school boards flexibility to assign librarians, guidance counselors, and school-based clerical personnel according to local need, so long as the school board employs the total number of each type of employee required by the SOQ on a division-wide basis.  Currently, school boards must assign these personnel based on the number of students and level of school (elementary, middle or secondary) regardless of the actual needs of the schools.  The bill was reported unanimously.  

HB2068 (LeMunyon) requires early intervention services in reading and math to certain students.  The bill was reported unanimously.

HB2076 (Stolle) provides that a local school board that initiates a charter school application is not required to first seek comment and review from the Board of Education.  The bill was reported 10-2. 

HB2083 (Cox) which creates a Strategic Compensation Grant Initiative Fund to provide incentive grants to improve teacher and student performance.  The bill was reported and referred to Finance on a unanimous vote. 

HB2084 (Cox) will allow the Teach for America program to operate in Virginia.  The bill was reported unanimously.

HB2098 (Tata) allows BOE to grant waivers from state regulations for up to five years in order to allow a school board to increase the quality of instruction and to improve student achievement.  The bill specifically allows BOE to grant waivers from the staffing standards in a particular school, so long as the staffing standards are met division-wide.  In other words, the bill would allow a waiver giving the school board flexibility to place staff according to need rather than solely according to the staffing standards.  The bill was reported and referred to Finance on a vote of 11-2.

HB2101 (Ramadan) requires BOE to develop guidelines from High School to Work Partnerships.  The bill reported unanimously. 

HB2144 (Landes) would allow BOE to grant a two year waiver from the third grade science and/or history SOL assessment for schools with an adjusted pass rate of less than 75% on the third grade reading SOL assessment.  If such a waiver is granted, science and history would still be taught but the SOL assessment would not be required.  The bill was reported 11-4.

HB2151 (Bell)  is the Governor's Educator Fairness Act.  The bill was reported 11-2.