Thursday, January 30, 2014

Report from Elementary and Secondary Subcommittee

In the final committee meeting of the day, the Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee considered several bills of interest. 

HB 198 (Landes) was amended, at VSBA's request, to be identical to Senator Garrett's SB 441, which clarifies that in cases of weapons and drug offenses, the school board may, but is not required to expel the student.  The bill was recommended for reporting.

Del. Dickie Bell, the subcommittee chairman, had two bills considered this evening.  First, HB 207, which requires the BOE, local school boards and school board employees to encourage students to explore scientific questions and theories was recommended for reporting and referral to Courts.  Second, his HB 221, relating to the costs of providing educational services when a student is placed in a residential facility was recommended for reporting and referral to Appropriations.

Del. Rob Bell had HB 449,  which originally would have prohibited school divisions from disclosing personally identifiable information from student records to federal government agencies and commercial entities without first notifying the parents and allowing them an opportunity to opt out of the disclosure.  This bill was problematic for several reasons, including that federal agencies, such as the Office for Civil Rights and the Department of Justice, have the authority to enforce and investigate violations of a number of federal laws.  These investigations often require the disclosure of certain student records.  We worked with Del. Bell to develop substitute language which merely prohibits the disclosure of personally identifiable information out of student records unless required by federal law or regulations.  The substitute was recommended for reporting.  

Del. Robinson's HB 613 relating to violations of the compulsory attendance law was recommended for referral to Courts. 

Del. McClellan's HB 720, which requires school boards to adopt policies to set aside a place in each school for mothers to express breast milk was recommended for reporting.  Her HB 726, which would require, among other things, that school boards provide students an education while suspended, was recommended for reporting and referral to Appropriations.