Monday, February 3, 2014

Monday Update from House Education

The House Education Committee met today and considered a very lengthy docket.  Below are summaries of some of the bills considered today.  Click here for the full Committee report for today's meeting.

Three school calendar bills were considered today.  HB333 (Greason) makes local school boards responsible for setting the school calendar and determining the opening date of the school year. HB577 (Stolle) will allow a division Superintendent and local school board to set the school calendar for any school within the division that has failed to achieve full accreditation status or any division if more than 15 percent of the schools within the division failed to achieve full accreditation status. HB610 (Robinson) will allow a local school board to set their school calendar and opening date. However, the division must close schools from the Thursday before through Labor Day or Friday before through the Tuesday after Labor Day.  All three of these bills were reported.

HB 221 (Bell) which would require the school division in which a child resided to pay the cost of providing an education when the child is placed by the parents in a residential facility.  This would, in effect, allow parents to reject an IEP proposed by the school division, unilaterally place the child in a residential facility, and then force the school division to pay the cost of educating the child.  VSBA opposed this legislation.  The bill was reported and referred to Appropriations.

HB 207, which requires the BOE, local school boards and school board employees to encourage students to explore scientific questions and theories was reported and referred to Courts.  

HB 198 (Landes), which was amended at VSBA's request, clarifies that in cases of weapons and drug offenses, the school board may, but is not required to expel the student.  The bill was reported.

HB 449 (Bell) which was amended to merely prohibits the disclosure of personally identifiable information out of student records unless required by federal law or regulations.  The substitute was reported.

HB 720 (McClellan) which requires school boards to adopt policies to set aside a place in each school for mothers to express breast milk was reported.

HB 726 (McClellan) which would require, among other things, that school boards provide students an education while suspended, was recommended reported and referred to Appropriations. 

Delegate Rust had three bills that were reported out of the Committee today: HB 751752, and 754.  HB 751 makes it permissive for school boards to expel students for certain drug offenses.  Current law requires school boards to expel students for these offenses but then allows school boards to impose another sanction if warranted by special circumstances.  Under this legislation, a school board may still expel a student for drug offenses, but is not required to do so.  HB 752  removes the possession of a pneumatic weapon on school grounds from the list of weapons offenses that carry a mandatory sanction of expulsion (unless, again, special circumstances exist).  This bill still allows school boards to prohibit the possession of pneumatic weapons and to expel students for violating such a policy, but expulsion would no longer be required in these cases.  VSBA supports both HB 751 and 752 because these bills give local school boards flexibility to decide appropriate disciplinary sanctions and to avoid the confusion of the "mandatory" expulsion that was not actually mandatory.  HB 754 would permit the school board or a committee thereof to change a disciplinary decision made by a Superintendent or designee or hearing officer in certain circumstances.  It is VSBA's position that school boards can already take such actions.  The patron of the bill and the subcommittee indicated that they thought this bill would clarify existing law.

In addition, Del. Rust's Del. HB 753 was reported and referred to the Courts committee.  That bill would make inadmissible in delinquency proceedings any oral or written student statement made to a school employee if the students parent or guardian was not present during the questioning.

HB 786 (Wilt) would prohibit school boards from dismissing any employee for bringing a firearm on to school property in certain circumstances, such as when unloaded and in a closed container, trunk, or in a gun rack.  Under current law, possession of firearms in these circumstances is not illegal but it can be prohibited by a local school board at the school board's option.  This bill would take away from school boards the ability to chose whether to prohibit or allow firearms onto school property in these circumstances.  HB 786 was reported and referred the Committee on Militia and Police.

HB 993 (BaCote) was reported and referred to Appropriations.  This bill would require every person seeking initial licensure or renewal of a license to complete study in human trafficking.  

HB 1110 (Toscano) was reported.  This bill deals with circumstances in which a student is placed in a group home or institution, not solely for school purposes, outside his school division.  The bill would require the school division in which the child previously resided to reimburse the school division in which the child was placed in a group home or institution for the cost of educating the child.

HB 1128 (Rasoul) permits two or more school boards to create cooperative CTE programs by written agreement.  School boards can do this under existing law.  This bill would require that such agreements be in writing and also clarifies that a school division that provides CTE under such an agreement may charge tuition to students participating from other school divisions. The bill was reported.

HB 1242 (O'Quinn) would require a school board tie breaker to be elected in the same manner as the school board.  Under current law, school boards may choose to appoint a tie breaker.  School boards are not, however, required to have a tie breaker under current law.  Under this bill, the school board would retain the authority to choose whether to create the position of tie breaker but then the method of selection of the tie breaker would be by election.  This bill was reported.  

HB1229 (Landes) was reported. This bill delays the A-F grading system from October 1, 2014 to October 1, 2015.