Friday, January 23, 2015

Senate Education and Health Committee update

Thursday morning the Senate Education and Health committee met to take action on a packed agenda. Below is a summary of the actions taken on public education related bills.

SB724 (Black) prohibits the Virginia Board of Education from adopting any revisions to the Standards of Learning that implement the Common Core State Standards without prior statutory approve from the General Assembly. After much discussion regarding the fact that Virginia was in the process of revising its standards and had no intention of implementing the Common Core State Standards, the bill reported from the committee on a close vote of 9-6.

SB782 (Favola) requires the Board of Education to adopt regulations on the use of seclusion and restraint in public elementary and secondary schools in the Commonwealth. These regulations must: 
  • Be consistent with the Guidelines for the Development of Policies and Procedures for Managing Student Behavior in Emergency Situations and the Fifteen Principles contained in the U.S. Department of Education’s Restraint and Seclusion Resource Document;
  • Include definitions, criteria for use, restrictions for use, training requirements, notification requirements, reporting requirements, and follow-up requirements; and
  • Address distinctions, including distinctions in emotional and physical development, between the general student population and the special education student population as well as elementary school students and secondary school students. 
Due to the large fiscal impact on school divisions, VSBA has opposed the bill and continues to work with the patron. The bill was reported from committee on an 11-4 vote.

SB821 (Miller) repeals the Opportunity Educational Institution. The bill reported unanimously from the committee.

SB823 (Miller) which changes the requirement that school provide a program of physical fitness to a program of physical activity.  The bill also requires that the program of physical activity for grades kindergarten through five consist of at least 20 minutes per day or an average of 100 minutes per week during the regular school year.  The bill does not alter the minutes (150 per week on average) that the program of physical activity be made available to students in grades six through twelve. The bill was reported from the committee on a 14-1 vote.

SB852 (Carrico) was amended by the patron to clarify that the definition of “corporal punishment” does not include physical activities prescribed as part of an accredited high school athletic program. At VSBA’s request another amendment was included that states that this act is declaratory of existing law. With both amendments, SB852 reported unanimously from committee.

SB874 unanimously passed the full committee. The bill, which incorporates SB757 (Barker),SB897 (Miller), SB984 (Garrett), and SB995 (Stuart), directs the Board of Education to promulgate regulations to provide the same criteria for eligibility for an expedited retake of any Standards of Learning test, with the exception of the writing Standards of Learning tests, to each student regardless of grade level or course.

The committee plans to meet twice next week to handle many of the bills that have been referred to Senate Education and Health. Check back for more updates!