Thursday, February 12, 2015

Senate Education and Health Committee update

This morning the Senate Education and Health Committee took up a number of bills that VSBA has been monitoring and working on this session. Many of these bills have companions that have already passed the Senate or have been heard in previous years. The committee heard two school calendar bills, HB1550 (Greason) and HB1838 (Robinson), which provide flexibility to the school board to set the school calendar that works best for their community. Unfortunately both of these bills received the same fate as their Senate companion bills and failed to report. Below is a report on the actions of the full committee.

HB1307 (Landes) was reported from the committee. The bill prohibits school boards and the DOE from requiring the disclosure of student's social security numbers of newly enrolled students. The bill also requires the Department to instead develop a system of unique student identification numbers and requires each local school board to assign such a number to each student enrolled in a public elementary or secondary school. 

HB1334 (Landes) requires the Department of Education to develop and make publicly available on its website policies to ensure state and local compliance with FERPA and state law applicable to students' personally identifiable information, including policies for access to students' personally identifiable information and the approval of requests for student data from public and private entities and individuals for the purpose of research. The bill also requires the Department and each local school division to notify the parent of any student whose personally identifiable information contained in electronic records could reasonably be assumed to have been disclosed in violation of FERPA or state law applicable to such information. The notification shall include the date, estimated date, or date range of the disclosure; type of information that was or is reasonably believed to have been disclosed; and remedial measures taken or planned in response to the disclosure. The bill was reported from the full committee.

HB1351 (Ramadan) was reported with a substitute. The bill directs the Board of Education to establish criteria for awarding a diploma seal for biliteracy to any student who demonstrates proficiency in a language other than English for Board of Education-approved diplomas.

HB1490 (Habeeb) 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. HB1490 was reported unanimously by the committee.

HB1585 (Stolle) failed to report from the committee on a close 8-6 vote. The bill allows a division superintendent, with the approval of the local school board to
  •  establish an alternative school schedule plan to provide for the operation of schools on a year-round basis or determine the opening day of the school year for any school within the local school division that has failed to achieve full accreditation status, and; 
  •   establish such an alternative school schedule plan for the entire local school division if more than 15 percent of all public schools within the local school division have failed to achieve full accreditation status.

HB1626 (R. Bell) was reported from the full committee on an 8-6 vote. This legislation prohibits school divisions from joining an athletic/interscholastic organization that doesn’t allow home school students to participate in public schools athletics or interscholastic activities. It allows students to be charged reasonable fees for participation. The bill also states that eligibility of a student receiving home instruction shall be limited to participation the school serving the attendance zone in which the student lives and will be subject to policies governing participation that the local school board may establish.

HB1952 (Poindexter) allows local school boards to sell or transfer any of its school buses to another school division or purchase a used school bus from another school division or a school bus dealer as long as the school bus conforms to the specifications relating to construction and design effective in the Commonwealth on the date of manufacture, has a valid Virginia State Police inspection, and has not reached the end of its useful life according to the school bus replacement schedule utilized by the Department of Education as required by the general appropriation act. The bill was reported from the committee. 

HB2114 (D. Bell) was reported on a 10-4 vote. The bill requires the regulations setting nutritional guidelines for competitive foods permit each public school to conduct no more than 30 school sponsored fundraisers per school year on school grounds during regular school hours, during which food that does not meet the nutrition guidelines for competitive foods may be sold to students.