Yesterday the Senate Health and Education Committee met and considered the following bills.
SB995(Stanley) originally reduced the maximum length of a long-term suspension from 364 calendar days to 45 school days. The original bill also prohibited a long-term suspension from extending beyond the end of the grading period unless there were aggravating circumstance and beyond the end of the school year in all cases. VSBA opposes this legislation but, given its strong, bi-partisan support, we have worked extensively to amend this bill, which initially reported unanimously from subcommittee. The bill was sent back to subcommittee where it was amended and reported again. In committee yesterday, the bill was amended again. In its current form, the bill prohibits a long-term suspension from extending beyond 60 days unless the conduct may constitute an offense contemplated under subsection G of § 16.1-260. The bill also provides that for any long-term suspension over 60 days, the school board or the superintendent or his designee shall conduct a review at the end of each grading period to determine whether the student will be permitted to return to school early. The amended language is a vast improvement over the original bill and VSBA will continue to work to improve this bill. The substitute was reported from the committee 11-4.
SB997(Stanley) originally prohibited students in preschool through grade five from being suspended or expelled except for drug offenses, firearm offenses, or in the case of conviction of certain crimes. VSBA opposes this bill but, like SB995, this bill initially reported out of subcommittee. The bill was sent back to subcommittee where it was amended to apply only to students in prekindergarten through grade 3. The bill was also amended to permit a suspension of up to 5 days but it prohibited a longer suspension or expulsion (except in cases involving firearms or drugs). VSBA worked extensively on this bill, too. The bill was amended in committee, over the patron's objection. As amended, the bill prohibits expulsions and suspensions of more than ten days for students in prekindergarten through grade 3, except in cases involving serious bodily injury, inappropriate sexual behavior, or weapons. AS with SB995, the amended language of this bill is a vast improvement over the original bill and VSBA will continue to work to improve this bill. The amended bill was reported 12-3.SB829 (Wexton) directs the Board of Education to establish guidelines for alternatives to short-term and long-term suspension for consideration by local school boards. The bill was reported 15-0.
SB 951 (Ruff) was amended with a substitute. The substitute requires school service providers to provide parents either directly or through the student's school or teacher, access to a copy of the student's personal information that has been collected, maintained, used, or shared by the school service provider. The bill also provides that contracts between local school boards and school service providers may require that such copy be in a machine-readable format. The bill was reported 15-0 with substitute.
SB1017(Barker) authorizes a school attendance officer or local school division superintendent or his designee acting as an attendance officer to complete, sign, and file petitions and motions for the enforcement of certain orders entered by a juvenile and domestic relations district court. The bill also provides that a nonattorney attendance officer or local school division superintendent or his designee acting as an attendance officer performing the powers and duties of an attendance officer is not considered the practice of law. The bill was reported 15-0.
SB1082 (Wexton) eliminates the requirement that school principals report misdemeanor offenses to law enforcement. Under this bill, principals must still report conduct that may constitute a felony to law enforcement and they may report misdemeanor offenses. The bill was reported with substitute 15-0.
SB1098(Newman) requires that the regulations establishing standards for accreditation adopted by the Board of Education ensure that the accreditation process is transparent and based on objective measurements and that any appeal of the accreditation status of a school is heard and decided by the Board. The bill was reported 14-0.
SB 1099(Newman) requires that school boards use the term "locally developed assessments," rather that "alternative assessments" to refer to assessments developed by the school division. The bill also requires local school boards to distinguish between locally developed assessments and Standards of Learning assessments when administering assessments. The bill was reported from the committee 14-0.
SB1117(McPike) requires every person seeking initial licensure or renewal of a license with an endorsement as a school counselor to complete training in the recognition of mental health disorder and behavioral distress, including depression, trauma, violence, youth suicide, and substance abuse. The bill was reported from the committee 10-5.
SB1240(Dunnavant) would create a state-wide Virginia Virtual School that would be open to any student in the Commonwealth. The bill was reported and referred to the Senate Finance Committee.
SB1283(Obenshain) would allow the BOE to establish regional charter school divisions, consisting of up to 3 underlying local school divisions that each have an enrollment of 3000 students and that each have one or more schools that have been denied accreditation for two of the last three years. The regional charter school division would be governed by a separate board of eight members appointed by BOE and one member appointed from each underlying locality (not school board). The regional charter school would get the per pupil state funding associated with the jurisdiction in which each student resides. The regional charter school would not be entitled to receive any local share for such students. The bill was reported and referred to Appropriations.
SB1359 (McPike) requires school boards to develop and implement a plan to test and, if necessary, remediate potable water in school buildings. The bill was reported 9-6.
SB1414(Newman) requires school boards to (i) make Advanced Placement (AP), Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), and PreACT examinations available to students receiving home instruction, (ii) adopt written policies that specify the date by which such students shall register to participate in such examinations, and (iii) notify such students and their parents of such registration deadline and the availability of financial assistance to low-income and needy students to take such examinations. The bill reported with amendments 12-2.
SB1475(McClellan) Makes changes to family life education curriculum guidelines and curricula, including (i) requiring family life education curriculum guidelines to include instruction as appropriate for the age of the student in the benefits, challenges, responsibilities, and value of family relationships for men, women, children, and communities; (ii) amending the definition of "abstinence education" for the purposes of such curriculum guidelines; and (iii) permitting the age-appropriate elements of effective and evidence-based programs on sexual violence that are required to be incorporated into any high school family life education curriculum offered by a local school division to include instruction that increases student awareness of the fact that consent is required before sexual activity. The bill was reported with amendments 14-1.
SB1516(Black) requires that school boards that employ reading specialists must have at least one reading specialist receive training in the identification of and the appropriate interventions, accommodations, and teaching techniques for students with dyslexia or a related disorder and to serve as an advisor on dyslexia and related disorders. The bill was reported with a substitute 7-6.
SB1517(Black) authorizes a school board to charge a reasonable fee, when it provides transportation to pupils who live in the school division and attend a school outside the school division. The bill was reported with amendments 9-5.
SB1537(McPike) would have required each school board to require each school board employee in the local school division, including student support positions but excluding all other support services positions, to participate in a three-hour in-person or online training program on identifying, preventing, and responding to incidents of bullying. The bill requires each such training program to include information on bullying that is provided by the National Council for Behavioral Health. The bill has a delayed effective date of July 1, 2018. The bill was passed by indefinitely.
SB1556(Newman) would have required the Board of Education's graduation requirements to require a student to earn at least one verified credit in each of the following subjects: mathematics, reading, writing, science, and history and social science. The bill requires a student to achieve a passing score on the associated end-of-course Standards of Learning assessment to earn a verified credit. The bill prohibits the associated end-of course Standards of Learning assessment from being diluted or replaced by another assessment. The bill was passed by indefinitely.
SB1584(Sutterlein) would have required the Board of Education, in establishing high school graduation requirements, to provide for the award of verified units of credit for satisfactory scores on locally selected, nationally recognized high school academic assessments approved by the Board in lieu of the correlated Standards of Learning assessments. The bill was passed by indefinitely.
SB 1584(Sutterlein) would have required the Board of Education, in establishing high school graduation requirements, to provide for the award of verified units of credit for satisfactory scores on locally selected, nationally recognized high school academic assessments approved by the Board in lieu of the correlated Standards of Learning assessments. The bill was passed by indefinitely.
SB 983 (Favola) would have required the Division of Special Education and Student Services of the Department of Education to (i) select, with input from an advisory committee that it establishes, language development milestones and include such milestones in a resource for use by parents of a child from birth to age five who is identified as deaf, deaf-blind, or hard-of-hearing to monitor and track their child's expressive and receptive language acquisition and developmental stages toward English literacy; (ii) disseminate such resource to such parents; (iii) select existing tools or assessments for educators for use in assessing the language and literacy development of children from birth to age five who are deaf, deaf-blind, or hard-of-hearing; (iv) disseminate such tools or assessments to local educational agencies and provide materials and training on their use; and (v) annually produce a report, using existing data reported in compliance with the federally required state performance plan on students with disabilities, that compares the language and literacy development of children from birth to age five who are deaf, deaf-blind, or hard-of-hearing with the language and literacy development of their peers who are not deaf, deaf-blind, or hard-of-hearing and make such report available to the public on its website. The bill was stricken at the request of the patron.
SB1089(Sturtevant) would have reduced the total number and type of required Standards of Learning assessments to the minimum requirements established by the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, P.L. 89-10, as amended. The bill was passed by indefinitely.
SB1235(Ebbin) would have required each local school board to implement the Standards of Learning for the family life education program developed by the Board of Education or a family life education program consistent with the guidelines developed by the Board. The bill was passed by indefinitely.
SB1246(Stuart) would have granted, for a period of three years, eligibility for funding from the state pool of funds available through the Comprehensive Services for At-Risk Youth and Families program to children and youth placed for purposes of special education in a public school special educational program established and funded jointly by a local governing body and school board pursuant to a Memorandum of Agreement for the purpose of providing special education, related services, or both within a public day program, when the public school special educational program is able to provide services comparable to those of an approved private school special educational program, and the student would require placement in an approved private school special educational program but for the availability of the public school special educational program. The bill was stricken at the request of the patron.
SB 1335(Surovell) would have prohibited local school boards from requiring the use of any electronic textbook in any course in grades six through 12 unless the school board adopts a plan to ensure that by July 1, 2019, (i) each student enrolled in such course will have access to a personal computing device capable of supporting such textbooks and (ii) the relevant school has adequate connectivity, which the bill defines as bandwidth of at least one megabit per second per student. The bill was passed by indefinitely.
SB1476(McClellan) would have required the Department of Education to (i) develop and make available to each local school board a program of training for hearing officers who preside over teacher dismissal hearings that includes information on the statutory procedure for teacher dismissal hearings and (ii) develop, maintain, and make available to each local school board a list of hearing officers who have completed such program of training. The bill was stricken at the request of the patron.
SB1477(McClellan) would have made several changes to provisions relating to students with blindness or visual impairments, including (i) requiring a learning media assessment (LMA) to be administered as part of the initial evaluation and each reevaluation of each student with blindness or visual impairments or more frequently, if such student's Individualized Education Program (IEP) team so determines and requiring instruction in Braille reading and writing and accommodations for materials in Braille to be included in the IEP of a student with blindness or visual impairments commensurate with his IEP team's determination of his needs based upon the results of such LMA and (ii) requiring the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired to assist the Board of Education and each local school board with ongoing professional development for teachers of students with blindness or visual impairments, including knowledge of and instruction in Braille and the administration and evaluation of LMAs. The bill was stricken at the request of the patron.
SB1500(Favola) would have established the School Health Advisory Board in the executive branch to advise the General Assembly on pending legislation concerning health policy that affects elementary and secondary schools. The bill was passed by indefinitely.