This morning the Senate Education and Health Committee met and considered the following bills of interest:
SB 1142 (Favola) requires the Board of Education to establish the State School Health Advisory Committee, consisting of no more than 20 nonlegislative citizen members, to advise the Board, the Governor, and the General Assembly on (i) the role of employees in public elementary or secondary schools in providing health care services at such schools and (ii) the need for any training associated with delivery of health care services. The Committee voted unanimously to report the bill.
SB 1141 (Favola) would require the Board of Education, in its curriculum guidelines for family life education, to include instruction on the prevention of human trafficking. Additionally, the bill requires any high school family life education program offered in a local school division to incorporate age-appropriate elements of effective and evidence-based programs on the prevention of human trafficking. The Committee voted unanimously to report the bill.
SB 1159 (Black) requires any family life education curriculum offered in any elementary school, middle school, or high school to incorporate age-appropriate elements of effective and evidence-based programs on the harmful physical and emotional effects of female genital mutilation, associated criminal penalties, and the rights of the victim including any civil action. The Committee voted unanimously to report the bill.
SB 1275 (Black) requires any school board that offers a Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps program to make the program available to any student who receives home instruction and resides in the local school division. The bill is particularly problematic because it prohibits any such school board from requiring any such student to enroll on a full or part-time basis or to meet other eligibility requirements for such a program beyond those required of public school students. Because the students would not be required to enroll, the school division would receive no state or local funds for the additional students participating in the program. The Committee voted to report the bill on a 9-5 vote.
SB 1236 (DeSteph) requires school boards to adopt and implement policies to ensure employees have equal access to education employee. The bill is troubling because, among other things, it would remove the discretion of the local school board or superintendent to decide what groups are permitted to attend new teacher or employee orientations. The Committee voted to report the bill on an 8-4 vote.
SB 1295 (Spruill) requires each school board to (i) develop and implement a policy to prohibit the use and distribution of tobacco products and nicotine vapor products on a school bus, on school property, or at an on-site or off-site school-sponsored activity and (ii) include in its code of student conduct a prohibition against possessing tobacco products or nicotine vapor products on a school bus, on school property, or at an on-site or off-site school-sponsored activity. Current law only places these requirements on each school board with regard to electronic cigarettes. The bill requires such policy to include adequate provisions for enforcement among students, employees, and visitors, including the enumeration of possible sanctions or disciplinary action consistent with state or federal law, and referrals to resources to help staff and students overcome tobacco addiction. The bill provides such policies may include procedures for effectively communicating the policy to students, their parents and families, school personnel, visitors on school premises, and local residents, groups, businesses, and other organizations served by the school. The Committee voted to report the bill on a vote of 11-3.
SB 1397 (Peake) requires the Board of Education to issue a license to an individual seeking initial licensure who has not completed the professional assessments prescribed by the Board, if such individual (i) holds a provisional license that will expire within three months, (ii) is employed by a school board, (iii) is recommended for licensure by the division superintendent, (iv) has attempted, unsuccessfully, to obtain a qualifying score on the professional assessments prescribed by the Board, (v) has received an evaluation rating of proficient or above on the performance standards for each year of the provisional license and such evaluation was conducted in a manner consistent with the Guidelines for Uniform Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria for Teachers, Principals, and Superintendents, and (vi) meets all other requirements for initial licensure. The bill removes the requirement that the Board of Education prescribe an assessment of basic skills for individuals seeking entry into an approved education preparation program and establish a minimum passing score for such assessment. The Committee voted unanimously to report the bill.
SB 1433 (McClellan) requires the Department of Education to aggregate and report to each education preparation program certain teacher employment data, as available, regarding such program's graduates. The Committee voted unanimously to report the bill.
SB 1440 (McClellan) directs the Board of Education to review and update the health Standards of Learning for students in all grades to include mental health. Legislation passed in 2018 required such review and update for students in grades nine and 10. The Committee voted unanimously to report the bill.
SB 1608 (Dunnavant) requires the Virginia Fusion Intelligence Center (the Center) to develop or obtain a school safety mobile application to (i) facilitate the provision of real-time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week crisis intervention services by licensed clinicians, including support or crisis counseling, suicide prevention, and referral services to students and youth in the Commonwealth through calls, texts, and online chats and (ii) provide to students and youth in the Commonwealth a platform that is capable of receiving text, audio, images, or video to furnish information concerning a suspected, anticipated, or completed criminal violation. The Center shall coordinate with the Department of Medical Assistance Services to contract with a third-party to provide such crisis intervention services. The Committee voted unanimously to report the bill.
This afternoon, the Senate Education and Health Public Education Subcommittee met and considered the following bills:
SB 1218 (Newman) was amended with a substitute in subcommittee. The substitute would require end of course SOL assessments be administered to students in grades 9-12 in reading, writing, mathematics, biology, and Virginia and U.S. history. The assessments cannot be performance-based assessments. The bill also provides that the writing assessment include a writing sample. The bill also requires that the Board of Education establish guidelines to ensure that other (non-SOL) assessments produce quantifiable metrics that are comparable across school divisions and years. The bill further requires that Board of Education to include in its graduation requirements a requirement that students earn verified credits in reading, writing, mathematics, science and Virginia and U.S. History. The committee recommended the bill for reporting unanimously.
SB 1138 (Favola) was amended in subcommittee. The amended bill would allow a local school board, when applying for its school division to be designated as a School Division of Innovation, to apply to the Board of Education (the Board) to replace certain Standards of Learning assessments with performance-based assessments. The bill requires the Board to determine if the local school board has the capacity to administer and score performance-based assessments and provides criteria for such determination. The bill requires any proposed performance-based assessment to be an adequate replacement of the relevant Standards of Learning assessment and requires students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills required by the relevant Standards of Learning and one or more of critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, or citizenship. The standards of learning assessments eligible for replacement are (i) Virginia Studies, (ii) Civics and Economics, (iii) elementary school science, and (iv) middle school science. The bill further requires the Board to promulgate any necessary regulations and to submit to the U.S. Department of Education any necessary amendments to its consolidated state plan. The subcommittee failed to report the bill on a vote of 2-3.
SB 1348 (Newman) would require the Department of Education, in consultation with representatives from pertinent industries such as renewable energy, natural gas, nuclear energy, coal, and oil, to establish an energy career cluster. The bill requires the Department of Education to base the knowledge and skill sets contained in such energy career cluster on the energy industry competency and credential models developed by the Center for Energy Workforce Development in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor. The bill further requires the Department of Education to report to the Chairmen of the House Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Education and Health no later than December 1, 2019, on its progress toward establishing such energy career cluster. The subcommittee recommended the bill be reported unanimously.
SB 1472 (Deeds) would require each school board to adopt and implement policies that require each teacher and other relevant personnel, as determined by the school board, employed on a full-time basis, to complete a Mental Health First Aid training or similar program. The bill requires each school board to provide such training and provides that a school board may contract with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, a community services board, a behavioral health authority, a nonprofit organization, or other certified trainer to provide such training. The subcommittee failed to report the bill on a vote of 2-3.
SB 1419 (Sturtevant) would permit the Department of Education to establish a microcredential program for the purpose of permitting any public elementary or secondary school teacher who holds a renewable or provisional license or any individual who participates in any alternate route to licensure program to complete additional in-person or blended coursework and earn microcredentials in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) endorsement areas, including computer science, for which there is a high need for additional qualified teachers. The bill requires the Department of Education to establish a microcredential committee to determine how any microcredential awarded pursuant to any such program will be used to award add-on endorsements and certifications for teachers in such STEM endorsement areas. The bill provides certain conditions in which in-person coursework in a microcredential program not contributing to an endorsement is eligible for professional development points towards the renewal of a teaching license. The subcommittee recommended that the bill be reported unanimously.
SB 1545 (Sturtevant) would allows a school board to adopt an alternative accountability process to provide a principal and parties involved in an incident involving assault or assault and battery without bodily injury that occurs on a school bus, on school property, or at a school-sponsored event an option to enter into a mutually agreed upon mediation process between the involved parties as an alternative to reporting such incident to law enforcement. The bill requires a principal in a school division with such a process to attempt to engage the parties involved in such an incident in the alternative accountability process prior to reporting such incident to the local law-enforcement agency. The bill prohibits a principal from reporting such an incident when the parties successfully complete the alternative accountability process. VSBA proposed amendments to the bill that make the provisions of the bill permissive rather than mandatory, which Sen. Sturtevant and the subcommittee accepted. The amended bill was unanimously recommended for reporting.
SB 1632 (Sturtevant) would require local school boards to adopt and implement policies permitting a student who has been issued a valid written certification for the use of cannabidiol oil or THC-A oil to use such oils while at school. The bill prohibits a school board from suspending or expelling such a student for such use. The bill prohibits a school nurse employed by a local school board, person employed by a local health department who is assigned to the public school pursuant to an agreement between the local health department and the school board, or other person employed by or contracted with a local school board to deliver health-related services from being prosecuted for possession or distribution of cannabidiol oil or THC-A oil or for storing, dispensing, or administering cannabidiol oil or THC-A oil, in accordance with the policy adopted by the local school board, to a student who has been issued a valid written certification for its use. Finally, the bill requires the Department of Health Professions, in coordination with the Department of Education, to develop and make available to school boards, a standardized form to be completed by the certification issuing physician and the dispensing pharmaceutical processor. The bill was recommended for reporting unanimously.
SB 1591 (Dunnavant) would direct the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety (the Center) to convene a work group to develop guidelines and best practices for the sharing of information between a local school board or public institution of higher education and law enforcement regarding a student whose behavior may pose a threat to the safety of a school or institution or the community. Such guidelines and best practices shall seek to balance the interests of safety and student privacy and shall be consistent with the provisions of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as applicable. The bill requires the Center to develop such guidelines and best practices, report to the Chairmen of the House Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Education and Health, and make such guidelines available to local school boards, public institutions of higher education, law enforcement, and the public by October 1, 2019. The bill was recommended for reporting unanimously.
SB 1590 (Dunnavant) would requires that the Virtual Virginia program, the statewide electronic classroom established by the Department of Education, be made available to all public schools. Currently, the program is available only to high schools. The bill requires the Department to utilize a learning management system for the purposes of implementing Virtual Virginia. The bill also authorizes the Department to charge a per-student fee to school divisions for each student enrolled in a full-time Virtual Virginia program beyond an initial allotment of 15 such students per school division and prohibits the Department from limiting the total number of such students by school division. The bill was recommended to report of a vote of 3-1-1.
SB 1406 (Dance) would change the name of guidance counselors to school counselors and require school boards to employ school counselors in accordance with the following ratios: (i) effective with the 2019-2020 school year, in elementary schools, one hour per day per 75 students, one full-time at 375 students, one hour per day additional time per 75 students or major fraction thereof; in middle schools, one period per 65 students, one full-time at 325 students, one additional period per 65 students or major fraction thereof; in high schools, one period per 60 students, one full-time at 300 students, one additional period per 60 students or major fraction thereof; (ii) effective with the 2020-2021 school year, in elementary schools, one hour per day per 60 students, one full-time at 300 students, one hour per day additional time per 60 students or major fraction thereof; in middle and high schools, one period per 55 students, one full-time at 275 students, one additional period per 55 students or major fraction thereof; and (iii) effective with the 2021-2022 school year, in elementary, middle, and high schools, one hour per day per 50 students, one full-time at 250 students, one additional hour per day per 50 students or major fraction thereof. The subcommittee recommended the bill be reported and re-referred to the Finance Committee.
SB 1392 (Wagner) would direct the Board of Education to establish the Standards of Achievement Career and Technical Education Committee (Committee) to make recommendations to the General Assembly and the Board of Education to facilitate the development of career and technical education Standards of Achievement, including accreditation standards, assessment testing, and course content and curriculum for participating schools, with a focus on (i) rigorous standards and course content and curriculum that align workforce skills with industry-recognized standards; (ii) robust business and industry engagement and responsiveness to labor market needs; (iii) strategies to remove the stigma from career and technical education, including early exposure to career options and life skills; (iv) work-based learning and apprenticeships; (v) innovative high school models; and (vi) leveraging existing resources and programs in the Commonwealth. The Committee shall identify any necessary changes to statutory and regulatory provisions, including existing requirements regarding (a) instructional programs; (b) instructional, administrative, and, support personnel; (c) accreditation; (d) assessments; (e) graduation requirements; (f) teacher licensure; and (g) dual enrollment. The bill requires the Committee to report its findings and recommendation to the General Assembly and the Board of Education by November 1, 2019. The subcommittee recommended the bill be reported and re-referred to the Finance Committee.
SB 1629 (McPike) would Require each local school board to submit its plan to test and remediate certain potable water sources and report the results of any such test to the Department of Health. The subcommittee unanimously voted to recommend that the bill be reported.