The General Assembly is off to a quick start this year, in part because this is a short session.
The Senate Education and Health Committee met this morning and considered the following bills of interest:
SB 1213 (Newman) requires the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety to develop a case management tool for use by public elementary and secondary school threat assessment teams and requires such threat assessment teams to use such tool to collect and report to the Center quantitative data on its activities. The bill was reported and rereferred to the Senate Finance Committee unanimously.
SB 1215 (Newman) was amended to require the development and implementation of annual training on safety procedures for staff and students. The amended bill was reported unanimously by the Committee.
SB 1220 (Newman) requires each school board to include the chief law-enforcement officer, the fire chief, the chief of the emergency medical services agency, and the emergency management official of the locality, or their designees, in the development and review of school crisis, emergency management, and medical emergency response plans. The bill was reported unanimously by the Committee.
SB 1249 (Reeves) permits a child of a military family that will be relocating to a Virginia school division pursuant to orders to register for courses and other academic programs and participate in the lottery process for charter schools and college partnership laboratory schools at the same time and in the same manner as students who already reside in the local school division. The bill was reported unanimously by the Committee.
SB 1258 (Dunnavant) amends the Standards of Quality to require school boards to employ one licensed behavior analyst for every five schools. Because these positions would be required by the SOQ, the state would be required to to provide the state share of the cost of such positions. The bill was reported and rereferred to the Senate Finance Committee on a vote of 13-2.
SB 1298 (Barker) requires VDOE to collect and report certain data regarding alternative education programs that are provided for students who are suspended or expelled from school. The bill was reported unanimously.
This afternoon, the Public Education Subcommittee of 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 bill was recommended to report unanimously.
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 bill was recommended to report unanimously.
SB 1236 (DeSteph) requires school boards to adopt and implement policies to ensure employees have equal access to education employee associations and professional educator liability insurance providers. 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 bill was recommended to report on a vote of 3-2.
SB 1269 (Cosgrove) requires the Board of Education to waive the requirement that school divisions provide additional teaching days or teaching hours to compensate for school closings resulting from an evacuation directed and compelled by the Governor. The bill provides that there shall be no proportionate reduction in the amount paid by the Commonwealth from the Basic School Aid Fund or the amount paid by a local governing body. The motion to recommend reporting the bill failed on a 2-2 vote. However, the full Committee could still take action on 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 bill was recommended to report on a vote of 3-2.
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 bill, which is an Administration (Governor) bill, was recommended to report on a vote of 4-1.
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 bill was recommended to report unanimously.