Yes, it is that time again this year for the members of the Virginia General Assembly to travel to Richmond and look out for the best interest of their constituents through their diligent legislative efforts. It seems that every year, Virginia school administrators look to our elected official to determine the best legislation to improve educational programs, policies and in some cases beginning division schedules (for those of us East of I-95). Let us see how they fare for this 2015 session.
The General Assembly officially convenes in five days from today on January 14th.
In order for you to have a “check list” of legislation touching upon education, the proposed legislative items are included below.
PRE-FILED EDUCATION BILLS/2015 GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION
HB 1299 Schools denied accreditation; memoranda of understanding.
Chief patron: Bell, Richard P. Summary Abolishes the Opportunity Educational Institution; if denied accreditation, must enter into MOU with BOE, which may make changes to the school’s budget and personnel and the instructional practices of teachers.
HB 1302 Standards of Learning tests; expedited retake.
Chief patron: Farrell Summary Requires the BOE to allow for an expedited retake of any SOL test to all students regardless of grade level or course; requires the locality to bear the cost of implementation.
HB 1306 Graduation requirements; naturalization test.
Chief patron: Bell, Richard P. Summary Directs BOE to require each 11th grade student to pass the civics portion of the U.S. Naturalization Test beginning with the 2017-2018 school year. DOE to publish school, school division, and statewide passage rates.
HB 1307 Public elementary and secondary schools; student identification numbers.
Chief patron: Landes Summary Prohibits the DOE and local school boards from requiring any student or his parent to provide the student’s federal social security number. DOE to instead develop a system of unique student identification numbers.
HB 1309 Local school boards; arming of school security officers.
Chief patron: Cole Summary Permits local school boards to arm school security officers with batons, stun weapons, or any spray device designed to incapacitate a person.
HB 1320 Teacher licensure renewal; college credit.
Chief patron: Farrell Summary: Prohibits the BOE from requiring any teacher seeking renewal of a license to satisfy professional development requirements by completing coursework and earning credit at an institution of higher education at his own expense.
HB 1325 Visually impaired students; instruction in Braille, etc.
Chief patron: Cole Summary. Requires each visually impaired student to be evaluated by a certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired and requires the student to receive instruction in Braille or the use of Braille unless IEP team or other team responsible determines that instruction in Braille is not appropriate to the student’s educational needs. The bill disallows the presence of some residual vision from precluding instruction in Braille and the use of Braille. (same bill that did not pass in 2014)
HB 1351 Diploma seals; biliteracy.
Chief patron: Ramadan Summary: Directs the BOE to award a diploma seal for biliteracy for any student who meets certain criteria for general academic achievement and demonstrates proficiency in a foreign language through certain testing or coursework.
HB 1361 Virginia Virtual School, Board of; established, report.
Chief patron: Bell, Richard P. Summary: Establishes the Board of the Virginia Virtual School (the Board) as a policy agency in the executive branch of state government, under the authority of the Secretary of Education, for the purpose of governing the online educational programs. 13-member Board to have operational control. The bill requires the School to be open to any school-age person and meet SOQ for K- 12. delayed effective date of July 1, 2016.
HB 1415 Public schools; organizations governing interscholastic programs.
Chief patron: Davis Summary: Prohibits a public school from becoming a member of any organization or entity whose purpose is to regulate or govern interscholastic programs that charges membership fees or dues established by a formula based on student enrollment unless such organization or entity apportions voting rights to member schools based on the same formula.
*Notes: This appears to be spearheaded by some large school divisions, such as VA Beach, who believe that are underrepresented based on student population (dues) and who are opposed to the long distances their teams are forced to go in order to compete with a number of smaller schools in VHSL efforts to give those divisions more opportunities to compete outside their “leagues.” The original VHSL bill that would basically disallow membership in VHSL unless homeschoolers allowed to “try out” appears to be headed for a YES vote and to Gov McA’s desk.
Note: Delegate Dickie Bell, a member of VHSL, is chair of the sub in House Ed that will likely hear the bill.
HB 1419 Standards of Learning assessments;
Chief patron: Head. Summary: Requires all revisions of any SOL assessment to be finalized by December 31 of the school year prior to the school year in which the revised assessment is to be administered.
HB 1441 Child abuse or neglect, suspected; person required to report, training program required.
Chief patron: Bell, Richard P. Summary: Requires all mandated reporters of suspected child abuse or neglect to complete a training program for the recognition and reporting of suspected child abuse or neglect within six months of employment, licensure, certification, registration, approval to serve as a mediator, or approval to serve as a court-appointed special advocate and at least once every five years thereafter. The bill also requires all employers to provide mandated reporters with a written explanation of these requirements within one month. (Current mandated reporters are given one year to obtain the required training.)
HB 1443 Public schools; Board of Education regulations on use of seclusion and restraint.
Chief patron: Bell, Richard P. Summary: Requires the BOE to adopt regulations on the use of seclusion and restraint in public elementary and secondary schools in the Commonwealth. The bill requires that such regulations incorporate certain existing guidance documents; include definitions of terms, criteria for use, restrictions for use, training requirements, notification requirements, reporting requirements, and follow-up requirements; and address distinctions between certain student populations. The bill is a recommendation of the Virginia Commission on Youth.
HB 1467 Concealed handguns; authorization and training for persons designated to carry on school property.
Chief patron: Marshall, R.G. Summary: Permits a school board or an administrator of a private school to designate one or more qualified person for every school who may carry a concealed handgun on school property. Such qualified persons include certain school division employees, certain school volunteers who carry valid concealed handgun permits, and certain retired law-enforcement officers. Any person designated to carry a concealed handgun must be certified and trained by the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety or the NRA.
HB 1491 Graduation; verified units of credit, locally developed alternative assessments.
Chief patron: Habeeb Summary: Requires BOE to provide for the award of verified units of credit to students who have demonstrated proficiency in a Standards of Learning (SOL) content area by achieving a satisfactory score on a locally developed alternative assessment in lieu of the SOL assessment, except in the case of a federally required SOL assessment.
HB 1537 Student conduct; parental responsibility to prevent bullying.
Chief patron: McQuinn Summary:. Authorizes principals to request that parents meet with the principal or his designee to receive training in bullying prevention. (The bill also authorizes the relevant juvenile and domestic relations court, upon petition from the local school board, to order the parent to meet to receive such training.)
HJ 536 Constitutional amendment; Lottery Proceeds Fund.
Chief patron: Lingamfelter Summary: Allows lottery proceeds to be appropriated from the Lottery Proceeds Fund to public institutions of higher education for purposes of providing education and employment training for veterans who have been honorably discharged from an active or reserve component of the United States armed forces or the Virginia National Guard and who are domiciled in the Commonwealth.
SB 240 Public schools; withholding child from custodial parent.
Chief patron: Carrico Summary: Makes it a Class 3 misdemeanor for any principal, assistant principal, or supervisor employed by a local school board who fails to or refuses to release a child into the custody of the child’s custodial parent or other legal custodian, unless such failure or refusal is necessitated by a critical event or emergency governed by the school crisis, emergency management, and medical emergency response plan. (2014 bill carried over in 2014)
SB 644 Educational neglect of students with disabilities; fraud within educational programs, penalties.
Chief patron: McEachin Summary: Provides that it is a felony for an educational professional or education-related service provider, by willful act or omission, to fail to provide the educational services outlined in an individualized education plan. It is also a felony to fraudulently alter an IEP, to document that services were provided when they were not provided, or to forge the signature of a parent or guardian.
SB 723 Public schools; health information form.
Chief patron: Black Summary: Prohibits the physical examination report or health information form required by public schools for entering students from including a question on the subject of the presence of a firearm in the residence of the student.
SB 724 SOL; Bd. of Education prohibited from adopting revisions that implement Common Core State Standards.
Chief patron: Black Summary: Prohibits the BOE from adopting revisions of the Standards of Learning that implement the Common Core State Standards unless it has the prior statutory approval of the General Assembly.
SB 727 A-F school grading system.
Chief patron: Black Summary: Repeals the A-F school grading system created in the 2013 Session and amended in the 2014 Session.
SB 757 Standards of Learning; eligibility for retake of test.
Chief patron: Barker Summary: Directs the BOE to promulgate regulations to provide the same criteria for eligibility for an expedited retake of any Standards of Learning test to each student regardless of grade level or course.
SB 785 Public employment; prohibits discrimination based on basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Chief patron: McEachin Summary: Prohibits discrimination in public employment based on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, as defined in the bill. (The bill also codifies for state and local government employment the current prohibitions on discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability, or status as a special disabled veteran or other veteran).
SB 821 Opportunity Educational Institution; repeals Institution.
Chief patron: Miller Summary: Repeals the Opportunity Educational Institution.
SB 823 Public schools; physical activity requirement.
Chief patron: Miller Summary: Requires at least 20 minutes of physical activity per day or an average of 100 minutes per week during the regular school year for students in grades K-5. This requirement becomes effective beginning with the 2017-2018 school year.
SB 830 School calendar; continuing waivers.
Chief patron: Edwards Summary: Requires the BOE to waive the requirement that a local school board set the first day students are required to attend school to be after Labor Day for any local school board that was granted a “good cause” waiver of this requirement for the 2011-2012 school year.
SB 852 Public schools; corporal punishment; exception.
Chief patron: Carrico Summary. Authorizes a public school athletic coach to require a student-athlete to participate in conditioning or exercise, such as performing push-ups or running laps, as part of a disciplinary process if the student-athlete and his parent have signed a form that (i) enumerates actions, such as being late to or missing a practice, that would result in discipline involving conditioning or exercise; (ii) specifies the required conditioning or exercise for each action that would result in discipline; and (iii) acknowledges that the student-athlete and his parent understand and accept the disciplinary process.