Discipline/Safety

HB 1783
Moody
Right of a School Employee to Report a Crime

Provides that an open-enrollment charter school is subject to a prohibition, restriction, or requirement relating to the right of a school employee to report a crime.

Allows an employee of a school district or open enrollment charter school to report a crime witnessed at the school to any peace officer with authority to investigate the crime. Prohibits a school district or open-enrollment charter school from adopting a policy requiring a school employee to refrain from reporting a crime witnessed at the school or report a crime witnessed at the school only to certain persons or peace officers.

Amends the Penal Code to provide that public servants, including school administrators, commit an offense if they coerce another into suppressing or failing to report that information to a law enforcement agency.

Earliest effective date: September 1, 2015

Other provisions listed under Certification.

HB 2398
White, James
Truancy
Decriminalization of Truancy

Decriminalizes truancy.

Allows a court to dismiss a charge of a parent contributing to nonattendance if the court finds that the dismissal would be in the interest of justice.

Entitles an individual who has been convicted of a truancy offense or who has had a complaint for a truancy offense dismissed to have the conviction or complaint and records relating to the conviction or complaint expunged, regardless of whether the individual has filed a petition for expunction.

Requires the school district to issue a warning letter to a person who has had three unexcused absences. It must state that the person’s enrollment may be revoked for the remainder of the school year if the person has more than five unexcused absences in a semester.

Provides in detail the truancy prevention measures a district can implement.

Requires TEA to adopt rules creating minimum standards for truancy prevention measures adopted by a school district, establishing a set of best practices for truancy prevention measures, and providing for sanctions for a school district that fails to comply with the truancy prevention measures.

Establishes detailed, simple, civil judicial procedures to use in cases involving allegations of truant conduct in order to hold student accountable for excessive school absences.

Earliest effective date: September 1, 2015

HB 2684
Giddings
Model Training Curriculum for School District Peace Officers and School Resource Officers

Requires a school district with an enrollment of 30,000 or more students that commissions a school district peace officer or at which a school resource officer provides law enforcement to adopt a policy requiring the officer to complete the education and training program required by the newly added Section 1701.263 in the Occupations Code, which requires the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, in consultation with designated institutes and centers, to create, adopt, and distribute a model training curriculum for school district peace officers and school resource officers. Requires the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to issue a professional achievement or proficiency certificate to a peace officer who completes the education and training program.

Earliest effective date: Immediately

SB 107
Whitmire
Campus Behavior Coordinators

Requires a person at each campus to be designated to serve as a campus behavior coordinator. Allows the campus principal or any other campus administrator selected by the principal to serve as the campus behavior coordinator.

Provides that the campus behavior coordinator is primarily responsible for maintaining student discipline. Allows the specific duties of the campus behavior coordinator to be established by campus or district policy. Requires the campus behavior coordinator to promptly notify a student’s parent or guardian, by telephone or in person, if the student is placed into in-school or out-of-school suspension, placed in a disciplinary alternative education program, expelled, placed in a juvenile justice alternative education program, or taken into custody by a law enforcement officer. Requires the coordinator to make a good faith effort to provide written notice of the disciplinary action to the student, on the day the action is taken, for delivery to the student’s parent or guardian. Requires the principal or other designee to provide notice if the coordinator is unable to provide prompt notice.

Allows a teacher to send a student to the campus behavior coordinator to maintain effective discipline in the classroom. Requires the coordinator to employ appropriate discipline management techniques that can be reasonably expected to improve the student’s behavior before returning the student to the classroom. Requires the coordinator to employ alternative discipline management techniques if the student’s behavior does not improve.

Requires the expulsion of a student who engages in conduct that contains the elements of the offense of unlawfully carrying weapons under Section 46.02 of the Penal Code, or elements of an offense relating to prohibited weapons under Section 46.05 of the Penal Code.

Requires a campus behavior coordinator to consider various factors, including whether the student acted in self-defense and the intent or lack of intent at the time of the action, before ordering the suspension, expulsion, removal to a disciplinary alternative education program, or placement in a juvenile justice alternative education program.

Requires a board of trustees to consider various factors, including whether the student acted in self-defense and the intent or lack of intent at the time of the action, before ordering a student’s expulsion.

Earliest effective date: Immediately

SB 507
Lucio Jr., Eddie
Video Cameras in Certain Special Education Classrooms

Requires a school district or open-enrollment charter holder, upon the request of a parent, trustee, or staff member, to provide equipment, including a video camera, to each school in the district or each charter school campus in which a student who receives special education services in a self-contained classroom or other special education setting is enrolled. Requires each school or campus that receives equipment to place, operate, and maintain one or more video cameras in each self-contained classroom or other special education setting in which a majority of the students in regular attendance are provided special education and related services and assigned to a self-contained classroom or other special education setting for at least 50 percent of the instructional day.

Requires the video cameras placed in the classroom to cover all areas of the classroom or special education setting, except that the inside of a bathroom or any area in the classroom setting in which a student’s clothes are changed may not be visually monitored. Requires audio to be recorded from all areas of the classroom or other special education setting.

Requires a school or campus to provide written notice of the camera’s placement to all school of campus staff and to the parents of a student receiving special education services in the classroom or setting. Requires a school district or open-enrollment charter school to retain video recorded in the special education classroom for at least six months after the date the video was recorded.

Provides that the law does not waive immunity from liability of a school district or open-enrollment charter school or of district or school officers or employees. It also does not create any liability for a cause of action against a school district or open-enrollment charter school or against district or school officers or employees.

Prohibits a school district or open-enrollment charter school from allowing regular or continual monitoring of recorded video or its use for teacher evaluation or any other purpose other than the promotion of the safety of students receiving special education services in a self-contained classroom or other special education setting.

Provides that the video recording is confidential and requires that it be released for viewing under limited circumstances. Requires notification of a violation of state law to the Department of Family and Protective Services for investigation if the person viewing the video believes that the recording documents a violation. Allows legal and human resources personnel in a school district to view the recording if a person viewing it believes it documents a violation of district or school policy.

Allows the commissioner of education to establish by rule a grant program through which excess funds from the Foundation School Program are awarded for grants for the purchase of video equipment, or for the reimbursement of costs for previously purchased video equipment, used for monitoring special education classrooms or other special education settings. Requires the commissioner to give highest priority to districts with maintenance and operations tax rates at the greatest rates permitted by law when awarding grants. Requires the commissioner to also give priority to districts with maintenance and operations tax rates equal to the state maximum compressed tax rate and lowest amounts of maintenance and operations tax revenue and districts with debt service tax rates near or equal to the greatest rates permitted by law.

Provides that, subject to the availability of funds, the commissioner of education will distribute grant funds beginning with the 2015-16 school year.

Provides that the requirement regarding the placement and use of video cameras in self-contained classrooms or other settings providing special education services applies beginning with the 2016-17 school year.

Earliest effective date: Immediately

SB 996
Taylor, Van
Parental Notification of School Marshal

Requires a school district to provide a parent or guardian written notice indicating whether any employee of the school is currently appointed a school marshal. Prohibits the school district from disclosing confidential information. Requires the parent or legal guardian to submit the inquiry in writing.

Earliest effective date: Immediately

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