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The House Public Education Committee met March 23. Rep. Dan Huberty introduced HB 1525 — the HB 3 (86th legislative session) “cleanup bill.” Huberty said that a committee substitute was forthcoming and mentioned several issues that will be considered when drafting the substitute language, including: adjustment of the Small and Mid-Size School Allotments in relation to CTE calculation; addition of a provision that allows an associate degree to the CCMR bonus; addressing the Fast Growth Allotment provision; moving the school safety statute from Chapter 42 to Chapter 48; and extending the timeline for completion of the reading academies for two years.

Numerous witnesses testified “on” the bill on behalf of their respective organizations, knowing that a committee substitute was underway, including:

  • Dr. Kevin Brown, TASA
  • Michael Lee, Texas Association of Rural Schools
  • Dr. Greg Gibson, Texas Association of Mid-Size Schools
  • Dr. Jesus Chavez, South Texas Association of Schools
  • Kyle Lynch, Seminole ISD superintendent on behalf of the Texas School Coalition
  • Josh Sanderson, The Equity Center
  • Dr. Bruce Gearing, Leander ISD superintendent
  • Dr. Amanda Brownson, TASBO
  • Barry Haenish, Texas Association of Community Schools
  • Dr. Greg Smith, Fast Growth School Coalition
  • Alycia Castillo, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition

Rep. Keith Bell introduced a committee substitute for HB 2120 that would require school boards, unless otherwise provided by law or policy, to allow for an initial administrative hearing regarding a complaint and an opportunity to appeal the administrative decision following the initial hearing. The bill would also require districts to provide a resolution of a complaint no later than 120 calendar days after the filing of the complaint. There was no testimony on the bill.

Rep. Drew Darby introduced HB 2519 and said that a committee substitute was forthcoming.  Darby said the impetus of the bill was a constituent who did not submit her resignation within the required 45-day time period and forgot to change her address when she began teaching in another district. He said that SBEC subsequently suspended the teacher’s contract for one year. Darby explained that HB 2529 would shorten the resignation deadline for teacher contracts, continuing contracts, and term contracts to be the 30th day before the start of instruction rather than the 45th day. He also noted that the bill would require SBEC to include two appointed individuals from school districts with an ADA less than 999. One representative from the Texas State Teachers Association testified in support of the bill.

Rep. Senfronia Thompson introduced HB 2954, which would require TEA to create a suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention program for optional implementation at an elementary campus of a school district that has experienced a suicide among its students or has reasonable concern regarding the risk of suicide among its students. Thompson said she anticipates a committee substitute and noted that there is a rider to cover the costs in the bill. Several parents, a representative of the Texas Association of School Psychologists, and an assistant superintendent from Tomball ISD testified in support. A representative for the Citizens Commission on Human Rights person testified in opposition.

Rep. Senfronia Thompson introduced HB 2287 and said that a committee substitute is forthcoming. She explained that HB 2287 would establish a database of mental health services and trainings provided by school districts and charter schools for use by the Collaborative Task Force on Public School Mental Health Services. Individuals who testified on Thompson’s HB 2954 (above) testified similarly on HB 2287.

Rep. Gene Wu introduced HB 2261, which would add public education facilities to the list of improvement projects and services that a municipal management district may provide.

Rep. Glen Rogers introduced HB 2557, which would allow a board of trustees or charter board to approve a program under which retired law enforcement officer or honorably retired military veterans may serve as volunteer security personnel at a school and carry a handgun in fulfillment of that role.

Rep. Mary Gonzalez laid out a committee substitute to HB 144 that is identical to the substitute laid out by Sen. Jose Menendez’s SB 89, heard in the Senate Education Committee March 18. Gonzalez said to consider the bill’s requirements as an additional addendum to a student’s IEP regarding instruction during COVID. Steven Aleman with Disability Rights Texas testified in support of the time-bracketed bill, and a representative for the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities testified “on” the bill.

Rep. Diego Bernal, introduced a committee substitute for HB 999, with technical edits only. Bernal said that the bill doesn’t prevent ISDs from administering end-of-course exams, but it is intended to prevent unnecessary testing. He said that the reason for the bill, which is bracketed to three cohorts of 12th grade students, is that we don’t know the effects of COVID over time. Bernal also noted that the bill provisions align with efforts expended for elementary and middle school students for past two years, including the grade advancement requirements Commissioner of Education Mike Morath has waived for students in grades 5 and 8. Those testifying in strong support for the bill include TASA Executive Director Kevin Brown; Michael Lee with TARS; Theresa Trevino with Texans Advocating for Meaningful Assessments; and Dr. Eduardo Hernandez, superintendent of Edgewood ISD, representing the Bexar County Education Coalition.

Rep. Gary VanDeaver laid out the committee substitute for HB 363, stating that the substitute bill addresses concerns that the bill language as filed would have created an undue burden on LEAs; keeps authority over student data with the LEA; and addresses concerns expressed by vendors related to cost. Jennifer Bergland with Texas Computer Education Association and a staff member of Lovejoy ISD testified in support of the bill.

The committee voted out the following pending bills on which testimony was heard on March 16 and March 9 (HB 699):

  • HB 1603 by Huberty removes IGC expiration date
  • HB 1114 by Thierry establishes mental health programs
  • CSHB 785 by Allen relates to Behavioral Intervention Plans
  • HB 725 by Patterson relates to pre-K for students in foster care system in other states
  • CSHB 699 by Rosenthal excuses absences for life threatening illness
  • HB 159 by Gonzalez relates to teacher preparation programs