The House Public Education Committee met Tuesday, April 27, to hear testimony on several House bills as well as six education bills passed by the Senate. Due to a procedural issue, the committee was not able to resume its meeting after the full House adjourned to hear testimony on all the bills on the agenda. Committee members have been told they will hear the remaining three bills (HB 3880, SB 28, and SB 338) on Wednesday, April 28, after the House adjourns.
Rep. Sam Harless laid out HB 1417, which would update the requirements under a campus improvement plan to include strategies and goals for bullying prevention and dropout deterrence. To do this HB 1417 directs the continuing education teacher development to include creating nurturing classroom environments, respectful and caring relationships with students, student emotional health, and empathetic teaching techniques. Additionally, the campus improvement plan would update the engagement aspect with parents to include training for parents on instilling a positive self-concept in children, building resilience in children, and providing respectful, positive discipline to children at home. Four individuals testified in support of the bill, which was left pending.
Rep. Armando Martinez laid out HB 4023, which would apply to Hidalgo County and establish a life skills counselor pilot program at each high school campus in Hidalgo County to address emotional and mental health concerns of students. The bill would require life skills counselors to address mental health concerns affecting students at high school campuses; provide instruction to high school students for coping techniques for anxiety, frustration and other emotions; counsel high school students who have committed a crime of violence or are identified as having a mental health condition; and establish voluntary counseling programs for high school students. There was no testimony on the bill, which was left pending.
Rep. James Talarico laid out HCR 85, which would designate the first Friday in May as Career and Technical Education Letter of Intent Signing Day. A representative of Waco ISD testified in support of the resolution, which was left pending.
Rep. Mary Gonzalez, as the House sponsor of SB 179, introduced the bill. It would require a school board to adopt a policy that requires a school counselor to spend at least 80% of the counselor’s work time on duties that are components of a school counseling program. Time spent administering assessments would not be considered time spent counseling. If the school board determines the counselor must spend less than 80% of total work time on counseling duties, the adopted policy must include reasons why the counselor needs to spend less than 80% of work time on counseling, list the duties that are expected, and set a percentage of work time that the counselor is required to spend on the counseling program. As part of each monitoring review, TEA must interview a sample of the district’s counselors to assess compliance with this section of the law. Representatives of Texas Appleseed, the Texas School Counselors Association, the Texas Counseling Association, the Lone Star State School Counseling Association, and other individuals testified in support of the bill. Mark Terry, representing TEPSA, testified in opposition to the bill, which was left pending.
Rep. Diego Bernal introduced SB 203 on behalf of its House sponsor, Rep. Dan Huberty. As passed by the Senate, the bill would require the UIL to issue RFPs from institutions of higher education and other entities seeking to host statewide competitions during the year or years specified in the RFPs. The requirement would apply for statewide competitions held on or after September 1, 2022. Jamey Harrison, representing UIL, testified “on” the bill as a resource witness. The bill was left pending.
Rep. Gary VanDeaver, as the House sponsor, introduced SB 289. As passed by the Senate, the bill would permit a school district to excuse a student from school who is 15 or older in order for them to visit a driver’s license office to obtain a driver’s license or learner’s permit. The district is limited to excusing one day of school during the time the student is enrolled in high school for obtaining a license and a learner’s permit — for a total of two days. The district must also verify that the student’s visit to the office is in accordance with any procedures the district adopts. There was no public testimony on the bill, which was left pending.
As the House sponsor, Rep. Mike Schofield introduced SB 481. As passed by the Senate, the bill would permit a parent to transfer a student from a school district that offers virtual-only instruction for more than one grading period in a school into a school district that offers in-person instruction and accepts the student’s transfer. Students who transfer seeking in-person instruction may not be charged tuition and are included in the average daily attendance of the district where the student actually attends school. There was no public testimony on the bill, which was left pending.
The following bills, originally scheduled to be heard April 27, are expected to be heard by the committee on April 28 following adjournment of the full House:
SB 28 Bettencourt | et al.
As passed by the Senate, the bill would make changes to the procedure for approval of charter schools. It changes the number of members of the SBOE that must vote against the grant of the charter from a majority of members to a “supermajority” of nine. Additionally, it limits what issues can be considered by the board when determining whether to approve or deny a charter. The bill also would require a political subdivision to consider an open-enrollment charter a school district for the purposes of zoning, project permitting, platting processes, business licensing, etc. It would also prohibit a political subdivision from taking any action that prevents an open-enrollment charter school from operating a public school campus, educational support facility, athletic facility, or administrative office that it could not take against a public school district. Additionally, in instances where a charter application process includes scoring criteria to be used by an external application review panel and that include a minimum score necessary for eligibility for selection, the SBOE is required to adopt procedures for an appeal of application selection determination. The bill adds “an open enrollment charter school” to the definition of a local governmental entity and also adds open-enrollment charter schools to the law that governs school district and land development standards.
SB 338 Powell
Would allow a school district to adopt uniform general conditions that would be included in all the district’s building construction contracts. It would also add a representative of TASB and a representative of TASA (appointed by the Facilities Commission) to the committee that periodically reviews the uniform general conditions of state building construction contracts. The new appointees must be appointed by December 1, 2021.
HB 3880 Dutton | et al.
Would redefine “special services” as it relates to special education as “specially designed instruction” and would expand the components of that type of instruction to include adaptation of the content, methodology or delivery of instruction to address the unique needs of a student resulting from the student’s disability and ensure the student’s access to the required curriculum to allow the student to meet educational standards set by TEA. The bill also defines “specific learning disability.”