The House Public Education Committee met Tuesday, March 14, 2023, and voted out the following three bills, sending them to the full House for consideration:
- HB 131 (Murr) would permit a school district to excuse a student who is a junior or senior in high school from school for a “career investigation day” that involves visiting a professional at their workplace for the purpose of determining the student’s interest in pursuing a career in the professional’s field. Districts would be required to adopt a policy to determine when an absence could be excused for this purpose and provide a procedure to verify the student’s visit at the workplace. Districts could only excuse up to two absences in the student’s junior year and two absences in the student’s senior year for this purpose.
- HB 621 (Shaheen) would permit individuals who have been honorably discharged, retired, or released from active duty in the armed services to be provided with a temporary teaching certificate so long as they meet all other eligibility requirements for certification. Temporary certificates could be issued only one time, would not be renewable, and would be valid for no more than five years. Individuals who would receive a temporary certificate based on military service could be issued a standard certificate upon completing all eligibility requirements. The bill would also require that school districts assign a mentor teacher for at least two school years to anyone who receives a temporary certificate based on military service.
- HB 699 (Frank) would require that the UIL use the same student enrollment calculation for schools that allow non-enrolled students to participate as they do for schools that do not allow non-enrolled students to participate when assigning league classification to a school-based enrollment.
The committee also heard testimony on the following bills:
- HB 1002 (Price) would add chiropractors and physical therapists to the list of individuals who may serve on a public school concussion oversight team and who may determine if a student needs to be pulled from an interscholastic athletic activity on the basis of a suspected concussion. One person testified in support of the bill.
- HB 1225 (Metcalf) would require the availability of paper state assessments if requested by a parent. Rep. Will Metcalf gave an example of his daughter’s experience while taking an online benchmark test that crashed, resulting in her feeling anxious for the upcoming electronic STAAR administration. Public testimony was in support of the bill, which was left pending.
- HB 1067 (VanDeaver) would adjust timelines around petitions to annex property from school districts by other school districts and clarify that a board’s failure to adopt a resolution after being presented with a petition is considered disapproval of the petition. Two people testified in support of the bill, which was left pending.
- HB 579 (Burns) would allow parents of students with significant cognitive disabilities to exempt their children from state assessments. Rep. Burns referenced the federal requirement that requires the state to test 95 percent of students and TEA’s past waiver request to address this. Dr. Andrea Chevalier, TCASE, and Steven Aleman, Disability Rights Texas, testified “on” the bill and said they are working on refinements with Rep. Burns’ staff. The bill was left pending.
- HB 920 (Klick) would make a variety of changes to the law governing administration of medications for respiratory distress on public and private school campuses. It would add medication for respiratory distress (e.g., asthma inhalers) to current law on the maintenance and administration of epinephrine auto-injectors on public and private school campuses. (See a full summary by searching for HB 920 on TASA’s Bill Tracker.) After public testimony, the bill was left pending.
- HB 1297 (Dutton) would require that students be screened using an electronic eye chart as a substitute for a printed eye chart to assess visual acuity. Currently, vision screening in public and private schools must be done using photo screening to detect vision disorders. TACS Executive Director Barry Haenish testified in support. The bill was left pending.
- HB 890 (Keith Bell) would require the grievance process to include an initial administrative hearing, an opportunity for appeal of the initial administrative hearing, and requires resolution of any complaint within 120 calendar days after the complaint was filed. Public testimony was in support. The bill was left pending.
- HB 1212 (Jetton, et al.) would allow students to use notes from parents as documentation for excused absences related to observing religious holy days. Rep. Gina Hinojosa asked why the bill did not apply to charter schools, and Rep. Jacey Jetton said he was more than happy to include them. After public testimony, the bill was left pending.
- HB 1883 (Bhojani, et al.) would prohibit the state from administering state assessments on certain religious holy days. After public testimony, the bill was left pending.
- HB 1416 (Keith Bell) makes changes to HB 4545 (87th Legislature) governing accelerated instruction and supplemental instruction for students who do not perform satisfactorily on certain assessments. (See a full summary of the bill as filed by searching for HB 1416 on TASA’s Bill Tracker.) Rep. Keith Bell laid out a committee substitute that removes the 30-hour “average” of supplemental instruction and leaves a minimum requirement of 15 hours. Rep. Gina Hinojosa asked about the bill’s funding, noting ESSER funds would soon expire, and it was unclear how the compensatory education funding would work as a funding mechanism. Bell said that TEA could address the compensatory funding portion of the bill. In response to a question, he explained the parent opt-out provision applies even if a student has two consecutive years of failure in the same subject area. The bill’s provision related to “augmented or automated supplemental instruction” was also discussed. Bell said that this option was added so that the 4-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio could be waived under certain circumstances. Hinojosa expressed concerns that this provision could allow vendors to be selected at the state level. In response, a TEA resource witness said that the agency used emergency procurements during COVID, but that TEA is going back to its normal, full procurement process. Rep. Harold Dutton said he would love for the bill to have a component to see if districts were complying with the requirements. After public testimony, the substitute bill was left pending.
- HB 1955 (Buckley) relates to establishing residency for purposes of admission into public schools. Currently, families who are members of the armed forces (including state military forces or the reserves) are permitted to establish residency by providing a copy of a military order requiring the parent or guardian’s transfer to a military installation in or adjacent to the district’s attendance zone. Proof is required to be provided no later than 10 days after the arrival. HB 1955 would change that timeline to permit proof of residence to be provided to the school district no later than 90 days after the arrival date. After public testimony, the bill was left pending.
- HB 1789 (Buckley) relates to the application of nepotism prohibitions to a person appointed or employed by a school district as a bus driver. Currently, school districts (with a few exceptions for sparsely populated areas) are not permitted to employ an individual as a bus driver who is related to the public official responsible for hiring. This would permit school districts to hire these individuals so long as the district’s board of trustees approves the appointment and/or employment. The committee discussed the provisions of the bill, which was left pending.