The House Public Education Committee held a formal meeting Monday, May 17, and voted out the following bills, which will go to the full House for consideration:
- SB 359 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst would require that the opt-out form for the FAFSA adopted by school districts or open-enrollment charter schools provide the student or the student’s parent or other person standing in parental relation the opportunity to decline to complete and submit a financial aid application. Also would prohibit a school counselor from indicating that a student has not complied with the requirement if the school district or open-enrollment charter school fails to provide the form to the student or the student’s parent or other person standing in parental relation to the student.
- SB 776 by Sen. Eddie Lucio (companion to HB 2193 by Rep. Alex Dominguez) would provide equal opportunity for students with special needs to participate in sports seasons by directing the UIL to develop an inclusive sports program for students with disabilities. This program would be modeled off of existing UIL sports programs, and resemble them to the extent feasible while still maintaining its mission of serving students with special needs.
- SB 1697 by Sen. Angela Paxton (companion to HB 3557 by Rep. Ken King) would require that students who received a passing grade or earned credit for a high school course retain their original grade even if they retake the course, unless the school district adopts a local policy to the contrary. This ensures students do not repeat grades to continually raise their GPA. The bill also grants the commissioner of education rulemaking authority to exclude certain students retained through this provision from being considered “at-risk” and allows for a student to be considered for the average daily attendance for a repeated course, even if they already received a passing grade or credit for the course.
- SB 1955 by Sen. Larry Taylor, the Learning Pod Protection Act, would ensure that local municipalities cannot attempt to regulate learning pods. It would prohibit local or school district employees from conducting site inspections or investigative visits, or taking any action to discriminate against or distinguish anyone (parent, student, or teacher) participating in a learning pod, or force any forms of registration or reporting to any authorities relating to the operation of the learning pod.
- SB 2066 by Sen. Jose Menendez 2066 would change out of date terms like “limited English proficient” student and “English learner” to “emergent bilingual” students. Over 1 million emergent bilingual students are currently enrolled in Texas public schools. Texas educates the highest percentage of emergent bilinguals in the United States. This bill will change all references in statute to update them on the more appropriate term.
- SB 2158 by Sen. Donna Campbell would require TEA to provide identification kits to school districts and open-enrollment charter schools for distribution to the parent or legal custodian of certain students. The bill codifies the collaboration between TEA and the National Child Identification Program to promote and provide inkless, in-home fingerprint and DNA identification kits to parents or guardians of children in K–6th grade.
- SB 797 by Sen. Bryan Hughes would require the display of a durable poster or framed copy of the United States national motto “In God We Trust” in a conspicuous place in each building of the school or institution.
- CSSB 1696 by Sen. Angela Paxton would establish a system for the sharing of information regarding cyber attacks or other cybersecurity incidents occurring in schools in this state. Requires the district’s cybersecurity coordinator to report to TEA any cyber attack or other cybersecurity incident against the district cyberinfrastructure that constitutes a breach of system security as soon as practicable after the discovery of the attack or incident. Requires TEA to establish and maintain a system to coordinate the anonymous sharing of information concerning cyber attacks or other cybersecurity incidents between public and private schools and the state in coordination with the Texas Department of Information Resources. CSHB 1696 removes charter schools from the requirement to designate a cybersecurity coordinator but maintains the requirement for charter schools to notify TEA and parents of potential cybersecurity breaches, as we require public schools. The rationale is mostly due to the fact the requirement to appoint a coordinator is not appropriate for a smaller one-campus school like it would be for larger districts. Requiring that charters appoint a coordinator is not necessary as long as the district has a policy in place to report to TEA.
- SB 1191 by Sen. Kel Seliger would clarify that the definition of a “school resource officer” does not include a peace officer who provides law enforcement at a public school or public school event only for extracurricular activities.