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The House Public Education Committee met Tuesday, March 28, 2023. They voted out the following bills, on which testimony was previously heard. These bills will now go to the full House for consideration:

  • HB 166 (Mary Gonzalez) would create provisions for the appointment of an educational representative for certain students with disabilities.
  • HB 900 (Patterson) would require the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to create standards for school library collection development and require that schools not allow students to access sexually relevant materials in a school library unless written consent from parents is obtained. Book publishers would be prohibited from selling books to school districts or charters before providing ratings related to sexually relevant material and sexually explicit material. Publishers would not be able to sell sexually explicit material to schools. Schools would not be liable for a publisher’s violation of these provisions. School districts would be required to review the content of each book in their libraries every five years and report on actions under this bill.
  • HB 1212 (Jetton) would allow students to use notes from parents as documentation for excused absences related to observing religious holy days.
  • HB 1662 (Burns) would add compensation plans, employee leave conditions, and procedures, professional development requirements, and any other written document issued pursuant to delegation by a board or that implements a board policy to items that must be posted on a district’s website. The bill also provides that a grievance by an employee based on a violation of any regulation referenced in employment policy must be considered timely regardless of when it is presented if a district has not posted the policy online or provided a copy of the regulation to the employee.
  • HB 2484 (Guillen), as substituted, would ban a spectator from future extracurricular or UIL athletic events if the spectator injures a referee, judge, or other official of the event. Schools would be required to provide security personnel or administrator to ensure the safety of the official until they leave the premises if a spectator engages in or threatens violence or if the school reasonable suspects violence may occur.
  • HB 2729 (Harris, Cody) would require that high-quality prekindergarten programs have certified program supervisors in addition to certified teachers.
  • HB 2929 (Lozano) would attempt to reduce training requirements for teachers by limiting the required amount of time spent on certain training.

The committee heard testimony on these bills on which TASA provided written testimony:

  • HB 3803 (Cunningham) would allow parents and guardians to have their children repeat a grade up to grade 8 instead of grade 3. Parents would also be able to request that their child retake a course in high school unless the school determines their child has met all graduation requirements. TASA and TACS submitted written testimony in opposition to the bill. One parent testified in support of the bill. The bill was left pending.
  • HB 2890 (Cunningham) would increase the vote threshold that the State Board of Education must achieve to veto any charter approvals made by the commissioner of education from a majority of members present and voting to two-thirds of total membership. TASA submitted written testimony in opposition to this bill, as did a group of 22 educational organizations (see the group testimony). The bill was left pending.

The committee also heard testimony on the following bills:

  • HCR 90 (Kuempel) would designate April 6 as Texas High School Coaches Day for a 10-year period ending in 2033. A representative for the Texas High School Coaches Association testified in support of the resolution, which was left pending.
  • HB 1507 (Ken King) would prohibit school districts and charter schools from organizing or hosting a program that celebrates or provides special instruction related to sexual preference. School districts and/or employees who violate the prohibition can be sanctioned by the State Board for Educator Certification and receive: a fine of $500 to $10,000; termination or suspension of a teacher’s permit; or any other sanction deemed appropriate by the SBEC. Rep. Alma Allen questioned the potential $10,000 fine for a teacher who makes a mistake and who is already underpaid, noting this could be another contributing factor to the teacher shortage. Public testimony was both in support of and opposition to the bill. After discussion and testimony, Rep. King said that he was open to amend the bill language to apply only to district-sanctioned functions. The bill was left pending.
  • HB 681 (Keith Bell) would remove sunset dates regarding virtual instruction at a public school and certain teacher certification requirements for virtual courses instituted during the pandemic. Rep. Bell laid out his bill stating, “Virtual education is here to stay.” Forney ISD Superintendent Dr. Justin Terry testified in support and outlined provisions important to his district, including the student connection with a home campus, trustee control, and maintenance of attendance boundaries. The bill was left pending.
  • HB 1263 (Senfronia Thompson) would prohibit local authorities from prohibiting the designation of school crossing zones and school crosswalks at high school campuses located in municipalities of 2 million or more. Chair Thompson explained that the impetus for the bill was North Forest High School that was annexed to the Houston ISD and was left without signage, flashing lights, and other designations of a school zone. The HISD chief of police testified in support of the bill. At the conclusion of additional public testimony, the committee voted the bill out of the committee.
  • HB 1959 (Noble, et al.) would require a school district to transfer a child of a peace officer to another campus within the district or to another district upon the peace officer’s request and to the campus requested. A district would not be required to provide transportation for this transfer.
  • HB 2209 (Lozano) would establish the Rural Pathway Excellence Partnership (R-PEP) program and create an allotment and outcomes bonus under the Foundation School Program to support the program. Several superintendents testified before the committee in support of the legislation and spoke to the successes they have had in their districts with this program: Mason Kyle, Buena Vista ISD; Maria Rodriguez Casas, Brooks County ISD; Mike Barrera, Premont ISD; and Conrad Cantu, Freer ISD.
  • HB 2647 (Sherman) would allow the board of trustees to create a nonvoting student trustee position on the board.
  • HB 2892 (Buckley) would require a school district to transfer a child of a military servicemember to another campus within the district or to another district upon the servicemember’s request and to the campus requested. A district would not be required to provide transportation for this transfer. John Craft, the soon-to-be superintendent of Northside ISD, testified in support of the bill and thanked Chairman Buckley for allowing these transfers in the bill.
    HB 2234 (Senfronia Thompson) relates to certain policies and procedures for the placement and use of video cameras in certain classrooms, including classrooms that provide special education services. Chair Thompson laid out a committee substitute. Steve Aleman with Disability Rights Texas testified in support of the committee substitute.
  • HB 2012 (Oliverson, et al.) would prohibit the prohibition of teachers in public school and institutions of higher education from displaying the national motto in their classrooms.