The Senate passed HB 999 on the evening of Tuesday, May 25. As amended by the Senate, the bill provides that an individual graduation committee may determine that a student is qualified to graduate without considering performance on any end-of-course state assessment if the student is a senior during the 2020-21 school year. If the House concurs with the Senate amendment, and the bills passes by a vote of two-thirds House members, it will take immediate effect.
On Tuesday evening the Texas House gave preliminary approval to SB 1365, passing it to third reading after Rep. Dan Huberty amended it to address several issues education stakeholders had with the bill. SB 1365 was intended to increase the authority of the commissioner of education when imposing accountability sanctions and to make those decisions final and unappealable. The amendment significantly revamped the bill to: enhance due process for districts going through TEA investigations; limit the authority of the TEA commissioner to what is explicitly stated in state law regarding sanctions; provide for an appeals process for certain sanctions, including appointment of a board of managers; and provide a one-year pause in the accountability system as schools address issues related to the pandemic. The House must pass the bill one more time before it goes back to the Senate for that chamber to either concur with the House changes or call for a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. Download a summary of what SB 1365 does and doesn’t do.
The House also passed to third reading SB 1716, which would provide families of Texas public school students receiving special education services with a $1,500 stipend to obtain services, curriculum, equipment, or other supplies. There were concerns among stakeholder groups and committee members that the bill would create special education vouchers that would allow individuals to use public funds to pay private vendors. To address those concerns, the committee substituted the bill to authorize one or more education service centers to administer the program, create an expiration for the program of September 2024, and incorporate ARD committees in the process. The House must pass the bill one more time before it goes back to the Senate for that chamber to either concur with the House changes or call for a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.
The House also considered SB 10 Tuesday night. Initially, the bill would have banned some local governmental entities from contracting with lobbyists. However, it was substituted in the House State Affairs Committee to require more reporting on lobbying by local governments. The House sponsor of the bill announced Tuesday night that the bill was being postponed until after the legislative session, effectively killing the bill. It is suspected that the postponement was due to failure of negotiations on proposed amendments.