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Spring Break

Legislators are home for spring break (from March 30 to April 8).

Contact your legislators to discuss some potential issues outlined in this edition of The Weekly Advocate. There is a Quick Link above for contact information for legislators. 

2018 Legislative Session
Week 7 - April 2, 2018

Legislative Update

Senate Education Policy Omnibus Bill
(S.F. 3086 - Pratt)

The Senate Education Policy omnibus bill passed out of committee Thursday, March 29. Overall, the Senate bill has more permissive language and fewer mandates than the House bill ( H.F. 3315 - Erickson), which was highlighted last week. Below are components of the Senate bill that would impact school districts if the provisions become law. Now both bills, and the Governor's bill, will be debated as we move to conference committee.

Special Education (both House and Senate)
After much advocacy from school boards, a special education task force is included in the bill. The task force would be charged with studying how special education services are delivered and the costs associated with each model with an end product of a 10-year strategic plan. The task force will consist of a group of legislators from both the House and Senate, as opposed to the House bill where a group of stakeholders would study special education. The appointments would be made July 1, 2018, and the report must be complete by January 15, 2019.

Academic Star-Rating System (both House and Senate)
The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) would be required to develop an additional academic achievement rating system that assigns each school and district a star-rating and an academic achievement score. This would be required to be included with the school performance report card and be prominently displayed. ( H.F. 3178 / S.F. 2816)

Non-Exclusionary Disciplinary Policies (NDP) (less restrictive than House and Governor's bills)
This provision defines NDP as alternatives to removing a pupil from class or dismissing from school. The Senate bill encourages districts to use non-exclusionary disciplinary policies and practices before beginning dismissal proceedings. Included are new requirements for schools and administrators for dismissing and readmitting pupils and expanded methods of communications.

A school district must:
  • make reasonable attempts to convene a meeting with a parent or guardian within 30 days, after suspension, to develop a plan to help the student succeed in school by addressing the behavior that led to the dismissal;
  • make reasonable attempts to convene a meeting with the pupil and the parent or guardian before removing the pupil from school if a pupil's total days of removal from school exceeds 10 cumulative days;
  • give the suspended pupil a reasonable opportunity to complete all school work assigned during the suspension and to receive full credit for satisfactorily completing the assignments;
  • report pupil withdrawals and a statement on NDP to MDE, including the pupil's behavior leading up to the discipline, the NDP used and any attempts to provide the pupil with alternative education services; and
  • make and document efforts to immediately contact the pupil's parent or guardian when removed from a school building or grounds by a peace officer.
Student Data Privacy (very different approach than House bill)
The provision outlines new requirements and exclusions on student data privacy and practices for online operators. The provision defines what an operator is and what it can and cannot do with student information. This provision takes a different approach to student privacy than the House bill. 

Dyslexia (more restrictive than House; not included in Governor's bill)
A school district must:
  • screen all students between the beginning of kindergarten and the beginning of grade 2 for dyslexia;
  • screen students in grade 2 or higher identified as not reading at grade level for dyslexia;
  • have Tier 3 and Tier 4 teachers applying for renewal to have at least two hours of reading preparation to understand and recognize dyslexia characteristics.
Health Curriculum (less restrictive than House bill; not included in the Governor's bill)
A school district's health curriculum may include:
  • child sexual abuse and exploitation prevention;
  • consent instruction to prevent and reduce the incidence of sexual assault; and
  • instruction for grades 5, 6, 8, 10 and 12 on substance misuse prevention, including opioids, controlled substances, prescription and non-prescription medications and illegal drugs;
School Lunch (less restrictive than House and Governor's bill)  
A school district must:
  • adopt a school meals policy and post it to its website, and
  • ensure a student is not demeaned or stigmatized  by dumping meals, announcing names, affixing stickers, etc.
Teacher Suspension and Revocation (more reasonable than the H.F. 2795)
A teacher's license can be:
  • suspended or revoked for intentional and inappropriate patting, touching, pinching or other physical contact with a student that is unwelcome and sexually motivated.
  • refused or revoked if the teacher has been convicted of a qualified domestic violence-related offense, embezzlement of public funds or a felony involving a minor as a victim.
  • refused or revoked if the teacher has engaged in sexual penetration with a student enrolled in a school where the teacher works or volunteers.
Other Items of Importance
A school district: 
  • must adopt a procedure for disposing of any unclaimed or abandoned prescription drugs, including requesting a law enforcement agency to transport prescriptions that are controlled substances;
  • must provide military recruiters the same access as higher education institutions; and
  • may implement an alternative fire drill that does not require evacuation.
Upcoming Legislative Meetings 
The Legislature is on spring break from March 30 through April 8, returning on April 9. Please meet with your local legislators during this time.
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