Now that we have started the 6th week of the Legislative Session, please be sure to watch our Legislative Weekly video featuring FSBA Executive Director Andrea Messina providing some highlights of our Day in the Legislature conference and a recap of the progress on the budget and bills that were considered last week. Today, there were only a few bills of interest under consideration, including bills relating to transportation and instructional materials. Please click on the link below for our report on the action taken on these bills. There are several meetings and bills of interest coming up tomorrow, including bills relating to computer science instruction, students with disabilities, and elections. Please click on the link below for more information about these bills and others.
In the Senate Education Committee meeting:
SB 188 – Public School Transportation by Steube — PASSED
The bill modifies the duties of the district school superintendents and district school boards regarding transportation of students, and the walking conditions that are considered as hazardous to students. Specifically, the bill:
- Modifies the process for identifying hazardous walking conditions by requiring district school superintendents to request the review of a perceived hazardous walking condition if he or she receives a written request from a parent of a student in the school district.
- Revises the district school boards’ responsibilities with regards to providing student transportation services to require such services for public school students in kindergarten through grade 12 (rather than only in elementary grades) whose homes are more than 1.5 miles (rather than 2 miles) from the nearest appropriate school.
- Requires district school boards to provide transportation for all public school students if they are subjected to hazardous walking conditions while en route to or from school.
- Reduces the speed limit along uncurbed roads and at uncontrolled crossing sites from 50 miles per hour to 45 miles per hour in order to be considered a hazardous walking condition.
- Modifies the hazardous walking condition criteria with respect to uncontrolled crossing sites to include a road that has 4 lanes or more, excluding turn lanes, regardless of the speed limit; instead of 6 lanes or more as specified in law.
[NOTE: While there is general support by Committee members and school districts for the safety issues this bill seeks to address, the sponsor and others acknowledged that there are substantial operating and capital costs associated with pursuing these provisions — conservatively estimated to be in excess of $155 million statewide. The bill does not include an appropriation to address these costs but the sponsor expects to pursue an appropriation in the subsequent committees of reference. This was the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 1299 – is similar and has passed one of three committees of reference. The House bill sponsor, Rep. Raburn, has also acknowledged the need for funding.]
SB 1644 – Instructional Materials by Lee – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE (CS)
The bill modifies the district school board and state-level instructional materials review and adoption processes. Specifically, the bill:
- Requires district school board rules regarding the instructional materials review process to establish a process by which parents and county residents may recommend instructional materials for consideration by district instructional materials reviewers.
- Requires members of the public to be provided access to, and be given an opportunity to submit comments on, instructional materials recommended for adoption by state instructional materials reviewers.
- Provides an exemption from the public review procedures for instructional materials that are found by the Commissioner of Education (commissioner) to meet, at a minimum, the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards (NGSSS), but permits a district school board member to initiate the public review procedures before instructional materials are adopted by the commissioner, if the district school board member has evidence that the instructional materials do not meet the required criteria.
[NOTE: Today’s amendment removed a reference to instructional materials meeting standards that are “more rigorous” than the NGSSS. The short summary above reflects the provisions of the bill as amended. This was the first of two committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 827 – is comparable in some respects and has passed one of two committees of reference.]
In the Senate Commerce & Tourism Committee meeting:
SB 858 – Time Observances by Steube – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill provides that, if the United States Congress amends federal law to authorize states to observe daylight saving time year-round, it is the intent of the Legislature that daylight saving time shall be the year-round standard time of the entire state and all of its political subdivisions. [NOTE: Today’s amendment removed a provision that specifically called for the entire state to be in the Eastern Time Zone. The short summary above reflects the provisions of the bill as amended. This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 1013 – is similar, has passed all committees of reference, and has been placed on the House Special Order Calendar for 2/14/18.]
The House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee will meet, 9:30 – 11:30 am, to consider the following item and others:
HB 227 – Workers’ Compensation Benefits for First Responders by Willhite
The bill provides workers’ compensation wage replacement benefits in specified circumstances for a mental or nervous injury of a law enforcement officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical technician, or a paramedic, whether or not such injury is accompanied by a physical injury requiring medical treatment. A law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician, or paramedic who entered service before July 1, 2018, is entitled to receive such indemnity benefits if:
- The mental or nervous injury resulted from the individual acting within the course of his or her employment and such individual witnessed a murder, suicide, fatal injury, child death, or mass killing or treated or transported a deceased child or the victim of a murder, suicide, or fatal injury; and
- The mental or nervous injury is demonstrated by clear and convincing medical evidence by a licensed psychiatrist to meet the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association. The diagnosis must have been made within two years of when the individual witnessed the murder, suicide, fatal injury, child death, or mass killing or treated or transported the deceased child or the victim of a murder, suicide, or fatal injury.
- A law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician, or paramedic who enters service on or after July 1, 2018, is entitled to receive wage replacement benefits if the individual meets the above requirements and also passes a pre-employment mental health examination that fails to reveal any diagnosis of PTSD, if the prospective employer provided such examination. The bill also requires an employing agency of a first responder to provide educational training related to mental health awareness, prevention, mitigation, and treatment.
The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee will meet, 9:30 – 11:30 am, to consider the following item and others:
HB 1129 – Licensure of Child Care Programs by Cortes
- Revises the definitions of child care and child care facilities, and removes the statutory requirement that the Department of Children and Families (DCF) distinguish between child care programs for school-age children requiring licensure and after-school programs that do not need to be licensed;
- Specifies what constitutes after-school programs that must be licensed as a child care facility.
- Defines an after-school program as child care for school-age children during out-of-school times, including, but not limited to, before school or after school, school breaks, and in service planning days. An after-school program includes, but is not limited to, a program that does not require a parent to be present while the child is at the facility and satisfies three or more of the following elements:
- Provides transportation.
- Provides meals or snacks.
- Provides more than one type of educational, artistic, athletic, or self-directed activity.
- Provides tutoring or homework assistance, or a specific time for children to complete homework.
- Advertises or holds itself out as providing child care or being an after-school program.
- Takes children on field trips.
- Provides exemptions from the definition of after-school program, which exempt qualifying programs from licensure. These exemptions mirror those currently in DCF rule; however, they do not include a blanket exemption for a membership organization that is affiliated with a national organization.
- Amends legislative intent related to the licensure of child care facilities to state that membership organizations affiliated with national organizations which provide child care are considered to be child care facilities and, as such, are subject to licensing requirements or minimum standards for child care facilities.
- Provides exceptions from certain physical plant requirements for such membership organizations that are licensed as child care facilities for after-school programs before July 1, 2020.
The House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee will meet, 9:30 – 11:30 am, to consider the following item and others:
HB 565 – Excess Credit Hour Surcharges by Mariano
The bill addresses the current requirement that a state university student pay an excess hour surcharge for each credit hour in excess of 110% of the number of credit hours required to complete the baccalaureate program in which the student is enrolled. The bill:
- Exempts from the surcharge first-time-in-college students who complete the requirements for their baccalaureate degree program within 4 years.
- Modifies the excess hour surcharge for students enrolled in a degree program designated by the Board of Governors as an area of strategic emphasis in a science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or health discipline. For such students an excess hour surcharge equal to 100% of the tuition rate will be assessed for each credit hour attempted in excess of 120% of the credit hours required to complete the baccalaureate degree.
- Provides that the excess hours surcharge for all other students will continue to be assessed when the student exceeds 110% of the degree program.
The Senate Governmental Oversight & Accountability Committee will meet, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, to consider the following item and others:
SB 1650 – Child Abuse, Abandonment, and Neglect by Montford
The bill revises child dependency law to improve coordination and communication among parties in dependency proceedings and add accountability measures to remove barriers to, and expedite permanency for abused and neglected children. Of particular interest to school districts, the bill clarifies that the current public records exemption that applies to reports and records in cases of child abuse or neglect, applies to instructional personnel, school administrators, and educational support employees who have provided information as collateral contacts to child protective investigators, even if the individual was not the individual reporting the alleged maltreatment to the Hotline.
The Senate Health Policy Committee will meet, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, to consider the following item and others:
SB 260 – Students with Disabilities in Public Schools by Book
The bill amends statutes relating to the seclusion and restraint of students with a disability and the conditions under which these students may be placed in special environments. As used in this bill, the term “student” means a student with a disability. Specifically, the bill:
- Establishes exclusionary and nonexclusionary time which is distinguished by whether the student remains in the event or instructional environment.
- Provides that a student may be placed in exclusionary or nonexclusionary time if all of the following conditions exist:
- It is part of that student’s positive behavioral intervention plan;
- Other positive behavioral supports that were not effective preceded its use;
- It occurs in a classroom or in another environments where class educational activities are taking place;
- The student is not prevented from leaving the exclusionary or nonexclusionary time area;
- The student is observed constantly by an adult throughout the time; and
- The exclusionary or nonexclusionary time area and process are free of action that is likely to embarrass or humiliate the student.
- Defines mechanical and physical restraint, provides parameters for its use and specifies that:
- Restraint may be used only when all other behavioral strategies and intervention techniques have been exhausted.
- Physical restraint may only be used when there is an imminent risk of serious bodily injury or death to the student or others.
- Prohibits placing students in seclusion but provides that the term “seclusion” does not include exclusionary time.
- Provides that, if a student has been restrained more than twice in a semester, the school must conduct a review of:
- The incidences in which restraint was used and an analysis of how restraint can be avoided in future incidents;
- The student’s functional behavioral assessment and positive behavioral intervention plan by the school staff and parent within two weeks before the end of a semester; and
- The training provided to staff on the use of restraints.
- Establishes several additional requirements for school districts, replacing provisions related to seclusion with exclusionary or nonexclusionary time, adding training components, and revising notification requirements.
- Requires each school district to report its procedures for training in the use of restraint in the district’s special policies and procedures manual.
- At the beginning of each school year, requires each school district to publicly post its policies on all emergency procedures, including those on the use of restraints.
- Requires school districts to develop policies and procedures that provide for the physical safety and security of staff and students and which treat all students with dignity and respect.
- Requires schools to prepare incident reports on the use of exclusionary or nonexclusionary time within 24 hours after a student is released from that time, and specifies elements that must be included in the report.
- Provides that the required monthly monitoring reports to the department must include the exclusionary and nonexclusionary times.
- Provides that a redacted copy of the documentation created as part of the revised restraint, exclusionary and nonexclusionary reporting process will be updated monthly and made available to the public through the department’s website no later than October 1, 2018 along with aggregate and disaggregate data by county, school, student exceptionality, and other variables listed in the statute.
- Require the Florida Commissioner of Education to develop recommendations to incorporate instruction regarding emotional or behavioral disabilities into continuing education and inservice training requirements for instructional personnel. The recommendations must also address the appropriate use of physical restraint and classroom behavior management strategies for differential reinforcement, precision commands, minimizing attention or access to other reinforcers, and exclusionary and nonexclusionary time methods.
The House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee will meet, 12:30 – 2:30 pm, to consider the following item:
HB 1213 – Computer Science Instruction by Porter
To increase opportunities for students to participate in computer science instruction, the bill:
- Defines computer science and includes computer coding and programming in the definition;
- Requires the Florida Department of Education (DOE) to identify computer science courses in the Course Code Directory and on its website by July 1, 2018;
- Establishes a progressive schedule by which school districts must offer computer science courses identified by the DOE so that at least 10 percent of a school district’s total middle schools, high schools, and combination schools with grades 6-12 offer a computer science course by the 2020-2021 school year;
- Specifies that school districts with fewer than 10 middle schools, high schools, and combination schools must have at least one school offer an identified computer science course by the 2020-2021 school year;
- Requires Florida Virtual School (FLVS) to offer computer science courses so students enrolled in a school without a computer science course can receive computer science instruction;
- Requires school districts to offer students access to computer science courses through FLVS or by other means;
- Allows student enrollment in computer science courses offered by charter schools and FLVS to count toward a district’s computer science course requirements;
- Establishes a grant program to help teachers earn a computer science educator certificate or industry certification and for paying associated examination fees;
- Establishes a bonus program to award qualifying teachers, on a yearly basis for up to 3 years, who teach computer science courses identified by the DOE;
- Establishes a needs-based technology grant for school districts whose Digital Classrooms Allocation funds are insufficient to meet costs associated with the allocation and who have no remaining instructional materials; and
- Requires the State Board of Education to adopt rules to implement these provisions.
- Provides that funding for the teacher training grant program, teacher bonus program, and needs-based technology grant is subject to appropriation.
The Senate Ethics & Elections Committee will meet, 2:00 – 4:00 pm, to consider the following item and others:
SB 582 – Write-in Candidate Qualifying by Rader
The bill codifies the 2016 Florida Supreme Court decision in Brinkmann v. Francois, by repealing the statute that requires a write-in candidate to reside in the district that he or she seeks to represent at the time of qualifying.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet, 2:00 – 4:00 pm, to consider the following item and others:
SB 750 – Public Records by Perry
The bill prohibits an agency, which includes a wide variety of state and local government entities, from responding to a request to inspect or copy a public record by filing a civil action against the individual or entity making the request.