Our hearts go out to those touched by today’s terrifying and heartbreaking shooting at one of our public high schools. We are so grateful to the heroes – law enforcement and other first responders, school personnel, and so many others — who stepped up to protect and comfort our students in this tragic situation. Please keep the entire Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School community in your thoughts and prayers as we all struggle to comprehend, respond to, and recover from today’s horrific events. We will keep you informed of opportunities to assist and support this school and community. In the meantime, we have provided our usual report on legislative activities today and for tomorrow.
Please click on the first link below for our report on the bills that were considered today including, among others, bills relating to education enhancements, education funding, and juvenile justice. Please click on the second link below for our preview of the bills that will be under consideration tomorrow including, among others, bills relating to school board member term limits, instructional materials, and student safety.
In the Senate PreK-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting:
SB 1434 – K-12 Education Enhancements by Passidomo – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE (CS)
The bill modifies Florida education law relating to charter schools, mental health services in schools, school improvement and education accountability, persistently low-performing schools, schools of hope, school funding, capital outlay funding, and the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship. Specifically, the bill:
- Revises the definition of a high performing charter school to provide that a charter school is a high performing charter school if the school has received at least two school grades of “A” and no school grade below “B” during each of the previous 3 school years or received at least two consecutive school grades of “A” in the most recent 2 school years.
- Extends, from 2 years to 3 years, the period of time for which a charter school may defer its opening.
- Creates the mental health assistance allocation within the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) to provide funds for school-based mental health programs and establishes related requirements.
- Establishes the hope supplemental services allocation within the FEFP to provide schools implementing a district-managed turnaround plan or a turnaround option specified in law with funds to offer services designed to improve the overall academic and community welfare of the schools’ students and their families.
- Strengthens school improvement and accountability measures by:
- Providing that a school must complete two years of a district-managed turnaround plan before the school is designated as persistently low-performing and required to implement a turnaround option.
- Expanding the turnaround options available to a school district for a persistently low-performing school to include a franchise model school that is led by a specified highly effective principal.
- Revises school of hope provisions to require a hope operator to submit a notice of intent containing an operations plan specifying the hope operator’s intent to undertake the operations of the persistently low-performing school and incentivizes a hope operator to establish a school of hope at the district-owned facilities of the persistently low-performing school.
- Provides that a hope operator or the owner of a school of hope may not serve as the principal of any school that he or she manages.
- To maximize the efficient use of resources, authorizes school districts to withhold a portion of Title I funds to provide district level educational services including extended learning opportunities, such as summer school, before-school and after-school programs, and additional class periods of instruction during the school day and to provide supplemental academic and enrichment services, staff development, and planning and curriculum, as well as wrap-around services.
- Modifies the eligibility requirements and calculation methodology for specified charter school capital outlay provisions and revises the amount of discretionary millage that a school district may expend for specified purposes.
- Prohibits personal financial enrichment by owners, operators, managers, real estate developers, and other affiliated parties of charter schools.
- Provides exceptions to certain building code regulations for school districts if there is sufficient shelter capacity within the school district as documented in the Statewide Emergency Shelter Plan.
- Expands eligibility for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship to include a student who attends a persistently low-performing school.
- Renames the Collegiate High School Program as the Structured High School Acceleration Program and creates a bonus funding mechanism to incentivize school district and college interest in expanding programs.
- The bill creates two new funding categoricals within the FEFP for which the Senate budget appropriates $128 million with $40 million for the mental health assistance allocation and $88,049,710 for the hope supplemental services allocation.
[NOTE: Today’s amendments revises provisions relating to school of hope operators, Title I funding, charter schools and charter school capital outlay funding, and district capital construction flexibility. The short summary above reflects the provisions of the bill as amended. This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. There is no House companion bill, but some of the issues addressed in the bill are also addressed in HB 7055.]
In the House Appropriations Committee meeting:
HB 495 – School District Price Level Index by Diaz — PASSED
The bill provides for third-party review of the Florida Price Level Index (FPLI) methodology by requiring the Florida Department of Education (DOE) to contract with an independent consulting firm to conduct a review of the FPLI methodology by July 1, 2018. The bill also requires the DOE, by January 1, 2019, and every 10 years thereafter, to submit a report providing recommendations to the chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, the chair of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, and the Executive Office of the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget. The House budget appropriates the sum of $100,000 to the DOE to issue a competitive solicitation for the completion of the review for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. [NOTE: This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 824 – is identical and has passed one of three committees of reference.]
HB 7073 – Government Integrity by Public Integrity & Ethics – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill includes various provisions designed to promote integrity in government and identify and eliminate, fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, and misconduct in government. Specifically, the bill:
- Creates the Florida Accountability Office within the Office of Auditor General for the purpose of ensuring accountability and integrity in state and local government and identifying, investigating, and recommending the elimination of waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement, and related misconduct in government.
- Requires the Chief Inspector General and agency inspectors general to make regular reasonable suspicion determinations whenever initiating an investigation of fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, or misconduct in government.
- Provides a mechanism for the state to recover funds when the Chief Inspector General or an agency inspector general determines a public official, independent contractor, or agency has committed fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, or misconduct in government.
- Requires the Chief Financial Officer to regularly forward to the Florida Accountability Office copies of suggestions and information submitted through the state’s ‘Get Lean’ hotline.
- Provides a financial incentive for agency employees to file ‘Whistle-blower’s Act’ complaints and participate in investigations that lead to the recovery of funds.
- Strengthens the state procurement law to provide greater protection to the public in connection with the expenditure of public money.
- Broadens the competitive solicitation exemption for statewide broadcasting of public service announcements, currently benefiting one particularly described statewide non-profit organization.
- Prohibits, with limited exception, a state employee from lobbying for funding for an appropriation and also participating in the negotiating and awarding of any contract in connection with the appropriation.
The bill has a projected annual fiscal impact to the state of approximately $1.8 million annually to fund the salary and benefits and expected expenses to implement the provisions of this act. However, no additional appropriation is provided as the Auditor General is expected to have sufficient carryforward funds to cover such costs for more than three years. [NOTE: Today’s amendment removed an appropriation and replaced it with a provision authorizing the Auditor General to use carryforward funds to fund the establishment and operations of the Florida Accountability Office. This was the first of two committees of reference for this bill. There is no direct Senate companion bill but SB 1534 contains some comparable provisions.]
In the Senate Civil & Criminal Justice Appropriations Subcommittee meeting:
SB 1392 – Prearrest Diversion Programs by Brandes — PASSED
The bill requires the state attorney, the public defender, the clerk of the circuit court, and law enforcement agencies to establish a prearrest diversion program for adults and a civil citation or similar diversion program for juveniles in each judicial circuit. Each judicial circuit’s prearrest and civil citation or similar diversion program must specify:
- The misdemeanor offenses that qualify an offender for participation in the program;
- The eligibility criteria for the program;
- The program’s implementation and operation;
- The program’s requirements, including, but not limited to:
- The completion of community service hours;
- Payment of restitution, if applicable; and
- Intervention services indicated by a needs assessment of the offender; and
- A program fee, if any, to be paid by a participant of the program.
The bill requires the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to adopt rules to provide for the expunction of a nonjudicial record of the arrest of a juvenile who has successfully completed a diversion program for a misdemeanor offense. The civil citation or similar diversion programs must submit certain information to the FDLE and the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) regarding a juvenile’s participation in the program. The bill also requires each law enforcement agency to submit to the DJJ certain information relating to each juvenile who is eligible for the diversion program but is instead referred to the DJJ, provided a notice to appear, or is arrested. The bill requires the DJJ to compile such data relating to juvenile civil citation or similar diversion programs and publish it on the DJJ’s website. [NOTE: This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 1197 – is similar and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
In the House Session:
HB 1013 – Daylight Saving Time by Nunez – READ 2ND TIME; READ 3RD TIME; PASSED THE HOUSE
The bill declares the Legislature’s intent to observe DST year-round throughout the entire state if federal law is amended to permit states to take such action. [NOTE: The Senate companion bill — SB 858 – is identical and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
HB 577 – High School Graduation Requirements by Silvers – READ 2ND TIME; READ 3RD TIME; PASSED THE HOUSE
The bill allows a student to use credit earned upon completion of a DOE-registered apprenticeship or preapprenticeship program to satisfy the credit requirements for fine or performing arts, speech and debate, or practical arts. The bill requires the State Board of Education (SBE) to approve and identify in the Course Code Directory apprenticeship and preapprenticeship programs from which a student may use earned credit to satisfy graduation requirements. [NOTE: The Senate companion bill — SB 856 – is identical and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
HB 1175 – Early Learning Coalitions by Sullivan – READ 2ND TIME; READ 3RD TIME; AMENDED; PASSED THE HOUSE
The bill authorizes the Early Learning Coalition (ELC) to refuse to contract with, or revoke the eligibility of, a school readiness program provider if the provider has been cited for a Class I violation. The bill also authorizes the ELC to refuse to contract with, or revoke the eligibility of, a private Prekindergarten program provider if the provider has been cited for a Class I violation. Class I violations are the most serious in nature, pose an imminent threat to a child including abuse or neglect and which could or does result in death or serious harm to the health, safety or well-being of a child. [NOTE: Today’s amendment expands the scope of the bill to make private Prekindergarten program providers subject to the provisions of the bill. The short summary above reflects the provisions of the bill as amended. The Senate companion bill — SB 1532 – is similar and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
The House Judiciary Committee will meet, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, to consider the following items and others:
HB 515 – Offenses Against Students by Authority Figures by White
The bill makes it a second-degree felony for an authority figure to solicit or engage in sexual conduct, a relationship of a romantic nature, or lewd conduct with a student enrolled at a school, regardless of the student’s age. The bill defines:
- “Authority figure” as a person 18 years of age or older who is employed by, volunteering at, or under contract with a school, including school resource officers.
- “School” as a private school, a voluntary prekindergarten education program, early learning program, a public school, the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, the Florida Virtual School, and, with respect to a student participating in a dual enrollment program, the postsecondary institution in which the student is enrolled.
- “Student” as a person who is enrolled at a school or participating in a dual enrollment program.
In addition, the bill amends the definition of school in the trespass on school grounds statute to include a school bus. This amendment allows law enforcement to arrest someone for trespassing on a school bus, after the commission of the crime and without a warrant, if the officer had probable cause to believe the person committed the offense.
HB 1391 – Sexual Offenses Against Students by Rodrigues
The bill enhances student safety and increases accountability for school officials and employees by:
- Providing that a conviction for an offense against a student disqualifies a person from educator certification or employment in a position with a public school or certain private schools that involves direct contact with students;
- Providing that an employee’s resignation or termination of employment does not affect a school district’s responsibility to investigate complaints of misconduct and to report legally sufficient complaints to the Department of Education (DOE) within 30 days;
- Requiring district school board policies to include mandatory reporting of alleged misconduct that involves engaging in sexual, romantic, or lewd conduct with a student or soliciting such conduct and to require district school superintendents to report to law enforcement misconduct by school district personnel that would result in disqualification from certification or employment;
- Expanding the reasons a district school board member’s or superintendent’s salary may be forfeited for 1 year;
- Requiring a district school superintendent to notify in writing the parent of a student affected by certain misconduct and requiring the notification to include certain information;
- Expanding the authority of the DOE to deny certification based upon the Education Practices Commission’s (EPC) authority to issue disciplinary action against a certified educator;
- Authorizing the EPC to impose conditions upon the award of an educator certificate; and
- Requiring school districts and certain schools to notify the department when a teacher or administrator resigns before an investigation of misconduct affecting the health, safety, or welfare of a student is concluded and requiring the DOE to place an alert on the person’s certificate file indicating that he or she resigned or was terminated before such an investigation was concluded.
The bill makes it a second-degree felony for an authority figure to solicit or engage in sexual conduct, a relationship of a romantic nature, or lewd conduct with a student enrolled at a school, regardless of the student’s age. The bill also amends the definition of school in the trespass on school grounds statute to include a school bus, allowing law enforcement to arrest someone for trespassing on a school bus, after the commission of the crime and without a warrant, if the officer has probable cause to believe the person committed the offense.
The House Education Committee will meet, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, to consider the following items:
HJR 1031 – Limitation of Terms/School Board Members by Fischer
The joint resolution proposes an amendment to the Florida Constitution that, if approved by the voters at the general election in November 2018, prohibits a district school board member from appearing on a ballot for reelection if, by the end of their current term of office, the member will have served, or but for resignation would have served, in that office for eight consecutive years. The proposed limitation would only apply to terms of office that begin after November 6, 2018. A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the State Constitution must be passed by three-fifths of the membership of each house of the Legislature.
HB 1035 – Personalized Education by Sullivan
- Renames the Competency-Based Education Pilot Program to the Mastery-Based Education Pilot Program.
- Allows any district in the state to submit an application to DOE to participate.
- Authorizes districts participating in the pilot program to use an alternative interpretation of letter grades to measure student success in grades 6-12. The alternate system must meet specific requirements and be approved by the district school board.
- Allows districts to determine and award one full credit toward high school graduation based on the student’s mastery of core content and skills without meeting the current minimum requirement of 135 or 120 hours of bona fide instruction to award one full credit.
- Requires the statewide articulation agreement to ensure fair and equitable access for high school graduates with mastery-based, nontraditional diplomas and transcripts.
HB 1091 – Early Learning by Grall
The bill revises provisions related to the School Readiness program by:
- Expanding the definition of “at-risk” for eligibility purposes;
- Requiring the Office of Early Learning (OEL) to identify observation-based child assessments;
- Requiring OEL to adopt program assessment requirements that measure teacher-child interactions;
- Requiring OEL to revise the statewide provider contract to include contracted slots and quality improvement strategies, if applicable, and program assessment requirements;
- Establishing a payment differential of up to 15 percent based on program assessment results with no more than 5% of the 15% allocated based on submission of data by providers that implement an observation-based child assessment identified by OEL;
- Modifying the required functionality of the single statewide information system;
- Requiring OEL’s annual report to include certain program assessment information;
- Requiring ELCs to establish local eligibility priorities and include them in their biennial School Readiness plans;
- Requiring an ELC’s biennial plan to include procedures for the use of contracted slots, a description of quality improvement strategies, and the results of a community needs assessment;
- Requiring School Readiness providers to participate in a program assessment; and
- Allowing the award of grants and financial supports to providers and instructors to meet program assessment requirements.
- Appropriates $6 million to the OEL to implement the program assessment.
HB 827 – Instructional Materials by Donalds
The bill revises provisions relating to instructional materials, assessments, professional development, and dual enrollment. With regard to instructional materials, the bill:
- Expands upon opportunities for public involvement in the adoption of instructional materials by requiring the Department of Education (DOE) to conduct a public workshop on instructional materials before the materials are included on the state adoption list;
- Provides that instructional materials recommended for adoption may be more rigorous than the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards (NGSSS), so long as they are aligned with the NGSSS;
- Revises requirements for the state instructional materials reviewer affidavit;
- Provides that if the Commissioner of Education finds that instructional materials fully meet or are more rigorous than the NGSSS, the materials are not subject to preadoption public review procedures by the local school district, with an exception;
- Requires the State Board of Education and each district school board with an instructional materials program to establish a process by which members of the public can recommend instructional materials for consideration by instructional materials reviewers;
- Specifies that recommended instructional materials must be content rich and age appropriate; and
- Requires that instructional materials purchased using instructional material allocation funds to include professional development and ancillary materials to support high-quality, accurate instruction.
With regard to the statewide assessment program, the bill:
- Specifies that assessments must be published in a format that facilitates sharing of assessment items;
- Requires all statewide, standardized English Language Arts (ELA) and math assessments in grades 7 and 8 to be paper-based by the 2019-2020 school year; and
- Requires that reading passages and writing prompts used in state ELA assessments incorporate grade-level social studies core curricular content.
With regard to professional development and curriculum, the bill requires the DOE to develop and disseminate sample course-at-a-glance and unit overview templates that school districts may use when developing curricula.
With regard to dual enrollment, the bill:
- Provides that a home education student participating in a dual enrollment program is not responsible for providing his or her own instructional materials;
- Revises requirements for articulation agreements between public postsecondary institutions and home education students and private schools; and
- Specifies that only public postsecondary institutions must enter into articulation agreements with home education students and private schools.