Today is the beginning of the 5th week – and the half-way mark — of the Legislative Session. Please be sure to watch our Legislative Weekly video featuring FSBA Executive Director Andrea Messina providing a recap of bills considered last week and a preview of some of the issues coming up. There were no legislative committee meetings of interest scheduled today, but there are several meetings and bills of interest coming up tomorrow, , including bills relating to student safety, students with disabilities, instructional materials, early learning, retirement, and personalized learning. Please click on the link below for more information about these bills and others. In addition, please click on the link below for our update on the Constitution Revision Commission.
The Senate Education Committee will meet, 9:00 – 10:30 am, to consider the following items and others:
SB 260 – Students with Disabilities in Public Schools by Book
The bill revises the use of restraint techniques on certain students with disabilities, prohibits placing such students in seclusion, and specifies responsibilities for school districts, schools, and the Commissioner of Education (commissioner). Specifically, the bill:
- Defines student to mean a student with a functional behavioral assessment and an individualized behavior intervention plan.
- Defines exclusionary and nonexclusionary time and establishes conditions under which a student may be placed in exclusionary or nonexclusionary time.
- Prohibits the use of straitjackets and the use of specified physical restraint techniques by school personnel on students.
- Requires each school district to:
- Develop policies and procedures regarding physical safety and security of all students and school personnel.
- Report procedures for training related to restraint and the bill specifies the components of such training.
- Publicly post its policies on all emergency procedures, including the district’s policies on the use of restraint and seclusion.
- Requires a school to conduct a review of incidents of restraint, and related interventions and school personnel training
- Requires the commissioner to develop recommendations to incorporate instruction regarding emotional or behavioral disabilities into continuing education and inservice training requirements for instructional personnel.
SB 1234 – Free Expression on Campus by Baxley
The bill establishes the “Campus Free Expression Act,” (the Act) to authorize individuals to engage in expressive activity on public institutions of higher education campuses, within reasonable limits enforced by such institutions. Specifically, the bill:
- Authorizes a person who wishes to engage in an expressive activity in the outdoor areas of campus of a public institution of higher education to do so freely, spontaneously, and contemporaneously as long as the person’s conduct is lawful and does not materially and substantially disrupt the functioning of the public institution.
- Designates the outdoor areas of campus of a public institution of higher education that accepts federal funding as a traditional public forums and specifies that such public institution may create and enforce restrictions that are:
- Reasonable and content-neutral on time, place, and manner of expression.
- Narrowly tailored to a significant institutional interest.
- Prohibits a public institution of higher education from designating a specific area as a free speech zone or otherwise restricting expressive activities to a particular area of campus.
- Establishes a cause of action for a violation of the Act and specifies available damages and a statute of limitations associated with such action.
SB 1644 – Instructional Materials by Lee
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 specified requirements, 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.
SB 1738 – Early Childhood Education by Stewart
The bill modifies the criteria for private prekindergarten providers and school readiness program providers to deliver services under certain circumstances. Specifically, the bill:
- Prohibits a private provider of the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program (VPK program) from participating in the VPK program for a period of 5 years from the date of the last violation if the provider has been cited for four or more violations relating to the supervision of children within a 2-year period.
- Authorizes an early learning coalition to revoke a school readiness program provider’s eligibility to deliver the school readiness program for a period of 5 years from the date of the last violation if the provider has been cited for four or more violations relating to the supervision of children within a 2-year period.
The Senate Criminal Justice Committee will meet, 9:00 – 10:30 am, to consider the following item and others:
SB 1548 – K-12 Student Safety by Book
The bill modifies Florida law regarding educator certification requirements and district school board duties relating to school safety. Specifically, the bill:
- Expands the applicability of certain employment disqualification criteria to include all positions that require direct contact with students.
- Grants the Department of Education and the Education Practices Commission additional authority to enforce the educator certification requirements and impose penalties against persons who do not comply with certification requirements.
- Requires the holder of a Florida educator certification to agree to inform his or her employer within 48 hours if arrested for any disqualifying offense while employed in a position that requires the certification.
- Provides that persons employed as part-time teachers by the district school board are not exempt from the certification requirements for all school-based personnel.
- Specifies that an adjunct teaching certificate may not be used to fulfill the certification requirements for a person who is employed and renders service as an athletic coach in any public school in Florida.
- Requires an educator who has been placed on probation to immediately notify the investigative office in the DOE upon separation from employment in any public or private position requiring a Florida educator’s certificate.
The Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee will meet, 9:00 – 10:30 am, to consider the following item and others:
SB 1520 – Licensure of Child Care Programs by Hutson
The bill redefines ‘after-school program’ to include all programs offering child care for school-age children during out of school times. The bill exempts such programs that are offered by a school on school grounds, all programs that are solely instructional or tutorial, open-access programs, and programs providing child care exclusively for children in grades 6 – 12 from the licensure requirement. The bill also removes an existing requirement that DCF adopt by rule a definition for child care which distinguishes between child care programs that require child care licensure and after school programs that do not require licensure.
The Senate Commerce & Tourism Committee will meet, 9:00 – 10:30 am, to consider the following item and others:
SB 1828 – Employment Discrimination by Rodriguez
The bill prohibits an employer from taking any retaliatory personnel action against an employee who leaves his or her place of employment due to a mandatory evacuation order issued by the President of the United States, the Governor, or a political subdivision of the state. Employers are prohibited from discharging, suspending, demoting, or taking other adverse action against an employee who:
- Left the employee’s place of employment to evacuate under a mandatory evacuation order.
- Evacuated because the employee’s residence or place of employment was included in the mandatory evacuation zone.
- Returns to work within 14 days after the mandatory evacuation order is lifted, or another time agreed upon between the employee and employer.
The bill provides that an employee who is the object of a prohibited retaliatory personnel action may pursue a civil cause of action against the employer. A court is authorized to order relief and reasonable attorneys fees and costs to the prevailing party. The bill does not apply to specified emergency personnel, individuals necessary to provide for the safety and well-being of the general public, and individuals employed at a nursing home facility, hospice, an assisted living facility, or a hospital.
The House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee will meet, 9:30 – 11:30 am, to consider the following item:
HB 423 – Higher Education by Rodrigues
The bill establishes the “Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018”. Specifically, the bill:
- Modifies state university performance funding metrics and requires the Board of Governors (BOG) to develop and implement a performance agreement with each university.
- Requires the BOG to work with each university to establish 1-year, 2-year, 3-year, and 4-year improvement benchmarks for determining eligibility for performance funding.
- Requires the BOG to submit a plan for transitioning from the current partial performance-based funding model to a complete performance-based continuous improvement funding model focused on outcomes.
- Revises excellence standards for the Preeminent State Research Universities Program.
- Revises requirements for SUS institution direct-support organizations (DSO).
- Expands the Florida Bright Futures Academic Scholars (FAS) award to cover 100 percent of tuition and specified fees plus $300 per fall and spring semester for textbooks and college-related expenses and the Florida Bright Futures Medallion Scholars award to cover 75 percent of tuition and fees.
- Authorizes the use of the Bright Futures Scholarship during the summer-term if funding is provided.
- Expands eligibility for the Benacquisto Scholarship Program to include eligible out-of-state students.
- Revises the state-to-private match requirements for the First Generation Matching Grant Program.
- Establishes the Florida Farmworker Student Scholarship Program for farmworkers and their children.
- Requires each state university to adopt an undergraduate block tuition policy for fall 2019.
- Establishes the World Class Faculty and Scholar Program to support the efforts of state universities to recruit and retain exemplary faculty and research scholars.
- Establishes the State University Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence Program to enhance the quality and excellence of state university programs in medicine, law, and business.
- Requires a reverse transfer agreement for Florida College System (FCS) associate in arts degree (AA) transfer students who transfer to a state university prior to earning the AA degree.
- Allows FCS institutions to require students to take the college placement test for diagnostic purposes.
- Requires the BOG to enter into an agreement with the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) for access to individual reemployment assistance wage reports for auditing and evaluation purposes;
- Prohibits ratio of state university students to administrators from exceeding ratio of students to faculty.
- Requires the University of South Florida (USF) to develop and implement a plan for phasing-out the separate accreditation of the USF St. Petersburg and USF Manatee/Sarasota campuses.
The House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will meet, 12:30 – 2:30 pm, to consider the following item and others:
HB 1197 – Prearrest Diversion Programs by Ahern
The bill establishes a model prearrest diversion program that local entities may, but are not mandated to, adopt. In implementing such a program, representatives from local law enforcement agencies, the program services provider, the public defender, the state attorney, and the clerk of the court, in consultation with other interested stakeholders, have wide latitude to develop the program, including defining eligibility criteria, program implementation and operation, and fees, if any. The bill also expands eligibility criteria for juvenile diversion program expunction. The bill makes participants in all types of juvenile diversion programs eligible for expunction. The individual programs no longer have the discretion to specify whether expunction is available, and a minor who completes any diversion program for any misdemeanor is eligible. The bill requires the diversion programs to submit data regarding participants and nonparticipants in diversion programs to the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), which must compile and publish the data on its website.
The House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee will meet, 12:30 – 2:30 pm, to consider the following items and others:
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 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 10 percent based on program assessment results;
- Requiring OEL’s annual report to include certain program assessment information;
- Requiring Early Learning Councils (ELC) 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.
The bill provides an appropriation of $6 million for FY 2018-2019 to OEL to implement the program assessment.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet, 2:00 – 3:30 pm, to consider the following item and others:
SB 1254 – Early Learning by Passidomo
The bill modifies provisions relating to the school readiness program. Specifically, the bill:
- Requires the Office of Early Learning to:
- Adopt a program assessment that measures the quality of teacher-child interactions including classroom organization and specified supports.
- Provide a differential payment of up to 10 percent for each care level and unit of child care for a child care provider that meets specified requirements.
- Revise the statewide provider contract to include contracted slots, quality improvement strategies, and program assessment requirements.
- Modify the annual report to include specified data regarding school readiness program provider compliance with requirements relating to the program assessment.
- Revises Early Learning Coalitions (ELC) plans to add information regarding:
- An assessment of local priorities based on the needs of families and provider capacity using available community data.
- Local eligibility priorities for children, the use of contracted slots in the ELC’s procedures for program implementation, a payment rate schedule, and a description of quality improvement strategies in the ELC’s quality activities and services.
- Modifies school readiness program eligibility, provider standards, and funding to:
- Revise the child eligibility priorities for participation in the school readiness program based on the ELC’s local priorities; and also revise the definition of “at-risk” children for eligibility purposes.
- Revise provider eligibility requirements to specify that the providers must participate in a program assessment that measures the quality of teacher-child interactions.
- Authorize the award of grants and financial supports to providers and instructors to also meet program assessment requirements.
The bill appropriates $6 million for the 2018-2019 fiscal year to the Office of Early Learning to implement the program assessment for school readiness program providers.
The House Appropriations Committee will meet, 3:00 – 6:00 pm, to consider the following items and others:
HB 977 – Retirement of Instructional and Administrative Personnel by Fine
The bill provides that effective July 1, 2018, instructional personnel who are authorized to extend DROP participation beyond the 60-month period must have a termination date that is the last day of the last calendar month of the school year within the DROP extension granted by the employer. For those employees who have already extended DROP on or before July 1, 2018, the member’s DROP participation may be extended through the last day of the last calendar month of that school year. The employer must notify the division of the change in termination date and the additional period of DROP participation for the affected instructional personnel. In addition, administrative personnel in grades K-12 who have a DROP termination date on or after July 1, 2018, may be authorized to extend DROP participation beyond the initial 60 calendar month period if the administrative personnel’s termination date is before the end of the school year. Such administrative personnel may have DROP participation extended until the last day of the last calendar month of the school year in which their original DROP termination date occurred.
HB 1019 – Financial Reporting by La Rosa
The bill requires counties, municipalities, special districts, water management districts, and school districts to:
- Post annual budgets to their respective website for 5 years;
- Provide an electronic copy of their budgets to the Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR), on forms prescribed by the EDR;
- Provide a copy of their budget and a certification of timely filing to the clerk of the court;
- File annual financial reports and audit reports within six months of the end of the fiscal year.
In addition, the bill:
- Provides that the recipient of these reports may extend reporting deadlines by up to 90 days in the event the Governor declares a state of emergency.
- Provides that if a local government entity or school district fails to file required reports with the clerk of the court, the clerk shall notify the appropriate fiscal officer to withhold salary payments from the head of the local government entity or the superintendent of the school district until the reports are filed.
- Requires all municipalities and special districts to conduct an annual audit.
- Requires the Legislative Auditing Committee to conduct a hearing upon receiving notification from the Auditor General, the Department of Financial Services, the Division of Bond Finance of the State Board of Administration, the Governor, or the Commissioner of Education that a local government entity has failed to file required reports.
The Constitution Revision Commission Committees have now completed their work reviewing and refining the 103 proposals submitted by CRC members to amend the Florida Constitution. During the Committee review process, the 103 proposals were whittled down to 37 proposals that passed all committees of reference and are now available to be considered by the full CRC. Of the remaining 37 proposals, 9 are directly related to K-12 education. The next step in the CRC process is a series of Public Hearings throughout the state to gather public comment on these proposals. We encourage you to attend the Public Hearing in your area to offer comments on these 9 education proposals. To assist you in your advocacy, we have updated our CHART of education related proposals and we have revised our Key Points on the proposals of primary interest and concern. Our Chart and Key Points are available on the FSBA website in the “CRC Proposals” file on our Florida CRC page.
The first of the CRC Public Hearings will be held in southeast Florida tomorrow, February 6, in Fort Lauderdale. Last week, we sent an alert to the school board members and others in this region to encourage participation in this Public Hearing and we will do the same for each of the other upcoming Hearings. In the meantime, you may access the dates, times, locations, and other information for each of the Public Hearings HERE (select “Upcoming Hearings” in the “view” box or simply scroll down on this page to find the 2018 Public Hearings). Please mark your calendars now and plan to attend the Public Hearing nearest you so you. We will also send an alert in advance of each Hearing and, as always, the FSBA staff is available to assist you. Please don’t miss this opportunity to advocate on these important proposals!