In sad remembrance of the tragic school shooting on February 14, 2018, it seemed fitting that, one year later, the focus of attention during Legislative Interim Committee Meeting Week #5 was school safety. Committees/subcommittees in both the House and Senate received reports and considered legislation designed to improve and refine school safety policies an procedures and Governor DeSantis issued an Executive Order and called for a Grand Jury to be impaneled to review implementation of safety measures. In addition to this focus on safety issues, Governor DeSantis released implementing and conforming bills that provide more details on the new programs and services included in his 2019-2010 budget recommendation and legislative committees/subcommittees considered several bills of interest including, among others, bills relating to ethics and elections, government accountability, and curriculum. Please click on the files below to learn more about school safety initiatives, details on the governor’s budget recommendation, and other legislative meetings and events this week.
Several committees/subcommittees considered bills and/or received presentations relating directly or tangentially to school safety. The most significant being consideration of SPB 7030 by the Senate Education Committee. The proposed bill builds upon the school safety and security foundation established in SB 7026 by addressing the school safety and security recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, and strengthening accountability and compliance oversight authority. Specifically, the bill:
- Improves school security measures by:
- Establishing a workgroup to review campus hardening policies and recommend a prioritized list of strategies for implementation and related policy and funding enhancements;
- Prioritizing the use of the school security risk assessment tool;
- Expanding the personnel who may serve as a school district’s school safety specialist to include certain law enforcement officers employed by the sheriff’s office; and
- Expanding school district options and eligibility for participation in the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program.
- Enhances student safety by:
- Requiring improved school safety incident reporting;
- Promoting the FortifyFL mobile suspicious activity reporting tool;
- Expediting services for students with mental or behavioral disorders;
- Requiring active assailant response policies;
- Establishing a standardizing behavioral threat assessment instrument; and
- Establishing a workgroup to make recommendations regarding the development of a statewide threat assessment database.
- Provides school districts with greater flexibility to improve school safety by authorizing the transfer of additional categorical funds within the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) towards school safety expenditures.
The proposed bill was amended to specify that an individual may not serve as a school guardian in a school unless he or she is appointed by the superintendent and to clarify the role and employment of the district’s school safety specialist. An amendment intended to strictly limit the participation of current teachers in the Guardian program was the subject of a great deal of committee debate and public commentary. Ultimately, the amendment did not pass. The proposed bill passed the committee and stands filed as a committee bill.
In other action taken in response to recent commentary and the recommendations contained in the MSDHS Public Safety Commission Report, Governor DeSantis filed a petition with the Florida Supreme Court to impanel a statewide grand jury to examine and review school safety measures throughout the state, as well as the responses of public entities to laws such as SB 7026 that are designed to improve public safety. Specifically, the grand jury will investigate any crime or wrong within Florida Statute § 905.34 that relates to the following:
- Whether refusal or failure to follow the mandates of school-related safety laws, such as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, results in unnecessary and avoidable risk to students across the state;
- Whether public entities committed – and continue to commit – fraud and deceit by accepting state funds conditioned on implementation of certain safety measures while knowingly failing to act;
- Whether school officials committed – and continue to commit – fraud and deceit by mismanaging, failing to use, and diverting funds from multi-million-dollar bonds specifically solicited for school safety initiatives; and
- Whether school officials violated – and continue to violate – state law by systematically underreporting incidents of criminal activity to the Florida Department of Education.
- The Governor also issued Executive Order #19-45 relating to Safety for Florida’s Children & Schools in which the Commissioner of Education and the Secretary of the Department of Juvenile Justice are directed to ensure that:
The FDOE conducts an immediate statewide audit of all school districts to ascertain any and all types of school-based discipline diversion programs that are in place and then work in partnership with the DJJ to review and analyze such programs;
- The Commissioner reopens and extends the application period for participation in the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program to April 1, 2019;
- The FDOE develops best practices for school hardening and harm mitigation to be submitted to the Governor and the Legislature by July 1, 2019;
- The Commissioner immediately communicates to all school district superintendents how to implement compliance with Section 1006.12, F.S., regarding safe school officers and guardians;
- The FDOE takes any steps necessary to implement Section 1001.212(6)-(9), F.S., to provide a centralized, integrated data repository and data analytics resources to include access to timely school safety information by August 1, 2019.
In other legislative committee/subcommittee meetings this week:
The House Criminal Justice Committee considered, among other bills:
SB 136 – False Personation/School Guardian by Rouson
The bill amends s. 843.08, F.S., which criminalizes the false personation of law enforcement officers and other specified persons, to criminalize the false personation of a school guardian.
SB 186 – Public Records/Victim of Mass Violence by Lee
The bill expands an existing public records exemption to make confidential and exempt from public disclosure any photographs and video and audio recordings that depict or record the killing of a victim of mass violence.
The House Education Committee received presentations on the Somerset Academy in Jefferson County, community partnership schools, and the Schools of Hope Traditional Public Schools Grant Program. The meeting packet is available HERE.
The House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee considered, among other things, presentations on the Status of Safe Schools Appropriations in SB 7026, the Safe Schools Appropriations in Governor’s FY 2019-20 Budget Recommendation, and on the Results of Review of the Florida Safe Schools Assessment Tool. The meeting packet is available HERE (see pages 97-124).
The Senate Ethics & Elections Committee, considered, among other bills:
SB 336 – Local Tax Referenda by Brandes
The bill requires that a referendum to adopt or amend a local option discretionary sales surtax must be held at a general election.
The House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee considered:
HB 401 – Mastery-Based Education by DiCeglie
The bill renames the Competency-Based Education Pilot Program as the Mastery-Based Education Pilot Program, allows any school district in the state to submit an application to the DOE to participate in the program, and makes other changes to the Program.
The Subcommittee also received a presentation on Career & Technical Education. The meeting packet is available HERE.
Please note that you may access the videos for each of these meetings on the website linked to each committee/subcommittee named above or in the Florida Channel Video Library. The last round of Legislative Interim Committee Meetings prior to the start of the 2019 Legislative Session will be held February 18 – 22, 2019. The schedule of bills and meetings of interest is available HERE.
On Friday, Governor DeSantis released a implementing bill and several conforming bills to accompany his budget recommendations. While it may be typical for the Governor to release an implementing bill, it is very unusual to see any conforming bills and Governor DeSantis has released more than 20 conforming bills. The entire package is posted on Governor DeSantis’ website and is available by clicking HERE. Please keep in mind that these are recommendations that, for the most part, have yet to be addressed by the Legislature. Also, note that when the legislature does adopt a budget, implementing bill, and any conforming bills, the budget and implementing bills are in effect ONLY for the 2019-2020 fiscal year while conforming bills remain in effect permanently unless repealed or amended.
The main education related conforming bills provide details existing and new initiatives in Governor DeSantis’ budget recommendation:
- Revisions to, and funding for, the Best & Brightest Teacher & Principal Bonus Program including creation of the Best & Brightest Teacher Pipeline Student Loan Forgiveness and Tuition Reimbursement Program
- Authorization of the substitution of a computer science credit in lieu of a science credit
- Repeal of the Funding Compression Allocation
- Expansion of the Schools of Hope initiative
- Establishment of the Florida Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant Program
- Establishment of the Florida Equal Opportunity Scholarship Program within the FEFP
- Establishment of a Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday
The Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS) has prepared a chart that outlines the basic provisions of each of the education related conforming bills and has kindly shared it with school districts. That chart is posted (with our sincere thanks) on our Legislative Session page in 2019 Education Budget Materials file or you may access it directly by clicking HERE.
In other business this week, the Department of Education has been providing technical assistance in response to Governor DeSantis’ recent Executive Order 19-32 relating to the elimination of common core standards. The Executive Order calls for the Commissioner of Education to comprehensively review Florida’s K-12 academic standards and provide recommended revisions to the Governor. The recommendations must:
- Articulate how Florida will eliminate Common Core (Florida Standards) and ensure we return to the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic;
- Provide a roadmap to make Florida’s standards number one in the nation;
- Reflect the Commissioner’s consultation with relevant stakeholders to include parents and teachers;
- Deem how to increase the quality of instructional curriculum;
- Suggest innovative ways to streamline testing;
- Identify opportunities to equip high school graduates with sufficient knowledge of America’s civics, particularly the principles reflected in the Unites States Constitution, so as to be capable of discharging the responsibilities associated with American citizenship; and
- Outline a pathway for Florida to be the most literate state in the nation.
This week, FDOE conducted a webinar and issued a memo to School District Superintendents which provide an overview of the standards, outline how the FDOE will proceed with this standards review, highlight some related issues (such as instructional materials alignment), and establish a Standards Review Website that provides more information, a link to Florida’s current K-12 State Standards, and a survey for public input on revising the standards. For your convenience, we have linked all of these documents and information on the Curriculum page in the FSBA Resource Room and urge you to review these materials and offer your input.