The FSBA Day in the Legislature Conference has been in full swing this week with more than 125 school board members and other attendees in Tallahassee to participate in legislative briefings and advocacy training, network with education leaders, and meet with legislators to discuss issues of interest to school districts. This has been a particularly eventful time to be in the state capitol because both the House and Senate are in the midst of floor debate on the state budget and several significant bills of interest have been under consideration in legislative committees. The combination of our Day in the Legislature activities and a busy week of legislative action on the budget and bills of interest has delayed publication of the Session Spotlight, so this issue is a “catch-up” issue that reports on events over the last few days. Please click on the first link below for our update on the status on the state budget and related bills. The other links below provide our reports on the bills of interest that were considered this week.
There are no legislative committee meetings of interest scheduled for tomorrow, Friday, February 9, 2018. Our next issue of the Session Spotlight will provide the schedule of meetings and bills that will be considered on Monday.
On Wednesday and Thursday, both chambers considered and approved their respective budget and related bills on 2nd and 3rd Reading. The House approved their budget and implementing bills – HB 5001 and HB 5003 — and sent them to the Senate for consideration. Upon receipt of the House bills, the Senate amended the House bills by inserting the Senate version of these bills in place of the House version. The Senate bills – SB 2500 and SB 2502 – were then Laid on the Table with the result being that these House bills retain their bill number, but contain the text of the Senate bills. This sets the stage for the chambers to begin negotiations to arrive at an agreement on the state budget. This involves setting up Budget Conference Committees for each major area of the budget — comprised of members from both chambers – that will work out the differences between the budget bills and generate a Conference Committee Report that contains the final budget. It is expected the Conference Committees will be named and begin their work next week.
It is important to note that some debate has arisen over the controversial House omnibus education bill — HB 7055. The House has designated HB 7055 as a budget conforming bill, indicating the desire of the House to have the bill included in the budget conference process. Indeed, the House structured their budget so that the bulk of K-12 Education funding — the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) line item – would be contingent upon passage of HB 7055. However, the Senate has taken the position that major policy bills like HB 7055 should be handled through the normal committee process and should not be included in the budget conference process. The House passed HB 7055 today, but the bill has not been sent to the Senate as yet. We will keep you informed of this issue as the budget process moves forward.
Also note that the Senate and House versions of the Florida Retirement System Rate bills – HB 5007 and SB 7014 — were essentially identical. The Senate passed HB 5007 so that bill has passed both chambers and has been Enrolled.
We will update our comparison of the House and Senate education budget provisions and summarize the provisions of the FRS Rate bills in the coming days and make these documents available on Monday.
SB 260 – Students with Disabilities in Public Schools by Book – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE (CS)
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 disability.
- Defines exclusionary and nonexclusionary time; establishes conditions under which a student may be placed in exclusionary or nonexclusionary time; and specifies related documentation, reporting and monitoring of such incidents.
- Prohibits the use of specified physical restraint techniques by school personnel on students.
- Requires each school district to:
- oDevelop policies and procedures regarding physical safety and security of all students and school personnel.
- oReport procedures for training related to restraint and the bill specifies the components of such training.
- oPublicly 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 redacted copies of documentation related to the use of restraint and exclusionary and nonexclusionary time to be updated monthly and made available to the public through the Department of Education’s website by October 1, 2018.
- Requires the commissioner to develop recommendations to incorporate instruction regarding emotional or behavioral disabilities into continuing education and inservice training requirements for instructional personnel.
[NOTE: The short summary above reflects the provisions of the bill as amended. This was the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 63 – is similar, has passed all committees of reference, and is on the House Calendar on 2nd Reading.]
HB 423 – Higher Education by Rodrigues — PASSED
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.
[NOTE: This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 4 — is comparable, has passed the Senate, and is in Messages to the House.]
HB 977 – Retirement of Instructional and Administrative Personnel by Fine — PASSED
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.
[NOTE: This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 1240 — is similar and has passed one of three committees of reference.]
HB 1019 – Financial Reporting by La Rosa — PASSED
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.
[NOTE: This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. There is no direct Senate companion bill.]
HB 1035 – Personalized Education by Sullivan — PASSED
- 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.
[NOTE: This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 968 — is similar but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
HB 1091 – Early Learning by Grall – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
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 Early Learning Coalitions (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 appropriates $6 million to the OEL to implement the program assessment.
[NOTE: 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 Senate companion bill — SB 1254 — is similar and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
HB 1197 – Prearrest Diversion Programs by Ahern — PASSED
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.
[NOTE: This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 1392 — is similar and has passed one of three committees of reference.]
SB 1254 – Early Learning by Passidomo — PASSED
The bill modifies provisions relating to the school readiness program. Specifically, the bill:
- Requires the Office of Early Learning (OEL) 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.
- Appropriates $6 million to the Office of Early Learning to implement the program assessment for school readiness program providers.
[NOTE: This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 1091 — is similar and has two of three committees of reference.]
SB 1548 – K-12 Student Safety by Book — PASSED
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.
[NOTE: This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 1297 — is comparable but has not been heard in either of two committees of reference.]
SB 1738 – Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Programs by Stewart – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill authorizes an early learning coalition to refuse to contract with a private provider of the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program if the provider has been cited for a class I violation.
[NOTE: The short summary above reflects the provisions of the bill as amended. This was the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 1297 — is comparable but has not been heard in either of two committees of reference.]
HB 1 – The Hope Scholarship Program by Donalds – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE (CS)
The bill establishes the Hope Scholarship Program (HSP), which provides the parent of a public school student subjected to an incident at school the opportunity to transfer the student to a public school within the school district, receive a scholarship to transport the student to a public school in another school district, or receive a scholarship for the student to attend a private school. For purposes of the program an incident includes battery, harassment, hazing, bullying, kidnapping, physical attack, robbery, sexual offense, harassment, assault, battery, threat, intimidation, or fighting at school. School means any educational program or activity conducted by a public K-12 educational institution, any school-related or school-sponsored program or activity, and riding on a school bus, including waiting at a school bus stop.
Beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, contingent upon funds, scholarships are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. A student is ineligible for the HSP if the student is:
- Enrolled in a public school, including, but not limited to, the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, the College-Preparatory Boarding Academy, a developmental research school or a charter school;
- Enrolled in a Department of Juvenile Justice commitment program;
- Enrolled in a virtual school, correspondence school or distance learning program that receives state funding pursuant to the student’s participation unless the participation is limited to two courses per school year; or
- Receiving any other state sponsored K-12 educational scholarship.
Once an incident is reported to the school principal, the school principal, or his/her designee, must provide a copy of the incident report to the parent and investigate the incident to determine if the incident must be reported to the DOE. Upon conclusion of the investigation or within 15 days after receipt of the report of the incident, whichever occurs first, the school district must notify the parent of the HSP and offer that parent an opportunity to enroll their student in another public school or to receive a Hope Scholarship to attend an eligible private school. If the student enrolls in a public school outside the district, the student is eligible for a transportation scholarship limited to $750.
The Department of Education must contract with an independent entity to conduct an annual evaluation of the program. The entity must review the school climate and code of student conduct at each public school at which 10 or more students transferred to another public school or private school using the scholarship to determine areas for improvement. The review must include an assessment of the investigation of incidents; analysis of school incident and discipline data; the effectiveness of communication with students, parents, and personnel; and challenges and obstacles to implementing recommendations. The entity must also identify best practices from the schools to which students transferred. The entity will also review the performance of participating students enrolled in private schools at which at least 51 percent of total enrolled students are program participants. Parents of participating students will be surveyed to determine academic, safety, and school climate satisfaction and to identify any challenges or obstacles in addressing the incident or use of the scholarship.
The bill requires school districts to notify scholarship students in private schools who wish to participate in the statewide student assessment program or the Florida Alternate Assessment of the locations and times to take all statewide assessments.
Private schools that participate in the HSP must meet the same requirements for participation established by Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. Likewise, the commissioner has the same duties and responsibilities over private schools established in the Florida Tax Credit Program. A participating SFO will be governed by the same statutory requirements as outlined in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. The bill specifies that the SFO must report to the DOR the total amount of contributions received in the preceding calendar month. The report must include specified information.
The bill requires the Auditor General (AG) to conduct an annual operational audit of accounts of each participating SFO, which must include a verification of students served and transmission of that information to the DOE. The AG also must notify the DOE of any SFO that fails to comply with a request for information.
The scholarship amount is calculated as a percentage of the unweighted FTE as follows:
- Eighty-eight percent for students in grades K-5.
- Ninety-two percent for students in grades 6-8.
- Ninety-six percent for students enrolled in grades 9-12.
The HSP is funded by taxpayers who make an eligible contribution to a scholarship funding organization. The eligible contribution provides the taxpayer with a credit against any tax due as a result of the purchase or acquisition of a motor vehicle. The credit may not exceed the amount of taxes owed. Each eligible contribution is limited to a single payment of $105 at the time of purchase of a motor vehicle or at the time of registration of a motor vehicle that was not purchased from a dealer. The purchaser elects whether or not to contribute at the time of the purchase or registration of the vehicle. Contributions must be made to a dealer at the time of purchase or to an agent of the Department of Revenue (DOR) at the time of registration, if the vehicle was not purchased from a dealer.
The bill provides that a dealer, designated agent, or private tag agent must:
- Provide the purchaser a contribution election form, as prescribed by the DOR, at the time of purchase or at the time of registration if the vehicle is not purchased from a dealer;
- Collect eligible contributions;
- Remit to the SFO no later than the date the return is due the total amount of contributions made to the SFO and collected during the preceding reporting period. The dealer shall also report this information to DOR no later than the date the return is due; and
- Report on each return filed with the DOR the total amount of credits allowed under during the preceding calendar month.
If a dealer or organization fails to submit the above required reports, they will be subject to a $1,000 penalty for every month, or part thereof, the report is not provided, up to a maximum of $10,000. The penalty shall be collected by DOR and transferred to the General Revenue Fund. The penalty must be settled or compromised if DOR determines that the noncompliance is due to reasonable cause and not to willful negligence, willful neglect, or fraud.
A person who, with intent to unlawfully deprive or defraud the program of money, fails to remit HSP contributions is guilty of theft, punishable as follows:
- If the amount stolen is less than $300, the offense is a second-degree misdemeanor. Upon a second conviction, the offender is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor. Upon a third or subsequent conviction, the offender is guilty of a third degree felony.
- If the amount stolen is $300 or more, but less than $20,000, the offense is a third-degree felony.
- If the amount stolen is $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000, the offense is a second-degree felony.
- If the amount stolen is $100,000 or more, the offense is a first-degree felony.
The sentencing judge must order an offender to make restitution to the SFO in the amount stolen. Upon finding that a dealer failed to remit a contribution for which the dealer claimed credit, DOE shall notify the dealer of such finding and request evidence from the dealer that the remittance obligation was met within 30 days after such notice. If the dealer fails to provide evidence that the remittance obligation was met, DOR may impose a civil fine in an amount equal to twice the amount the dealer failed to remit. If the fine is not paid within 60 days after it was imposed, DOR may bring a civil action under s. 120.69 to recover the fine.
[NOTE: Amendments to the bill generally align the provisions of HB 1 with the provisions relating to the Hope Scholarship Program that are contained in HB 7055. We are still reviewing the amendments, but the summary above reflects the major provisions of the bill as amended. This was the third of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 1172 — is comparable and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
HB 515 – Offenses Against Students by Authority Figures by White – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
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 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.
[NOTE: The amendment revises the criminal offense for an authority figure to engage in or solicit sexual, romantic, or lewd conduct with a student to include a student enrolled in a dual enrollment program. 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 Senate companion bill — SB 736 — is similar but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
HB 731 – Home Education by Sullivan – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
- Clarifies the definition of “parent,” the home education registration process and the home education notice requirements;
- Authorizes school districts to provide a home education student access to career and technical courses and programs;
- Authorizes districts to offer industry certifications, national assessments and statewide, standardized assessments to home education students;
- Prohibits school superintendents from requiring evidence of a child’s age if the child meets regular attendance requirements by attending certain educational institutions or programs;
- Authorizes school superintendents to refer student nonenrollment cases to a child study team in order to conduct intervention services;
- Clarifies the court procedures and penalties for enforcement of compulsory school attendance;
- Clarifies that dual enrollment articulation agreements may not limit the number of dual enrollment courses students may take based solely upon a student’s enrollment at an independent postsecondary institution; and
- Exempts a home education student from the grade point average requirement for admission to dual enrollment programs if the student meets the minimum score on a college placement test.
[NOTE: The amendment clarifies that dual enrollment articulation agreements may not limit the number of dual enrollment courses students may take based solely upon a student’s enrollment at an independent postsecondary institution. The short summary above reflects the provisions of the bill as amended. This was the third of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 732 — is similar and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
HB 839 – Display of the State Motto by Daniels – PASSED; PLACED ON HOUSE CALENDAR ON 2ND READING
The bill requires each district school board to adopt rules that require all schools and all buildings used by the school board to display in a conspicuous place the state motto, In God We Trust.
[NOTE: This was the second of two committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 1158 — is identical but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
HB 887 – Reading Instruction by Harrell – PASSED; PLACED ON HOUSE CALENDAR ON 2ND READING
To further increase the quality of reading interventions, the bill:
- Beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, requires teachers who provide reading interventions under a school district’s K-12 comprehensive reading plan to be certified or endorsed in reading;
- Requires the Florida Department of Education (DOE), as part of its review of certain certification and endorsement requirements, to consider awarding a reading endorsement to teachers who are certified by an internationally recognized reading intervention organization or who complete a program accredited by the organization; and
- Requires school districts to provide teachers access to training for a reading endorsement consistent with the DOE’s review of endorsement requirements.
[NOTE: This was the third of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 1306 — is identical and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
HB 947 – Behavioral Health of Minors by Payne – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill implements some of the recommendations of a Task Force created within the Department of Children and Families. The bill:
- Increases the number of days that the receiving facility has to submit forms to DCF to allow DCF to capture data on whether the minor was admitted, released, or a petition was filed with the court.
- Requires an assessment or examination to be initiated within 12 hours of a minor patient’s arrival at a facility.
- Requires parental notification prior to removing a student for an involuntary examination in certain circumstances.
- Requires employers to give school resource officers and school safety officers priority for enrollment in any crisis intervention training, Mental Health First Aid training, or similar training offered.
- Requires the Department of Education (DOE), in consultation with the Statewide Office for Suicide Prevention and suicide prevention experts, to add suicide screening as part of its requirements for “Suicide Prevention Certified Schools”.
- Requires DOE to keep a list of “Suicide Prevention Certified Schools” on its website and requires school districts to post on their websites a list of “Suicide Prevention Certified Schools” in their districts.
- Requires DOE to identify available standardized suicide screening instruments that are appropriate to use with a school-age population and have acceptable validity and reliability, and include information about obtaining instruction in their administration and use.
- Encourage school districts to adopt a standardized suicide assessment tool that school‐based mental health professionals would implement prior to initiation of an involuntary examination.
- Require Youth Mental Health First Aid or Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for school resource officers and other law enforcement officers who initiate involuntary examinations from schools.
[NOTE: The amendment revises deadlines for certain notifications and assessments. The short summary above reflects the provisions of the bill as amended. This was the second of two committees of reference for this bill. There is no direct Senate companion bill.]
HB 1201 – Education For Prisoners by Ahern – PASSED
The bill allows postsecondary workforce program funds to be used for the education of state inmates who have two years or less remaining on their sentences. It also authorizes the Department of Corrections (DOC) to contract with a district school board, the Florida Virtual School, or a charter school to provide educational, career, or vocational training to inmates through DOC’s Correctional Education Program. The bill further provides that each county may contract with a district school board, the Florida Virtual School, or a charter school to provide certain education services for inmates in county detention facilities.
[NOTE: This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 1318 — is similar and has passed one of three committees of reference.]
HB 1279 – School District Accountability by Sullivan – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
To increase fiscal transparency of educational spending, the bill:
- Requires school boards to provide financial efficiency data and fiscal trend information;
- Requires the Department of Education to develop a web-based tool that identifies schools and districts with high academic achievement based on per pupil expenditures; and
- Requires school boards to provide a full explanation of, and approve, any budget amendment at the boards’ next public meeting.
To increase fiscal accountability of districts, the bill:
- Requires school districts with revenues over $500 million to employ an internal auditor;
- Requires school districts with low ending fund balances to reduce administrative costs and other expenditures;
- Requires districts with financial emergency conditions to withhold the salaries of certain superintendents and school board members until the emergency is addressed but provides that school board members or superintendents elected or appointed 1 year after the identification of the financial emergency conditions to continue to receive a salary if the individual did not participate in the approval or preparation of the final school district budget adopted prior to the identification of such conditions;
- Requires an investigation of school districts who are unable to timely pay current debts and liabilities;
- Clarifies that the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General must investigate allegations and reports of fraud and abuse from certain government officials; and
- Requires school districts with previous operational audit findings to initiate and complete corrective action within a certain period of time.
In addition, the bill:
- Prohibits appointed, along with elected superintendents, from lobbying school districts for a period of two years after vacating the position;
- Aligns school board member salaries with beginning teacher salaries or the amount calculated by statute;
- Requires prior school board approval for reimbursement of certain out-of-district travel expenses in excess of $500;
- Authorizes the withholding of a portion of an employee’s salary who owes a public financial disclosure fine;
- Repeals school district minimum classroom expenditure requirements; and
- Prohibits superintendents, along with school board members, from employing or appointing a relative to work under their direct supervision.
- Contingent upon HB 7055 or similar legislation failing to become law, the bill appropriates $850,000 to the Department of Education to implement the provisions of this act.
[NOTE: The amendments revised provisions relating to out-of-district travel expenses, information to be posted on district websites, that the withholding of salaries in instances of financial emergencies. The short summary above reflects the provisions of the bill as amended. This was the third of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 1804 – is similar but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
HB 1391 – Sexual Offenses Against Students by Rodrigues – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill enhances student safety and increases accountability for school officials and employees. Specifically, the bill:
- Provides that a conviction for offenses against students 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;
- Provides 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 Florida Department of Education within 30 days;
- Requires 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;
- Expands the reasons a district school board member’s or superintendent’s salary may be forfeited for 1 year;
- Requires 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;
- Expands the authority of the Department of Education (DOE) to deny certification based upon the Education Practices Commission’s (EPC) authority to issue disciplinary action against a certified educator;
- Authorizes the EPC to impose conditions upon the award of an educator certificate; and
- Requires 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.
- 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.
- Amends the definition of school in the trespass on school grounds statute to include 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 had probable cause to believe the person committed the offense.
[NOTE: The Committee took up and passed a Proposed Committee Substitute for the original bill. 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 direct Senate companion bill.]
HB 697 – Impact Fees by Miller – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill requires that the collection of an impact fee be no earlier than the issuance of the building permit for the property that is subject to the fee and provides that the statutory provisions related to impact fees do not apply to water and sewer connection fees. The bill also codifies the dual rational nexus test. The bill requires impact fees to have a rational nexus with the need for additional capital facilities and the expenditures of the funds collected. The local government must specifically earmark funds collected by the impact fees for use in acquiring capital facilities to benefit the new residents. The bill prohibits the use of impact fee revenues to pay existing debt unless certain conditions are met. In addition, the bill prohibits local governments from requiring developers to pay for land acquisition or construction of public facilities as a condition for approving a development order unless the local government has an ordinance imposing similar requirements on all developers.
[NOTE: The amendments align the bill with the Senate companion bill. The short summary above reflects the provisions of the bill as amended. This was the third of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 324 – is similar and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
SB 732 – Home Education by Baxley – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill modifies requirements related to home education programs, school attendance, and the Florida Partnership for Minority and Underrepresented Student Achievement. Specifically, the bill:
- Modifies the home education program to:
- Limit the information a parent must provide to establish and maintain a home education program unless the home education program student chooses to participate in a district program or service.
- Authorize school districts to provide home education program students access to career and technical education courses and programs.
- Require school districts to make industry certifications and national and statewide assessments available to home education program students.
- Requires a home education program student to register his or her intent to participate in an extracurricular activity prior to participating in the activity.
- Clarifies the academic requirements that home education program students must meet in order to participate in dual enrollment programs by:
- Exempting a home education program student from maintaining a specific high school grade point average if he or she has meets a minimum score on a common placement test.
- Requiring a home education program student to maintain a minimum GPA established by the postsecondary institution for continued enrollment in a dual enrollment course.
- Clarifies school attendance procedures to:
- Prohibit the district school superintendent from requiring evidence of a child’s age if the child attends a school or program specified in law.
- Authorize the district school superintendent to refer instances of nonenrollment to a child study team for intervention.
- o Require school districts to implement interventions for nonenrollment and nonattendance prior to criminal prosecution.
- Modifies the Florida Partnership for Minority and Underrepresented Student Achievement to:
- Update the name of the preliminary ACT to the PreACT.
- Add the ACT and the PreACT to specified assessments included in databases containing assessment data, to which the Department of Education must provide access for evaluation purposes.
- Add dual enrollment to the types of college credit-bearing courses that certified school counselors must use PSAT/NMSQT or PreACT data to identify students who are prepared to enroll in and be successful in advanced high school courses or college credit-bearing courses.
- Prohibits a dual enrollment articulation agreement from including course enrollment limitations for certain students based solely upon enrollment by the student at an independent postsecondary institution.
[NOTE: The amendment relates to dual enrollment articulation agreements. 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 731 – is similar and has passed three of three committees of reference.]
SB 856 – High School Graduation Requirements by Montford – PASSED
The bill authorizes students to use apprenticeship or preapprenticeship program credit to meet specified credit requirements for high school graduation. Specifically, the bill:
- Authorizes a student who earns credit upon completion of an apprenticeship or preapprenticeship program registered with the Department of Education to use such credit to meet the credit requirements for:
- Fine or performing arts, speech and debate, or practical arts; or
- Requires the State Board of Education to approve and identify in the Course Code Directory the apprenticeship and preapprenticeship programs from which a student may use earned credit to meet the specified credit requirements for high school graduation.
[NOTE: This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 577 – is identical, has passed all committees of reference, and has been placed on the House Special Order Calendar for 2/14/18.]
SB 996 – Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation in Public Schools by Mayfield – PASSED
The bill requires each school district to provide students instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an automated external defibrillator. Specifically, the bill:
- Requires the instruction to be part of the physical education curriculum or another required curriculum selected by the school district.
- Requires the instruction to be based on an instructional program established by the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, or another nationally recognized program that uses the most current evidence-based emergency cardiovascular care guidelines.
- Requires students to study and practice psychomotor skills associated with performing CPR at least once before graduating from high school.
- Exempts students with disabilities from the specified instruction requirements.
[NOTE: This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 795 – is identical but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
SB 1056 – Computer Science Instruction by Passidomo – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill promotes opportunities for public middle and high school students to learn computer science taught by qualified teachers. Specifically, the bill:
- Expands access to computer science courses by:
- Requiring middle schools and high schools to offer computer science courses.
- Phasing in a requirement for school districts to offer computer science courses in a specified number of traditional public middle, high, and combination schools within a specified timeframe.
- Requiring computer science courses that meet the specified definition to be identified in the Course Code Directory and on the Department of Education’s (DOE) website.
- Creates opportunities for teachers to be certified and trained to teach computer science courses, and requires the DOE to award funding, subject to legislative appropriation, to a school district or consortium of school districts to deliver or facilitate training for educators to earn a certificate in computer science or specified industry certification, or to pay fees for examinations that lead to a credential.
- Provides, subject to legislative appropriation, the following bonuses to a public school educator evaluated as effective or highly effective, or is newly hired:
- $1,000 after each year teaching a computer science course, for up to three years, if the educator holds a certificate in computer science or has passed the computer science subject area examination and holds an adjunct certificate.
- $500 after each year teaching a specified course, for up to three years, if the educator holds an industry certification.
- Requires the DOE to provide, subject to legislative appropriation, high-need district technology grants to school districts for which the Florida digital classrooms allocation and the district’s instructional materials fund are insufficient to meet the need.
[NOTE: The Committee approved a strike-all amendment that was generally clarifying in nature. This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 1213 – is similar and has passed one of three committees of reference.]
SB 1064 – Dual Enrollment Programs by Baxley – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill modifies provisions in the dual enrollment articulation agreement between an eligible public postsecondary education institution and an eligible private secondary school to specify that tuition and fees for dual enrollment may not be passed along to the private school that the student attends.
[NOTE: The amendment specified that the provisions apply only to articulation agreements between a public postsecondary institution and a private secondary school. This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. There is no direct House companion bill.]
SB 1172 – Hope Scholarship Program by Galvano – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill creates the Hope Scholarship Program (HSP) to provide the parent of a public school student who was the victim of a substantiated incident of violence or abuse an opportunity to transfer the student to another public school that has capacity or to request and receive from the state a scholarship for the student to attend an eligible private school. In addition, the bill specifies eligibility criteria, a funding mechanism, and responsibilities for:
- School districts to notify the parents of the victim and the alleged offender within 24 hours after a specified incident and provide a statement of the expected investigative actions and a timeline for reporting the investigation’s outcome.
- The school principal, or his/her designee, to:
- Investigate the incident and determine whether the incident is substantiated or unsubstantiated and whether the incident is required to be reported.
- Take all actions necessary to continue educational services of students involved in the reported incident while taking every precaution to keep the victim and alleged offender separated.
- Keep parents of the victim and alleged offender updated on the status of the investigation and report the findings or outcomes of the investigation.
- Notify the victim’s parent of the availability of the HSP.
- Private schools that participate in the HSP to comply with all requirements for participating in state scholarship programs and:
- Provide specified documentation and respond to information requests.
- Be academically accountable to the parent for meeting the student’s educational needs.
- Maintain a physical location in Florida.
- The Department of Education (DOE) to:
- Annually verify the eligibility of private schools in the HSP and require notarized compliance certifications from the private schools.
- Cross-check the list of students participating in the HSP with public school enrollment lists and other state scholarship program participation lists before each HSP payment.
- Require annual reports by scholarship-funding organizations (SFOs).
- Contract with an independent entity to provide an annual evaluation of the HSP and school climate.
- Conduct site visits to participating private schools for specified purposes.
- The Commissioner of Education to deny, suspend, or revoke a private school’s participation in the program and to immediately suspend scholarship fund payments under specified circumstances.
- Nonprofit SFOs to establish scholarships for eligible students and provide quarterly and annual reports to the DOE.
- The Auditor General to conduct an annual operational audit of each SFO that participates in the HSP.
The bill specifies that the HSP is funded by taxpayers who make an eligible contribution, limited to a single $20 payment, at the time of a vehicle purchase or registration in Florida and authorizes a credit of 100 percent of the amount of such eligible contribution by the taxpayer against the sales and use tax on the vehicle purchase or registration.
The bill appropriates $2 million to the Department of Education to implement the provisions of the bill.
[NOTE: The amendments allow a principal to appoint a designee to carry out certain duties, clarify the funding process and options, specify that an eligible student my choose to attend another public school that has capacity, and provide an appropriation. 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 direct House companion bill, but HB 1 is comparable.]
SB 1306 – Reading Instruction by Perry – PASSED
The bill modifies provisions related to reading intervention. Specifically, the bill:
- Requires teachers who provide reading interventions under a school district’s K-12 comprehensive reading plan to be certified or endorsed in reading, beginning with the 2020-2021 school year.
- Requires the Florida Department of Education (DOE), as part of its review of certain certification and endorsement requirements, to consider awarding reading endorsements to teachers who are certified by an internationally recognized organization that establishes standards for reading intervention or who complete a postsecondary program that is accredited by such an organization.
- Requires each school district to provide all elementary grades instructional personnel access to training to earn a reading endorsement.
[NOTE: This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 887 – is identical, has passed all committees of reference, and has been placed on the House Calendar on 2nd Reading.]
SB 1532 – Early Learning Coalitions by Stargel – PASSED
The bill authorizes an early learning coalition to refuse to contract with a school readiness program provider if the provider has been cited for a class I violation. A class I violation is the most serious in nature and poses an imminent threat to a child including abuse or neglect that could result in death or serious harm to the health, safety or well-being of a child.
[NOTE: This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 1175 – is similar, has passed all committees of reference, and has been placed on the House Special Order Calendar for 2/14/18.]
SB 1756 – School Accountability by Simmons – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill strengthens the accountability provisions for private schools that participate in state school choice scholarship programs and applies such provisions consistently to the participating schools. Specifically, the bill:
- Increases the number of site visits to private schools that the Department of Education (DOE or department) must make and the scope of such visits to require the DOE to:
- Annually visit at least 5 percent of private schools participating in state scholarship programs, with opportunities for follow-up visits.
- Visit each private school that notifies the department of the school’s intent to participate in a state scholarship program.
- Modifies the teacher qualification requirements for private schools that participate in state scholarship programs to require:
- Teachers of students in grade 2 or above to hold a baccalaureate or higher degree from a regionally or nationally accredited college or university.
- The private schools to report to the DOE and to parents specified information regarding the qualifications of each teacher hired by such schools.
- Requires the Division of State Fire Marshal to provide annually to the DOE a report of fire safety inspections of private schools that participate in a state scholarship program.
- Requires a private school that receives more than $250,000 in a state fiscal year from any state scholarship program to provide to the DOE a specified financial report from an independent certified public accountant.
- Provides and appropriation of $738,694 to the Department of Education to implement the provisions of the bill.
[NOTE: The amendments provide a definition of the term “owner or operator” and provide an appropriation. The short summary above reflects the provisions of the bill as amended. This was the second of four committees of reference for this bill. There is no direct House companion bill.]
In addition to the committee action on bills listed above, in today’s the Senate Session:
SB 1048 – Firearms by Baxley – READ 2ND TIME; PLACED ON 3RD READING FOR 2/14/18
The bill provides that a religious institution may authorize the holder of a concealed handgun license to carry a concealed handgun on certain school properties if they are “established physical place[s] of worship at which religious services are regularly conducted.” The bill specifies that, if the institution uses school property not owned by the institution, the institution must have the permission of the owner or administrator of the property to allow the licensed carrying of concealed handguns. In addition, the bill specifies that a person may not possess a handgun on school property during school hours or when any school-sponsored activity is taking place on the property. The bill expressly states that religious institutions may not authorize a person to carry a handgun on the property of a public or private college or university.
[NOTE: The House companion bill — HB 1419 – is comparable (it does not contain the same prohibitions regarding school property) and is on the House Calendar on 2nd Reading.]