July 20 Legislative Update

The Cowen Institute is pleased to share with you updates on all education related bills and resolutions from the 2009 legislative session and what is happening on the federal level.

This week’s update includes information on the following:
Update on School Facilities Authority Fund
Education Bills Signed by the Governor
Education Bills Vetoed by the Governor
Current Status of Bills and Resolutions
Aiken Optional High School Bill Vetoed

If you would like more information on specific bills, please contact Nash Molpus at nmolpus@tulane.edu.

School Facilities Authority Fund

Language that creates the School Facilities Authority Fund was added to House Bill 802 and signed by the Governor on June 30. It is Act 226. The School Facilities Authority Fund sets up a fund in the treasury to receive dollars to go towards a state-wide School Facilities Authority. Please click here to read additional information.

Acts Signed by the Governor

Listed below are summaries of education related bills that have been signed into law. Additionally, we have included links to resolutions that have been sent to the Secretary of State and bills and resolutions that did not pass. Please refer to http://www.legis.state.la.us/for more information on all bills that have been signed into law.

 The following bills have been signed by the governor:

 Act No. 31 (HB 183; Hoffman) – This bill authorizes BESE to establish an appeals process for applicants denied teacher certification. Applicants would appeal to the Teacher Certification Appeals Council.

Act No. 34 (HB 393; LaFonta) – This bill provides for fees collected by the commissioner of insurance to be set at $250 for review of a continuing education provider application and at $25 for review of a continuing education program application.

Act No. 43 (HB 621; Hoffman) – This bill additionally requires BESE to implement certain policies relative to the certification of foreign associate teachers.

Act No. 78 (SB 120; Erdey) – This bill allows the Livingston Parish School Board to create new school districts that overlap the boundaries of existing school districts.

Act No. 123 (SB 146; Duplessis) – This bill requires BESE and local school boards to follow the charter school application review process set out by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and to provide an independent evaluation of charter school proposals by a qualified third party. Additionally, it allows charter schools to give preference to siblings submitting applications to enroll and removes the prohibition of support and affiliation with religion or religious organizations.

Act No. 142 (HB 545; Ritchie) – This bill requires principals of public schools where a student was enrolled to release the student’s records to a public or nonpublic school (inside or outside Louisiana) where the student is enrolled or seeking enrollment. It requires records to contain information on suspension as well as expulsion.

Act No. 143 (HB 576; Johnson) – This bill authorizes the state superintendent of education, with BESE approval, to set certain rates and fees for the Cecil J. Picard Educational and Recreational Center in Bunkie, Louisiana.

Act No. 145 (HB 602; LeBas) – This bill allows public school students to carry and self-administer certain medications under certain conditions.

Act No. 192 (SB 94; Donahue) – This bill creates the crime of molestation of a juvenile involving an educator.

Act No. 206 (HB 389; Greene) – This bill deletes the termination date of the exemption for purchases and leases of educational materials and equipment used for classroom instruction by nonpublic schools.

Act No. 214 (HB 570; Hoffmann) – This bill requires that the governing authority at public elementary and secondary schools establish the policies, procedures, and practices concerning electronic communications by an employee at a school to a student at that school.

Act No. 223 (HB 741; Badon) – This bill provides relative to the hiring of employees by local public school boards and the disclosure of information of certain instances of sexual misconduct, abuse, and neglect relative thereto.

Act No. 226 (HB 802; Fannin) – This bill creates the Louisiana Education Facilities Fund.

Act No. 232 (SB 129; Dorsey) – This bill requires Louisiana Student Financial Assistance Commission (LASFAC) to adopt guidelines and procedures permitting the commission, for the 2007-2008 academic year and thereafter, to receive and consider an application to return from an out-of-state college or university that is received after the final deadline for such applications, with the same reductions in award eligibility for any awards granted districts.

Act No. 240 (SB 223; Claitor) – This bill provides relative to the removal of students from the classroom for certain inappropriate behavior and for parental notification and involvement.

Act No. 246 (SB 259; Kostelka) – This bill requires that each major have a corresponding diploma, that the academic major diploma be adopted by BESE and offered by each public school board, that the career major diploma be developed and proposed by each public school board, and that BESE have final approval of each career major and corresponding diploma.

Act No. 249 (SB 281; Appel) – This bill establishes the Schepis Museum as a facility in the town of Columbia, parish of Caldwell, under the overall jurisdiction of the Department of State.

Act No. 256 (SB 309; Gray Evans) – This bill provides for health-related fitness assessments to determine physical fitness levels of students in schools.

Act No. 257 (SB 316; Nevers) – This bill provides for a comprehensive approach to improve graduation rates and ensure college and career readiness for high school students.

Act No. 259 (SB 324; LaFleur) – This bill authorizes school districts under the Evangeline Parish School Board to increase the sales tax, not to exceed one percent.

Act No. 275 (HB 176; Pope) – This bill allows a student, at least in ninth grade and less than fifteen years old, to participate in the classroom instruction component of driver education and training, as operated by Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE).

Act No. 276 (HB 179; Stiaes) – This bill prohibits the use of test scores, including LEAP test scores, as the sole determinant of student promotion to the succeeding grade.

Act No. 278 (HB 187; P. Smith) – This bill is relative to the creation of Type 3 or Type 4 charter schools by means of converting preexisting public schools. It permits, rather than requires, the approval by members of the faculty and staff of the preexisting school of charter proposals and retains processes and guidelines for obtaining such approvals.

Act No. 279 (HB 193; Chaney) – This bill provides for rules and regulations for school nutrition programs and a limitation of liability relative to such programs.

Act No. 283 (HB 274; Templet) – This bill provides for increased penalties for battery and for assault of a school teacher.

Act No. 284 (HB 319; Willmott) – This bill proposes that the governing body of schools with grades 10 and/or 12 shall provide for the students enrolled in those grades at least thirty minutes of age and grade appropriate instruction relative to the state’s safe haven relinquishment law.

Act No. 286 (HB 400; Williams) – This bill requires public schools to provide at least 60 minutes of physical activity each school day for students in kindergarten through 8th grade and instruction in physical education as a prerequisite to high school graduation.

Act No. 291 (HB 504; Ligi) – This bill provides term limits for members of the Jefferson Parish School Board.

Act No. 292 (HB 519; Leger) – This bill sets a minimum on the fee that can be negotiated between a school chartering authority and a charter school to cover administrative costs of the chartering authority. It will be applicable to all years after the first year and the minimum amount will be 2% of the per pupil funding amount received by the school. Removes cap on number of charter schools allowed.

Act No. 294 (HB 546; Perry) – This bill authorizes the Vermilion Parish School Board to sell certain 16th section land.

Act No. 297 (HB 590; Barrow) – This bill requires public school governing authorities to ensure that a child in foster care is allowed to remain enrolled in the same school in which he was enrolled upon entering foster care. It also requires such governing authorities and Department of Social Services (DSS) to provide for transportation if foster care placement is beyond school’s jurisdictional boundaries.

Act No. 298 (HB 612; Fannin) – This bill provides for separate high school diplomas for the academic major and the career major. It also provides for required courses in the career major for students in 9th and 10th grades.

Act No. 302 (HB 688; Montoucet) – This bill is relative to the unlawful disruption of the operation of a school. It will create the crime of the unlawful disruption of the operation of a school and provide for penalties related matters.

Act No. 303 (HB 721; Johnson) – This bill is relative to the funding of special education and related services for students living in private residential facilities who are neither Louisiana residents nor in the permanent custody of a Louisiana state agency.

Act No. 305 (HB 731; Downs) – This bill is relative to the habitual absence and tardiness of students, and serves to include penalties for violations by parents and legal guardians/custodians of such students.

Act No. 306 (HB 767; Williams) – This bill is relative to beverages offered for sale to students in public high schools. It deletes the requirement that the beverages offered for sale to public high school students shall be comprised of no less than 50% for approved beverages.

Act No. 307 (HB 771; Hutter) – This bill authorizes Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) to set a uniform tuition amount for all online courses offered by institutions under its jurisdiction.

Act No. 309 (HB 794; Tucker) – This bill requires the Board of Regents to establish the Postsecondary Education Review Commission to review all aspects of postsecondary education and report to the legislature.

Act No. 310 (HB 821; Carter) – This bill requires BESE to require public school boards to allocate and report certain education funding in certain ways.

Act No. 344 (SB 182; Crowe) – This bill authorizes the Board of Supervisors of Community and Technical Colleges to transfer specified state properties to the St. Tammany Parish School Board.

Act No. 356 (SB 285; Nevers) – This bill provides for a comprehensive system of articulation and transfer of credit between and among public secondary and postsecondary educational institutions.

Act No. 412 (HB 112; Montoucet) – This bill is relative to the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL) and provides that foreign teachers holding J-1 visas who are teaching in a Louisiana public school through a J-1exchange visitor program shall be members of the TRSL.

Act No. 413 (HB 218; Hardy) – This bill proposes that the governing authority of all secondary and elementary schools, including charter schools, shall adopt and implement policies that provide for the inspection of all fire safety and prevention equipment. It also requires necessary actions taken, in a timely manner, to have equipment in good working order.

Act No. 414 (HB 223; Armes) – This bill is relative to noncomplex health procedures that are performed by certain school employees and serves to allow tracheotomy suctioning to be performed by those employees.

Act No. 415 (HB 246; McVea) – This bill permits, with voter approval, certain school systems created by the legislature after January 1, 1999, to incur bonded debt that exceeds 10% but does not exceed 50% of the assessed valuation of the taxable property within the geographic boundaries of the school system.

Act No. 421 (HB 535; Williams) – This bill creates the Simulation Medical Training and Education Council for Louisiana, a statewide council within the Health Works Commission to oversee the coordination of resources involving medical simulation training centers.

Act No. 438 (HB 852; Smiley) – This bill repeals some boards and commissions and like entities, including the Adult Learning Task Force, the Educational Assessment Testing Commission, the Interim school board for the Central Community School System, the Louisiana Council on Obesity Prevention and Management and Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (but not the rest of R.S. 17:51 regarding required physical activity in schools), the HIPPY Advisory Board (but not the HIPPY coordinator), and the Process Technology Advisory Board.

Act No. 516 (HB 651; Armes) – This bill provides for the rehiring of certain retired school bus drivers without a reduction in benefits.

Bills Vetoed by the Governor

As of today, two of the education, school or student related bills have been vetoed. Those bills are as follows:

 HB 495 (Dixon) – This bill exempts a school that meets specified criteria from being removed from the jurisdiction of the local school board and transferred to the Recovery School District (RSD).

To read the Governor’s veto message, please click here.

To read more about HB 495, please see the information below regarding the Aiken Optional High School Bill.

HB 568 (Hutter) – This bill provides certain guarantees to students with associate degrees who seek to enroll in public postsecondary education institutions that offer baccalaureate degrees.

To read the Governor’s veto message, please click here.

Current Status of Bills and Resolutions

Please see this link for resolutions that have been sent to the Secretary of State’s office.

Please see this link for bills and resolutions that were not passed by the State Legislature.

Aiken Optional High School Bill Vetoed

On July 7, Governor Jindal vetoed HB 495 authored by Representative Herbert Dixon after the bill was adopted by the Louisiana Legislature. This bill would have exempted Ewell S. Aiken Optional High School from being removed from the jurisdiction of Rapides Parish School Board and transferred to the Recovery School District. There was great debate over this legislation during the session, but it was eventually adopted by the legislature.

Though the governor vetoed this legislation, he did so because the Louisiana Department of Education (LDE) and Rapides Parish School Board reached a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) concerning the school. This MOU will allow the school to remain under the jurisdiction of the local school board while complying with a two-year School Improvement Plan monitored by the Recovery School District.

To read the LDE press release with more details on the School Improvement Plan for Aiken, please click here.

 No Child Left Behind Reauthorization

In the coming months, the debate over education policy at the federal level is expected to ramp up significantly. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which was originally enacted in 2002, is overdue for reauthorization in Congress. Currently, there is little discussion around what will happen with the law and the Obama administration has yet to introduce a position on the law. In the meantime, the House Education and Labor Committee has a new ranking Republican, Representative John Kline (MN), who was not a member of Congress when the act was originally approved. Kline has said that he is not committed to the core requirement of testing all students in reading and math in grades three through eight and would like to take a look at the entire law as opposed to tweaking it. However, experts believe that the administration will continue to support the testing requirement and may push for tougher testing. The current Chairs of the House Education and Labor Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Representative George Miller (CA) and Senator Edward Kennedy (MA) respectively, were both key votes for NCLB in 2002 and should not have a problem pushing through any reforms proposed by the administration.

Student Loan Reform Legislation Introduced in the House

Last week, Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee George Miller (CA) introduced the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009. This bill eliminates the Federal Family Education Loan Program and replaces it with a direct-lending program that allows students to borrow directly from the U.S. Treasury. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill will generate $87 billion in savings over the next ten years. The savings will be directed toward funding the Pell Grant scholarship program, investing in early childhood education and school modernization, and reducing the deficit – all priorities of the Obama administration. While opposition from current student lenders is inevitable, the bill still preserves a role for the private sector and non-profit lenders in servicing these loans.

To read more about this legislation, please click here  and read the press release from the House Education and Labor Committee.

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