Legislative Update for 03/09/2021

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Legislative Update for 03/09/2021

Renee Jerman

First funnel date of March 5 has blown through and there are still several education bills left standing. However, there are far fewer bills remaining than the 100-plus bills we have been monitoring thus far. 

Many of the bills that passed out of their respective committees were passed with an amendment. Some of those amendments were available during the committee meetings and others were not. As these bills are debated on the floor, the amendments will be explained and it will be clear how they impact the bills.

The second funnel is set for April 2. This is the date a bill must have cleared a committee in both chambers; with the exception of Appropriations, Government Oversight and Ways and Means bills, as well as bills that have been brought forth by leadership.

Bills that passed out of a House Education Committee and have made it through the first funnel:

HF228 Diversity Plans - Eliminates implementation of a voluntary diversity plan as a reason to deny open enrollment. This bill passed the House and is scheduled for a Senate subcommittee meeting this week. *This language is also found in SF159.

HF318  Statewide Preschool Program - Makes children who turn five between March 15 - September 15 eligible for the statewide preschool program and funding if the school enrolls such students. Applies to the 2022 through 2025 school years. The House has passed this bill and sent it to the Senate.

HF532 Qualified Instruction Funding Supplement - Provides that each public school district shall receive a qualified instruction funding supplement. The supplement amount shall be equal to the percentage of the amount appropriated that is proportionate to the school district’s total in-person instruction days as a share of the statewide total in-person instruction days. This bill was amended and passed the House. For further information, please see the Notes on Bills and Amendments (NoBA).

HF602 School Activity Accounts - Authorizes the board of directors of a school district to, for the school budget years beginning on July 1, 2021, and July 1, 2022, transfer money from their general fund to the student activity fund in an amount necessary to fund co-curricular and extracurricular activities provided by the district from March 15, 2020, through June 30, 2022, for which moneys from student-related activities fail to meet the financial needs of the activities. Would take effect upon enactment and be repealed on July 1, 2023. The House has passed this bill and sent it to the Senate.

HF604 Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing - Requires the Department to appoint an early language development consultant to work with the state school for the deaf, area education agencies (AEAs), school districts and the early hearing detection and intervention program in the Department of Public Health. Requires the Department to select language developmental milestones from existing standardized norms for purposes of developing a resource for parents. The Department is also required to establish and consult with an advisory committee for purposes of soliciting input from experts on the selection of language developmental milestones. Requires the Department to annually compile a report and publish on its website. The House has passed this bill and sent it to the Senate.

HF605 English Proficiency Weighting - Divides students with limited English proficiency into intensive and intermediate categories. “Intensive student” means a limited-English-proficient student that, even with support, is not proficient under the state’s English language proficiency standards. “Intermediate student” means a limited-English-proficient student that, either with or without support, approaches being proficient under the state’s English language proficiency standards. The bill was amended in the House Education Committee to change the supplementary weighting for both categories (to 0.26 and 0.21, respectively). The House passed this bill, sent it to the Senate attaching it to it’s companion bill, SF544.

HF642 Sharing Special Education Director - Allows special education director positions to be eligible for shared operational function weighting for the school budget years beginning on or after July 1, 2021. The House Education Committee passed this bill and it has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

HF675 Substitute Teachers - Requires the Board of Educational Examiners to issue a substitute authorization that allows an individual to substitute in grades prekindergarten through twelve for no more than 10 consecutive days in one job assignment for a regularly assigned teacher who is absent, except in the driver’s education classroom, and to require not less than the successful completion of an associate degree or not less than 60 undergraduate semester hours, or the equivalent, from an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education. 

HF734 Iowa Reading Research Center (IRRC) Appropriation - Provides a $250,000 appropriation for the IRRC to develop coursework for the Dyslexia Specialist Endorsement. This bill is now assigned to the House Appropriations Committee.

HF795 Seizure Disorders - Provides that the parent or guardian of each student diagnosed with a seizure disorder may collaborate with licensed health personnel, including the school nurse or individualized education program team, to create an individual health plan, and a seizure action plan if appropriate, consistent with rules adopted by the state board of education. The bill directs the school to acquire consent from parents to administer seizure medication, requires information to be kept confidential, and establishes liability protections for employees acting in good faith compliance with the health plan. It also requires school districts and accredited nonpublic schools to provide certain training relating to seizures to relevant school employees, requires the state board of education to adopt rules for implementation of new Iowa Code section 280.13D, and requires the Department to develop and implement a seizure education program statewide.

HF802 Racism Training - Prohibits school districts and public postsecondary institutions from giving training, or using contractors that give training, that teaches, advocates, acts upon, or promotes what it calls “divisive concepts.” The bill defines “divisive concepts,” provides that discrimination is prohibited, and clarifies that the bill should not be construed to violate first amendment rights.

HF808 Education Practices

Division I - Education Information, Program Standards, and Funding

  • The bill also requires the Department to establish a flexible student and school support program for districts to implement evidence-based practices in innovative ways to enhance school learning, well-being, and postsecondary success.

Division II - Education Tax Credits and Deductions

  • Increases the tuition and textbook tax credit and adds applicability to students receiving private instruction.

Division III - Open Enrollment - Makes changes to open enrollment 

  • Modifies the definition of good cause pertaining to the approval of open enrollment requests that fail to meet statutory deadlines. Includes “change in a child’s residence from the residence of one parent or guardian to the residence of a different parent or guardian” and “initial placement of a prekindergarten student in a special education program requiring specially designed instruction” under the definition of good cause.
  • Changes the economic eligibility requirements for open enrollment transportation
  • Provides that a district’s denial of an application that involves a consistent failure of the resident district to reasonably respond to a student’s failure to meet basic academic standards is subject to appeal to the State Board of Education
  • Provides that the child’s district of residence on the date of the basic enrollment count for school districts shall be responsible for payment of the applicable costs to the receiving district
  • Adds to the list of circumstances allowing immediate participation in a varsity interscholastic sport after open enrollment:
    • (1) if the student participates in open enrollment because of circumstances that meet the definition of good cause under Iowa Code section 282.18, as amended in the bill; and 
    • (2) if the board of directors or superintendent of the student’s district of residence issues or implements a decision that results in the discontinuance or suspension of varsity interscholastic sports activities in the district of residence (this provision applies retroactively to July 1, 2020)
    • (3) if the board of directors of the district of residence and the board of directors of the receiving district both agree to waive the ineligibility period.
    • (4) for open enrollment applications approved for the school year beginning July 1, 2021, if the pupil’s district of residence had a voluntary diversity plan in effect on January 1, 2021, and applicable to the school year beginning July 1, 2021.
  • Provides that if a student is declared ineligible for interscholastic athletic contests and athletic competitions in the student’s district of residence due to the student’s academic performance, upon participating in open enrollment, in addition to any other applicable period of ineligibility, the student shall be ineligible in the receiving district for the remaining period of ineligibility declared by the district of residence and

Division IV - School Board Powers and Duties

  • Specifies that a school corporation is entrusted with public funds for the purpose of improving student outcomes. 

Division V - Shared Operational Functions

  • Adds a work-based learning coordinator to the list of eligible operational functions and positions eligible for a supplementary weighting of three pupils. Applies to school budget years beginning on or after July 1, 2021, subject to the school budget year limitation.

HF808 was passed out of the House Education Committee. HF808 has now been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. *Language within SF159 is very similar to language in HF808, with the exception of Student First Scholarships which did not pass out of committee in the House, HF813 on charter schools, and HF228 on diversity plans.

HF813 Charter Schools - Establishes a new charter school program within the state under new Iowa Code chapter 256E and prohibits new charter schools from being established on or after July 1, 2021, under the existing charter school program. Provides two models for establishing a charter school. Outlines the procedure for applying for the establishment of a charter school, details the application contents, and delineates the characteristics, restrictions, and powers of a newly established charter school. Sets out the features of a charter school contract. Establishes hiring, enrollment, and admissions requirements for charter schools. The charter school is required to notify the public school district of residence upon enrollment of an eligible student. The bill also provides the method by which the schools are funded and the requirements for measuring performance. The bill includes provisions for what should be done in a situation where a charter school’s performance is unsatisfactory, including provisions for when a charter school must be closed. Each charter school is also required to file an annual report. *Language regarding charter schools is also found in SF159.

Bills that passed out of a Senate Education Committee and have made it through the first funnel:

SF159 Education Bill - Passed the Senate and was sent to the House.

SF259 At-Risk Program (Department-sponsored bill) - Allows AEAs to provide technical assistance to Shared Visions grantees that are not school districts.  Currently, they are limited to serving only districts. This expands the AEAs' ability to support quality programming and updates antiquated language. The House passed HF315, which is a companion bill to SF259, and is ready for Senate floor action. 

SF260 Reimbursements for Special Education Services - Requires a receiving school district to send the paperwork necessary for Medicaid reimbursement to the district of residence when a student with special education needs transfers to the receiving district.

SF287 Funding for Special Programs, Update Method of Calculation (Department- sponsored bill) - Aligns to the current automated calculation process used by the Department. Current statute includes an outdated calculation method for calculating funding for special programs, which required a manual calculation by districts. The House passed HF317, which is a companion bill to SF287, and is ready for Senate floor action.

SF294 Child Development Assistance Duplicative Duties (Department-sponsored bill) – Proposes to delete two duties of the Child Development Coordinating Council that are duplicative of other efforts in the statewide early childhood system and is proposed at the request of the Child Development Coordinating Council. The House passed HF388 and attached it to companion SF294; and is ready for Senate floor action.

SF467 Online Learning - Prohibits a school district or accredited nonpublic school from offering online learning or continuous remote learning unless they meet the requirements of Iowa Code section 256.7(32) or section 256.11(17), as appropriate, or are offering the online learning or continuous remote learning in accordance with a proclamation of public health disaster emergency from the Governor. Establishes that a school district or accredited nonpublic school can use an online learning platform to deliver regular school day coursework for up to five days when inclement weather causes the schools to close. 

SF478 School First Amendment Rights - Contains various provisions establishing training, prohibitions, and requirements for school districts and public postsecondary educational institutions in the attempt to protect the first amendment rights of students, staff, and faculty. Prohibits schools and institutions from providing training that contains “divisive concepts” and defines that term. The Senate passed this bill and moved the bill to the House.

SF532 Statement of Professional Recognition - Requires the Board of Educational Examiners to adopt rules by August 1, 2021, developed in consultation with the Department, establishing a statement of professional recognition for behavior analysts licensed under Iowa Code chapter 154D. The bill authorizes the board to carry out emergency rulemaking to implement the bill.

SF545 Learning Recovery Task Force - Establishes a learning recovery task force to evaluate the degree and types of learning losses students enrolled in prekindergarten through grade twelve experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Requires the task force to submit its findings and recommendations, including recommendations for legislation or rulemaking, as necessary, in a report to the General Assembly by December 30, 2021. The Senate Education Committee made changes to the task force.

SF546 Homeschooling Provisions - Changes assessment and reporting deadlines for competent private instruction. Changes the definition of competent private instruction to include private instruction by a parent, guardian, or legal custodian. Eliminates or reduces various requirements for driver education courses administered by teaching parents, making them easier to complete. The Senate Education Committee amended the bill by changing a reporting date and other changes related to driver education. 

SR3 Girls Wrestling - Resolution urging the Iowa High School Girls Athletic Union to recognize girls wrestling.

Bills that passed out of other Committees:

HF585 Safe and Sound Program - Establishes the Safe and Sound program in the Department of Public Safety for anonymous reports about potential school suicides, criminal acts, violence, threats, or incidents of self-harm or bullying. Includes provisions on developing a state hotline and internet site. Creates a fund for the program, a threat assessment team, and the program’s inclusion within the Department’s curricula. This bill was amended in the House Public Safety Committee to add that each school board and authorities in charge of each accredited nonpublic school are required to distribute in each school building materials related to the Safe and Sound Program and are required to designate at least one individual to receive information that is reported to the Safe and Sound Program. The bill has passed out of the House Public Safety Committee.

HF771 Bronchodilators - Provides for the self-administration of bronchodilators by students in school in order to treat respiratory distress. Applies the same requirements for the use of bronchodilators as are used for the self-administration of medications or epinephrine autoinjectors. These requirements pertain to conditions, permissions, the provision of written statements from licensed health care professionals, and the maintaining of information provided to the school. Allows school personnel to administer bronchodilators, allows health care professionals to prescribe bronchodilators in the name of school districts and accredited nonpublic schools, and provides liability protections for school personnel who act reasonably and in good faith in compliance. The Human Resource Committee amended the language from the previous bill regarding the definition of nurse.

HF793 Physical Education - Provides that a student who is enrolled in junior reserve officers’ training corps is not required to participate in physical education or physical activities under the state’s educational standards, but shall receive one-eighth unit of physical education credit for each semester (or the equivalent) the student is enrolled in the junior reserve officers’ training corps. The House Veterans Affairs Committee made changes to the bill.

SF571 Banning Social Media Censorship - Prohibits the state or a political subdivision of the state from entering into contracts with, or providing tax incentives or any other benefits to, certain companies that censor online content. Prohibits certain companies from censoring online content and requires companies to allow users to opt out of post promoting or shadow banning algorithms. Companies that violate this bill will have certain tax advantages that they have received recaptured. Defines governmental entity to include a school district. The bill passed out of the House Commerce Committee and has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.

Bills signed by the Governor:

HF308 Senior Year Plus (Department-sponsored bill) - Provides an alternative option for students to demonstrate their proficiency who are unable to meet the proficiency requirement of the Senior Year Plus program that must otherwise be met prior to enrollment in a postsecondary course through college sharing or concurrent enrollment programs. Effective upon enactment. Governor signed 3-8-21.

HF386 Eliminates the Nonprofit School Organization Report to the Department (Department-sponsored bill) - Removes the requirement that districts report expenditures made by the school district on behalf of certain nonprofit school organizations to the Department and for the Department to include this information in its Annual Condition of Education Report. Districts have to seek out this information from other entities, as this information is not typically maintained by the districts. Governor signed 3-8-21.

Newly filed bill; referred to Senate Appropriations Committee:

SSB1243 Governor's education appropriations for FY2022 and FY2023.

Bills that did not survive the funnel:

HF105 Open Enrollment Transportation 

HF222 Teaching History

HF420 American Culture Curriculum 

HSB243  Student First Scholarships 

SF167 Gender Identity Education

SF168 Nonpublic School Services 

SF224 Restroom Bill 

SF271 Modified Supplement Amount

SSB1213 Education Violations

The Education Bill Tracking webpage provides regular updates during the Iowa legislative session on bills related to education in Iowa. Information about new bills, including names, numbers, and sponsors are provided.

Now that the first funnel has come and gone, there will be a lot of floor work happening in the coming weeks in preparation for the second funnel, which will be here on April 2. Many times the details of the bills come out during the debates, so don’t miss out. You can click, In the Chambers, to listen to the audio or watch the videos. Enjoy! Until next week...

Renee Jerman
Legislative Liaison
Iowa Department of Education
Grimes State Office Building
400 E 14th St
Des Moines, IA 50319-0146
Cell: 515-729-0859
Office: 515-281-3399