Legislative Update for 04/23/2021

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Legislative Update for 04/23/2021

Renee Jerman

This week focused on committee work on the budget bills, with the exception of the Standings Appropriation. The budget bills are starting to move to the respective chamber floors for activity. There are some policy bills continuing to make their way through the legislative process with floor action. 

Status of Department bills (unchanged since last week’s report):

HF308 Senior Year Plus Proficiency Requirements - Governor signed.

HF315 Programs for At-Risk Children - Enrolled, which means has been passed by the House and Senate, ready for the Governor’s signature.

HF316 Open Enrollment Tuition (found in HF847)

HF317 Funding for Special Programs, Update Method of Calculation - Enrolled.

HF385 Open Tuition Billing (found in HF847)

HF386 Eliminates the Non-Profit School Organization Report to the Department - Governor signed.

HF388 Child Development Assistance Duplicative Duties - Enrolled.

Senate Chamber passed:

HF675 Substitute Teachers - Requires the Board of Educational Examiners (BoEE) to issue a substitute authorization that allows an individual to substitute in grades prekindergarten through twelve for no more than 10 consecutive days in a 30 day period in one job assignment for a regularly assigned teacher who is absent, except in the driver’s education classroom. Allows a school district administrator to file a written request with the BoEE for an extension of the 10 day limit in one job assignment in a 30 day period on the basis of documented need and benefit to the instructional program. Requires the executive director or appointee to review the request and provide a written decision. Requires a substitute teacher authorization to have not less than the successful completion of an associate degree or not less than 60 undergraduate semester hours, or the equivalent, from a college or university accredited by the accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education.  HF675 is now enrolled and ready for the Governor’s signature.

HF793 Physical Education - Provides that a student who is enrolled in junior reserve officers’ training corps (JROTC) 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 JROTC. HF793 is now enrolled and ready for the Governor’s signature.

House Chamber passed:

HF228 Diversity Plans - Eliminates implementation of a voluntary diversity plan as a reason to deny open enrollment. March 1 deadlines shall not apply to an application submitted by a parent or guardian for purposes of enrolling the child in a school district for the school year beginning July 1, 2021, and ending June 30, 2022, if a voluntary diversity plan was in effect in the school district of residence during the school year beginning July 1, 2020, and ending June 30, 2021. HF228 is now enrolled and ready for the Governor’s signature.

Senate Ways and Means Committee passed: 

HF847 Education Practices was brought up in the Senate Ways and Means Committee with the language below.

Division I of the bill requires the State Board of Education to establish a flexible student and school support program. The program is to be administered by the Department of Education, who may grant a school the ability to use the program to implement evidence-based practices in innovative ways to enhance student learning, well-being, and postsecondary success. The bill specifies the required contents of a school’s application to use the program and says that participating schools must file an annual report. Provides that funds received from the teacher leadership supplement, which are unexpended and unobligated for a school district who has met all requirements for use of said funds can be transferred to a school district’s flexibility account. 

Division II of the bill allows eligible educators to have a tax deduction of up to 500 dollars for certain teacher expenses. Expands the tuition and textbook tax credit from 25 percent of the first 1,000 dollars spent to 25 percent of the first 2,000 dollars spent and allows dependents receiving private instruction to also be eligible for the credit. These all apply retroactively to January 1, 2021, for tax years beginning on or after that date.

Division III adds several circumstances where a student athlete is eligible to participate immediately in interscholastic athletic competition after participating in open enrollment. These circumstances include: good cause; if the district of residence issues or implements a decision that results in a discontinuance or suspension of varsity interscholastic sports; if the district of residence and receiving district both agree to waive the ineligibility period; and if the district of residence had a voluntary diversity plan in effect on January 1, 2021, for the school year beginning July 1, 2021. Changes the open enrollment athletic ineligibility period from 90 school days to 90 calendar days (takes effect upon enactment and also applies retroactively to January 1, 2021, for open enrollment requests approved on or after that date). Also, if a pupil is ineligible in one district and open enrolls into another, the period of ineligibility carries over and is added to any additional ineligibility periods in the new district. States if a student open enrolls into a nonpublic school and then goes back to the district of residence where they were enrolled on the first day of the school calendar, they may participate immediately in varsity interscholastic contests.

Adds a “consistent failure of the resident district to reasonably respond to a student’s failure to meet basic academic standards” to the category of open enrollment decisions subject to appeal to the State Board of Education. Adds “a change in a child’s resident from the residence of one parent or guardian to the residence of a different parent of guardian,” and “initial placement of a prekindergarten student in a special education program requiring specially designed instruction” to the list of circumstances where the parent has the option to keep their child in the child’s original district of residence under open enrollment with no interruption in their educational program. Clarifies the method of how to discern which district is the first district of residence. Specifies the economic eligibility requirements for open enrollment transportation.

Division IV specifies that a school corporation is entrusted with public funds for the purpose of improving student outcomes.

Division V adds a work-based learning coordinator and a special education director to the list of positions for which supplementary weighting is available for shared operational funding. 

HF847 was voted out of Senate Ways and Means with a recommended amendment, S-3165, that makes the following changes to HF847:

  • Removes the bill change for the 90-day period for athletic eligibility period using calendar days instead of school days; and reverts back to current code to using school days. 
  • Adds if a student open enrolls in a different district or nonpublic school anytime during the 2020-2021 school year, and reenrolls in their home district before July 1, 2021, they will be eligible to participate in sports immediately. Effective upon enactment and retroactive to July 2020.
  • Gives the principal the authority to allow students to not wear face coverings as required or recommended by an entity, if the principal believes that no face covering is in the best interest of the student.  
  • Places a limit on the number of charters able to be approved by the state board. The limit will allow one attendance center per level (elementary, middle and secondary) per 10,000 students in a geographic area. 
    • Requires charter schools to abide by Code Chapter 22 relating to the examination of public records.
    • Requires the chief administrator of a charter, who is not licensed as an administrator or a teacher to have BOEE authorization under Code Chapter 272 that will be developed by the BOEE by December 31, 2021.
    • Changes language to clarify that the charter school must notify the student by March 1 of the school year preceding the year of enrollment.

If you would like to see the bills that have passed this legislative session, I have attached the link to the Enrolled Bills webpage. The page shows the date the bill passed, when the Governor signed the bill, and the effective date. Also, if you are interested in watching the floor debate of a particular bill, I’ve attached the link to the In the Chambers, click Bill Archives for either the House or Senate and it will take you to the beginning of the video for that bill. Lastly, if you would like to read any of my previous updates, here is the link to the Department’s Legislative webpage, which includes legislative bill tracking, updates, reports, and guidance. 

The session timeline has the session scheduled to be completed on Friday, April 30 but session can adjourn before or after that date. Once the session has concluded I will be working on providing you with a report listing the status of all the education bills.

Have a great week and enjoy this spring weather!

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