Photo Credit: Jason Mrachina (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

I wanted to provide a round-up of K-12 education bills of note (that I think would be of interest to our readers) that are before the Iowa House and Iowa Senate Education Committees after the first week of the 2018 session of the 87th Iowa General Assembly. These are bills that have been filed this year, as well as, a few bills that did not survive the funnel deadlines during the 2017 session. With 2017 bills, I’m mainly focused on bills that passed in one of the chambers last year or was assigned to a subcommittee this year though it is possible that other bills could be picked up. I highlighted some of those early education bills in 2017 here and here. I reviewed the 2017 legislative session here.

Here are some of the bills before the Iowa Senate Education Committee:

  • HF 602: In the General Assembly passed a law requiring children’s residential facilities to be licensed in order to be sure they were properly regulated and had proper oversight. This was in response to founded cases of abuse at a residential facility in SE Iowa. The law requires these facilities to be inspected by the Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. It also required facilities that provide education for their residents to be certified by the Iowa Department of Education. State Representative Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley) was the floor manager of this bill when it passed 58-40 in the Iowa House last year said the bill was designed to correct a mistake in last year’s bill. Windschitl stated that last year’s children’s residential facilities bill wrapped in an institution that finds itself not qualified to receive certification from the Iowa Department of Education because of the curriculum they use – Accelerated Christian Education – because it is not accredited for use in schools that are licensed and certified by the Iowa Department of Education. I wrote about the floor debate here. The bill has been assigned to a subcommittee consisting of State Senators Amy Sinclair (R-Allerton), Mark Chelgren (R-Ottumwa), and Herman Quirmbach (D-Ames). The same committee is also looking at a similar Senate bill that was introduced last year – SF 443 – that was attached to HF 602 when it was passed.
  • SSB 3001: This bill requires the director of the department of education to cite the state or federal statute, rule, or regulation necessitating the inclusion of information in any report which the department requires a school district, area education agency, and accredited nonpublic school, or the officers or employees of such entities to submit. The bill was introduced State Senator Sinclair who is the chair of the committee. The bill was assigned to a subcommittee consisting of State Senators Chelgren, Jeff Elder (R-State Center), and Robert Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids). (Update: State Senator Sinclair some background on this bill. “This bill came about because I’ve had several superintendents and principals asking me why they are completing so many reports, especially after we passed school district home rule last year. In response to that, I figured requiring the DE to cite the legal authority for gathering the information wasn’t too much to ask. And if there is no legal authority, then maybe they won’t require the report,” she wrote in an email.
  • SSB 3002: This bill authorizes the board of directors of a school district to determine the riding time for pupils on a regular school bus route. Currently, the Iowa Administrative Code (department rules) states that unless the parent or guardian waives the limits, under normal conditions the one-way riding time between the designated stop and the student’s attendance center is not to exceed 60 minutes for elementary students and 75 minutes for high school students. This bill was also introduced by State Senator Sinclair and was referred to a subcommittee consisting of State Senators Ken Rozenboom (R-Oskaloosa), Craig Johnson (R-Independence), and Rita Hart (D-Wheatland).
  • SF 427: This bill allows the continued supplementary weighting for limited English proficient students for a school district’s enrollment in order to provide funds for the excess costs of these students for a time period of no more than five years. This is a Education Committee bill from last year, but was assigned a subcommittee last week consisting of State Senators Sinclair, Chelgren, and Hogg.
  • SF 2004: This bill requires one hour of suicide awareness/prevention training for licensed/credentialed educators or school staff every year in order to have their license or credentials renewed. This bill was introduced by State Senator Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale) and was assigned to a subcommittee consisting of State Senators C. Johnson, Quirmbach, and Sinclair.
  • SF 2017: This bill is State Senator Zaun’s continuing effort to eliminate the Iowa Department of Education, the Director of the Iowa Department of Education position, and the Iowa State Board of Education. It transfers authority and duties from these entities to other state and local governmental entities. This bill was assigned to a subcommitte consisting of State Senators Chelgren, Robert Dvorsky (D-Coralville), and Elder.
  • SF 2029: This bill would require the inclusion of age-appropriate sexual abuse and sexual assault awareness and prevention information in academic standards and the health curriculum for students in kindergarten through grade twelve. The bill requires school districts to excuse students from this instruction if the student’s parents/guardians submit a written request to excuse the student. This bill was introduced by State Senator Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque) and was assigned to a subcommittee consisting of State Senators Sinclair, Chelgren, and Quirmbach.
  • SF 2030: This bill establishes state-wide training requirements, procedures, and prohibitions relating to the use of physical restraint and seclusion by school districts, accredited nonpublic schools, and area education agencies. The bill was introduced by State Senator Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines) and was assigned to a subcommittee consisting of State Senators Sinclair, Chelgren, and Dvorsky.
  • SF 2034: This bill would prevent adoptive parents of former foster care children from homeschooling their adoptive children under competent private instruction or independent private instruction if they receive an adoption subsidy from the state. This bill was also introduced by State Senator McCoy.  It has not been assigned a subcommittee at the time of this writing.

Here are some of the bills before the Iowa House Education Committee:

  • SF 475: This bill eliminates the limit on students enrolled in online public education and requires the course content of provided by public online education to be aligned with the Iowa Core standards. This bill also updates requirements for school districts offering educational instruction and course content offered primarily over the internet. This bill passed in the Iowa Senate 33 to 15.  It passed the Education Committe, there were numerous amendments filed, but the bill was never debated on the House floor. It has been referred back to the Education Committee this year.
  • HF 2005: This bill requires school districts to expand human growth and development coursework to include instruction regarding organ and tissue donation. This bill is sponsored by State Representative Mary Mascher (D-Iowa City) and at the time of this writing has not been referred to a subcommittee.
  • HF 2006: This bill requires the IHSAA and IGHSAU to work together to develop training materials and courses related to concussions and brain injuries and that every coach and official to complete the training every two years and submit proof of the completed training to the local school board or authorities in charge of an accredited non-public school within 30 days of completion. The bill also requires public schools and accredited non-public schools to distribute an information sheet, developed by the IHSAA, IGHSAU, and Iowa Department of Public Health, on concussions and brain injuries to parents and guardians prior to their participation in any extracurricular interscholastic activity. The bill also requires that students be immediately removed from participation in an extracurricular interscholastic activity if the student’s coach, contest official, or licensed health care provider observes signs, symptoms, or behaviors consistent with a concussion or brain injury. The bill also requires the ISHAA, IGHSAU, and Iowa Department of Public Health to develop a protocal for a return to participation after a concussion or brain injury. Public schools and accredited non-public schools who participate in extracurricular interscholastic activities are required to adopt such protocols. The bill is sponsored by State Representative Megan Jones (R-Sioux Rapids). The bill at the time of writing has not been assigned to a subcommittee.

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