March 24, 2015 Legislative Update

In This Issue…

  1. PENC-Requested Bills to Require Duty-Free Time and Reduce Educators’ Paperwork Filed in House
  2. Bill to Require Arts Education OK’d by House

PENC-Requested Bills to Require Duty-Free Time and Reduce Educators’ Paperwork Filed in House

At the request of PENC, Representatives Jeffrey Elmore (R-Wilkes), Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland) and Bryan Holloway (R-Stokes) provided bi-partisan support by sponsoring two bills, as requested by PENC membership.

H238, Duty Free Time/Lunch for Teacherswas introduced on March 17. The bill requires that educators be provided daily duty-free planning time and lunch time during regular school hours. The bill provides an exception to the provision of daily duty-free time in the event of emergency situations that affect student safety. The bill also prohibits principals from requiring teachers to forfeit duty-free lunch or planning time on an ongoing basis without teachers’ consent. School improvement plans would be required to provide teachers with at least five hours of duty-free planning time per week and a daily duty-free lunch period.

The current law is much less prescriptive and provides more liberal exceptions that would prevent teachers from receiving adequate duty-free time. This bill would narrow the exceptions and remove a loophole that would allow lack of funding to be a reason that teachers would not receive duty-free planning time.

H238 currentlyawaits consideration by the House Education/K-12 Committee.

H237, Eliminate Personal Education Plans/Transition Teams and Plans, was introduced on March 17. As the title indicates, the bill would eliminate the requirement that teachers develop personal education plans (PEPs), and it would also eliminate the legislative mandate of transition plans and transition teams for students deemed at risk of academic failure.

This would not, however, remove the Federally-required Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for students identified as EC.  Also, and contrary to issues raised by some interest groups, this legislation would not deny services to students. It would eliminate time consuming paperwork that PENC members have said over many years is duplicative and outmoded. In surveys over several years, PENC members have asked for PEPs to be removed, citing the redundancy of the paperwork with other requirements, namely the RTI/MTSS process, and the obsolescence of PEPs in light of new data collection methods. PENC members indicated that teachers know which students are at risk and that the other data collection methods provide the specific indicators. Additionally, the RTI/MTSS process provides nearly the same, if not better, support systems for all students. Furthermore, arranging meetings with parents to review the PEPs is often impossible. Finally, the NC General Assembly eliminated the requirement to report on PEPs to the State Board of Education in 2013 (see S168 from 2013).

The House version of the bill is not an identical bill to what was introduced in the Senate on March 11, S272, Eliminate Personalized Education Plans, but both aim to address the issues raised by PENC. H237 awaits consideration by the House Education/K-12 Committee, while S272 awaits a disposition by the Senate Rules Committee.

Bill to Require Arts Education OK’d by House

A bill to require every North Carolina student to receive at least one credit of arts education between grades 6-12 awaits consideration by the NC House. H138, Arts Education Requirement, was approved by the House Education/K-12 Committee on March 17 and was approved by the full House on March 18. The bill provides an exception for students transferring into a NC public school beginning in the ninth grade if the requirement would prohibit a student from graduating on time. Similar bills have been introduced and passed by the House over several years, but were not approved by the Senate. This bill received a vote of 96-21 and awaits consideration by the Senate.

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Submitted by Evelyn Hawthorne

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