Welcome to Rodel’s Legislative Monitor, your resource for learning about state legislation related to public education. Below you will find education legislation that saw activity as of January 2018, the start of the second half of the 149th Delaware General Assembly.
Click the hyperlinks in the “Legislation” column for more information such as the current status in the legislative process, full text, and fiscal note. Visitors can now also sort columns by date, number, or sponsor. Synopses include all amendments that have passed or been placed with the bill. This language may summarize the official synopsis of the legislation.
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This bill requires a conference with the parent or guardian of a student who has been absent without excuse for five days from school. A needs assessment will be performed to determine what supports or services will help the student and family improve school attendance. Moving the intervention forward to the fifth unexcused absence rather than the 10th may help to improve outcomes for Delaware’s students and help prevent students from disengaging from the school community and dropping out of school.
|HS 1 for HB 12||K. Williams||01/25/2017||
This bill provides state funding to kindergarten through third grade for basic special education. State funding already occurs for intensive and complex special education during these grades. Currently the basic special education funding runs from fourth through 12th grade. This bill is an effort to promote earlier identification and assistance for basic special education needs which should then mitigate costs over the long term. Pursuant to its terms, funding for K-3 special education will be phased in gradually over four years.
This bill increases the minimum age of required school attendance from 16 to the age of 17. The minimum age for truancy has also been increased accordingly.
This act requires public schools to begin their school year after Labor Day.
|“Delaware split on school before Labor Day.” The News Journal. 2017|
This bill creates the right for the parent or guardian of a child to opt out of the annual assessment, currently the Smarter Balanced assessment system.
|“Lawmakers again eye school testing opt out bill.” Associated Press. 2017.|
This act will seek to diminish the performance gap in literacy skills by creating a three-year pilot program for disadvantaged students in primary grades in Delaware public schools. The state will provide $1 million in grant funding per year, over a three-year period, to support the pilot program. Under the act, Delaware State University, Delaware Technical Community College, and the University of Delaware are invited to help collect and analyze data to assess the program.
This act seeks to ensure that every public school in the state has a school nurse. This act provides a mechanism to allow a district or a charter school that currently does not have a school nurse to receive state funds. This act also permits districts that receive these funds to levy a “match tax” to pay for the local share of that school nurse.
|“A nurse in every Delaware school.” The News Journal. 2017|
This bill requires all new school construction or major renovation to include the following safety features: an intruder alarm, bulletproof glass in entrance areas and interior doors and windows, and doors lockable with keys on both sides. Further, the bill would require all new school construction plans to be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget’s Facilities Management Section for compliance with these requirements as well as with Crime Prevention through Environmental Design principles.
|“Delaware bill mandates school safety measures.” The News Journal. 2017.|
This act increases the age requirement for compulsory school attendance in Delaware from 16 to 18 years of age. The age increase is phased in over a two-year period; accordingly, there is a one-year interim period where the compulsory school attendance age requirement will be 17 years old. The act further provides that a child may be exempt from the age requirement for compulsory school attendance if the child has received a high school diploma or a certificate of performance or obtains permission to withdraw from school from the superintendent of the district in which the child is enrolled or from the president of the board of the charter school in which the child is enrolled. The act preserves the exemption under which a child may be excused from compulsory attendance upon request of the child’s parent or legal guardian coupled with supporting written documentation from a qualified health professional.
|“School dropout age could rise to 18 under new bill.” Delaware Public Media. 2017.|
As a public school safety measure, this bill requires that any door to a classroom will be equipped with a lock that can be locked from either side of the door. The act permits schools five years from the date of enactment to bring existing structures into compliance with this requirement. New construction and major renovations must comply immediately.
|HB88 w/ HA1||Matthews||03/27/2017||
This act allows for juniors and seniors majoring in education at a Delaware college or university to be paid $83 per day as substitute teachers, the same rate paid to those who hold a bachelor’s degree but not a teaching license.
This amendment allows qualifying students enrolled in an accredited institution of higher education in Delaware or other jurisdictions to be substitute teachers.
This legislation requires that all full-time employees of the state, including employees of school districts, continuously in the employ of the state for at least one year, shall be eligible for 12 weeks of paid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child six years of age or younger. Both parents would be eligible for such leave. This act takes effect January 1, 2019.
|HB126 w/ HA1||Lynn||04/07/2017||
Persons seeking employment who are in need to child care services in order to obtain employment, to retain employment, or to obtain training leading to employment are eligible to apply for child care assistance under the Child Care Subsidy Program. This legislation codifies the federal intent that families be eligible to continue receiving assistance for 90 non-consecutive days in a year, and extends that eligibility to families who want to start receiving assistance in order to seek employment for up to 90 days.
This Amendment changes the proposed nonconsecutive 90-day job search period to a consecutive 90-day job search period to conform to current Division of Social Services Child Care policy.
This act establishes an Educational Support Professional of the Year award program throughout the state. Through this legislation, the state will formally honor and recognize the work educational support professionals, such as paraprofessionals, food service workers, custodians, and secretaries do to enhance school communities in Delaware.
This act creates the Complete Your Degree Grant Program. Under this program, state funds may be provided to help eligible students who have completed at least 30 credit hours return to school and complete an associate degree.
This bill would allow Delaware residents two new deductions from personal income tax. The first is a deduction from taxable income of up to $2,500 for contributions to a “529” College Savings Plan. The second is a deduction from taxable income of up to $2,500 for contributions to a “529A” Savings Account – a special account for meeting the needs of certain individuals with disabilities. Under this act, a Delaware resident taxpayer would be eligible for the deduction regardless of whether they made a contribution to a 529 or 529A plan sponsored by the State of Delaware or another state or institution, so long as the plans met federal criterion.
|SB62 w/ SA4||Lopez||06/05/2017||
This bill aligns requirements for initial licensure for school nurses to the unique role they play in Delaware public schools. It requires school nurses to hold a Bachelors Degree in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university, maintain a registered nurse license, and be certified in CPR and in the use of an AED. It also requires school nurses to complete 90 clock hours of training approved by the Department of Education. And finally it requires schools nurses to complete three years of supervised clinical nursing experience and achieve a passing score on the NCLEX exam before a provisional or initial license can be granted.
This Amendment does all of the following: (1) On lines 3 through 5 and 13 through 15, removes defining language to the type of training required to give the Department the ability to continually revise the training requirements of school nurse licensure to keep pace with the ever evolving nursing field. (2) On lines 1 through 2, 6 through 7, 11 through 12, and 16 through 17, makes technical corrections. (3) On lines 8 through 10 and 18 through 20, allows for a school nurse employed before the effective date of this Act to follow the new criteria rather than the criteria that was in place at hire. This allows for more flexibility for current school nurses.
This process requires schools to first collect and publicly report disaggregated student discipline data, and solicit feedback from students, staff, families, and community representatives. This Act furthers those goals by requiring schools that suspend at a high rate or that show significant suspension disparities to take meaningful corrective action by implementing plans to reduce these numbers and by replacing out-of-school suspensions with more effective and restorative discipline interventions. The schools in need of intervention are defined schools with high rates of suspension in the following categories: (1) All students. (2) Students belonging to 1 or more subgroups, such as students of specified racial subgroups or with disabilities. (3) Schools with a significant disparity in suspension rates between racial subgroups or between students with disabilities and students without disabilities.
This bill confirms licensing requirements for school nurses are established by the Professional Standards Board, and evaluation criteria for school nurses are established by the district or charter school.
This bill phases out the school property tax credit for residents age 65 or older, by eliminating eligibility for those born after 1967 (currently age 50). The fifteen year provision allows time for residents to adjust their long range financial plans. This bill does not affect anyone currently eligible for the credit.
This bill would allow for a student to participate in the Inspire Scholarship Program for eight continuous semesters instead of the current six. This would allow a student to use Inspire Scholarships for each of the semesters during a traditional college program
This bill creates a mechanism by which school boards may increase funds for a school district without a referendum. School district may increase the tax rate for operating expenses every two years no more than three percent, or the percent change in inflation, whichever is higher. School boards must seek a referendum in order to increase the tax rate by more than those provisions.
|HS1 for HB85||Williams||06/09/2017||
This bill eliminates the use of an enrollment preference for students living within a five-mile radius of a charter school. For any charter school using the five-mile preference at the time of enactment, the school is required to eliminate the preference through notification to the authorizer prior to the 2018-19 school year.
|HA3 to HB260||Longhurst||07/07/2017||
This bill creates the Grant-In-Aid Committee. The committee is a joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives. The purpose of the committee is to review requests for grant-in-aid and to develop the grant-in-aid appropriations bill.
This amendment changes the effective date of the Act from January 1, 2018 to January 1, 2019.
This bill creates a 3-year exemption for public school construction from prevailing wage requirements. Also the public school will prepare cost study comparison reports for the Controller General’s Office to compile and report to the General Assembly.
This act provides school-based speech-language pathologists and audiologists who hold a current Certificate of Clinical Competence in speech-language pathology, (“CCC-SLP”) or audiology (“CCC-A”), issued by the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association and who hold a current state license to practice from the Delaware Board of Speech Pathologists, Audiologists and Hearing Aid Dispensers with a base salary level of Master’s Plus 30 credits.
This act removes the ability of members of the Interagency Resource Management Committee to appoint designees to serve in their stead.
The Delaware Advisory Council on Career and Technical Education received $331,700 out of the Delaware General Fund for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017. Based upon a simple cost benefit analysis weighed against the budget issues Delaware is facing, it is clear these funds would produce greater benefits if utilized elsewhere. This bill will eliminate this annual expenditure by terminating this Committee via a total repeal of Chapter 86 of Title 14 of the Delaware Code.
This concurrent resolution establishes the Veterans Higher Education Task Force to study and make findings and recommendations regarding veterans’ access to higher education in Delaware.
This act extends the enrollment reduction requirements and clarifies that enrollment shall not exceed 1,250 students as of the 2017-18 school year and each school year thereafter.
This act provides for the expense of State government after June 30, 2017, on a temporary basis as appropriated under the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget and for granting authority to continue appropriation lines in the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget, the Fiscal Year 2017 Bond and Capital Improvements Act, and the Fiscal Year 2017 Grants-in-Aid Act.
This concurrent resolution establishes a Task Force to investigate the cost of special education and make recommendations related to cost efficiency.
Since 1996, students across Delaware have participated in school choice. Currently, reorganized school districts, vocational technical school districts, and charter schools do not follow the same processes thus causing confusion and barriers for families seeking to access choice for their children. This act aims to streamline the school choice process, making it easier and clearer for parents, guardians, and school administrators to navigate. This act requires reorganized school districts, vocational-technical school districts, and charter schools to use a standard online application receipt and processing tool approved by the Department that is offered at no charge. It also clarifies that the application deadlines apply to all students, regardless of age or school. Additionally, it will prohibit schools from asking for additional information that does not directly pertain to an enrollment or program criterion. The bill will make the timing uniform for the ranked waitlist process. It aligns the sibling preference across all school types and eliminates the separate charter school April 1st enrollment requirement of 80% and moving to May 1st to allow for parents to make a final, informed decision. Under this bill, in the event of a mid-year termination of a pupil’s enrollment, the sending reorganized school district, vocational-technical school district, or charter school and the receiving reorganized school district, vocational-technical school district, or charter school shall enter into an agreement providing for the pro-ration of student funding based on a formula prescribed by the DDOE.
This House joint resolution directs the Department of Education, with the assistance of the Delaware State Board of Education, to promulgate regulations that include specific guidelines to prohibit discrimination in school district employment practices or educational programs and activities for students on the basis of any legally-protected characteristic, including gender identity or expression.
This concurrent resolution establishes a Task Force to study and make recommendations regarding the impact of consolidating school districts in the state of Delaware.
|SS1 for SB143||Townsend||01/25/2018||
This bill amends the membership of the Behavioral Health Consortium to include two members of both the House and Senate, a member from the Ability Network of Delaware, and the Mental Health Association in Delaware. The bill also extends the date the first report is due from March 1, 2018 to April 16, 2018.
|Behavioral Health Consortium Mission and Objectives|
|HA1 to HB283||Briggs King||01/09/2018||
In the 149th General Assembly House Bill No. 64 amended Title 29, Section 5120 to insure that mothers who are full-time state employees may have up to six weeks of unpaid leave following the newborn(s) discharge from the hospital even if their FMLA benefits have been exhausted. This bill clarifies that school district employees are entitled to the same unpaid leave.
This amendment removes an unnecessary clause from the bill. The Merit Employee Relations Board of State Personnel Office is not applicable to school district employees.
This act replaces the term “Certificate of Performance” with “State of Delaware High School Diploma of Modified Performance Standards.” Doing so provides the opportunity for schools to award students who meet the requirements of their Individualized Education Plans (“IEP”) a high school diploma. This high school diploma will be awarded on the same criteria for which some students with special needs are currently issued a Certificate of Performance. This act also makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.
This act implements the recommendations of the March 2015 Autism Educational Task Force report. It allows for and provides adequate resources for all students with ASD in Delaware by eliminating the distinction between DAP-approved programs and other in-district options and by providing in-state experts at a lower cost than out-of-state residential treatment and consultants. The pilot program created under this act makes changes that recognize and support the need for specialized technical assistance and training staff to be available to build capacity for teachers in all districts and other programs educating students with ASD. The pilot program created under this act establishes a technical assistance team of educational autism specialists numbering a ratio of one for every 100 students (currently estimated at 15 positions). The fiscal mechanism to support the pilot program will be accomplished through mandated district participation that is consistent with the current needs-based funding system in Delaware and by redirecting state spending towards lower cost, community-based supports from out-of-state residential placements. The number of training specialists will be phased in over several years or until the pilot program ends.
|HA1 to HB286||K. Williams||01/09/2018||
Enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act amended the Individuals with Disability Education Act (“IDEA”) by mandating that special education teachers must have obtained full certification and may not be working under emergency certifications. This act creates a mechanism that is in compliance with federal requirements to enable educators to obtain a certificate of eligibility in the areas of special education. This act also makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual. Amendment adds the phrase charter school.
In order to support enrichment activities such as field trips for students at high-poverty schools, this bill would require the State to provide $25 per student to high poverty schools to be used for the purpose of educational and enrichment field trips.
This act changes the term of a school board member from five years to four years. While longer board member terms enable school board members to have more years as experienced board members, this must be weighed against the goal of providing the community with sufficient opportunities to run for school boards, and to replace school board members. In addition, shorter board member terms can increase the number of candidates who run for office, as a longer term can prevent some individuals from choosing to run for this office.
This Amendment changes the applicability of this Act from elections held on or after January 1, 2018, to elections held 90 days or more after the enactment of this Act.
This bill converts the senior property tax credit from a credit against the school taxes imposed and collected at the county level to a means-tested refundable income tax credit to be administered by the Department of Finance, Division of Revenue. For eligible seniors who do not file a personal income tax because their income falls below the threshold set by the code, the division will issue a rebate in the amount for which that person is eligible. The division is authorized to promulgate whatever forms or rules are necessary to administer this section. The tax credit will become effective as early as tax year 2019 upon certification by the Secretary of Finance that systems are in place for the Division of Revenue to administer the credit.