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 2017, 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.
Did we miss a piece of legislation? Let us know. Check back for weekly updates when the legislature is in session.
|HB 23 w/ HA1||Matthews||01/25/2017||
This act requires that any student over the age of 16 who wishes to leave school prior to graduation must obtain the written consent of the parent or guardian, and attend an exit interview where information is supplied regarding the likelihood of diminished earning potential and the increased likelihood of unemployment associated with dropping out. The school is also directed to explore whether there are support services, interventions or programs that might assist the student in remaining enrolled. The intent is to lower the dropout rate and encourage students to complete high school.
This amendment clarifies that written consent is only required for students who have not reached the age of majority. It also limits the burden on schools by clarifying that a school must make three attempts to contact and schedule an exit interview with a parent or guardian. If the parent or guardian is unreachable or uncooperative the school has no further obligations under this subsection.
|HB 15 w/ SA 1||Heffernan||01/25/2017||
This bill creates a requirement that all public high schools, including charter schools, shall offer at least one computer science course at the high school level by the 2020-21 school year. Also, this bill creates a requirement that, by the 2018-19 school year, a computer science course may satisfy one year of the total credit requirement in mathematics, excluding Algebra I, Geometry, or Algebra II or the equivalent courses. The State Board of Education shall develop guidelines addressing how computer science courses can satisfy graduation requirements.
The amendment allows a public high school (including charter) to request waiver of the requirement if it would be a financial or programmatic burden to the school. The request must be submitted by the Secretary of Education, who will approve or deny.
|“Delaware high schools could be required to offer computer science course.” Education Week. 2017|
As cursive writing is still an imperative skill in many professions, this bill makes teaching cursive writing a requirement for all public schools in Delaware.
|“Bi-partisan bill would bring back cursive to schools.” The News Journal. 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 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 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 joint resolution directs the Department of Education to present its plan for compliance with the new federal education law—“Every Student Succeeds Act” or “ESSA”—at a meeting of the education committees of both chambers of the General Assembly prior to the completion of the state plan and its submission to the federal Department of Education.
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 requires public schools to begin their school year after Labor Day.
|“Delaware split on school before Labor Day.” The News Journal. 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.
|HB 51||K. Williams||02/07/2017||
In 2016, the Legislature provided a reimbursement for teachers employed in Delaware who had to pay the one-time licensure fee. By using “teacher,” we inadvertently excluded specialists including school media specialists, school counselors, school nurses, et cetera. This bill changes “teacher” to “educator” for purposes of the reimbursement.
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 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|
|HCR 4||Briggs King||02/07/2017||
This resolution proclaims January 22 through 28, 2017 as National School Choice Week.
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.
|HB 64||Briggs King||03/27/2017||
This bill provides that mothers who are full-time state employees (which would include school districts) may have up to six weeks of unpaid leave following the newborn(s) discharge from the hospital for cases of mononamniotic twins, or multiples of three or more, even if their FMLA benefits have been exhausted.
This bill expands the list of persons eligible to participate in the Ada Leigh Soles Memorial Professional Librarian and Archivist Incentive Scholarship Program to include employees of non-public libraries in Delaware that join the Delaware Library Consortium.
|HS1 for HB85 w/ HA1||Williams||03/27/2017||
This bill eliminates the use of an enrollment preference for students living within a 5-mile radius of a charter school. For any charter school using the 5-mile preference at the time of enactment, the school is required to eliminate the preference through notification to the authorizer prior to the 2018-2019 school year.
This amendment removes the language that would allow a charter school to provide a preference only for students living in that portion of a non-contiguous school district where the charter school is located.
This act establishes the ability to grant a waiver for participation in interscholastic sports when a child exercises the right for choice from one school to another school of choice provided the standards for the waiver are met. In addition, this act takes into consideration a new charter school or newly added grades to a charter school.
|HA1 to HB99||Williams||03/31/2017||
This bill would require that a resident 65 years of age or older claiming a tax credit against school taxes must be a resident of the state for at least 10 years before qualifying for such credit. The current requirement is only for three-year residency. This change will be effective for tax and fiscal years after January 1, 2017. Those residents who would have become eligible over the last three years under the prior version of the statute will remain eligible.
This amendment retains the 3-year residency requirement for eligibility for anyone moving into the State before December 31, 2017. Anyone establishing residency after that date must be a resident for 10 years rather than 3 before becoming eligible. The amendment also corrects a typo in the original bill.
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 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.
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.|
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 bill would create an end date for the special filing deadline created by school board vacancies that arise after the second Friday in February. The new end date for these vacancies would be the first Friday in March. Any vacancies that arise after the first Friday in March would be filled by the remaining members on the School Board for the remainder of the fiscal year.
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.
This bill removes a performance assessment requirement for new educators that is limiting Delaware schools’ ability to recruit new educators from other jurisdictions that do not have this requirement. Delaware’s requirement of passing a performance assessment for licensure places a burden on the recruitment process as most first year teacher out-of-state hires are recruited from states that do not have this requirement. The largest percentage of Delaware’s out-of-state new teacher hires come from PA, MD, and VA, all states that do not have a performance assessment requirement for licensure. The result for these new teachers is having to be placed on a provisional license in order to complete the performance assessment tasks as they are working to meet the heavy demands for first year teaching and transitioning to a new state. For new teachers making job selection decisions, Delaware’s performance assessment requirement can be viewed as cumbersome and serve as a deterrent to possible applicants.
This act will improve guidelines for training by school districts and charters as it pertains to School Resource Officers (SRO), their duties and training when interacting with students with disabilities. The limitations and prohibitions described in this section are in addition to, and not in derogation of, any other constitutional, statutory, or regulatory rights otherwise conferred by federal or state law or regulation.