Updates from LAUSD's Office of Government Relations on recently passed bills affecting education!
Governor Takes Final Action on 2021 Legislation, Signs Los Angeles Unified Sponsored Bill
After weeks of touring cities across California to sign landmark legislation on homelessness, small business support, climate change and other important areas, today was the deadline for Governor Gavin Newsom to sign or veto bills. Unless otherwise stated as an urgency bill, the law becomes effective January 1, 2022.
First, the OGR team is thrilled to share Governor Newsom signed one of Los Angeles Unified’s sponsored bills, AB 815 by Assembly Member Luz Rivas. This bill authorizes the Commission on Teacher Credentialing to approve a school nurse credentialing program offered by a local educational agency of 40,000 ADA or higher. The OGR team built a strong coalition of supporters and was able to overcome the fierce opposition from the California State University and California School Nurses’ Organization who did not deem this bill to be necessary. Thanks to the collaborative work from our colleagues in the Nursing Department and the Human Resources Division, we were also fortunate to count with over 90 individual letters of support from Los Angeles Unified school nurses.
The Governor acted on these key education bills over the past week. Over the coming days, the OGR team will publish a comprehensive end-of-year report with a summary of bills acted in 2021.
AB 101 (Medina) Pupil instruction: high school graduation requirements: ethnic studies.
This bill requires local education agencies serving grades 9-12, commencing with the 2024-25 school year, to offer at least a one-semester course in ethnic studies; commencing with the 2029-30 school year, a semester-long course in ethnic studies to the list of statewide graduation requirements; and expressly applies all statewide graduation requirements to charter schools.
AB 438 (Reyes) School employees: classified employees: layoff notice and hearing.
This bill makes various changes related to layoff procedures for classified staff at school districts and community college districts to more closely align with layoff procedures for non-classified staff, such as certificated employees at school districts or academic employees at community college districts.
AB 469 (Reyes) Pupil instruction: financial aid applications.
This bill requires, on or before September 1, 2022, and each year thereafter, the commission and the State Department of Education to facilitate the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and the form established for purposes of the California Dream Act, by requiring the department to share the current school year’s roster of pupils with the commission, and requiring the commission to share and match data on pupil completion of financial aid forms.
AB 599 (Jones-Sawyer) Public schools: accountability: county superintendents of schools.
This bill requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction, commencing with the 2021–22 fiscal year, to identify a list of schools pursuant to a specified procedure based on the schools identified for comprehensive support and improvement and additional targeted support and improvement or as low-performing pursuant to specified federal laws, and to additionally include on the list schools where 15% or more of the teachers are holders of a permit, certificate, or any other authorization that is a lesser certification than a preliminary or clear California teaching credential. This bill requires the county superintendent to annually inspect those schools on the list in the county, and submit a report that describes the state of those schools.
AB 1363 (Rivas, Luz) Preschool: dual language learners.
This bill requires that indicators of quality for a high-quality preschool programs to include program activities and services that meet the need of dual language learners for support in the development of their home language and English.
SB 14 (Portantino) Pupil health: school employee and pupil training: excused absences: youth mental and behavioral health. (LAUSD Sought Amendments and Neutral Position, Chaptered, Signed on October 8, 2021, Effective Immediately)
This bill is an urgency measure which adds, within the meaning of an excused absence due to a student’s illness, an absence for the benefit of the student’s mental or behavioral health. This bill also requires the California Department of Education to identify one or more evidence-based youth behavioral health training programs for local educational agencies to use to train school employees having direct contact with pupils, and one or more evidence-based behavioral health training program with a curriculum tailored for pupils in grades 10 to 12.
SB 224 (Portantino) Pupil instruction: mental health education
This bill requires each LEA and charter school to ensure that all students in grades 1 to 12 receive medically accurate, age-appropriate mental health education from trained instructors, at least once in elementary school, junior high school or middle school, and high school.
SB 294 (Leyva) Public retirement: leave of absence: service credit.
This bill requires the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) to credit their school members who are certificated or classified school employees of a K-12 or California community college (CCC) district (including a county office of education) with retirement service credit for the member’s service as an elected public employee union officer. This bill requires the appropriate union to reimburse the school employer. Current law limits such credit for school members to 12 years. This bill eliminates the 12-year cap and provide service credit retroactively, similar to treatment of such service for other public employees.
SB 488 (Rubio) Teacher credentialing: regarding instruction.
This bill requires the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) to revise their teacher preparation program standards and teaching performance expectations for literacy, authorizes candidates who have been unable to take the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA) due to the COVID-19 pandemic to take a CTC- approved assessment in reading instruction, and requires the CTC to update the Teaching Performance Assessment (TPA) to replace the RICA by July 1, 2025.
U.S. Department of Education Announces Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program Overhaul
The U.S. Department of Education announced changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program that would allow more public sector workers, including teachers and other staff at LAUSD, to seek a reprieve on their educational debts. The new policies will offer a time-limited waiver so that student borrowers can count payments from all federal loan programs or repayment plans toward forgiveness. This includes loan types and payment plans that were not previously eligible. The Department will also pursue opportunities to automate PSLF eligibility, give borrowers a way to get errors corrected, and make it easier for members of the military to get credit toward forgiveness while they serve. The Department estimates that the limited waiver alone will help over 550,000 borrowers, who had previously consolidated their loans, see their progress toward PSLF grow automatically, with the average borrower receiving 23 additional payments. More information can be found here.
U.S. Department of Education Seeks Public Comment on Proposed Equity Rule for High-Poverty Schools
The U.S. Department of Education is seeking comments on a proposed requirement to implement the “maintenance of equity” provisions of the American Rescue Plan (ARP). As a condition of receiving ARP funds, each State Education Agency and LEA must comply with multiple requirements, including the maintenance of equity requirements. The Department wants school districts to show that they’re treating their high-needs schools equitably when it comes to funding and staffing. Therefore, the proposal would require states to publish information about how each eligible school district is shielding those schools from disproportionate cuts in the next few years. In addition to general comments and recommended clarifications on the proposed requirement, the Department is also seeking input on what demographic information (e.g., poverty status, race/ethnicity, students with disabilities, and English learners) LEAs should publicly post on the identified high-poverty schools. Comments are due on or before November 4, 2021. The announcement can be found here.
U.S. Department of Justice Addresses Violent Threats Against Educators
This week, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the FBI will work with federal law enforcement, as well as state and local leaders, to discuss strategies for countering threats against teachers, principals, school board members and other educators. Efforts are expected to include the creation of a task force to determine how federal enforcement tools can be used to prosecute these crimes, and ways to assist state, Tribal, territorial and local law enforcement where threats of violence may not constitute federal crimes. The Justice Department will also create specialized training and guidance for local school boards and school administrators. This training will help school board members and other potential victims understand the type of behavior that constitutes threats, how to report threatening conduct to the appropriate law enforcement agencies, and how to capture and preserve evidence of threatening conduct to aid in the investigation and prosecution of these crimes. The announcement can be found here.