NCSBA Legislative Update – July 7, 2023

NCSBA Legislative Update – July 7, 2023

The North Carolina General Assembly took a break this week for the 4th of July holiday, but the week was far from quiet as the Governor vetoed three bills – two of which directly affect school districts.

In Governor Cooper’s veto message on SB 49: Parents Bill of Rights he said, “The rights of parents are well established within state law, so instead of burdening schools with their political culture wars, legislators should help them with better teacher pay and more investments in students.”

Regarding HB 574: Fairness In Women’s Sports Act, Governor Cooper’s veto message said, “We don’t need politicians inflaming their political culture wars by making broad, uninformed decisions about an extremely small number of vulnerable children that are already handled by a robust system that relies on parents, schools, and sports organizations.”

The Governor also vetoed HB 808: Gender Transition/Minors, which prohibits medical gender transition procedures from being performed on minors. Due to the Republican supermajorities in both chambers, all three vetoes are highly likely to be overridden. Two of the bills, HB 574 and HB 808 are already on the House calendar for Wednesday, July 12. SB 49 has been referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.

Statewide Education Bills Vetoed by Governor

SB 49: Parents’ Bill of Rights (primary sponsors: Senators Amy Galey, R-Alamance; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover; Lisa Barnes, R-Nash)

  • Requires public school units (PSUs) to establish policies and provide information intended to promote parent involvement, strengthen parent participation, and improve student achievement
  • Many new policies apply beginning with the 2023-24 school year. However, there are serious timing issues that NCSBA is working to address
    • By the time SB 49 becomes law, thousands of students across the state will have already started the 2023-24 school year
    • The State Board of Education must first address certain requirements – which has not yet happened – before PSUs can develop and adopt certain policies
  • Enlists specific parental rights pertaining to their child’s education, health, privacy, and safety
  • Establishes a process and timelines regarding parental access to information about books and other instructional materials
  • Requires parental notification prior to changes in the name or pronoun used for a student in school records or by school personnel
  • Instruction on gender identity, sexual activity, and sexuality is not permitted in the curriculum provided in kindergarten through fourth grade
  • The final version passed in both chambers and addressed several concerns raised by NCSBA, including important technical changes and the exemption of security recordings on school transportation that would otherwise have been prohibited without parent consent
  • Subject to veto override
  • Click here for an official bill summary

HB 574: Fairness in Women’s Sports Act (primary sponsors: Representatives Jennifer Balkcom, R-Henderson; Karl Gillespie, R-Macon; Erin Pare, R-Wake; Kristen Baker, R-Cabarrus)

  • Prohibits biological male students from playing on middle school, high school, or collegiate athletics teams designated for biological female students
  • Recognizes a student’s sex solely based on the student’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth
  • Creates a civil cause of action for students who are harmed as a result of a violation of the bill or who are retaliated against for reporting violations
  • Creates a civil cause of action for public school units that suffer harm as a result of following the requirements of the bill
  • Removes restrictions on females from participating in male sports
  • Removes collegiate intramurals from sports teams subject to the bill
  • Subject to veto override
  • Click here for an official bill summary

State Board of Education Monthly Meeting

The State Board of Education met remotely Thursday.  The Board approved the following:

  • Read to Achieve Policy Amendment
  • Annual Update of Read to Achieve Implementation Guide (2023-2024)
  • Seven New Charter Schools
  • Repeal of SBE Policies related to the NC Innovative School District
  • Financial and Business Services’ Manuals
  • Award of Innovative Partnership Grants
  • USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program Grant Funding Recommendations

Read to Achieve Policy Amendment:The State Board amended this policy to add students retained in first grade so that funds can be used for students who are retained in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade and then retained again in 3rd grade. For more information see presentation here.

Annual Update of Read to Achieve Implementation Guide (2023-2024):  The State Board approved the 2023-2024 Read to Achieve Implementation Guide. Specific sections of the Implementation Guide are updated annually. For changes see here and here. For updated 2023-24 Plan Guide approved see here.

Seven New Charter Schools:  The State Board of Education followed the Charter School Advisory Board’s recommendation to approve seven new charter schools to open this fall. For more information see here. These new charter schools are located in Wayne, Asheville, Mecklenburg, Chatham, and Rockingham Counties.

Repeal of SBE Policies related to the NC Innovative School District: The sunset date of June 30, 2023, for the statute that created this program prompted the repeal of policies related to the legislation. The Southside Ashpole School has transitioned back into the Robeson County School System.

Financial and Business Services’ Manuals:  The Board pre-approved these
manuals to allow DPI to incorporate legislative changes, distribute resources, and disseminate the manuals to schools in a timely manner.

Award of Innovative Partnership Grants: After a detailed competitive application process, 15 schools will receive discretionary federal funds available under federal law for schools identified as eligible for comprehensive support and improvement.  Schools can use some of the funds to partner with external groups for additional support. See here for the full report.

USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program Grant Funding Recommendations: The Board approved the distribution of the annual grant funding to all of the 262 elementary schools selected for participation in the FFVP for the 2023-24 school year. For a full list of elementary schools receiving the grant see here.

The Board also approved several items reviewed at the meeting last month as follows:

  • Middle/High School Athletic Manual was revised to add mercy rules so schools can waive student eligibility requirements when needed.
  • Update to Licensure Testing Requirements was approved to reflect vendor updates to ETS Praxis, clarify the pedagogy assessment for secondary licensure areas, and retire the Foundations of Reading Test 090 by July 31, 2023.
  • Licensure Requirements for Service Members/Spouses were added to allow service members and their spouses to use an educator’s license from another state to teach while they are under military orders to be in North Carolina.
  • Teacher Bonus Program 2021-2022 Fiscal Year Report to General Assembly was approved to provide information requested by the General Assembly on the effect of  the teacher bonus program on teacher performance and retention.
  • Science Standards were approved to communicate what students are expected to know and be able to do by the end of each grade level or course.

This month, the Board also received reports on the following:

  • Standard Course of Study Revision Update
  • Outcomes for Central Carolina Teaching Initiative (CCTI)
  • Paid Parental Leave

Standard Course of Study Revision Update:  DPI staff provided the monthly update on the progress of revising standards for K-12 Healthful Living, K-12 Arts, K-12 Guidance, and K-12 World Language standards. DPI reports it has released several stakeholder surveys on healthful living standards and continues to gather data regarding the American School Counselor Association Student Mindsets and Behaviors. For the presentation see here. For the 2023 Internal Procedures Manual on the North Carolina Standard Course of Study see here.

Outcomes for Central Carolina Teaching Initiative (CCTI):  In 2016, after issuing a request for proposals for school districts to initiate their own teacher preparation programs, one of two groups the SBE awarded the opportunity to was the Central Carolina Regional Education Service Alliance. This group of 16 member districts created Central Carolina Teaching Initiative (CCTI) to prepare teachers to meet the demand in subject-areas needed in the participating districts. The Education Policy Initiative at Carolina has issued this external evaluation of the program.  This grant has been retired and this is the final report. To read it, click here.

Paid Parental Leave: The Board reviewed draft temporary administrative rules and an amendment to the N.C. Public School Employees Benefit and Employment Policies to respond to legislation from the general assembly providing paid parental leave for state employees, including public school employees. For more information see here.  DPI staff indicated there will be a statewide webinar for all HR directors on July 10 which will include this information.

Because Congress is also on a July 4th break, there is no Consortium of State School Boards Association (COSSBA) federal education report this week.

The following are recent news articles, reports, and press releases on state and national education-related issues.

State News
Carolina Journal: NC Appeals Court Rules Orange County Might Have To Refund Some School Impact Fees
North State Journal: Lawmakers Continue Override Streak of Cooper Vetoes
WFAE: NC Governor Vetoes Three LGBTQ Bills But Overrides Are Likely
WFAE: State Names More Private Schools Cut Off From Public Voucher Program
News & Observer: New Paid Parental Leave Rules Are Coming For NC Teachers. Here’s What To Know

National News
K-12 Dive: Ed Dept Says Some ARP-Funded Activities May Extend Beyond Liquidation Deadline
Education Week: Conservatives Renew Call To End US Education Department at Moms For Liberty Summit
New York Times: Moms for Liberty School Board Antagonism Draws GOP Heavyweights

The House Education-K-12 Committee is scheduled to meet next Tuesday, July 11 at 1:00 pm in Room 643 of the Legislative Office Building. The following bill is scheduled to be heard:

SB 90: Searches of Student’s Person (primary sponsors: Senators Michael Lazzara, R-Onslow; Amy Galey, R-Alamance; Vicki Sawyer, R-Iredell)

  • Requires public school units to adopt a policy on school officials searching students consistent with State and federal law
  • Requires searches of a student to be conducted in private by one school official and one adult witness who are the same sex as the student being searched
  • Click here for an official bill summary

To livestream the hearing, click here.

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
NC School Boards Association

Madison Skeens
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
NC School Boards Association

Rob Black
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
NC School Boards Association

Christina DavoileNCSBA Legislative Update – July 7, 2023