NCSBA Legislative Update – August 18, 2023

NCSBA Legislative Update – August 18, 2023

After a month-long interval without holding voting sessions, the NC General Assembly reconvened in Raleigh with the primary objective of overriding six of Governor Cooper’s recent vetoes this week. These override votes equaled the previous record for the highest number of overrides in a single day, a feat accomplished earlier in June. Significantly, four out of the six vetoes that were successfully overridden pertained to bills concerning K-12 education. Below, you’ll find more comprehensive details about these bills.

However, what remained unaddressed this week was the state budget, which has yet to see further progress. The leadership of both chambers has indicated that they hope to achieve final passage of the budget in mid-September.

Veto Overrides That Are Now Law

HB 219: Charter School Omnibus Act (SL 2023-107) (primary sponsors Representatives John Torbett, R-Gaston; John Bradford, R-Mecklenburg; David Willis, R-Union; and Jason Saine, R-Lincoln)

  • House voted 74 to 45 to override, Senate voted 27-18 to override
  • Prohibits any consideration of the impact to an LEA when deciding whether to grant, renew, amend, or terminate a charter
  • Removes restrictions of student enrollment growth for charters that are not low performing
  • Allows the Charter School Review Board (see, HB 618) to consider whether a low-performing charter school can increase their enrollment greater than 20%
  • Allows charter schools to admit out-of-state students and foreign exchange students if it is unable to meet its enrollment capacity with qualified in-state students
  • Allows pre-lottery admissions to charters for (i) certain preschools with agreements with the charter and (ii) children of active-duty military
  • Prohibits local boards of education from considering a student’s current or prior enrollment in a charter school in determining admissions or eligibility to any school or special program .
  • Allows counties to appropriate funds for property taxes to fund charter school capital needs.
  • Establishes a pilot program to allow Central Park Schools for Children in Durham to expand the weighted lottery to include factors to assist educationally or economically disadvantaged students, including walk zones
  • Removes a high school athletics provision that would have prohibited charter and private schools from competing in the 1A playoffs against traditional public schools
  • Click here for the latest bill summary

HB 574: Fairness in Women’s Sports Act (SL 2023-109) (primary sponsors: Representatives Jennifer Balkcom, R-Henderson; Karl Gillespie, R-Macon; Erin Pare, R-Wake; Kristen Baker, R-Cabarrus)

  • House voted to override 74-45, Senate voted to override 27-18
  • 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
  • Click here for an official bill summary

HB 618: Charter School Review Board (SL 2023-110) (primary sponsors: Representatives Tricia Cotham, R-Mecklenburg; Tim Moore, R-Cleveland; Destin Hall, R-Caldwell; David Willis, R-Union)

  • House voted to override by 74-45, Senate voted to override 27-18
  • Similar to section 7.39 in the House Budget
  • Converts the Charter Schools Advisory Board into the Charter Schools Review Board
  • Shifts authority to approve or deny charter school applications, renewals, and revocations from the State Board of Education to a legislatively controlled (8 of 11 appointments) Review Board with a right of appeal by an applicant, charter school, or the State Superintendent to the State Board of Education
  • Changes the Superintendent of Public Instruction from a voting member to a nonvoting member
  • Click here for an official bill summary

SB 49: Parents’ Bill of Rights (SL 2023-106) (primary sponsors: Senators Amy Galey, R-Alamance; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover; Lisa Barnes, R-Nash)

  • House voted to override by 72-47, Senate voted to override by 27-18
  • 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 became law this week, thousands of students across the state  had already started the 2023-24 school year, with hundreds of thousands starting school next week, leaving no time for implementation.
    • 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
  • Prohibits instruction on gender identity, sexual activity, and sexuality in the curriculum provided in kindergarten through fourth grade
  • Requires health practitioners, including teachers, to obtain written consent from the parent of a minor child before providing first aid treatment or emergency medical care such as an EpiPen or an AED (creates an exception for physicians) while providing a fine of up to $5,000 for violation of the provision
    • NCSBA has reached out to key legislators about this concern, but to this point no changes have come about
  • Addresses 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
  • Click here for an official bill summary

Additional Bills That Became Law

SB 9: Local Omnibus Changes (SL 2023-112) (primary sponsors Senators Gale Adcock D-Wake, Sydney Batch D-Wake)

  • Conference Committee Report adopted by a vote of 28-17 in the Senate and 70-43 in the House
  • Clarifies process for filling vacancies on Guilford County Board of Education

The following is the Consortium of State School Boards Association’s (COSSBA) most recent federal education report.

August 14, 2023 Headlines From the Weekly Report Include:

Education Department Announces Grant Program to Help Align Postsecondary Education Outcomes: US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced the launch of a new $25 million Career Connected High School Grant program. This program will provide grants to consortia of local educational agencies, institutions of higher education, and employers to pilot evidence-based strategies to increase the integration and alignment of the last two years of high school and the first two years of postsecondary education to improve postsecondary education and career outcomes for all students.

According to a US Education Department blog posting on the grant program, “Grantees can use funds for a variety of different activities based on the need of the region, including additional dual enrollment classes, covering the costs of tuition, books, supplies, and other related expenses for low-income students, tutoring, other academic supports, transportation for students to work-based learning sites, the development of new career & technical education (CTE) programs in high-growth fields like clean energy or to support teacher training and new equipment that may be needed to launch these programs.

The United States Congress is currently in the middle of their August recess and will not be back in session until after Labor Day.

 

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

State News
Carolina Journal: Appeals Court Rules Against Wilson County School Board In Pension Spiking Dispute
North State Journal: General Assembly Overrides Latest Round of Cooper’s Vetoes
North State Journal: Foxx Reacts To Report of Chinese Money In K-12 Schools
WFAE: Back To School Safety Demands A Mix of Technology, Training, and Staff
WFAE: NC General Assembly Overrides Veto On Parents Bill of Rights
WRAL: No New State Budget Puts Schools In A Tough Spot, NC Democrats Say
News & Observer: NC Budget Delays Are Worsening Teacher Hiring Crisis, Education Leaders Warn
Charlotte Observer: Who Decides When Kids Start School? Some NC Districts Are In Open Revolt
Charlotte Observer: NC Public School Follow School Start Law, Why Not Private, Charter Ones?
News & Observer: Are Legislators OK With Public Schools Setting Their Own Start Dates? We Asked Them
Herald Sun: NC Districts Taking School Calendars Into Their Own Hands. Virginia Already Changed Its Law

National News
K-12 Dive: Schools Using Nonpunitive Approaches To Tackle Chronic Absenteeism
EdSurge: As Schools Turn To Tech for Mental Health Support, the Best Solution Might Be More Analog
Washington Post: Schools May Have a Long Way to Go to Protect Against Cyberattacks

There are no committee meetings until the legislature reconvenes in mid-September.
Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
NC School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Madison Skeens
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
NC School Boards Association
mskeens@ncsba.org

Rob Black
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
NC School Boards Association
rblack@ncsba.org

Christina DavoileNCSBA Legislative Update – August 18, 2023