OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 1014 (File 569, as amended by Senate "A")*

AN ACT CONCERNING VARIOUS REVISIONS AND ADDITIONS TO THE EDUCATION STATUTES.

SUMMARY

This bill makes numerous changes to a variety of education statutes, including:

1. extending the school security grant program another year to June 30, 2018 ( 1);

2. makes certified teachers from another state, U.S. possession or territory, District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico eligible for a temporary teaching certificate ( 2);

3. extending the length of a resident teacher certificate from one to two years ( 3);

4. specifying that an incarcerated parent is entitled, with exceptions, to access to all the educational, medical, or similar records of his or her minor child kept by the school district ( 4);

5. adding measures for the Auditors of Public Accounts (hereinafter, “state auditors”) and local or regional boards of education (hereinafter, “boards”) to more closely monitor private special education providers ( 6 & 7);

6. creating a private school transportation pilot program in school districts within 12 miles of the West Hartford, New Haven, Shelton, Stamford, and Montville school districts ( 8);

7. extending to private schools the applicant and employee background check requirements that apply to public schools ( 9 & 10);

8. requiring boards to conduct an annual health information survey ( 13);

9. requiring the motor vehicles commissioner to ensure that school bus companies are fulfilling their duty to monitor the commissioner's periodic reports on drivers who have had their licenses withdrawn, suspended, or revoked ( 15);

10. specifying that boards of libraries must adopt policies and rules for internet usage and content access ( 16); and

11. authorizing private schools to issue “certificates of age” (working papers) for minors to work in a variety of settings ( 18).

It also makes a number of minor, conforming, and technical changes. A section-by-section analysis follows.

*Senate Amendment “A” makes a number of changes including:

1. makes certain out-of-state teachers eligible for a temporary teaching certificate and eliminates the underlying bill's creation of a new out-of-state teacher permit ( 2);

2. specifies that certain requirements in contracts between boards and private special education providers apply to contracts entered into or amended on or after July 1, 2017 ( 6 & 7);

3. changes the starting date for a private school transportation pilot program from July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2017 and changes the end date from July 1, 2025 to July 1, 2026, and adds Stamford to the program ( 8);

4. eliminates provisions in the original bill regarding (a) automated screening devices for school vision tests, (b) required school nurse training, and (c) the literacy is fundamental grant program;

5. requires the supervisory agent of a private school to pay for the required employee and applicant state and national criminal history checks and makes various conforming changes to the same provisions ( 9 & 10);

6. specifies that agreements between boards of education and boards of finance, town councils, or other appropriations making authorities must be written ( 12);

7. adds a representative from the Connecticut Association of School Administrators to the membership of the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council, the body that is charged in statute with helping the State Department of Education (SDE) develop teacher evaluation and support guidelines ( 17); and

8. authorizes the supervisory agents of private schools to issue working papers for minors to enable them to work in certain settings ( 18).

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2017, except the sections regarding the school security grant program and the creation of a standardized form for contacting former employers of job applicants are upon passage.

1 — SCHOOL SECURITY GRANT PROGRAM

This bill extends the school security infrastructure grant program for one year, from June 30, 2017 to June 30, 2018. The program provides grants to develop or improve security infrastructure in schools, based on the results of school building security assessments conducted under the supervision of local law enforcement agencies (see BACKGROUND).

By law, the grants are available to private schools. The bill also specifies that this includes private child care centers or preschools that have received threats.

2 — OUT-OF-STATE TEACHER PERMIT

The bill makes teachers who hold an appropriate teaching certificate from another state, U.S. possession or territory, District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico, and have taught for at least two years, eligible for a nonrenewable temporary teaching certificate in Connecticut. It makes the temporary certificate valid for one year and allows the State Board of Education (SBE) to extend it for an additional two years. By law and unchanged by the bill, the temporary certificate exempts applicants from the standard teacher requirements of completing a four-year degree in a teacher preparation program (or in an alternative route to certification program) and teacher testing, including specific subject area testing.

3 — RESIDENT TEACHER CERTIFICATE

The bill extends the existing length of a resident teacher certificate from one to two years.

To qualify for a resident teacher certificate an applicant must (1) hold a bachelor's degree from an institution of higher education accredited in Connecticut or regionally accredited, (2) have a minimum undergraduate college cumulative grade point average of 3.00, (3) have achieved a qualifying score on the appropriate SBE-approved subject area assessment, and (4) be enrolled in an SBE-approved alternate route to certification program.

4 — INCARCERATED PARENTS AND ACCESS TO STUDENT RECORDS

The bill specifies that an incarcerated parent is entitled to knowledge of, and access to, all the educational, medical, or similar records of his or her minor child kept by the school district except when:

1. information is not disclosable under the law regarding professional confidentiality between student and teacher or nurse;

2. the parent has been convicted of sexual assault in this or another state; or

3. the parent is prohibited from such knowledge of, or access to, the student's cumulative record under a court order.

5 — ADVISORY COUNCIL FOR TEACHER PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS

The bill makes a change to the appointing authority of two members of the Connecticut Advisory Council for Teacher Professional Standards. The bill changes the name of a union that appoints two members from the Connecticut Federation of Teachers-Connecticut to the American Federation of Teachers-Connecticut.

6 & 7 — LOCAL BOARDS OF EDUCATION AND MONITORING PRIVATE SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS

The bill requires boards to submit to an audit by the state auditors that examines the board's monitoring of student attendance in the private special education programs that the board contracts with in order to ensure that proper services are being provided and to control costs. The bill requires the board to submit all records and accounts necessary to conduct the audit.

For agreements entered into or amended on or after July 1, 2017, the bill permits local boards to (1) require the private special education programs they contract with to provide monthly or quarterly reports detailing the services and frequency of services being provided, (2) review and reconcile such reports to the contracted services, and (3) conduct periodic site visits at the provider's location.

8 — PRIVATE SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION PILOT PROGRAM

The bill creates a private school transportation pilot program in five areas. It requires school districts within 12 miles of the West Hartford, New Haven, Shelton, Stamford, and Montville school districts to participate in a pilot program to provide school transportation for students to attend an equivalent nonpublic school located in the four named school districts.

The bill includes the following conditions:

1. requests for transportation must be made at least 30 days in advance to the student's home district,

2. the nonpublic school must be in one of the four named districts, and

3. a local or regional board of education is not required to provide transportation if fewer than 10 students make such a request.

The program begins in the school year starting July 1, 2017 and ends in the year that starts July 1, 2026. The bill authorizes a board providing the transportation to designate one or more pick-up and drop-off locations within the town.

The board of education providing the services will be reimbursed for costs of the transportation by either the students or by the nonpublic school in which the students are enrolled.

9 & 10 — PRIVATE SCHOOL EMPLOYEE BACKGROUND CHECKS

The bill extends to private schools the applicant and employee background check requirements that apply to public schools. It requires applicants for any positions in which the employee comes in direct contact with students to participate in, and consent to, a number of steps, including contacting former employers, to determine whether an applicant has a history of sexual misconduct or child abuse or neglect. Under the bill, job applicants must submit to state child abuse and neglect registry and state and national criminal background checks and provide contact information for current or former employers if the job involved contact with children. It requires the supervisory agent of the private school to pay for the state and national criminal history check, as provided in state law (CGS 29-17a).

The bill applies the following requirements regarding the hiring processes for private schools:

1. establishes procedures for hiring certain applicants for select positions with education employers, including student transportation workers, temporary hires, substitute teachers, and contractor employees;

2. establishes requirements for sharing information about applicants between education employers and SDE and among education employers;

3. grants immunity from civil and criminal liability to SDE and current and former employers that share information about applicants;

4. extends regional education service center (RESC) fingerprinting services and regulates fees for these services; and

5. extends the prohibition on a school entering into an agreement for resignation or severance or any other agreement that has the effect of suppressing information related to an investigation of suspected employee abuse, neglect, or sexual misconduct.

Under current law, private schools may choose to take these steps.

11 — STANDARDIZED FORM FOR CONTACTING FORMER EMPLOYERS

Under the bill and no later than June 30, 2017, SDE must make available to nonpublic schools a standardized question form to be used with current or former employers of education job applicants in order to obtain applicant background information.

12 — TOWN AND BOARD OF EDUCATION AGREEMENTS ON NON-EDUCATIONAL FUNCTIONS

The bill explicitly allows boards of education to enter into written agreements with the board of finance, board of selectmen, or similar entity of the town, as appropriate, to perform certain non-educational functions for the board. Nothing in statute currently prevents boards of education and other parts of town government from making such agreements.

13 — REQUIRED HEALTH INFORMATION SURVEY

Beginning with the school year starting on July 1, 2017, and each year thereafter, the bill requires each board of education to complete the SDE-issued Health Services Program Information Survey and submit it to SDE in a form and manner prescribed by the department.

14 — SCHOOL NURSE ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBERSHIP

The bill makes a change to the membership of the School Nurse Advisory Council. It removes the requirement that the representative from the Association of School Nurses of Connecticut must be employed at a private or parochial school.

15 — DMV OVERSIGHT OF SCHOOL BUS COMPANY DRIVER MONITORING

The bill requires the motor vehicles commissioner to ensure that school bus companies are fulfilling their duty to monitor twice a month the commissioner's periodic reports on drivers who have had their licenses withdrawn, suspended, or revoked. The bill authorizes the commissioner to do this by:

1. conducting random compliance audits of bus companies to determine whether a company is performing the required review of the driver suspension report,

2. maintaining a record of each company review for the previous two years, and

3. making the record publicly available upon request.

By law, bus companies that fail to review the commissioner's report as required are subject to civil penalties.

16 — LIBRARY INTERNET USAGE POLICY

The bill specifies that boards of libraries and public reading rooms must adopt policies and rules for internet usage and content access by library patrons on library devices. By law, these boards adopt bylaws, rules, and regulations for the operation and governance of libraries and reading rooms.

17 — NEW MEMBER FOR PERFORMANCE EVALUATION ADVISORY COUNCIL (PEAC)

The bill adds a representative from the Connecticut Association of School Administrators, an administrators' union, to the membership of PEAC, the body charged in statute with helping SDE develop teacher evaluation and support guidelines. The council already has representation from SDE and a number of education interest groups including the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, Connecticut Education Association, and the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents.

18 — PRIVATE SCHOOL AUTHORITY TO ISSUE WORKING PAPERS FOR MINORS

The bill extends the authority to issue “certificates of age” (working papers) for minors to work in a variety of settings (see BACKGROUND) to private school supervisory agents. Under current law only a public school superintendent can issue such papers pursuant to procedures that SBE establishes.

BACKGROUND

School Security Infrastructure Grant Program

PA 13-3 established this competitive state grant program to improve security infrastructure in schools. The program reimburses towns, state charter schools, technical high schools, incorporated or endowed high schools or academies, private schools, and regional education service centers for certain expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2013 to (1) develop or improve security infrastructure; (2) train personnel to operate and maintain the security infrastructure; and (3) buy portable entrance security devices, such as metal detectors.

Working Papers

By law a superintendent of schools can issue working papers certifying a minor's age, which authorizes the minor to work in the following settings:

1. minors at least 16 years old in any manufacturing, mechanical, or theatrical industry; restaurant or public dining room; or in any bowling alley, shoe-shining establishment or barber shop;

2. minors at least 15 years old in any commercial or retail establishment; and

3. minors at least 14 years old at any municipal or private golf course.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Education Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

32

Nay

1

(03/24/2017)

Appropriations Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

36

Nay

10

(05/08/2017)