Gov. Greg Abbott has until Sunday, June 18, to sign bills from the regular session into law, let them take effect without his signature, or veto them. Thus far since the session ended May 29 he has vetoed only a handful of line items within the state’s two-year budget bill for 2018-19, SB 1. Meanwhile Abbott has started signing in bunches some of the 1,285 bills sent to his desk as the deadline nears—160 on June 9 and another 170 on June 12. Here are a few of the most notable signings relating to education:
SB 463 by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) extends through August 2019 the use of individual graduation committees empowered to authorize a student’s graduation from high school without passing one or two state end-of-course achievement exams, if the student can demonstrate proficiency in the subject in other credible ways.
SB 179 by Sen. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) creates new sanctions and requires new policies to address the phenomenon of cyberbullying of students on and off campus.
HB 674 by Rep. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) prohibits out-of-school suspension for students below third grade, except in certain cases of serious misconduct. The bill does not alter teachers’ authority to remove disruptive students from their classroom; nor does it change the law authorizing placement in a disciplinary alternative education program for certain kinds of misconduct.
SB 1398 by Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. (D-Brownsville) scales back the required use of video surveillance of special-education classrooms.
SB 968 by Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) and SB 969 (also by Watson) address the issue of sexual assault on college campuses. SB 968 requires higher-ed institutions to set up a protocol for anonymous online reporting of incidents of sexual assault. SB 969 exempts from disciplinary action students who make a good-faith report of sexual assault they have suffered or witnessed, even though they may have been committing an infraction themselves (such as under-age drinking) at the time.
HB 2130 by Rep. Kevin Roberts (R-Houston) requires a statewide study of the impact of state achievement testing on special-education students, with special attention given to adverse impacts on their educational advancement.
SB 801 by Sen. Seliger requires that instructional material be suitable for the subject and grade level and reviewed by academic experts in that subject and grade level before it can receive state approval.
After the June 18 veto deadline, Texas AFT will put together a summary of all the notable education bills of the regular session. Look for notification in a future Hotline when that summary becomes available on our website.