Senate Education Passes Parents’ Bill of Rights & House Version of Teacher Evaluation Legislation
State School Superintendent Richard Woods visited the Senate Education & Youth Committee and provided a brief update on Georgia schools and educators. Woods thanked Gov. Brian Kemp for the educator pay increases proposed in state budgets. He reported that student poverty is one of the biggest challenges facing schools.
The committee then passed HB 1178, the Parents’ Bill of Rights, sponsored on behalf of the governor by Rep. Josh Bonner (R-Fayetteville). The legislation seeks to codify parents’ rights to:
Direct the upbringing and the moral or religious training of their children
Review instructional materials intended for use in the classroom
Apply to public school or, as an alternative to public education, a private school, including a religious school, a home study program, or other available options, as authorized by law and subject to applicable enrollment requirements
Access and review all records relating to his or her minor child (with some legal exceptions)
Access information relating to promotion, retention policies, and graduation requirements
Opt-out of some recordings of their children
Opt-out of sex education courses
The legislation generated little committee discussion, as the committee had previously debated and approved SB 449, identical legislation to HB 1178.
The committee discussed the merits of HB 1295 by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park) at length and debated whether to limit the legislation to all teachers or only those beginning their careers. The bill removes “needs improvement” as an evaluation rating that could lead to a teacher losing certification if he or she receives the rating two times within a five-year period. By a vote of 7 to 2, the committee voted to move forward the broader House version.
Both HB 1178 and HB 1295 now move to the Senate Rules Committee.
School Board Open Meetings Bill Passes House Committee with Significant Changes
The House Education Committee approved a substitute version of SB 588 by Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) after making significant changes to the bill. To read more about the original version of the bill that passed the Senate, see a previous report HERE. Committee Chairman Matt Dubnik (R-Gainesville) presented the bill for Miller, who was not in attendance. In the substitute version of the bill, local school boards will be required to provide a public comment period during regular monthly meetings. Local boards cannot require individuals to sign up to speak at board meetings more than 24 hours in advance. Local boards will be required to post notice of monthly meetings in a prominent location. Each board is required to establish and publish rules of conduct that accounts for what issues may necessitate removing disruptive people from meetings. Boards cannot force the removal of a member of the public for their political viewpoints unless they are being disruptive. SB 588 no longer allows for the award of attorney fees and litigation costs for those unjustly removed or treated.
The board also passed SB 575 by Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta), which would require local boards of education to review the financial status of the local school districts quarterly, rather than monthly. The bill was requested by Cobb County Schools.
HR 881 by Rep. Mack Jackson (D-Sandersville), which encourages Georgia public schools to provide instruction on the Civil Rights Era, also passed the committee.
These bills move forward to the House Rules Committee.
SB 498 by Sen. Tippins, would require Georgia accrediting agencies to meet certain criteria, including placing more accreditation emphasis on school and district academic achievement. The bill seeks to mandate more transparency regarding accrediting agency findings. Tippins explained that Cognia, the agency responsible for most accreditation reviews in Georgia, focuses primarily on school board governance and “how adults act,” rather than student academic performance. The committee did not vote on SB 498.
Thursday, March 24 - Legislative Committee Workday
Friday, March 25 - Legislative Day 35