Oklahoma Legislature Lays Out Policy Priorities In Bills Sent To Governor
Because of a legislative session shortened by COVID-19, only a handful of education policy bills moved through the House and Senate to make it to the governor’s desk.
Time constraints meant only the bills most important to lawmakers could make it to Gov. Kevin Stitt.
So a hodgepodge of priority education legislation is currently being considered by the governor.
If signed by the governor, they would tweak virtual charter school rules, combat the teacher shortage and take other narrow measures.
A relationship that’s been labeled as rocky by the legislature and Stitt, means it’s unclear which bills the governor will sign into law and which he could veto. Lawmakers could come back into session before the end of May and pass measures over his head like they did with the $7.7 billion state budget.
Here are a dozen important bills approved by the legislature now being considered by Stitt:
- Senate Bill 212, authored by Sen. Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa and Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, modifies the calculation for the weighted average daily membership of a full-time virtual charter school.
- House Bill 3466, authored by Rep. Tammy West, R-Bethany and Stanislawski, R-Tulsa, modifies membership of the State Textbook Committee. It requires the State Department of Education and the Committee to meet annually to review textbooks and instructional materials. The bill requires the Department to create a rubric to be used by review teams as a means of evaluating textbooks submitted for review.
- House Bill 3398, authored by Rep. Jadine Nollan, R-Sand Springs and Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee, requires any person employed by an Oklahoma school district prior to the effective date of this act who does not have an Oklahoma criminal history record check from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation as well as a national criminal history record check on file with his or her employing district as required have until July 1, 2022, to complete the criminal history record checks. It exempts any person eligible to retire from the Teachers’ Retirement System of Oklahoma.
- House Bill 3400, authored by Baker and Stanislawski, requires all public high schools, beginning with the 2024-2025 school year, to make a minimum of four advanced placement courses available to students. It provides options for access. It requires the State Department of Education to provide information to all local boards of education, to be distributed to their students and parents, on available opportunities and the enrollment process for students to take advanced placement courses. It requires the department to retain records of which options local boards of education selected for their students and make the information available on the department’s website. It defines the term “advanced placement course” by statutory reference.
- Senate Bill1803, authored by Sen. John Haste, R-Broken Arrow and Rep. Tammy Townley, R-Ardmore, creates a revolving fund for the State Department of Education to be designated the Imagination Library Revolving Fund that will consist of monies received by the State Department of Education from appropriations, gifts, grants, donations and bequests. It requires the fund be used to promote and foster the development of the Oklahoma Imagination Library Program, a statewide program for encouraging pre-school children to read by providing age-appropriate books to children at their homes from birth to age five on a monthly basis.
- Senate Bill 1805, authored by Sen. Tom Dugger, R-Stillwater and Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, modifies the duties of the Oklahoma Board of Private Vocational Schools. It permits a sustained license to be obtained annually during the period of the multi-year accreditation if a school is accredited by an accrediting organization approved by the U.S. Department of Education for multiple years. It modifies existing fees and creates new fees.
- House Bill 3369, authored by Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City and Sen. Kimberly David, R-Porter, creates the Charter School Closure Reimbursement Revolving Fund. It allows all monies accruing to the fund to be used by the State Department of Education for the purpose of reimbursing charter school sponsors for costs incurred due to the closure of a charter school. It requires each charter school to pay to the Charter School Closure Reimbursement Revolving Fund an amount equal to $5 per student based on average daily membership.
- Senate Bill 1436, authored by Stanislawski and Rep. Nicole Miller, R-Edmond, creates a comprehensive special education subject area certification. The bill requires the State Board of Education to issue a two-year provisional certificate in the area of severe-profound disabilities to any individual who has obtained a standard certificate in the area of mild-moderate disabilities; been recommended for a certificate in the area of severe-profound disabilities by a school district board of education; and submitted an application and payment of the required certification fee.
- Senate Bill 1125, authored by Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond and Rep. Charles McCall, R-Atoka, directs the State Board of Education to issue a teaching certificate to anyone who holds a valid out-of-state teaching certificate. It requires the individual to undergo a criminal history record check. It also prohibits the individual from being required to take any additional competency examinations prior to receiving a teaching certificate.
- Senate Bill 1198, authored by Sen. Robert Standridge, R-Norman and Rep. Sherrie Conley, R-Newcastle, creates the Riley Boatwright Act. The bill requires each school district board of education to annually coordinate with local emergency medical services providers and develop a plan for emergency medical services at athletic events or activities held at school district facilities.
- House Bill 2804, authored by Rep. Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher and Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, requires every student enrolled in kindergarten, first-grade, second-grade or third-grade in public school who is not meeting grade-level reading targets to be assessed for dyslexia. The bill also allows a student’s parents or guardian, teacher, counselor, speech language pathologist or school psychologist. The bill defines dyslexia and the screening process. The bill requires information to be provided to the State Department of Education. The bill requires the State Department of Education to make a report to the governor and the Legislature containing this information on Dec. 31, 2023 and directs the State Board of Education to promulgate rules to implement the act.
- House Bill 2905, authored by Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa and Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee, creates the Virtual Charter School Reform and Transparency Act of 2020. It would change transfer, attendance and other policies for virtual charters.