The Senate Education Committee heard these bills at its Thursday meeting:

SB 1444 by Chair Larry Taylor, as originally filed, would have allowed any district to withdraw from ActiveCare. After concerns were expressed by TRS, TCTA and other education groups, Taylor amended his bill to eliminate the District of Innovation loophole discussed here and to instead allow districts to withdraw, but with limitations. A district choosing to leave ActiveCare would have to stay out for at least five years, and a district choosing to enter or re-enter ActiveCare would have to remain in the plan for at least five years. These provisions were included at the suggestion of TRS and should help mitigate concerns over adverse selection that could raise ActiveCare premiums.

SB 348 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst would address the extent to which parents can observe online classes and have access to review materials used in online instruction. TCTA worked with the bill author to ensure that reviewing teaching materials and observing classrooms during virtual instruction occur in the same manner and are subject to the same laws and policies as in-person instruction.

SB 168 by Sen. Cesar Blanco would address how active shooter exercises can take place, requiring districts to give prior warning to students/parents/teachers including the date and content of the exercise. It would require collaboration between law enforcement and mental health professionals to ensure exercises are age-appropriate.

SB 194 by Sen. Beverly Powell includes information about students successfully completing a program of study in career and technology in the student achievement indicators of the accountability system.

SB 1526 by Sen. Charles Perry would limit the amount of student data that can be transferred to vendors, and would allow TEA or the school district to determine which data to include.

SB 1527 by Perry would create the Rural Schools and Community Technical Assistance Center.

SB 534 by Sen. Bryan Hughes would provide immunity from liability for districts that use certain security options (for example, school marshals or school guardians).

SB 1082 by Sen. Donna Campbell would strengthen provisions entitling parents to review the curriculum of sex education courses.

The committee voted out the following bills:

  • SB 1527 by Perry (see above description)
  • SB 1365 by Sen. Paul Bettencourt strengthening the commissioner’s authority in matters involving low-performing districts
  • SB 215 by Bettencourt creating the Office of Inspector General within TEA
  • SB 879 by Sen. Eddie Lucio amending the qualifications for designation as a dropout recovery school
  • SB 1277 by Sen. Royce West ensuring that in a dual credit program, an individual with either the district or the college would be responsible for providing academic advising to students before they begin a course
  • SB 1351 by Sen. Borris Miles ensuring that schools can donate food that has been packaged on campus
  • SB 2044 by Sen. Jose Menendez creating the State Advisory Council on Education Opportunity for Military Children
  • SB 1590 by Bettencourt allowing for teacher certification candidates to be observed in virtual settings
  • SB 1776 by Campbell requiring districts to post the founding government documents
  • SB 1716 by Taylor regarding supplemental special education services
  • SB 1955 by Taylor relaxing regulations affecting learning pods
  • SB 2026 by Taylor requiring instruction in informed patriotism