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House Public Education Committee holds first votes of 88th session 

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Teach the Vote

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Date Posted: 3/17/2023

The House Public Education Committee met Tuesday, March 14, to consider a slate of 12 bills on issues ranging from health screenings to assessment of special needs students, including three supported by ATPE. 

Beginning this year, TEA has moved to a fully online administration of the STAAR test, which includes a cap on the number of students of students who can access a paper version of the test at 1%. HB 1225 by Rep. Will Metcalf (R-Conroe) would allow parents to request paper administration of the STAAR test for their child. ATPE supports a testing and accountability system that meets the individual needs of students.   

Although a school board is currently required to adopt a process to address complaints and grievances brought to the district's attention, current law does not specify what that process will entail or how long the grievance process will take. HB 890 by Rep. Keith Bell (R-Forney) sets a 120-day timeline for the grievance process in a school district or charter school. ATPE registered in support of this bill. ATPE supports a governance structure for schools that encourages a collaborative working environment between educators and local school board members. This includes predictable and timely resolution of grievances. 

As a symbol of the often unworkable mandates state lawmakers place on an overworked and underfunded education workforce, HB 4545 by Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) has become one of the most maligned bills of the previous legislative session. Another bill by Rep K. Bell heard this week, HB 1416 aims to “clean up” HB 4545. The bill lowers the amount of accelerated instruction, or tutoring, required for students who perform unsatisfactorily on the STAAR test from 30 hours to 15 hours, increases the student-to-tutor ratio from 3:1 to 4:1, requires the creation of a virtual or hybrid alternative to in direct in-person tutoring, and provides parents with an opt-out provision.  

Other bills considered in committee were: 

  • HB 1002 by Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo), which has to do with allowing a chiropractor to be part of a concussion oversight team in public schools. 
  • HB 1067 by Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston), which deals with detachment and annexation of school district territory.  
  • HB 579 by Rep. DeWayne Burns (R-Cleburne), which would allow for alternate assessment for special-needs students for whom STAAR and STAAR-Alt are not the best options.  
  • HB 579 by Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth), which deals with administration of medication to students in respiratory distress.  
  • HB 1297 by Rep. Dutton, which has to do with electronic vision screenings in schools. 
  • HB 1212 by Rep. Jacey Jetton (R-Richmond), which would allow students to have an excused absence from school for religious holy days without proof from clergy. 
  • HB 1883 by Rep. Salman Bhojani (D-Euless), which would require TEA to schedule STAAR testing around religious holy days.  
  • HB 1955, by Rep. Brad Buckley (R-Salado), which changes enrollment verification requirements for incoming military families enrolling in public schools from 10 days to 90 days. 
  • HB 1789 by Rep. Buckley, which would allow school districts with more than 35,000 students to hire a school bus driver who is related to a public official. 

In addition to hearing these new bills, the committee also voted on pending business. 

  • They also approved HB 621 by Rep. Matt Shaheen (R-Plano), an ATPE-supported bill that allows military veterans to serve as classroom teachers on a 5-year temporary certificate, by a vote of 9 yes, 3 no, one present not voting.  
  • The committee approved HB 131 by Rep. Andrew Murr (R-Junction), relating to excused absences for a career exploration day, by a vote of 12 yes, 1 no, 1 present not voting. 
  • Finally, the committee approved HB 699 by Rep. James Frank (R-Wichita Falls), which is a bill that expands on last session’s HB 547, allowing non-enrolled students to participate in UIL activities. The vote was 10 yes, 2 no, 1 absent.  

The House Committee on Public Education is expected to meet again next Tuesday, March 21.  


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