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House Public Education Committee discusses virtual schools and more

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Educator Preparation | Certification Texas Legislature Educator Rights Curriculum | Instruction TEA | Commissioner | SBOE Deregulation | Charter Schools School Safety

Date Posted: 3/29/2023 | Author: Tricia Cave

The House Public Education Committee had another lengthy hearing Tuesday, March 28, 2023, as it considered bills on virtual education, cameras in classrooms, and raising the State Board of Education (SBOE) veto threshold for charter applications.

House Bill (HB) 681 by Rep. Keith Bell (R–Forney) would give districts greater flexibility in expanding virtual school programs by repealing the sunset placed in last session’s virtual bill, Senate Bill (SB) 15. ATPE offered neutral testimony on HB 681, thanking Bell for offering school districts more flexibility while reminding committee members of the dubious track record of virtual education in Texas and urging caution in repealing the sunset provision of the bill.

HB 1507 by Rep. Ken King (R–Canadian) would prohibit schools from “hosting” or “organizing” programs that celebrate or instruct students regarding sexual preference. It would also fine and/or sanction school employees who host or organize such activities. For teachers, that could even include the loss of their teaching certificates. ATPE’s legislative priorities for the 88th session include prioritizing the mental health of students and educators, respecting educators’ professionalism and autonomy, and promoting collaboration among school employees, parents, school boards, and other elected officials. For these reasons, ATPE offered written testimony against the bill, noting that its language is overly broad and vague and that the bill is likely unconstitutional, would have a chilling effect on educators and students, and threatens teachers with the loss of their certificate.  
HB 2890 by Rep. Charles Cunningham (R–Humble) would change the threshold of the SBOE’s veto authority on charter school expansions from a simple majority to a two-thirds vote, thus diluting the board’s power to veto charter schools. Prior to 2013, the SBOE had full control over the approval process for charter schools. Since 2013, most of this power has been consolidated in the hands of the appointed commissioner of education. The board’s veto authority remains the sole check on the commissioner’s power over charter approval. ATPE submitted written testimony against HB 2890, reminding members of the SBOE’s important oversight role in the approval of charter schools and asking that this critical guardrail of accountability for voters and taxpayers not be weakened.

The committee also heard the following bills:
  • HB 1263 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D–Houston) would protect the ability of local officials to designate crosswalks and crossing zones near high schools in large cities. ATPE supported this bill.
  • HB 1959 by Rep. Candy Noble (R–Lucas) and HB 2892 by Committee Chairman Brad Buckley (R–Salado) would allow school transfers for children of peace officers and military members, respectively. ATPE supported both bills.
  • HB 2647 by Rep. Carl Sherman (D–DeSoto) would allow school districts to create a nonvoting student trustee position on their school boards. ATPE supported this bill.
  • House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 90 by Rep. John Kuempel (R–Seguin) would designate April 6 as Texas High School Coaches Day. ATPE supported this bill.
  • HB 2012 by Rep. Tom Oliverson (R–Cypress) ensures that no teacher can be prohibited from displaying the national motto in their classroom.
  • HB 2209 by Rep. JM Lozano (R–Kingsville) establishes a Rural Pathway Excellence Partnership Program for districts to expand their college/career pathway options for students.
  • HB 2234 by S. Thompson deals with cameras in special education classrooms, increases the amount of time schools need to retain the footage from three to six months, and allows parents to view the footage on request, rather than after a documented incident, as had been previously required.
  • HB 3803 by Cunningham expands the right of parents to elect for their student to retake a course or grade.

Finally, the following pending legislation was voted favorably out of committee:

  • HB 166 by Rep. Mary Gonzalez (D–El Paso) would allow for the appointment of educational representatives for students with disabilities.
  • HB 1662 by Rep. DeWayne Burns (R–Cleburne) deals with the posting of a district’s employment policy on its website. ATPE supported this bill.
  • HB 2484 by Rep. Ryan Guillen (R–Rio Grande City) would protect officials at UIL events from being subjected to abuse or harassment by a spectator. ATPE supported this bill.
  • HB 2729 by Rep. Cody Harris (R–Palestine) changes the education requirements for prekindergarten educators. ATPE opposed this bill.
  • HB 2929 by Lozano (R–Kingsville) relates to education and training requirements for teachers and counselors.
  • HB 1212 by Rep. Jacey Jetton (R-Richmond) allows students to have an excused absence from school for religious holy days without proof from clergy. 
  • HB 900 by Rep. Jared Patterson (R–Frisco) allows for the regulation and review of books by vendors before books are purchased and placed in public school libraries. Read ATPE’s written testimony on the bill here.
The committee is expected to meet again April 4.



Jennifer Mitchell (ATPE Associate Executive Director)

ATPE’s positions on legislation are derived from the member-written ATPE Legislative Program, which is updated each year with recommendations from our Legislative Committee and formally adopted by the ATPE House of Delegates (HOD) each year at our summit. Anyone interested in our positions can read and learn more about that document at https://www.atpe.org/At-The-Capitol/Legislative-Program. ATPE also consults with our legal staff on any bills that may present liability concerns for educators or conflicts with other laws. Our mission is to advocate for educators, but most of our members are parents, too! We believe collaboration within the entire community of educators, parents, and policymakers is essential to helping our students succeed. We always welcome the input of our individual members and invite them to share feedback on specific legislation with the ATPE lobby team by emailing government@atpe.org.

Charissa Newport

Remove me from your association please. I may be an educator but I do not agree with some of your positions. As a parent; this association is biased.

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