Legislation signed earlier this week by Governor Wolf is deigned to help military families. Act 119 of 2018, formerly House Bill 2052 requires public schools to provide access to support services if a student’s parent/guardian, who is deployed for active duty, notifies the school of his/her deployment and requests additional supports or services for his/her child. Services include school guidance counselors; school psychologists; school social workers; home and school visitors; providing information regarding existing federal and state military support services; and any other service, agency, or resources necessary to assist the student and his/her parent/guardian. PDE and the PA Dept. of Military and Veterans Affairs are charged with providing information regarding the requirements and materials for schools to use to inform parents/guardians who may be deployed.
As part of a flurry of legislation passed earlier this week, Act 95 of 2018, formerly House Bill 163 was passed, which requires the suspension of vehicle operation privileges of any person 21 years of age or younger for a conviction or adjudication of delinquency for terroristic threats made against any school property. The bill also removes federally-mandated driver’s license suspensions for drug/controlled substance convictions, as well as state-imposed suspensions for the underage purchase, consumption, possession or transportation of alcoholic beverages; the misrepresentation of one’s age to secure alcoholic beverages by any person under the age of 21; purchasing or attempting to purchase tobacco by a minor; and carrying a false identification card by any person under the age of 21.
Two new laws passed earlier this week focus on student safety. Act 80 of 2018, formerly Senate Bill 1090, expands PA’s anti-hazing law to include public and private secondary schools, as well as organizations affiliated with those schools. Those violating school hazing policies could face such disciplinary action as suspension, expulsion, diplomas or transcripts being withheld, and/or fines. Secondary schools are required to inform students of the school district’s hazing policy, including rules, penalties, and enforcement.
The other bill, Act 105 of 2018, formerly House Bill 1228, allows students to wear sun-protective clothing and/or use a topical sunscreen product without a physician’s note or prescription during school hours or at a school-sponsored activity, provided that parents/guardians and students fill out a required form. The law also allows the revocation or restriction of sunscreen use for students who misuse the sunscreen and state that students are responsible for applying their own sunscreen.
On Wednesday, October 24th, Gov. Wolf signed into law Senate Bill 1095, which is now Act 158 of 2018. The new law revises PA’s one-size-fits-all mandate to pass three Keystone Exams to receive a diploma by instead establishing multiple pathways to demonstrate college and career readiness. New measures of success will be appropriately aligned to a student’s career goals and reflect the expectations, coursework, grades, activities and achievements earned. In addition to the Keystones, alternative assessments and other factors will be able to be counted towards graduation. The changes under the new law are effective beginning with the Class of 2022, impacting those students who are currently in 9th grade.
On Wednesday, October 24th, Governor Wolf signed into law House Bill 1386, which is now Act 82 of 2018. This legislation changes the grade spans and age levels for certification of special education instructional certificates in the Commonwealth. All special education certificates issued after Dec. 31, 2021 will cover PK-12, or up to age 21, and no additional content or dual certification will be required.
Teachers currently holding the special education certification for PK-8 and grades 7-12 will be able to expand the scope of their certificates under a yet-to-be determined PDE process. Teachers holding early childhood certification will be able to expand their certificate to include grades five and six by attaining the necessary scores on an assessment developed by PDE.