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The Assembly Committee on Education will hold a public hearing on Thursday, May 30 at 11:00 a.m. in Room 417 North (GAR Hall) of the State Capitol.

The committee is chaired by state Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) and is scheduled to take public testimony on three bills:

Assembly Bill 84 Relating to: imposing requirements related to school lunch and breakfast programs in certain schools. (The bill has been dubbed the “Hunger Free School Zones” Act by its author, who describes it was a bill to prohibit so-called “lunch shaming.”)

The WASB has serious concerns about the bill, particularly the lack of any provision limiting the duration of the mandates and prohibitions created by the bill.

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau

This bill: 1) requires certain schools to provide a school lunch or breakfast to a pupil who requests such a meal; 2) prohibits those schools from taking certain actions against a pupil who is unable to pay for those meals; and 3) requires those schools to provide information and take certain actions related to applications for free or reduced-price meals.

The bill defines “school” as a public school, private school, charter school, tribal school, the Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, or the Wisconsin Educational Services Program for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, provided the school, program, or center receives state aid for providing school lunches and breakfasts (free or reduced-price meals).

Under the bill, the school board of a school district, governing body of a private school, operator of an independent charter school, governing body of a tribal school, director of the program, or director of the center (governing body) must provide a meal that is of a similar quality to a free or reduced-price meal (quality meal) to a pupil who requests such a meal, regardless of the pupil’s ability to pay for the meal, and prohibits the governing body from providing a meal of inferior quality in place of a quality meal.  If the pupil is homeless and is enrolled in a public school or independent charter school, the governing body of the school must provide the quality meal to the pupil at no cost to the pupil. (emphasis added)

The bill prohibits the governing body of a school from doing any of the following:
1. Publicly identifying or stigmatizing a pupil who is unable to pay for a quality meal or who has outstanding debt related to a quality meal.
2. Requiring a pupil who is unable to pay for a quality meal, as a condition of receiving the quality meal, to do chores or other work not expected of a pupil who has the ability to pay.
3. Requiring a pupil who has received a quality meal to relinquish or throwaway that quality meal because the pupil is unable to pay for the quality meal or has outstanding debt related to a quality meal.
4. Communicating directly with a pupil concerning the pupil’s inability to pay for a quality meal or to pay outstanding debt related to a quality meal.
5. Requiring a pupil or the pupil’s parent or guardian to pay fees or costs charged by a collection agency retained by the governing body to collect outstanding debt related to a quality meal.

Finally, the bill requires the governing body of a school annually to provide certain information regarding the application process to receive free or reduced-price meals to the parent or guardian of each pupil enrolled in the school, and, if the governing body determines that a pupil is eligible for free or reduced-price meals but has not submitted an application, the governing body must submit an application on the pupil’s behalf.

Assembly Bill 194 Relating to: requirements for initial licensure as a special education teacher.  (It is our understanding this bill was requested by school administrators within CESA 3.  At this time the WASB is monitoring this bill. )

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill allows the Department of Public Instruction to issue an initial license
as a special education teacher to an individual who successfully completes a course
in the teaching of reading and reading comprehension, provided the individual
satisfies all other requirements for licensure by DPI. Specifically, the course must
satisfy all of the following:
1. The course provides rigorous instruction in the teaching of phonemic
awareness, phonics, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and fluency.
2. A student in the course receives feedback and coaching from an individual
who holds either a masters degree in reading or a reading specialist license issued
by DPI.
3. A student in the course demonstrates competence in phonemic awareness,
phonics, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and fluency by providing a portfolio of
work.
Current law requires, as a condition for receiving an initial license to teach in
special education, that an individual passes an examination identical to the
Foundations of Reading test.

Assembly Bill 195 Relating to: a license to teach based on reciprocity and granting rule-making authority. (It is our understanding this bill was also requested by school administrators within CESA 3. At this time the WASB is monitoring this bill.)

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
Under current law, the Department of Public Instruction must issue an initial license to teach to an individual who holds a license to teach in good standing from another state if the individual taught under that license for at least one year. A license to teach issued based on these qualifications is known as a “license to teach based on reciprocity.” This bill requires DPI to also issue a license to teach based on reciprocity to an individual who holds a license to teach in good standing from another state if the individual taught in this state under a license or permit issued by DPI for at least two semesters and the school district or charter school where the applicant taught under that license or permit confirms that the applicant’s teaching experience was successful.

This bill also changes a license to teach based on reciprocity from an initial license to a provisional license. Under the bill, DPI must issue a lifetime license to an individual who obtains a provisional license to teach based on reciprocity if the individual successfully completes six semesters of teaching experience, as defined by DPI. Under current law, DPI issues a lifetime license to an individual who holds a provisional license obtained based on other qualifications.

Finally, the bill specifies that DPI must issue a provisional license to teach to any individual who holds an initial license to teach based on reciprocity on the date the bill becomes law.

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