Gov. Evers today signed two K-12 education bills into law and vetoed several others as he continues to act on bills passed by the Legislature in the 2021-22 legislative session completed one month ago today. In all, the governor signed 35 bills and vetoed 43 today.
The governor signed into law:
This new law provides independent charter schools authorized by tribal colleges with the same per pupil payment amount as independent charter schools that are authorized by a non-tribal entity. (Independent charter schools of this type are funded by deducting aid from the public school district in which the student attending the independent charter school resides, so this bill would increase the aid deduction by roughly $450 per student based on current funding amounts.)
This new law requires the State Superintendent to grant a substitute teacher permit to a person who is currently in a teacher training program, if the individual meets certain requirements: if he or she is at least 20 years old; is enrolled in a teacher preparatory program; has achieved junior level status; has completed 15 hours of classroom observation; and passes a background check.
The governor also vetoed the following bills:
Assembly Bill 122 – microschools
This bill would have created a definition of “micro education pod” (that refers to a program provided to between two and ten family units at a physical location) and would have added that term to all current statutes that refer to a home-based private educational program (commonly referred to as “homeschooling”). The provisions of the bill would have been “sunsetted” after the 2023-24 school year.
Assembly Bill 446 — reading readiness assessments
This bill would have overhauled the state statutory requirements regarding reading readiness of early elementary students, and is virtually identical to the Senate version of the bill (Senate Bill 454), which Gov. Evers already vetoed on the grounds that it wasn’t properly funded. Following that veto, the Assembly version of the bill was amended to direct the use of federal COVID relief funds to cover costs. It would have required the Governor to allocate $5 million from federal funds received pursuant to the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) to DPI for grants to school boards and independent charter schools to fund teacher professional development and implementation costs related to providing the assessments and interventions required by the bill.
Assembly Bill 495 — possession of a firearm in a vehicle on school grounds by a person with a license to carry a concealed weapon.
This bill would have decriminalized possession of a firearm in a vehicle on the grounds of a school a person who has a license to carry a concealed weapon. (Under current law, a person is generally prohibited from possessing a firearm on the grounds of a school. A person who violates the prohibition may be charged with a Class I felony.) Backers of this bill had argued that it would ensure that parents or other individuals who possess a concealed carry permit do not accidentally violate state law when picking up or dropping off their child in a school parking lot.
Assembly Bill 903 — programs for gifted and talented pupils
This bill would have imposed several mandates on school districts and the DPI related to programs for gifted and talented students. Among other things, it would have required each school board to report annually to the DPI: whether it employs a gifted and talented program coordinator and, if it does, the amount of time the coordinator spends on the school board’s gifted and talented program; the number of gifted and talented pupils enrolled in the school district who received services under a gifted and talented program; and certain demographic information for those pupils.
Under the bill, the DPI would have been required to annually audit at least 10 percent of school districts, selected at random, for compliance with the requirements under current law and the bill. The DPI would also have been required to include in the school and school district accountability report, commonly known as school and school district report cards, DPI’s determination of whether or not a school district complied with the state law requirements related to programs for gifted and talented pupils.
Assembly Bill 965 — the components, methods, and formulas the Department of Public Instruction uses to publish school and school district accountability reports and granting rule-making authority
This bill would have required the DPI, for school and school district report cards published for the 2021-22 school year, to use the measures, index system, and other components, methods, and formulas that DPI used to publish the school and school district report cards for the 2018-19 school year. Going forward, the bill would have provided that DPI may change the measures, index system, and other components, methods, and formulas that DPI uses only by promulgating rules. The bill would also have specified that, in determining a school’s overall score on a school report card, DPI may not give more weight to measures of growth in pupil achievement in reading and mathematics than to measures of actual pupil achievement in reading and mathematics.
Assembly Bill 967 — high-performing charter schools authorized by school boards.
This bill would have provided that a contract to operate a charter school between a school board and a charter school governing board must allow the governing board to open additional charter schools if all of the charter schools operated by the governing board are in one of the top two performance categories on the DPI’s most recent school and school district accountability report.
Assembly Bill 968 — creating a Charter School Authorizing Board and allowing the board to authorize independent charter schools.
This bill would have created a Charter School Authorizing Board (CSAB), attached to the DPI, and would have expanded the entities that may establish independent charter schools to include the CSAB. The CSAB would consist of the state superintendent of public instruction, two members appointed by the state superintendent, two members appointed by the governor, and six members, who are not legislators, appointed by the leaders in the senate and assembly. The bill specified that no appointed member of the CSAB could have served more than two consecutive terms. The bill also would have prohibited the CSAB from promulgating rules and provides that any standard or statement of policy adopted by the CSAB is exempt from the rule-making process.
Assembly Bill 995 — a parental opt-out from face covering requirements in school buildings and on school grounds and requiring school boards to offer pupils a full-time, in-person option.
This bill would have provided that no school board or school district employee may require a pupil to wear a face covering while in school buildings or on school grounds if the pupil’s parent notifies the school board or employee that the parent elects to opt out of the requirement on behalf of the pupil. The school board or a school district employee could not require the parent to provide a reason for the parent’s election or to provide any evidence regarding any fact related to the pupil’s health or education status. A pupil could not, as a result of such an opt-out, be disciplined or otherwise treated differently from a pupil whose parent has not made such an election.
The bill also would have required a school board to offer a full-time, in-person option to all pupils enrolled in the school district. The bill would have defined a “full-time, in-person option” as an option under which a pupil receives instruction from a school district employee who is physically present in the same school building as the pupil and in real time for at least the number of hours of direct pupil instruction required under state statutes setting educational standards.