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'Slimmed-down’ education policy bill heads again for House Floor

A “slimmed-down” education policy bill that hit the House Floor in the 2020 regular session’s dying moments is headed back before the full body for another vote.

SSHF33, sponsored by Rep. Cheryl Youakim (DFL-Hopkins), is an omnibus education policy bill identical to a bill passed off the House Floor during the session’s final seconds nearly a month ago. The Senate did not have time to vote on the bill.

The legislation includes measures that would support special education students by offering access to alternative delivery of specialized instruction services; require teachers to have mental health and suicide prevention training before they’re relicensed; and would also oblige schools to put in place  evidence-based vaping prevention curriculum at least once to students in grades six through eight. School districts would be encouraged to provide similar curriculum to high school students, under the bill.

It was approved 10-4 Tuesday by the House Education Policy Committee. Its companion, SSSF26, sponsored by Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester), was tabled Monday.

Other provisions in the bill include those that would:

  • limit the circumstances under which a school could expel or suspend a child from a school-based prekindergarten program;
  • establish a developmentally appropriate screening timeline for recipients of early learning scholarships;
  • extend the deadline by which early childhood programs must have three- or four-star Parent Aware ratings to accept early learning scholarships, from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2024;
  • align the state with federal guidance that a school district may not require a birth certificate to enroll a student in a public school;
  • require the parent of a student to whom school personnel administer drugs or medicine at a parent’s request to inform the school if the drug or medicine is a controlled substance; and
  • clarify that school district contracts for fuel or transportation are not subject to the two-year term limitation for most school district contracts for services or goods.

“The pandemic cut our work short,” Youakim said, “and that’s why you see this slimmed-down version.” She said the bill, while not going as far as House lawmakers would like, wouldn’t be opened again following an agreement reached with the Senate late in the regular session.

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