Senate education committee to hold public hearing on August 13

The Senate Education Committee will hold a public hearing on four bills on Tuesday, August 13 at 10:00 a.m. in Room 411 South, State Capitol.  (View hearing notice.)

This will be the committee’s first public hearing of the 2019-20 legislative session. 

The committee is chaired by state Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon, pictured at left) and is scheduled to take public testimony on the following bills:

Assembly Bill 53 Relating to: pupil records.

By Representatives Born, Jagler, Plumer, Brooks, Novak, Thiesfeldt, Tusler and Vruwink; cosponsored by Senators Olsen and Darling.

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
Under current law, pupil records are generally confidential. One exception to 
this general rule applies to directory data. Directory data may be disclosed to any 
person if a public school notifies parents and guardians of the categories of pupil 
information the school has designated as directory data, informs parents and 
guardians of an opt out procedure for such disclosures, and provides sufficient time 
for parents and guardians to utilize the opt out procedure.
Under current law, the categories of pupil information included in the 
definition of “directory data” include the pupil’s name, address, telephone listing, 
date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized 
activities and sports, dates of attendance, photographs, weight and height as a 
member of an athletic team, degrees and awards received, and the school the pupil 
attended most recently. This bill adds the name of a pupil’s parents or guardians to 
the list of categories of pupil information that a public school may designate as 
directory data.
The WASB is supportive of AB 53 as current law contains a number of safeguards against potential abuse that might potentially arise from the changes made in the bill.
The first of these protections is that school districts must have a written policy concerning pupil records (see sec. 118.125(3), Wis. Stats.) and may as part of that policy choose to designate some, none or all of the data as directory data.  WASB attorneys interpret this policy requirement to likely encompass a school district’s designation of certain student record information as “directory data.” Some districts incorporate the topic of directory data directly into the district’s general policy/rule on pupil records management and confidentiality.  Other districts choose to maintain a separate distinct policy or rule addressing the directory data exception.   A board or district may not designate categories of information as “directory data” unless they are listed in the statutory definition.  And just because a category of data is listed in the statute, however, does not mean a district must designate it as directory data in its written board policy concerning pupil records.  A district may choose to designate some, none or all of the data as directory data available for release.

The second level of protection is found in the parent’s or guardian’s right to opt-out of any or all disclosure of directory data as that data is defined by the district’s policy.

Prior to disclosing directory data, a school district must notify the child’s parent, legal guardian, or guardian ad litem of the categories of information designated as directory data with respect to each pupil and allow 14 days for the parent, legal guardian, or guardian ad litem to inform the district that all or any part of the directory data may not be released without prior consent.  (See Wis. Stat. § 118.125(2)(j), 34 CFR 99.37.)  Usually such notice is given by the district as part of its annual notice to parents of their rights with regard to pupil records. If the parent, legal guardian, or guardian ad litem requests that certain directory data be disclosed only with written consent, then that data may not be released without specific written consent.

The third level of protection is found in federal law that allows limits on disclosure.

Under federal law, disclosure of directory information (as directory data is called under FERPA) to third parties can be limited to specific parties, for specific purposes, or both. Federal regulations (see 34 CFR 99.37(d) )governing the notice and opt-out provisions provide that:

In its public notice to parents and eligible students in attendance at the agency or institution that is described in paragraph (a) of this section, an educational agency or institution may specify that disclosure of directory information will be limited to specific parties, for specific purposes, or both. When an educational agency or institution specifies that disclosure of directory information will be limited to specific parties, for specific purposes, or both, the educational agency or institution must limit its directory information disclosures to those specified in its public notice that is described in paragraph (a) of this section.  (emphasis added)

An increasing number of school districts are making and implementing “limited party” and “limited purpose” designations of student directory data and have adopted this approach in the board policies on pupil records.

 

Assembly Bill 54 Relating to: fire, tornado, and school safety drills for public and private schools.

By Representatives Born, Jagler, Plumer, Ballweg, Dittrich, Mursau, Novak, Pronschinske, Ramthun, Rohrkaste, Skowronski, Spiros, C. Taylor, Thiesfeldt and Vruwink; cosponsored by Senators Olsen, Bernier, Darling, Marklein, Kooyenga and L. Taylor.

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
Under current law, the person having direct charge of any public or private 
school must drill all pupils in what to do in the case of a fire, tornado, and school 
safety incident. Current law requires that these drills be conducted without previous 
warning. Under this bill, the person having direct charge of the public or private 
school may provide previous warning of any of these drills if he or she determines 
that providing previous warning of the drill is in the best interest of pupils attending 
the school.

The WASB is supportive of this bill based on local control/authority.  This change, which takes into account the best interest of the pupils, may be helpful to school officials in regard to accommodating the needs of students with emotional or other disabilities who may be unsettled by these drills.

 

Assembly Bill 67 Relating to: information on the school district and school accountability report.

By Representatives Kitchens, Thiesfeldt, Duchow, Hebl, Myers, Novak, Pope, Ramthun, Skowronski, Steffen and Vruwink; cosponsored by Senators Kooyenga, L. Taylor, Cowles and Olsen.

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill requires the Department of Public Instruction to include in the annual 
school district and school accountability report, commonly referred to as school and 
school district report cards, the percentage of pupils participating in music, dance, 
drama, and visual arts. Under the bill, DPI must include this information for each 
high school and school district and must also include the statewide percentage of 
pupils participating in each subject. The bill specifies that this information may not 
be used to evaluate a school’s performance or school district’s improvement.

The WASB has not taken a position on this bill, but has a number of concerns with it, including that it would likely require additional data gathering and reporting by schools as well as modifications to student information systems.

  • Schools are already required to report to the DPI on various measures of student participation as part of the statutorily required school performance reports, which are not the same as school report cards.  (For example, for purposes of the school performance reports, schools are required to report on the percentage of pupils participating in extracurricular and community activities and advanced placement courses; the percentage of graduates enrolled in postsecondary educational programs; and percentage of graduates entering the workforce.) Reporting on participation in the “subjects” listed in the bill is not currently required.
  • Because the bill refers to students participating in “subjects”, the bill’s mandate appears to refer to academic classes or courses.  Under the bill, if a school does not offer a drama class, but offers opportunities for students to participate in drama productions as extracurricular or co-curricular activities, it is not clear whether the school could count this as “participation” on its school report card.
  • It is not clear how the bill would apply to elementary grades where all students typically participate in art and music classes or whether any valuable information about “participation” at those grade levels would be generated by the reporting required by the bill.

 

Assembly Bill 110 Relating to:  developing a guidebook related to dyslexia and related conditions.

By Joint Legislative Council.

Joint Legislative Council prefatory note: This bill was prepared for the Joint Legislative Council’s Study Committee on Identification and Management of Dyslexia.
Testimony before the committee indicated that parents, teachers, and administrators assisting students with dyslexia and related conditions may have difficulty finding information and resources related to dyslexia and related conditions. At its second meeting, the committee heard testimony from representatives from the Minnesota Department of Education, who created a guidebook as a resource for parents and teachers of students with dyslexia in navigating the school system. The committee discussed legislation relating to the creation of a guidebook in Wisconsin and instructed the Legislative Council to have this bill drafted.
This bill requires the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to develop a guidebook for parents, guardians, teachers, and administrators regarding dyslexia and related conditions. To develop the guidebook, the state superintendent of public instruction must establish an advisory committee, whose membership shall be determined in consultation with the International Dyslexia Association—Wisconsin Branch, Inc. (IDA), and the Wisconsin State Reading Association, Inc. (WSRA). Representatives from IDA and WSRA also serve as co-
chairpersons on the advisory committee.
The advisory committee must submit to DPI a draft guidebook containing at least all of the following information: (1) a description of screening processes and tools available to identify dyslexia and related conditions, (2) a description of interventions and instructional strategies that have been shown to improve academic performance of pupils with dyslexia and related conditions, and (3) a description of resources and services related to dyslexia and related conditions that are available to pupils with dyslexia and related conditions, parents and guardians of such pupils, and educators.
The advisory committee must submit its draft guidebook to DPI within one year of appointment of all members of the advisory committee. DPI must publish the final guidebook within three months after it receives the draft guidebook from the advisory committee. Any school board that maintains an Internet site must include a link to the guidebook on its Internet site. Finally, DPI must review the guidebook once every three years, in consultation with IDA and WSRA.

 

Note: Assembly Bill 110 was amended in the Assembly to provide that individuals with certain financial interests may not be appointed to the advisory committee.  Under the amendment, the International Dyslexia Association – Wisconsin Branch, Inc. and the Wisconsin State Reading Association, Inc., cannot submit for appointment the name of any individual who has a financial interest in an entity that develops, sells, or markets a product: (a) for screening risk factors for reading difficulties; (b) to assess reading ability; (c) specifically intended to be used to teach reading; or (d) to treat reading difficulties. The organizations are also prohibited from submitting the name of any individual who received income from any entity to provide training on one of the described products if the training occurred within the preceding 12 months. The amendment also prohibits the state superintendent from appointing an individual with the specified financial interests to the advisory committee, unless the disqualification applies solely because of the individual’s employment at DPI.

The WASB has not taken a specific position on this bill but did sign onto a joint letter with other K-12 public education lobbying groups outlining some concerns with the bill.