Advocacy Update 3.10.23 – Long House Primary & Secondary Education Hearing, Short Senate Education Hearing, and No House Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education Hearings

House Primary and Secondary Education
This hearing lasted well over two hours – most of which was taken up by proponent testimony for HB 12. This is understandable since HB 12 is the companion bill to the highly contentious SB 1 in the Senate.

HB 8 – Parents’ Bill of Rights
Reps DJ Swearingen and Sara Carruthers

As written, this bill has two main components. First, it would require schools to notify parents when instruction materials will include sexually explicit content. Second, this bill would notify parents of any health concerns provided by school healthcare services in order to reinforce the parents’ right to make decisions surrounding their child. It is important to note that school employees would encourage students to speak with their parents about any health-related matters as long as those conversations would not lead to abuse, abandonment, or neglect.

HB 12 – Rename and revise duties of Department of Education and Workforce
Reps Don Jones and Dave Dobos

This was the 3rd hearing for HB 12. The committee heard proponent testimony from multiple career and technical schools as well as representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Christian Education Network, and the Fordham Institute. Proponent testimony mostly encouraged a change in the organizational structure of the Department of Education and emphasized the need for a stronger career and technical focus in secondary education. Both proponent testimony and subsequent questions were similar to the Senate Education hearing on SB1.

Senate Education

SB 66 – Require schools to transmit student’s records within 5 days
Senator Catherine Ingram

This bill would require schools to transfer a student’s records within five days of transferring schools. Emphasizing the importance of a timely transfer of records for students with IEPs, Senator Ingram outlined just how detrimental the slow release of these transcripts may be to student welfare. Senator Reynolds asked if there would be any punishment to school districts who did not follow these guidelines. Senator Ingram stated that the spirit of the bill is to lead by example and to hopefully educate school districts on these new rules. Punishment for the failure to release the student’s records within five days was not her intent with this bill.

SB 29 – Regards education records and and student data privacy
Senator Stephen Huffman

Gary Daniels with the ACLU provided proponent testimony. Daniels encouraged all Senators to vote in favor of this bill that would “protect the fundamental privacy of public school students across Ohio.” While in favor of this bill, the ACLU would like to see two changes: First, they would encourage amendments to expand this bill to all K-12 schools, not just public. Second, the ACLU encourages student protection from search and seizure of student-owned/private devices by schools.

House Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education

All meetings for this subcommittee were canceled for the week of March 6th.

In other news:
Both former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and former lobbyist and Ohio Republican Party Chair Matt Borges were found guilty of racketeering.

Ohio House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) released the following statement after the guilty verdict was announced:
“Justice was served today, and it now closes this chapter on Ohio’s largest corruption scandal in history. However, the issue of unlimited dark money and pay-to-play bribes being funneled through our political systems undoubtedly remains. We owe it to all Ohioans to rip these roots out permanently so taxpayers are never on the hook like this again, and so the government can regain the trust of the people. In our continued fight against corruption, House Democrats will reintroduce the Ohio Anti-Corruption Act. Now is the time to fix this broken system, close the loopholes, and cut off special interest groups’ reach into our democratic process.”