And we’re off…..two education-related bills are already scheduled for public hearing: one this Wednesday, one on the following Wednesday. Details of where and exactly when are at the end of this post. The bill giving sovereign immunity to all education officials acting in an official capacity (with limited exceptions) is up for discussion first. Next week, a bill ensuring children with diabetes are cared for at school according to a well-defined standard will be on the public hearing docket.
HB64 provides for “sovereign immunity” for all state employees in their official capacity. There are three versions of this bill: HB64, HB17, and SB55. The ALSDE’s legislative tracking page explains it as simply as can be:
This bill would specify in statute that an officer, employee, or agent of the state, including any employee of the State Board of Education or any local board of education, in his or her official capacity is immune from liability in any suit pursuant to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901. This bill would also specify in statute that an officer, employee, or agent of the state, including any employee of the State Board of Education or any local board of education, is not personally liable for any act that is incident to or within the scope of the duties of the person’s position of employment with, or relationship to, the state and that involves the exercise of judgment or discretion on the part of the officer, employee, or agent, unless he or she acts willfully, maliciously, fraudulently, in bad faith, or beyond his or her authority.
You have to wonder if this has anything to do with the law enacted last year that set up a liability insurance program for education employees. That move was said by some to be a way to further usurp power from the Alabama Education Association (AEA) who provided liability insurance to its members as a benefit of membership. Could it be that the state took over the liability insurance program and in order to keep from actually spending any money, decided to make teachers and other education employees immune to a liability lawsuit? Makes good business sense. Let’s hope it makes good sense for the 740,000 children in our schools.
It should be stated that in addition to liability insurance, AEA membership benefits include legal representation to its members in cases of wrongful termination or other employment-related issues. The state’s program does not offer that type of coverage.
The second bill up for public hearing is SB57, a bill that would provide for training for public and private school personnel to aid children with diabetes with health and medication management and injections. It provides for at least three trained employees in each school, except when a school nurse is employed in the school, in which case only two personnel need to be trained. Volunteers can be trained as well.
It lays out detailed requirements for what training must cover, and restricts schools from keeping children from attending a school because the child has diabetes.
In addition, there is a reporting requirement in Section 9:
Each local board of education shall provide a report to the Department of Education annually on or before October 15 concerning compliance with this act. The report shall state how many students with diabetes are attending schools in each public school district and provide documentation regarding the compliance of the district with this act. The Department of Education shall determine the format of the report and the criteria for documentation, and publish each report on its website by November 15 of each year.
The bill provides for immunity for trained personnel and volunteers assisting with medical management of a child’s diabetes, and gives full permission for families to pursue legal remedies if a school or district fails to comply with the provisions of the act.
Here is an article from the American Diabetes Association web site regarding a research study conducted through surveying Alabama parents about how their children with diabetes were cared for at school. From the article:
Looking at 170 parents’ responses from all eight state school districts in Alabama, Skelley found that “across the board,” minority students were less likely to be allowed to check their own blood glucose. That means their studies were disrupted more frequently by trips to the school nurse’s office or the bathroom than their white classmates’ were. This was especially true in Alabama’s District 5, which serves mostly rural and low-income families.
Looking forward to hearing more about this advocacy effort on behalf of children with diabetes in Alabama’s public schools.
(Pssst: in the bill, on page 4, line 4 the word “charter” is among the types of schools to whom this bill would apply. Foreshadowing. anyone?)
This table will be compiled during the session to determine which bills end up being called for public hearing.
|Bill||Short Description||Date||Place and Time|
|HB281||Religious expression in schools, authorized, Alabama Student Religious Liberties Act||02/12||House, Room 418, 2:00 p.m.|
|HB318||This bill provides for a period of time in the public schools for studying the formal procedures of the United States Congress including the verbatim reading of a congressional opening prayer.||02/12||House, Room 418, 2:00 p.m.|
|SB38||Related to private, nonpublic and church schools: State Department of Education cannot regulate, public 2-year and 4-year institutions may not deny admittance to students who attended, State Department of Education may not deny certification to person employed by private, nonpublic or church school, Secs. 16-1-11, 16-28-7, 16-46-1 to 16-46-10, inclusive, am'd.||02/12||House, Room 418, 2:00 p.m.|
|HB64||Sovereign immunity, immunity for officers, employees, agents of the state, including certain employees of local school boards and State Board of Education, codified, except when unless he or she acts willfully, maliciously, fraudulently, in bad faith, or beyond his or her authority.||02/12||Senate, Room 325, 1:00 p.m.|
|SB191||Alabama Open Meetings Act, prohibit serial meetings, to clarify Open Meetings Act applies to meeting of the Legislature, committees, or subcommittees of governmental bodies, penalties, Secs. 36-25A-1, 36-25A-2, 36-25A-3, 36-25A-9 am'd.||02/12||Senate, Room 325, 1:00 p.m.|
|HB64||Sovereign immunity, immunity for officers, employees, agents of the state, including certain employees of local school boards and State Board of Education, codified, except when unless he or she acts willfully, maliciously, fraudulently, in bad faith, or beyond his or her authority.||1/15 - CANCELED||CANCELED - House, Room 123, 1:45 p.m.|
|SB57||Diabetes, school students, care by voluntary diabetes care personnel pursuant to care management plan, guidelines by State Department of Public Health and State Education Department, care may include injections by trained personnel||1/22||Senate, Room 304, 12:00 p.m.|
|HB191||School attendance, to prohibit any child who withdraws from public school to attend an accredited online school from being considered a drop-out or non-graduate for determining graduation rates, Sec. 16-28-3 am'd.||1/22||House, Room 418, 1:30 p.m.|
|HB233||Diabetes, school students, care by voluntary diabetes care personnel pursuant to care management plan, guidelines by State Department of Public Health and State Education Department, care may include injections by trained personnel||1/22||House, Joint Briefing Room, 8th floor, 9:00 a.m.|
|SB191||Alabama Open Meetings Act, prohibit serial meetings, to clarify Open Meetings Act applies to meeting of the Legislature, committees, or subcommittees of governmental bodies, penalties, Secs. 36-25A-1, 36-25A-2, 36-25A-3, 36-25A-9 am'd.||1/22||Senate, Room 304, 12 noon|
This table will be permanently housed on the “Public Hearings” page. Every effort will be made to keep this list up-to-date. However, if you really want to make sure you don’t miss a public hearing on a bill in which you are interested, bookmark this page showing when committees are meeting. And be aware that these committee meeting times change without notice. Before you head to Montgomery, make sure the time hasn’t been changed.