Legislative Watch – May 1, 2024

Senate Bill 168: OEA Testifies in Opposition to Proposals That Undermine Quality Education Services

On Tuesday, April 23, 2023, OEA presented opposition testimony to Senate Bill (SB) 168 (sponsored by Senator Andrew Brenner, R-Delaware) before the Ohio House Primary & Secondary Education Committee. The OEA SB 168 testimony focused on opposition to several provisions in the bill that would:

  • Allow employment of non-licensed individuals as classroom teachers if they hold a master’s degree and pass a subject matter exam. OEA opposes cutting corners on teacher preparation. Ohio’s students and taxpayers deserve trained and licensed educators in every classroom. Holding a master’s degree and passing a subject matter exam is not a substitute for the preparation required to obtain a professional educator license.
  • Allows high school courses to be taught outside the normal school day for no additional pay: OEA opposes eliminating a requirement in current law that districts enter into supplemental compensation contracts with teachers assigned to teach high school classes outside the normal school day. Allowing teachers to be assigned more work for less pay is unfair and makes it more difficult to recruit and retain teachers.
  • Prohibits preference for experience/seniority when making non-teacher staff reductions: OEA opposes eliminating current law that requires school districts to give preference based on seniority/experience when reducing nonteaching staff. OEA also opposes new language proposed in SB 168 that would prohibit consideration of seniority/experience as a factor when making reductions.
  • OEA does not oppose a SB 168 proposal to allow districts to opt-out of the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES). However, OEA stated that the determination to use an alternative evaluation framework should be determined locally in collaboration with teachers and adopted through the local collective bargaining process.

OEA asks that members call their State Representatives and urge their opposition to the provisions outlined above. To look up your State Representative, please go to the OEA Legislative Scorecard and enter your address. Click on the “Voting Record” link for your House Representative and you will find their official contact information listed on their profile page.

House Bill 8: So-Called “Parental Rights” Bill Receives Senate Committee Hearing; No Vote Held

On April 23, 2024, the Ohio Senate Education Committee accepted a substitute (new) version of House Bill (HB) 8 for consideration. However, there was no vote on whether to pass the bill out of committee. The substitute version of HB 8 was adopted over the objection of State Senator Vernon Sykes (D-Akron). The changes to the bill, as described in committee, include the following:

  • Requiring school districts to get consent of parents prior to providing any physical, mental, or behavioral health care, as is now law for districts that authorize staff to administer prescription drugs.
  • Requires schools to disclose any health service or care they seek to provide that could be provided outside the school setting, and to notify parents whether that service or care is required by state law.
  • Prohibits any sexuality content from being taught to students in grades K-3.

OEA is opposed to HB 8 and has provided opposition testimony on the bill before the House and Senate committees.

Ohio Senate Amends House Bill 250 to Provide Licensure Grade Band Options; Includes Student Cell Phone Policy Provision

The Ohio Senate Education Committee amended House Bill (HB) 250, jointly sponsored by former State Representative Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park) and State Representative Tracey Richardson (R-Marysville) which amends the statute pertaining to the military enlistment diploma seal, to allow an educator licensed with grade bands under former law (PK-5; 4-9; 7-12) the option to renew their license with the old grade bands or the new grade bands (PK-8; 6-12). As a reminder, House Bill 33-135th General Assembly, amended grade bands from three to two bands. Additionally, the Senate Education Committee amended the bill to require schools to adopt a cell phone policy. Governor DeWine in his recent State of the State address urged action on student cell phone use in Ohio’s schools. The cell phone provision requires the following:

  • The policy should emphasize that student cell phone use be as limited as possible during school hours to reduce telephone-related distractions in classroom settings.
  • Allows students to use cell phones for student learning, as part of a student’s individualized education plan, and to monitor or address a health concern.
  • Explicitly states that these requirements should not be construed to require a district board to adopt a policy that prohibits all cell phone use by students.
  • Grandfathers existing school district board policy that meets the above requirements.
  • District policy shall be made at public hearing and policy shall be posted.
  • Requires DEW to develop model policy but does not require school districts to utilize the model policy.

HB 250 was passed unanimously out of committee and by the full Senate on April 24, 2024, and now goes back to the Ohio House, which will likely concur with Senate changes to the bill and send it to the Governor for his signature or veto.

For an archive of past Legislative Watch releases, visit the Legislative Watch archive.