Legislative Watch – July 2, 2024

On Wednesday, June 26, 2024, the Ohio House, and Ohio Senate held their final session days before the General Assembly’s summer recess. Both chambers are likely not to return until Lame Duck session after the November 5, 2024, General Election, for session days in late November and December prior to the end of the 135th General Assembly. While the Ohio House has yet to set dates for later this calendar year, the Ohio Senate has released its session calendar for the remainder of 2024, scheduling dates in late November through December. To review the General Assembly Session Calendar, please click here.

Senate Bill 83 Stalls Out Before Legislative Recess

Thanks to OEA members and our higher education and labor partners, we were able to defeat an attempt by a small group of legislators to bring Senate Bill 83 to the floor for a full House vote. This has effectively buried Senate Bill 83 until later this year when the Ohio General Assembly returns from legislative recess in November.

The bill’s sponsor, Senator Jerry Cirino (R-Kirtland), stated his refusal to engage in interested party meetings or discuss the issue with Speaker Stephens over the summer. He even stated that he will introduce a worse version of the bill next general assembly if SB 83 doesn’t pass by years end.

In its current version, SB 83 eliminates collective bargaining rights of higher education faculty members to bargain over certain working conditions. This includes prohibiting bargaining over faculty evaluations, tenure, and retrenchment (the process of reduction in force). The bill represents the largest attack on collective bargaining rights since Senate Bill 5 in 2011.

Additionally, SB 83 contains language that micromanages higher education classrooms and threatens academic freedoms on Ohio’s public university and college campuses. OEA believes that these policies are best developed locally by faculty and administration determining the systems that work best for their campuses and not top-down state mandates.

If you have not yet sent your legislators a letter urging them to oppose SB 83, please click here to do so.

Take Action to Stop Teacher License Fee Increase

The Ohio Education Association (OEA) is deeply disappointed in the Ohio Senate majority’s inaction in addressing the State Board of Education funding gap. By not concurring with the House’s changes to Senate Bill 117, which would have provided $4.66 million to the State Board, the Senate majority’s inaction only increases the potential for teacher licensure fee increases—up to 75 percent—and cuts to an already hamstrung State Board staff.

Now that the Senate majority has closed the door on a legislative fix, OEA calls upon Governor DeWine and a bipartisan set of lawmakers from the Ohio General Assembly to ensure that the State Board receives the funding it needs at the next Controlling Board meeting on July 8.

TAKE ACTION by contacting Governor DeWine to ask that he support Controlling Board action on July 8th to fund the State Board of Education and prevent teacher licensure fee increases.

Fully funding the State Board means that the Board can support the Resident Educator program, ensure the safety and well-being of students by conducting comprehensive, necessary background checks in a timely manner, help address educator recruitment and retention, and ensure timely completion of misconduct investigations so educator rights are protected without increasing licensure fees on teachers.

House Bill 214 – Professional Conduct Policies

The Ohio House and Senate have both passed House Bill (HB) 214 (R-Adam Holmes). OEA opposes HB 214 and has requested that Governor DeWine veto the legislation. HB 214 requires public schools to adopt a policy against using statements of commitment to or soliciting or requiring specified individuals to affirmatively ascribe to specific beliefs, affiliations, ideals, or principles concerning political movements, or ideology.

HB 214 was amended to include SB 49 (R-Michele Reynolds), which requires each public school to adopt a policy that reasonably accommodates the sincerely held religious beliefs and practices of students, which includes three excused absences for religious expression days.

Senate Bill 104 – Transgender Bathroom Restrictions Amended into CCP Bill

The Ohio House passed Senate Bill (SB) 104, a college credit plus bill, after amending the bill to include the transgender bathroom restrictions in House Bill (HB) 183 (R-Beth Lear). The Ohio Senate failed to read the message on SB 104 from the House, meaning that it took no action on the House changes to SB 104 before going on summer recess. OEA is opposed to HB 183 and has informed both chambers that any vote on HB 183 is a scorecard vote.

The HB 183 language included in SB 104 requires public and private PK-12 schools, educational service centers (ESCs), and institutions of higher education to designate specified facilities for the exclusive use of students of either the male biological sex or the female biological sex. The bill also prohibits public and chartered nonpublic schools and ESCs from permitting members of the female biological sex to share overnight accommodations with members of the male biological sex.

The college credit plus (CCP) provisions include requiring the Chancellor of Higher Education to establish an alternative credentialing process to certify instructors with relevant teaching experience as CCP instructors. The Chancellor must establish the alternative credentialing process within six months of the bill’s effective date. Current law already requires the Chancellor to establish credential requirements to teach under CCP. Generally, according to the Department of Higher Education’s website, accessible at: www.highered.ohio.gov, a teacher must have a master’s degree or a master’s plus graduate semester hours in a discipline to teach a CCP course.

Senate Bill 168 – Various Education Regulation Provisions

The Ohio House and Senate passed a slew of education provisions in Senate Bill (SB) 168, which the Governor is expected to sign. OEA originally was opposed to SB 168 but due to our advocacy, we were able to secure numerous improvements to the bill, including the removal of language that would have eliminated and prohibited seniority rights for non-teaching school employees during a reduction in force. The following highlights major provisions in the bill:

Teacher Evaluations

  • Permits school districts to develop and use their own frameworks for teacher evaluation, instead of using a framework developed by the State Board of Education.

Teacher Licenses

  • Changes the grade band specification for an educator license from grades six through twelve to grades seven through twelve. The pre-kindergarten through eighth grade band remains unchanged by the bill. The bill permits a person who holds a license on or before the bill’s effective date to renew that license with either the grade bands of the prior license or the new bands established under the bill.
  • Specifically permits a professional development committee to grant as credit towards continuing education requirements a professional development training required by statute to an individual seeking to renew any educator license.
  • Requires the State Board of Education to issue an alternative resident educator license to an individual who holds a master’s degree, and passes an exam, in the subject area to be taught. Also requires the holder of an initial license issued under this provision to complete a pedagogical training institute to renew that license. The holder of the license is subject to the same requirements and rights as any other resident educator. This is one of the major changes OEA was able to secure in the final version of SB 168.
  • Senior or lead professional educator – Requires an applicant for a senior professional educator license or lead professional educator license to hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Current law requires applicants to hold at least a master’s degree.

Supplemental Contracts – flex schedules

  • Modifies a contracting requirement related to districts offering. Under current law, a district offering classes for high school credit outside the normal school day is required to enter a supplemental contract with a teacher assigned to teach the classes. The bill exempts districts from this requirement if the teacher voluntarily agrees to a regularly occurring schedule outside of the normal day, the teacher’s total daily hours do not exceed a normal contractual day, and the teacher is otherwise in compliance with applicable requirements of the district’s collective bargaining agreement. This was another major provision OEA was able to secure in the final version of SB 168.

School Counselors

  • Qualifies a teacher or school counselor as “consistently high-performing” if the teacher or counselor receives the highest level of performance rating in their evaluation for at least four of the past five years and meets at least one other requirement.
  • Exempts consistently high-performing school counselors from additional coursework or professional development requirements for licensure renewal.

Student transportation − afterschool time

  • Prohibits the DEW from determining a school district noncompliant with transportation requirements if the school provides school supervised academic services to the affected students promptly after school for no more than 60 minutes after the end of the school day. Requires that any student pickup that occurs more than 60 minutes after the end of the school day be considered noncompliant with school transportation requirements.

Student training at early learning and development programs

  • Requires an institution with an early childhood teacher preparation program to permit a student who is employed by an early learning and development program to complete required student training as a paid employee of that program.

Grow Your Own Teacher and Scholarship Program

  • Expands the types of schools that may participate in, expands scholarship eligibility for, and makes other changes to, the Grow Your Own Teacher Program.
  • Changes a “qualifying school” to a “qualifying school district” and defines “qualifying school district” as a school district, educational service center, charter school, STEM school, chartered nonpublic school, or non-chartered nonpublic school that (1) is identified as “high need” by the Chancellor of Higher Education, (2) has difficulty attracting and retaining classroom teachers who hold a license to teach in a public school, and (3) either employs a scholarship recipient or is the district or school from which the recipient graduated high school.
  • Expands the eligibility for a Grow Your Own Teacher scholarship for aspiring educators (up to $7,500 per academic year for up to four academic years) to (1) any individual who is employed at a qualifying school district or (2) a high school senior who either graduates from a school in which at least 25% of the students are eligible for a free or reduced price lunch or who completes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the year in which the scholarship begins and receives a Student Aid Index of $25,000 or less.

Charter School Accountability

  • Requires the DEW to develop a comprehensive framework for the purpose of determining the performance of community school sponsors.

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