LEGISLATIVE SPOTLIGHT

DelwareCAN Action Fund compiles a list of key legislation that we have identified as having a significant impact on education in the state of Delaware. Below, you can find a list of proposed legislation for the current year that has the most potential to affect our policies and values in a negative or positive way. We will track the votes of legislators as the session progresses, and following the culmination of the session, will assign “scores” to legislators based on their votes. This is done in an effort to be transparent about the policies inherent to DelawareCAN Action’s mission and make clear to legislators that their votes on these issues are of utmost importance.

LEGISLATION WE SUPPORT

HS1 for House Bill 34 (HB34)

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO SCHOOL BOARDS.

House Bill No. 34 requires school boards, including charter schools, to permit public comment on each agenda item presented for a vote at a school board meeting. The public comment period must take place before the school board vote on an agenda item. The school board may reasonably restrict the time, place, and manner of the public comment period. House Substitute No. 1 for House Bill No. 34 makes the following changes: 1. Clarifies that public comment is not required on procedural items on the agenda that require a vote such as a request to approve minutes or enter into executive session; 2. Removes language referring to open meetings; and 3. Makes other non-substantive changes to improve the bill’s clarity.

WHY: DelawareCAN supports this bill in its attempt to provide more transparency during school board meetings and encourage parent and community involvement.
BILL STATUS
Awaits signature from the governor.
  • Previously voted on and released from Senate Education and a full Senate vote.
  • Previously voted on and released from House Education and a full House of Representatives vote.

HS1 for House Bill 33 (HB33)

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO FUNDING FOR PREKINDERGARTEN SPECIAL EDUCATION.

This Act increases funding for preschool children with disabilities who are not counted in either “intensive” or “complex” special education units by revising the current ratio of 12.8 students per unit to 8.4 students per unit for children 3 years of age and older enrolled in a preschool program. This is the same ratio in effect as of July 1, 2023, for K-3 basic special education. The Act also creates a new “preschool 2” unit with a ratio of 7 students per unit. This is to accommodate 2-year-olds with disabilities who are enrolled in school district programs. The Office of Child Care Licensing requires a 1:7 ratio for classrooms that have 2-year-olds in them. The preschool funding change is effective July 1, 2023.

WHY – This act increases the resources allotted to our special education units and allows for more 1:1 connection between children and educators or caregivers.
BILL STATUS
Awaiting a vote on the full House floor.
  • Previously voted on and released from House Education

House Bill 125 (HB125)

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO FREE SCHOOL MEALS.

During the COVID-19 pandemic the U.S. Department of Agriculture eased program restrictions to allow for free breakfast and lunch for all students. With the expiration of U.S. Department of Agriculture waivers on June 30, 2022, Delaware schools participating in the USDA School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program were required to return to pre-pandemic policies as they related to free breakfast and lunch meals. At present some Delaware schools and school districts provide free breakfast and lunch meals for all students because the schools qualify for Community Eligibility Provisions based on the percentage of students from low-income households. These schools are reimbursed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture using a formula. This Act would require all schools to offer all students free breakfast and lunch every school day. The Department would reimburse all schools for all expenses not reimbursed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The amount of reimbursement, by the Department, for each budget year, for each participating school, will be equal to the federal free reimbursable rate multiplied by the total number of eligible meals that the participating school serves during the applicable budget year minus the total amount of reimbursement for eligible meals served that the participating school receives under the School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program. This Act takes effect 30 days after publication in the Register of Regulations of the notice by the Controller General that funds have been appropriated to implement this Act.

WHY – We need to ensure that our schools are caring for the whole child while they are at school and the first step is making sure that they are fed and ready to learn. This bill helps to provide a healthy and nurturing environment for our most vulnerable students.
BILL STATUS
Waiting to be heard in House Education.

House Bill 200 (HB200)

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO SCHOOL-BASED MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES.

This Act establishes a mental health services unit for Delaware high schools. The unit is phased in over 3 years, beginning in FY2024, to arrive at a final ratio of 250 full-time equivalent students grades 9-12 for a full-time school counselor, school social worker, or licensed clinical social worker. Additionally, a unit ratio of 700 full time equivalent students for grades 9-12 for employment of a full-time school psychologist. This Act defines “mental health services” as prevention, response, and coordination services delivered to students in high schools. Mental Health disorders are the most common health problem for school aged youth. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one in five youth are affected by a mental health disorder. Additionally, 50% of lifetime mental illnesses begin by age 14. Untreated mental illness leads to negative outcomes including increased risk of dropout, homelessness, substance abuse, other chronic illnesses, incarceration, and possibly suicide. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, ninety percent of people who have taken their own life have had an underlying mental health condition, and suicides are on the rise. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, suicides are now the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-14. Delaware schools need trained and experienced mental health professionals to provide prevention and support programs and services to students. This bill will lower ratios of students to counselors and increase access to mental health services for high school students. Districts and charters should prioritize the hiring of school counselors who provide mental health services over those who provide career counseling. Conforming changes are also made to code sections dealing with mental health units for elementary and middle school students. This Act also creates a reimbursement program to encourage current school employees to gain certifications or professional licensure in critical need mental health areas.

WHY – Children experiencing mental health issues are at a higher risk for dropout, homelessness, and substance abuse, all of which affect their ability to learn. Creating the most safe and supportive situation possible will help increase student outcomes and future performance.
BILL STATUS
Waiting to be heard in House Education.

House Bill 116 (HB116)

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO ADVANCED PLACEMENT EXAMINATIONS.

This Act requires public institutions of higher learning to grant credit for advanced placement examination scores of 3 or higher. An institution may require a score higher than 3 if the credit is to be used for meeting a course requirement for a particular major or program, provided that the student can receive course credit for that examination in an area outside of the student’s major or program area. The institution must publish its advance placement score policies on its website. This Act takes effect on August 1 following its enactment into law.

WHY – Students that successfully complete an advanced placement course deserve credit for the time and money spent. Requiring institutions to accept a score of 3 encourages more students to take AP courses and continue on to higher education.
BILL STATUS
Waiting for a vote on the full House Floor.

House Bill 4 (HB4)

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES FOR SCHOOL TRAUMA.

This Act is Nolan’s Law. The purpose of this legislation is to provide more behavioral health supports to school districts and charter schools in the aftermath of a school-connected traumatic event, which is defined as the death of any student, educator, administrator, or other building employee of a public school. The Department of Education is charged with developing guidance, best practices, and written resources for schools dealing with a school-connected traumatic event. The Department must consult with behavioral health specialists and school-based mental health professional organizations such as NAMI, Delaware, Delaware Association of School Psychologists, Delaware School Counselors Association, and the School Social Workers Association of Delaware. The Department must finalize these items by January 1, 2024. This legislation also requires the Department to cover the costs of grief counseling offered to students for up to thirty days after a school-connected traumatic event. In an effort to create a more standardized approach for the occurrence of a school-connected traumatic event, this bill charges each school district and charter school to establish a detailed crisis response policy that must meet a minimum number of required policies and procedures. Policies must be adopted by the school district or charter and distributed to the Department of Education by September 1, 2024.

WHY – We cannot expect students to learn if they do not receive necessary services following a tragedy. Moreover, we must do everything to ensure that students feel safe in school following a school-connected traumatic event.
BILL STATUS
Waiting for a vote on the full House Floor.
  • Previously voted on and released from House Education

House Bill 138 (HB138)

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO TEACHER APPRENTICESHIPS.

This Act establishes a Delaware Educator Apprenticeship Program to be developed by the Department of Education. The Department of Education will work with the Department of Labor to create a program that places aspiring teachers in paid positions in schools, while the teacher candidates complete the training and schooling necessary to become a Delaware credentialed teacher. This program will complement the Grow Your Own Educator Program and teacher residency programs to create a low-cost pathway for aspiring teachers to earn their teaching credentials and will address the educator shortage in Delaware. A pilot program will be created for the 2023-24 school year between 1 institute of higher education and 1 district or charter school. The program shall be expanded if interest and funding is available for the 2024-25 school year and thereafter.

WHY – This bill takes a necessary step in addressing the Delaware teacher shortage. It encourages teachers to stay in Delaware schools when beginning their career.
BILL STATUS
Waiting for a vote on the full House Floor.
  • Previously voted on and released from House Education

HS1 for House Bill 66 (HB66)

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO DELAWARE PUBLIC EDUCATION PROFILES.

House Bill No. 66 adds required information to annual reports issued by the Department of Education (Department), currently known as School Performance Data Reports, and which are available on the Department’s website as the Delaware Report Card. Like House Bill No. 66, House Substitute No. 1 for House Bill No. 66 adds the following requirements: 1. That there is a link to these reports on both the home page of the Department’s website and the school choice website. 2. That these reports include a list of career pathways offered at a high school and must continue to include proficiency rates. House Substitute No. 1 for House Bill No. 66 reflects that the Department provides more education-related data than the annual reports required under existing law and that the Department has already made changes to their website in response to House Bill No. 66. The changes the Department has made makes education-related data more user friendly for the public, including links to the reports from more webpages and instructional videos to help people use the data.

WHY – Access to education related data needs to be made as simple as possible to parents and families. This bill moves that important information to the front page of the Department of Education website. However, we regret that the requirement to compare side by side school data has been removed from the original bill language.
BILL STATUS
Waiting for a vote on the full House Floor.
  • Previously voted on and released from House Education

Bill Progress Flow Chart

Bill is introduced

Bill is introduced, assigned a bill number, and assigned to a committee. It has 12 days to be read and voted on in committee.

These are the possible outcomes throughout the process. 
Bill is defeated

The bill is dead for this legislative session.

Tabled for further research

Research is completed and bill comes back to be read and voted on at a later date.

The bill passes a vote but consideration from another committee is required

The process repeats in the new committee with the reading and voting on the bill.

Bill passes and is sent for a full vote of the chamber

A full floor vote of the chamber. Each member of the House or Senate (whichever chamber the bill originated in) votes yes or no on passage of the bill.

Bill is defeated

The bill is dead for this legislative session.

Bill passes and is sent for a full vote of the chamber

A full floor vote of the chamber. Each member of the House or Senate (whichever chamber the bill originated in) votes yes or no on passage of the bill.

Bill is defeated

The bill is dead for this legislative session.

Bill is passed

Process repeats in the other chamber.

Bill is defeated

The bill is dead for this legislative session.

Bill is passed

Process repeats in the other chamber.

COMPLETE

If the bill completes the process in each chamber, the final step is signature by the governor.

Bill is defeated

The bill is dead for this legislative session.

Bill is passed

Process repeats in the other chamber.

COMPLETE

If the bill completes the process in each chamber, the final step is signature by the governor.