Senate Education Committee Moves House Bill 1332

The Senate Education Committee met last week to consider two bills: HB 1332 requiring that beginning with the 2022-23 school year and thereafter, schools must post all curriculum online and HB 1660 limiting a school district's temporary emergency powers from four years to sixty days as of the 2021-22 school year and thereafter.

On October 18th, the Senate Education Committee met to consider two house bills, the first of which was Representative Andrew Lewis's House Bill 1332. This bill says that as of the 2022-23 school year and thereafter, public schools will be required to post all curriculum (including instructional materials, assessment techniques, and course syllabi) on a publicly accessible website. Public schools must also update this information any time new or revised curriculum is used no later than 30 business days after the new or revised curriculum has been approved.

Representative Lewis provided a brief overview of the bill and noted that many of the school districts already post their curriculum online, but there isn't currently a standard requirement across the Commonwealth.

Minority Chairwoman Lindsey Williams opposed the bill.  While she is in favor of transparency and accountability, she argued that parents already have access to this information and can obtain it from their school boards. Senators Mastriano and Brooks both offered favorable comments about the bill – that it will ‘allow parents to play a greater role in the oversight of what their children are being taught' and that ‘this legislation might help to heal some of the rifts in the Commonwealth and across the country' respectively.

Chairman Scott Martin said ‘government that is transparent usually results in the best outcomes'. He also concurred with Senator Mastriano believing that now more than ever parents have a desire to know what their children are being taught. He also proposed Amendment 02575 to convey that in no case would this bill require a school to violate copyright laws as well as to include a definition of ‘chief school administrator'. This amendment was adopted with all Republicans voting in the affirmative.

The committee voted and so approved House Bill 1332 to move to the larger Senate body for consideration.

The second bill scheduled to be reviewed was Representative Curt Sonney's House Bill 1660. This bill would limit a school district's temporary emergency powers from four years to sixty days as of the 2021-22 school year and thereafter any time an emergency situation results in the inability to provide in-person instruction for five consecutive days.    

House Bill 1660 was passed over by the committee and will be scheduled for consideration at a later date.