The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Report on 2011-2012 Legislation
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
September 14, 2012

The following laws relating to elementary and secondary education have been enacted during the 2011-2012 legislative session. The laws are listed in chronological order of their enactment.

Creation of a financial literacy trust fund
Chapter 14 of the Acts of 2011, approved April 27, 2011, effective April 27, 2011.
The Financial Literacy Trust Fund provides a mechanism for obtaining and disbursing private and public funds for programs to improve financial literacy. The trust fund is administered by the State Treasurer and overseen by a 20 member board of trustees that includes the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Prohibition of discrimination on the basis of gender identity
Chapter 199 of the Acts of 2011, approved November 23, 2011, effective July 1, 2012.
Defines gender identity and amends non-discrimination laws, including those relating to education and employment as well as laws on hate crimes, to include gender identity.

Improving accountability and oversight of education collaboratives
Chapter 43 of the Acts of 2012, approved March 2, 2012, effective June 2, 2012.
Reforms provisions relative to education collaboratives by requiring much more detailed accounting practices, financial audits and other provisions designed to increase oversight, including the authority of the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education to place a collaborative on probationary status; requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) to develop a model collaborative agreement; requires collaboratives formed prior to the effective date of this act to reform their agreements; prohibits the provision of services in collaboratives for students over the age of 22 (but grandfathers in existing students); and establishes a special commission on education collaboratives.

Teacher license endorsement in post-secondary transition services for students with disabilities
Chapter 51 of the Acts of 2012, approved March 9, 2012, effective September 1, 2012.
Directs the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to adopt regulations specifying subject matter knowledge, skills and competencies for the specialist teacher endorsement in transition services. Transition services are a coordinated set of activities to prepare students with disabilities to achieve successful transition to post-school activities. Licensed special educators and rehabilitation counselors are eligible to receive a transition specialist endorsement.

Public school medical emergency response plans
Chapter 77 of the Acts of 2012, approved April 18, 2012, effective April 18, 2012.
Requires all public schools, including charter schools, to have a written medical emergency response plan to reduce the incidence of life-threatening emergencies and promote efficient responses to such emergencies; requires the Department to develop a model plan in conjunction with the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics; requires school districts to file the plans with the Department along with a report on the availability of automated external defibrillators; requires districts to practice, evaluate, and modify or update the plans.

Transfer oversight of private occupational schools to the Division of Professional Licensure
Chapter 106 of the Acts of 2012, approved May 24, 2012, effective August 1, 2012.
Establishes an Office of Private Occupational School Education within the Division of Professional Licensure to assume the responsibilities that had been assigned to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, with the transfer taking place as of August 1, 2012.

Veterans' access, livelihood, opportunity, and resources
Chapter 108 of the Acts of 2012, approved May 31, 2012, May 31, 2012.
Expands opportunities and services for veterans and enacts the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children; requires the Department to provide information and guidance to school districts on responsibilities and procedures for providing education to children of active duty members of the military.

Educator evaluation training in school districts
Chapter 131 of the Acts of 2012, approved June 29, 2012, effective September 2012 for Race to the Top grant recipients and September 2013 for all districts.
Requires districts to provide training for all evaluators and for all teachers and administrators in the new education evaluation system; requires districts to develop and submit plans for funding the training and to publish their evaluation training schedules; directs the Department to encourage districts to use federal and other funds appropriate for this purpose; requires the Department to collect and report evaluation data, working with an advisory committee; and effective 2016, amends laws on layoffs and transfers to make indicators of job performance as evidenced by evaluation primary factors in school staffing decisions.

New Programs Established through the Annual State Budget (General Appropriation Act) for FY2013
Chapter 139 of the Acts of 2012

Professional Development for English Language Acquisition.

  • Initial year of funding for a statewide program to train all Massachusetts teachers in methods of instructing English language learners. In FY13 funds will be used to train approximately 3,000 core academic teachers
  • The Department will create guidance for districts to use to determine which educators must participate in training and will create a schedule for training over a three-year period; create data systems to track participation in training; collaborate with higher education educator preparation programs to create a course of study in sheltered English immersion to qualify teachers for an SEI endorsement by July 2014; and develop an assessment teachers may take to qualify for the SEI teacher endorsement without having to complete a course of study.

Transportation Reimbursement for Homeless Children

  • New appropriation to reimburse transportation costs for homeless pupils transported out of district to prior district of residence.
  • The Department will establish a mechanism for verifying expenses and distributing reimbursement to school districts using FY12 end of year returns; reimbursements to be made in the spring of 2013.

Student Financial Literacy Pilot Program

7061-0928$250,000, Outside section 200.
  • Requires the Department to develop a model course to provide students with financial literacy skills and knowledge and establish a pilot grant program in the 2013 school year in 10 Gateway Cities high schools. The Department will report annually on the pilot and submit a report on program effectiveness on December 31, 2016
  • 11-member advisory committee chaired by Commissioner

Student Discipline and Access to Continued Educational services
Chapter 222 of the Acts of 2012, approved August 6, 2012, effective July 1, 2014.
Requires districts to provide educational services to students who have been suspended or expelled; provides increased procedural protections for students prior to suspension; limits certain types of suspensions to 90 days in a school year; requires districts to formulate a system-wide plan for providing educational services and alternative education programs; requires additional data reporting and analysis of disciplinary suspensions; requires districts to counsel students not to drop out. Also requires the Department to promulgate regulations on disciplinary procedures; provide information and resources on alternative education; prepare an analysis of the cost of implementing alternative education by November 30, 2013; and provide annual reports to the Legislature on school district costs of providing alternative educational services.

CHINS Reform: Creation of a Network of Community Based Human Services Programs for Families and Children
Chapter 240 of the Acts of 2012, approved August 7, 2012, effective August 7, 2015.
Reforms human services statutes, with some provisions that affect K-12 education: requires districts to refer students to a family resource center or a community based service program at the time of notification of expulsion; requires educational services for expelled students; requires the Department to establish requirements for truancy prevention program certification.

After-school and Out-of-School Time Coordinating Council
Chapter 254 of the Acts of 2012, approved August 22, 2012, effective August 22, 2012.
Establishes a 15-member Afterschool and Out-of-School Time Coordinating Council co-chaired by a member of the House and a member of the Senate, to make recommendations to the Departments of Elementary and Secondary Education, Early Education and Care, and Higher Education on model after-school and out-of-school time approaches, as well as on interagency coordination and alignment of programs.