The Senate was adjourned Monday for the long Easter weekend, but the House was in session, and its committees met as usual. The House Select Committee on Youth Health and Safety heard several education-related bills, including:
- HB 3898 by Rep. Mando Martinez creates a pilot program in districts in South Texas to establish a life skills counselor program at high school campuses to address students’ mental health concerns, provide coping skills, counsel those who have committed a violent crime or who have a mental health condition, etc.
- HB 2725 by Rep. Gary VanDeaver is one of several bills this session designed to address truancy concerns through measures including increased fines. The bill drew opposition from individuals and groups concerns about the financial impacts of increasing penalties on families.
- HB 3931 by Rep. Harold Dutton is another truancy bill that increases fines, but also includes provisions requiring districts to apply truancy prevention measures for at least a semester before the student is referred to truancy court.
- HB 3867 by Rep. John Bucy would provide that school districts must conduct mental and physical screenings to assess the well-being of a student receiving special education services after an incident in which the student was restrained.
- HB 3833 by Rep. Janie Lopez includes a provision in the statute addressing counselors’ duties to include that they must counsel students to fully develop emotional abilities and address the needs of students at risk of engaging in harmful in inappropriate behavior in response to personal or academic problems.
- HB 4777 by Rep. Mihaela Plesa provides that the model training curriculum for school district peace officers and SROs must include information about the effects of mental health conditions (including grief and trauma) on student behavior.
- HB 2673 by Rep. Lacey Hull requires TEA to adopt standards for permissible electronic devices and software used by schools. Among the considerations to be included in the standards: minimize data collection on students, include parental consent for their child’s use of software, disallow mental health assessments without parental consent, consider appropriate restrictions to social media access, and more.
- HB 3654 by Rep. Yvonne Davis requires an administrator to suspend a student who assaults an employee or is otherwise intentionally violent and threatens someone as a result of their employment with the school district; also provides that current law limiting suspension to no more than three days does not apply in this circumstance.
All bills were left pending (as is the norm for House committees; votes are often taken at least a week after the hearing).