These bills encompass almost anything else that pertains to school districts, from new charter school rules to elections.
HF 430 - Mandatory Reporters, Complaints Against Practitioners, BOEE Makeup: This bill was a collaborative effort between public and nonpublic schools to keep bad actors out of schools.
It makes any school employee 18 and older a mandatory reporter. If a licensed school employee is making a report on another licensed school employee, the identity of the person making the report will be kept confidential.
It requires the Department of Education to develop a process for reporting and investigating if a school employee is reasonably believed to have engaged in inappropriate behavior with a student. The process prohibits a school district from entering an agreement that:
Would prevent the district from talking about an incident, past performance or actions, or past allegations leading to discipline of a former employee with future employers
Waives liability of an employee’s previous actions or allegations of past wrongdoing
The process will require school districts to:
Provide all information and documentation related to an incident involving an employee licensed by the Board of Educational Examiners (BOEE) to the BOEE if that employee resigns or is terminated during the investigation.
Finish an investigation of an employee not licensed by the BOEE, even if the employee resigns or is terminated during the investigation.
Conduct a review of a potential employee’s employment history by contacting previous employers and checking the BOEE’s public license information to determine if there are any cases pending or licensure sanctions.
Keep reference information on employees and respond to requests for such information from potential employers. Unfounded and closed investigations do not need to be reported. School districts are immune from liability if they don’t knowingly disclose false information. They are also immune from civil liability from discussing an employee’s past incidents, actions, or allegations that led to discipline or resignation.
If a district is found to have not followed the established process, the administrator who did not ensure compliance will be subject to a BOEE hearing. This applies whether or not the employee under investigation is licensed by the BOEE.
If a district intentionally conceals information on a founded incident, they will be subject to a BOEE hearing.
Rules will be developed to require the BOEE to:
Finalize an investigation even if the employee resigns or surrenders their license during the investigation.
Keep all written complaints. Complaints that are unfounded will be kept confidential.
Notify the public if a licensed practitioner is under investigation with a finding of probable cause.
Evaluate complaints that did not result in discipline if similar complaints are filed against the same licensed practitioner.
Investigate an administrator that employs someone under investigation.
The BOEE makeup is changed to include:
Four members of the public, including two parents and one school board member.
Eight licensed practitioners, including three administrators and an employee of a nonpublic school. The rest will be any of the following: elementary teachers, secondary teachers, special education teachers, counselors, or school service personnel.
Department of Education director or their designee.
Before hiring someone who is licensed by the BOEE, districts must check the BOEE’s public license information to ensure there is not a case pending or any licensure sanction.
IASB is registered undecided on the bill after working to ensure the intent of the bill, keeping bad actors out of schools, was achievable for school districts through a defined process. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 48-0 and passed the House by a vote of 92-1. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on May 26, 2023.
HF 553 – Affirmative Defense for Cybersecurity Incidents: This bill lays out the requirements for using an affirmative defense if there’s a cybersecurity breach. A cybersecurity program must provide protection of personal information and evaluate the loss from a data breach. The program must conform to an industry-recognized cybersecurity framework.
IASB is registered undecided on the bill and it passed the House by a vote of 97-0 and the Senate by a vote of 50-0. This bill was signed into law by Governor Reynolds on May 3, 2023.
HF 602 – Suicide Prevention Hotline on Student ID Cards: This bill requires school districts to print the phone and text numbers for Your Life Iowa on student ID cards for students in grades 7-12.
IASB registered in support of this bill. It’s an easy and practical way for students to have access to an important lifeline in a time of crisis. The bill passed the House by a vote of 91-4 and the Senate by a vote of 48-0. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on June 1, 2023.
SF 391 – Governor's Education Flexibility Bill: This bill was proposed by the governor and includes at least two years of world language and CPR training as a graduation requirement and provides a P.E. exemption for students enrolled in a school-sponsored activity. Additionally, the bill:
Eliminates references to the “comprehensive school improvement plan,” but still requires a report to the Department of Education to follow Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Districts must still have a plan for everything that was included in a comprehensive school improvement plan, they just don’t have to compile it into one plan.
Removes requirement for teacher librarians to have a master’s degree and allows a district to hire a librarian who worked for a public library.
Limits virtual instruction to 5 days or 30 hours. Online offerings that are part of the educational program, whether all virtual or not, are exempted.
Eliminates enrollment threshold (600 students) for allowing a community college to teach a course in a district. The community college can teach any course and is no longer limited to math or science courses. The good faith effort requirement to find a licensed teacher for these courses before turning to the community college is removed.
Allows sequential courses to be taught in the same classroom.
The bill clarifies that schools that operate primarily with online instruction will still be allowed and are not subject to the limit of five days or 30 hours. Additionally, the requirements of financial literacy can be met through coursework in different classes and the half credit of personal finance literacy is not required for graduation.
IASB registered in support of this bill because it generally offers school districts additional flexibility. It passed the Senate by a vote of 34-16 and passed the House by a vote of 60-36. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on May 26, 2023.
SF 482 – Prohibiting Entering Restroom that Doesn’t Match Biological Sex: This bill prohibits school districts from allowing a student to use a multiple occupancy restroom, changing room or other facility that does not conform with the student’s biological sex. It does allow a district to make accommodations for any student, for any reason, if the student seeks additional privacy. The parent/guardian must consent to such request. Learn more about SF 482.
IASB is registered opposed to the bill as it creates legal uncertainty for districts and the potential that a district could be sued under either state or federal law. The bill passed the Senate 33-16 and the House 57-39. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on March 22, 2023.
SF 496 – Education Omnibus: This bill was proposed by the governor and includes provisions on school transparency and parental rights.
Division I: Educational Program
Human growth and development instruction must be age appropriate. The health curriculum will remove instruction on AIDS, HPV and the availability of an HPV vaccine.
A district’s library program is designed to “support the student achievement goals of the total school curriculum” and contains only age-appropriate materials, which means materials do not contain descriptions or pictures of a sex act defined in Iowa Code section 702.17. Violations of these provisions by a school district will be met with a warning. Additional violations will require a hearing with the BOEE and may result in disciplinary action for the employee charged with the violation.
Division II: School Responsibilities
Human growth and development instruction will be provided in grades 7-12.
A district cannot give false or misleading information to parents about their student’s gender identity or intention to transition.
If a student requests an accommodation to affirm their gender identity from a licensed practitioner employed by the school district, including to use different pronouns, the teacher must report it to an administrator and the administrator must report it to the student’s parent or guardian.
Districts must receive parental consent before administering an examination or survey on students’ mental, physical, or emotional health. Districts must also provide a copy or link to the survey; however, this doesn’t apply to hearing or vision exams.
Districts must receive written consent from a parent before requiring a student to take survey related to topics like political affiliation, sexual behavior, mental or psychological problems of the student or family members, religious beliefs, or income. Districts must provide parents with information on the survey, including who created it, who sponsors it, how the information is used, and how the information is stored.
Transparency - Districts must publish all the following on their website:
Explanation of the policies in place to allow parents to request removal of materials used in the classroom or library. The identity of the parent who requests the removal must be kept confidential.
Explanation of the policies in place to request a review of the school board’s decisions, including the petition process.
A policy allowing residents of the district and parents/guardians of a student in the district to review instructional materials used in the classroom and a method for parents to request their student not receive certain materials. Each parent must receive a copy of this policy every year.
The district’s library catalog. Districts that don’t already have this capability will have until July 1, 2025 to provide an electronic catalog of their library books.
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Instruction: Districts cannot provide any curriculum, program, survey, material, activity, announcement or materials relating to gender identity or sexual activity to students in grades K-6.
Library Materials Review Committee: School boards will not be allowed to have a student on a reconsideration or review committee for whether library books should be removed.
Intra-District Enrollment: Parents can enroll their student at a different attendance center in their district if they report evidence of peer-to-peer bullying. The evidence of bullying must be on video recorded at the school or directly viewed. For the student to change attendance centers, there must be sufficient classroom space and any necessary special education services available at the new building.
Parental Notice of Injury, Harassment, or Bullying: School district employees may notify parents if the employee saw the student being bullied or harassed. Additionally, school district policy on bullying and harassment must include a procedure for reporting an allegation and include the job title of the school employee responsible for receiving those reports. A school official will be required to notify the parents of a student that may have been the victim of bullying or harassment within 24 hours.
Division III: Private Instruction and Special Education
Students receiving special education services will no longer need the approval of an AEA special education director to be placed under competent private instruction. Parents may request dual enrollment for their children under competent private instruction who require special education services.
Division IV: Parents and Guardians Rights
This section clarifies that parents have the ultimate responsibility for the upbringing of their child, including their education. It doesn’t prohibit medical attention in an emergency care situation, which could result in harm for the child if medical attention isn’t given.
IASB is registered opposed to the bill because it includes provisions that would put districts and boards at risk of legal action for violating the federal interpretation of Title IX and Iowa’s civil rights code. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 34-16 and passed the House by a vote of 57-38. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on May 26, 2023.