Superintendent's Memo #135-11

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

Department of Education

May 13, 2011

TO: Division Superintendents

FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT: Final Legislative Report for the 2011 General Assembly

This memorandum provides information regarding legislation passed by the 2011 session of the Virginia General Assembly that is of interest to school superintendents and division personnel.

The final legislative tracking reports for the 2011 General Assembly are posted on the Department of Education’s Web site at: These reports reflect final action on education-related legislation tracked by the Department of Education. The history of any bill or resolution, all amendments, and the text of the final version are available by clicking on the bill or resolution number in this memo or in the Final Legislative Tracking Reports.

Required Actions

All legislation becomes effective on July 1, 2011, unless otherwise indicated. Any information about actions that may or must be taken by local school boards is included in the summary of each bill. A separate Superintendent’s Memorandum has been sent or will be sent on some of the bills in order to provide more detailed information about them. This has been noted following these bill summaries.

Administrative Issues

HB 1483

Permits a school division that is entirely surrounded by a school division that opens prior to Labor Day to receive a pre-Labor Day opening waiver for good cause shown. Please see Superintendent’s Memorandum No. 098-11 for more information.

HB 1885

Deletes references in the Code to educational programs that have not been funded and do not exist and updates language in other sections to conform to current practices.

HB 2077

Adds the act of excluding students from testing who are required to be assessed to the conditions under which the Board of Education may (i) bring a cause of action, (ii) suspend or revoke an administrative or teaching license, or (iii) initiate or cause to be initiated a review or investigation of any alleged break in security, unauthorized alteration, or improper administration of tests. The bill clarifies that any cause of action brought on behalf of the Board of Education may not be brought against a student enrolled in a public school.

HB 2172
SB 953

Requires the Board of Education to take into account in its guidelines for the Virginia Index of Performance program a school division's increase in enrollments and elective course offerings in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

SB 744

Provides that certain relatives of a school board member in Planning District 3 may be considered for employment if (i) the board member certifies that he had no involvement with the hiring decision and (ii) the superintendent certifies to the remaining members of the governing body in writing that the employment is based upon merit and fitness and the competitive rating of the qualifications of the individual and that no member of the board had any involvement with the hiring decision.  

SB 1038 Allows a child placed in foster care to remain at his original school, if it is determined to be in his best interests. The bill requires the determination to be made in writing by the placing social services agency and the local school division together, and adds the school placement to the foster care plan.

Health and School Safety

HB 1911
SB 946

Authorizes localities to adopt ordinances to allow local school divisions to install and operate video-monitoring systems on school buses in order to detect drivers passing stopped school buses.

HB 2043
SB 769

Provides that a person driving a motor vehicle shall stop his vehicle when approaching, from any direction, any school bus that is stopped on any highway, private road, or school driveway for the purpose of taking on or discharging children, and remain stopped until all the persons are clear of the highway, private road, or school driveway and the bus is put in motion and that failure to do so constitutes reckless driving.  

HB 2066
SB 1185

Expands the prohibition on entry onto school grounds by any adult convicted of a sexually violent offense to include any school bus as defined in § 46.2-100 and any property, public or private, during hours when such property is being used solely by a public or private elementary or secondary school for a school-related or school-sponsored activity. A violation is punishable as a Class 6 felony.

HB 2291

Allows licensed nurse practitioners, in addition to physicians, registered nurses or local health department employees, to immunize public school students and to provide proof of such immunizations. Also, provides that a licensed nurse practitioner may provide written certification that an immunization may be detrimental to a child's health for purposes of compliance with health requirements for public school students, home-instructed children and children exempted or excused from school attendance.  

SB 1094

Requires the Department of Health to develop and administer a random survey of students in public middle and high schools to facilitate planning and implementation of effective programs for substance abuse prevention through collection of information identifying trends in alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use and the assessment of risk and protective factors among youth of the Commonwealth. Provides that a student shall not be required to participate if his parents refuse consent in writing prior to administration of the survey, and requires local school boards to develop policies for the notification of parents of students selected for participation in the survey.

SB 1318 Clarifies that a sex offender is prohibited from entering or being present on school property during school-related or school-sponsored events.
HB 1435 Provides that if a local school board offers an elective course in American Sign Language (ASL), it must grant academic credit for course completion on the same basis as the successful completion of a foreign language course and count course completion in American Sign Language toward the fulfillment of any foreign language requirement for graduation. Additionally, the bill requires public institutions of higher education to count academic credit received for successful completion of American Sign Language courses in a secondary school or higher education institution toward satisfaction of the foreign language entrance requirements. Please see Superintendent’s Memorandum No. 1, dated June 12, 1998, for more information on the Virginia Board of Education’s approval of three years of instruction in ASL for foreign language credit toward an advanced studies diploma.
HB 1493

Provides that where there is a national industry certification for career and technical education instructional personnel or programs for automotive technology, such certification is a mandatory part of the career and technical education program offered by the school division. The bill has a delayed effective date of July 1, 2012.

SB 906 Requires any family life education curriculum offered by a local school division to include the Standards of Learning objectives related to dating violence and the characteristics of abusive relationships to be taught at least once during middle school and at least twice during high school.
Local School Boards and Divisions
HB 1708

Allows for staggered terms for the Pittsylvania County school board beginning with the November 2012 general election upon a majority vote of its members.

HB 2243

Authorizes local school boards to adopt and implement policies permitting electronic records and electronic signatures from any parent, guardian, or other person having control or charge of a child enrolled in the relevant school division.

HB 2439 Requires school boards in Planning District 8 to make the 90-minute parent/student driver education component available to all students and their parents or guardians who are in compliance with the compulsory school attendance statute.

Special Education

HB 1679
SB 1171

Authorizes the State Executive Council for Comprehensive Services for At-Risk Youth and Families to deny funding to a locality if services are not provided in compliance with applicable state law or policy or federal law. This bill also establishes timelines for development of policies governing denial of funding by the State Executive Council, and provides that the provisions of this act shall apply to services provided on or after July 1, 2011. This bill contains an emergency clause making it effective from its passage.

HB 2467
SB 1062

Requires health insurers, health care subscription plans, and health maintenance organizations to provide coverage for the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and treatment for ASD in individuals from age two to six, subject to an annual maximum benefit of $35,000 of coverage for applied behavior analysis. Treatment for ASD includes applied behavior analysis when provided or supervised by a board certified behavior analyst, who shall be licensed by the Board of Medicine, and the prescribing practitioner is independent of the provider of the applied behavior analysis. The mandate to provide coverage will not apply to individual or small group policies, contracts, or plans. The mandate will apply to the state employees' health insurance plan and to the local choice health program.  This measure will not apply to an insurer, corporation, or health maintenance organization, or to government employee programs, if the costs associated with coverage exceed one percent of premiums charged over the experience period.

SB 1269 Creates the Autism Advisory Council as an advisory council in the legislative branch of state government to promote coordination of services and resources among agencies involved in the delivery of services to Virginians with autism spectrum disorders and to increase public awareness of such services and resources. The Council will expire on July 1, 2014.

Standards of Accreditation

HB 1554
SB 810

Provides for the delayed implementation of statutes and regulations upon which the accreditation of schools in the Commonwealth is based that were not already in effect on June 30, 2008 until July 1, 2012, unless such statutes or regulations are also specifically required by federal code, federal regulation, or court action.

Exceptions to this delay are:  1) the graduation and completion index currently in effect; 2) the economics and financial literacy graduation requirement for the Standard and Advanced Studies diplomas beginning in the 2011-2012 school year; and 3) increases and changes to the credit requirements for the Advanced Studies Diploma and changes to the credit requirements for the Standard Diploma beginning in the 2011-2012 school year. Please see Superintendent’s Memorandum No. 112-11 for additional information.    

HB 1793

Allows local school boards to award the Seal for Excellence in Civics Education to a student receiving a modified standard diploma.

HB 2494

Provides that any school board, on behalf of one or more of its schools, may request from the Board of Education releases from state regulations and approval of an individual School Accreditation Plan.

Standards of Quality

HB 1792
SB 1270

The legislation codifies flexibility already in the Appropriation Act to permit school divisions to use existing sources of funds for data coordinators, reading specialists, mathematics specialists, and additional instruction for English language learners. The legislation also provides school divisions with flexibility in the deployment of principals.

A separate Superintendent’s Memorandum will be issued regarding this change to the Standards of Quality.

I hope this information will assist you in planning and implementing the state legislative changes with your schoo boards. Technical assistance to implement the new legislative responsibilities is available from the Department of Education.

Please do not hesitate to contact the office of policy and communications by telephone at (804)225-2403, or by electronic mail at, if you need additional information or have questions about these bills.