Quick summary: Senate Bill 1286 (Sen. Langerholc, R-Cambria) would establish a program that would allow public schools to apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) for a waiver of many state-imposed mandates if the school can show that its instructional program will improve or the school will operate in a more effective, efficient, or economical manner. Certain laws and regulations would not be waivable, such as those relating to student safety, academic standards and assessments, special education, protected handicapped students, gifted education, student attendance, professional educator conduct standards, among others. PSBA worked with Senator Langerholc to draft the proposal and thanks him for his efforts to move this issue forward.
Status: Introduced on September 8, 2020 and referred to the Senate Education Committee
Provisions of Senate Bill 1286
Senate Bill 1286 adds a new section to the Public School Code, Section 129, called Mandate Waiver Program. The program would be available to school districts, career and technical schools, intermediate units and charter schools, cyber charter schools and regional charter schools. The bill would become effective in 60 days after it is signed into law.
Applying for a waiver: The governing body of the school entity may adopt a resolution to apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) for a waiver of one or more state-imposed mandates permitted to be waived under this section. The waiver application must be submitted on a form established by PDE and will require applicants to:
(1) Specify the provisions of this act, regulations of the State Board, standards of the secretary or policies or guidance of the department for which the applicant is seeking a waiver.
(2) Include the reasons why the waiver is being requested.
(3) Provide supporting data or information to explain the benefits expected to be obtained as a result of the waiver.
Applications must be adopted by a resolution of a governing body at a regularly scheduled meeting of the governing body. Approval from the department shall be required prior to implementing the waiver.
Consideration of application: In considering each waiver application, PDE may not impose any additional requirements on the applicant. The department shall approve any waiver application that complies with the application process, provides all of the required information and does not conflict with a provision of federal law or regulation, or any other law or regulation that is not permitted to be waived under this section.
The department has 30 days from receipt of the waiver application to issue a written approval, disapproval or request modifications to the application. If the department fails to act within that time period, the waiver application shall be deemed to be approved. If PDE requests modification to or disapproves the application, the specific reasons for the department's request or disapproval shall be transmitted to the applicant.
Denial of application: If PDE denies an application, the response to the applicant shall include an explanation of any provision of law, regulation of the State Board, standard of the secretary or policies or guidance of the department that is not subject to waiver under this section and would be violated if the application were granted. The waiver applicant may submit a revised application.
Appeal of a disapproval: A waiver applicant may appeal a disapproval to the secretary pursuant to 2 Pa.C.S. Chs. 5 (relating to practice and procedure) and 7 (relating to judicial review). A waiver applicant shall not be required to revise and resubmit the waiver application prior to appealing a disapproval.
Duration of the waiver: A waiver shall remain in effect permanently unless rescinded by the governing body or found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be in violation of the required application process.
Public listing of waiver applications approved: PDE shall maintain and annually update a listing of all approved waiver applications on its website. The listing shall include the name of the school entity and the provisions of law, regulation, standard of the secretary or policies or guidance of the department for which waivers were granted.
Collective bargaining agreements: Nothing in this legislation shall be construed to supersede or preempt any provisions of a collective bargaining agreement in effect on the effective date of this subsection.
Nonwaivable provisions: The following provisions may not be waived
Non-waivable sections of the School Code:
108, Religious or Political Tests Prohibited
110, Official Visitor (Gov. Officials) Access to Public Schools
111, Employee Criminal History/Background Checks
111.1, Employment History Review
321, Compensation of Board Members Prohibited; Oath of Office
322, Board Member Eligibility
323, Board Member Ineligibility
324, Board Members Not Employed by or do Business with District
325, Offering Bribes
326, Receiving Bribes
327, Demanding Gratuities from Employees
328, School Director Training Program
431, Board Secretary Bond
436, Board Treasurer Bond
437, Audit of Accounts
440.1, Investment of School District Funds
443, Penalty for Embezzlement
513, Group Insurance Contracts
518, Retention of Records
527, Drug Law Convictions
701.1, Referendum or Hearing Prior to Construction
708, Abandonment of Property
740, Water-closets or Out-houses
741, Substrata Evaluation
752, Contracts to Require Competent Workmen
753, Stipulations for Minimum Wages
771, U.S. Flag Display
776, School Property Exempt from Taxation
785, Failure to Pay Rent or Make Payments; Withholding Appropriation
808, District Employees as Agent for Book/Supply Seller
809, Giving or Offering Bribes; Penalty
810, Seeking/Receiving Bribes
1073, Superintendent Appointments
1073.1, Superintendent Performance Review
1076, Assistant Superintendent Appointments
1077, Term and Salary of Assistant Superintendents
1080, Removal of Superintendents
1302, Right to Free School Privileges
1303, Immunizations Required
1310, Assignment of Students to Schools
1310.1, Classroom Placement of Twins
1317, Authority over Students
1317.1, Possession of Pagers Prohibited
1317.2, Possession of Weapons Prohibited
1318, Suspension and Expulsion of Students
1327, Compulsory School Attendance
1327.1, Home Education Programs
1327.2, Attendance Policy at Charter, Regional Charter and Cyber Charter Schools
1330, Exceptions to Compulsory Attendance
1332, Reports of Enrollments
1361, Transportation of Students
1366, Computation of Transportation Distances
1501, Minimum Number of School Days
1502, Days Schools not to be Open
1513, Physiology and Hygiene
1517, Emergency Drills
1518, Fire Danger Instruction
1521, Prohibition on Enrollment Discrimination Based on Race
1523, Student Right to Refuse Animal Dissection
1526, Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention
1546, Release of Students for Religious Instruction
1547, Drug Abuse Prevention Program provisions prohibiting discrimination;
Non-waivable Articles from School Code:
VI, School Finances
VI-A, School District Financial Recovery
IX-A, Intermediate Units
XI, Professional Employees
XI-A, Collective Bargaining
XII, Certification of Teachers
XIII-A, Safe Schools
XIII-B, School Safety and Security
XIII-C, School Security
XIII-D, Safe2Say Something
XIII-E, Threat Assessment
XIV, School Health Services
XVII-A, Charter Schools
XVIII, Career and Technical Education
Non-waivable state education regulations under 22 Pa. Code:
Chapter 4 (academic standards and assessment)
Chapter 10 (safe schools)
Chapter 11 (pupil attendance)
Chapter 12 (students)
Chapter 14 (special education)
Chapter 15 (protected handicapped students)
Chapter 16 (special education for gifted students)
Chapter 17 (intermediate units)
Chapter 235 (Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators)
Chapter 339 (vocational education)