House passes bills on suicide prevention, 13th check

The House on Friday gave final passage to several education-related bills, including measures governing teacher-student relationships, preventing suicide in the public schools and allowing the Texas Retirement System to provide a 13th check to retirees under certain conditions.

  • HB 1386 by Garnet Coleman would require the Texas Education Agency to develop a comprehensive suicide prevention program for the public schools. It must include teacher training to recognize the signs and become familiar with intervention strategies.
  • HB 3542 by Larry Gonzales would allow the Teacher Retirement System of Texas to provide a supplemental, or 13th, check to retirees under certain circumstances. A supplemental payment may be made at any time between September 1 and December 31 only if, during the preceding fiscal year, the return on investments exceeds eight percent by an amount sufficient to pay for the supplemental payment.
  • HB 940 by Dawnna Dukes would expand the crime of improper relationship between a school employee and a student to include students enrolled within the district in which the employee works and participants in educational activities sponsored by a school district or private school. The bill was amended on the floor to include a knowledge element to the crime and also provide for an affirmative defense if a prior relationship is proven.
  • HB 359 by Alma Allen would require parents to provide written notification if they don’t want schools to administer corporal punishment to their children.
  • HB 2120 by Doug Miller would increase from one to two the number of retirees appointed by the governor to the board of trustees of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.   
  • HB 3461 by Dee Margo would require adult basic education services to be transferred from the Texas Education Agency to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. It would require the Coordinating Board to develop adult education programs to be provided by public school districts, public junior colleges and universities. 
  • HB 3747 by Ruth Jones McClendon would reduce from seven to three the number of appointments by the governor to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.  It would require two appointees to be nominated and confirmed by the Senate. Members of TRS whose most recent credited service was performed for a public school district would elect two members currently employed by a district and one person who is receiving benefits.
  • HB 677 by Eddie Lucio III would require students needing a physical examination before participating in UIL activities to also have a cognitive linguistic assessment.    
  • HB 3018 by Roland Gutierrez would allow a student to reclaim a pager confiscated by a school district within thirty days in compliance with stated procedure. A district may charge a fee for reclamation of the device. 
  • HB 2365 by Rob Eissler would require the commissioner of education and the commissioner of higher education to co-chair a joint advisory board to adopt policies governing the operations of education research centers, including a process for review and approval of center research involving confidential information.  The bill further states that the joint advisory board shall: (1) establish a schedule of fees to fund the cost of data processing by the Texas Education Agency; (2) develop a plan for establishing access at public institutions of higher education to center research; (3) develop policies to give state agencies acting for a governmental purpose and public entities performing studies authorized by the legislature priority in access to and use of center research; (4) provide for approving a process developed under Section 1.005(l) for reviewing center research proposals and forwarding only proposals of high quality to the joint advisory board; (5) identify, in consultation with each center, the type of data that the Texas Education Agency sends annually to each center without the necessity of a request for that data by a center and a schedule on which the data is sent; and (6) perform other duties as necessary to advise each center.
  • HB 2380 by Mark Shelton provides that a person who is employed in a new professional capacity that requires a different class of certificate from SBEC may be employed on a probationary contract.