MN Senate passes bipartisan education policy bill focused on parental involvement, data privacy, and student safety and well-being

Minnesota Senate Republicans passed a comprehensive education policy billtoday that will increase parental involvement in student discipline, improve students’ data privacy, and upgrade school safety.

“The education reforms passed today strengthen our commitment to the next generation of Minnesotans,” said Sen. Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake). “Getting parents more involved, making discipline more effective, and making schools safer for our kids – these are all priorities that will lead to better educational outcomes for students, but won’t add burdensome new mandates on our schools.”

Specifically, the bill will boost parents’ involvement when children are disciplined for serious offenses. It also encourages schools to find alternative routes to student discipline other than resorting to suspensions or expulsions, which often result in students falling further behind.

The legislation will also make schools safer by requiring school boards to adopt a threat assessment policy, denying teacher’s licenses to people who have committed serious crimes, and providing schools more flexibility in performing emergency drills. The perpetrator in the Parkland Tragedy, as well as other culprits of school violence, have exploited inflexible emergency drill procedures.

Additionally, the bill protects students’ online privacy by forbidding school internet service providers from profiting on student data.

Other highlights include:

  • Prevents students from being “shamed” or their meal withdrawn if their school lunch accounts are underfunded.
  • Allows, and in some cases requires, the new teacher licensing board to not grant or to revoke teacher licenses for certain crimes or inappropriate behavior.
  • Makes members of the new teacher licensure board mandatory reporters and expands the ability of the Minnesota Department of Education to investigate allegations of sexual abuse in schools.
  • Improves student literacy by increasing school efforts to identify cases of dyslexia and enables teachers to be more effective with dyslexic students.
  • Creates Legislative Working Group to address escalating special education costs.
  • Prevents sexual exploitation and trafficking through sexual exploitation prevention and consent instruction.
  • Prevents substance abuse through substance misuse prevention education, including opioids.
  • Permits student absences related to enlistment in the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Encourages school counselors to present armed forces opportunities to students, and allows military recruiters access to schools on the same basis as higher education or prospective employers.
  • Implements recommendations by the Office of the Legislative Auditor to improve High School League (HSL) transparency and student eligibility review procedures.
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