New Your State School Boards Association

NYS New Laws 2012

Editors Note: Each year prior to NYSSBA’s Annual Business Meeting, we provide readers with a compendium of state legislation passed and signed into law that significantly affects public education. This special section contains such legislation through Chapter 449 of the Laws of 2012 and Veto 147. There are four education bills still awaiting gubernatorial action and they will be re- ported and published in a second volume of New Laws later this year.

Chapter 57 – Enacts into law major components of legislation which are nec- essary to implement the education, labor and family assistance budget. Effec- tive March 30, 2012. Contains the formula for state aid for schools, including:

  • An increase of $805 in general support for public schools. This “year to year” increase includes: $111.5 million in Foundation Aid; $400 million in Gap Elimination Adjustment restoration and a full reimbursement of ex- pense-based aids totaling $239.3 million, as well as significant member item and “bulleted” funding for individual school districts.
  • A provision that no school district is eligible to receive an increase in educa- tion funding for the 2012-13 school year unless the district has submitted documentation, approved by the commissioner of education by Jan. 17, 2013, that demonstrates a full implementation of the new Annual Profes- sional Performance Review (APPR) system (see Chapter 21 of the Laws of 2012).
  • Reallocates $200 million of Performance Grant funding initially appropri- ated for 2012-13 to renewed support for the Foundation formula as well as an increased restoration of the Gap Elimination Adjustment.
  • $50 million is provided in Performance Grant funding in the 2012-13 state fiscal year and an additional $75 million for these grants outside of the Personal Income Growth Index for the 2013-14 state fiscal year. Also, the deadline to award Management Efficiency Grant funding is extended by 120 days and bonus points will be given for full compliance with APPR by Sept. 1, 2012.

Other notable provisions include an omission – the Legislature did not act on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to shift pre-school special education (4410) costs to school districts from the state and counties, and shifting the cost of hearings and hearing officers pursuant to section 3020-a from the state to school districts. In addition:

  • Amendments to the 3020-a process provided for in this law: (1) require that the school district and employee notify the commissioner of education of their selection of a hearing officer within 15 days from receiving the list from the commissioner, (2) require all evidence for a 3020-a hearing be sub- mitted by all parties within 125 days of the filing of charges, (3) authorize the commissioner to remove hearing officers from the list of potential arbi- trators for failure to comply with statutory timeliness, (4) provide a statute of limitations for hearing officers to submit claims for payment and (5) author- ize the commissioner to set maximum rates of compensation for hearing of- ficers and to limit the number of study hours that may be claimed.
  • Building aid eligibility is restored for school districts in cases where the final cost reporting deadline is missed and payment is provided through the prior year claims process starting in 2013-14. The law also provides a waiver pro- vision to allow greater flexibility for school districts to begin to receive state aid on large building projects.
  • Provision is made for school districts to receive transportation aid even when an inadvertent or minor error has occurred in the contract process, provided that districts submit corrected information by Dec. 31, 2012.
  • This law extends the authorization for school districts to award contracts for transportation of pupils pursuant to a request for proposal process for five years. The law does not include the governor’s proposal to purchase school buses from a centralized state contract in order to receive state aid.
  • The law provides authorization for school districts to use excess Employee Benefit Accrued Liability Reserve (EBALR) funds to maintain educational programming in the 2012-13 school year.
  • Students, under this law, will now be automatically enrolled in the free lunch meals program when the student’s parents or guardians receive government food assistance.
  • A number of one-year extenders were enacted. These involve: Teachers of Tomorrow; special education class size provisions; conditional hiring and appointment of employees while background checks are being performed; school bus driver training grants and Rochester City School District’s author- ity to purchase certain health services from BOCES.

Chapter 53 Enacts into law the appropriated dollar amounts to be spent ac- cording to the authorization provided in Chapter 57 of the Laws of 2012 (state budget). In addition, specific “bullet aid” to individual school districts is pro- vided. Effective April 11, 2012.

Apportionment Of State Aid
Chapter 139 – Provides that school aid shall not be reduced if a school is closed due to extraordinary circumstances, emergency or disaster.

Just before the start of the 2011-12 school year, both Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee devastated areas of upstate New York, preventing some schools from opening on time. Major repairs were required and transportation routes were closed for weeks due to both local states of emergency and dam- age. As a result, many school districts were unable to meet their minimum re- quirement for instructional days for the year.

This law requires the commissioner of education to hold school districts finan- cially harmless if a school has lost up to 10 days of instruction and is unable to be in session for the state-mandated 180 days due to duly declared states of emergency, adverse weather conditions, insufficient water supply, as well as other disasters. In order for these districts to be entitled to their apportionment of state aid for the year, the district superintendent must certify that the district is unable to make up the missed days of instruction. This law applies to the 2011-12 school year and became effective July 18, 2012.

Chapter 18 Creates public retirement Tier VI. Recognizing that within five years the state will have a structural budget gap of $20 billion, the creation of Tier VI is the first substantive effort to alter the systemic costs of public edu- cation. As with any change to a system designed to pay employees at the end of a prospective career, school districts will have to wait years for the savings to accumulate. Yet, as new employees are hired and become a higher percent- age of the school workforce, school district costs are projected over time to decline by an estimated $40 billion, with more than half of pension costs to be borne by the employee. Effective April 1, 2012.

Chapter 21 – Amends the Education Law on Annual Professional Perform- ance Review (APPR), of classroom teachers and building principals for public schools including BOCES. The law went into effect March 27, 2012, except a portion involving a new teacher evaluation appeals process for teachers in New York City, which is effective Jan. 16, 2013. Also, a component of APPR in the enacted state budget gives school districts until Jan. 17, 2013 to obtain approval of its APPR plan from the State Education Department. If a school district fails to obtain such approval, it will have its state aid increase for the next year cut.

Chapter 68 – Provides for the public disclosure of the final APPR evaluation quality ratings and further instructs the State Education Department to con- duct a report based on the evaluations annually. Effective July 1, 2012.

Chapter 27 – Authorizes superintendent of the Syracuse City School District to appoint associate and assistant superintendents and other supervisory staff who are excluded from the right to collectively bargain in the same manner as the city school districts of Buffalo and Rochester. Such appointments must be within the budgeted amounts approved by the board of education. Effective April 27, 2012.

Chapter 275 – Allows principals in New York City to apply for a leaves of ab- sence to teach at a charter school. Under prior law, only teachers were author- ized to take leaves of absence of up to three years to work in charter schools. The law provides that approval shall not be unreasonably withheld by the New York City School District. Effective Aug. 1, 2012.

Chapter 289 – Extends for five years a law that enables immigrants who law- fully have become permanent residents of the United States to receive perma- nent certification as a teacher if they meet all other qualifications. This law, which took effect Aug. 1, 2012, is an extension of Chapter 658 of the Laws of 2002 and will remain in effect until Nov. 30, 2017.

Chapter 102 – Prohibits cyberbullying of public school students. This law, which takes effect July 1, 2013, amends Chapter 482 of the Laws of 2010, also known as the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), which became effective July 1, 2012. This law expressly prohibits cyberbullying that creates or would foreseeably create a risk of substantial disruptions within the school environment.

Additionally, the law expands on DASA by requiring schools to:

  • Identify an administrator or designee to receive harassment, bullying and discrimination reports (identified in state regulations as the Dignity Act Coordinator).
  • Require school employees to make oral reports about alleged bullying within one school day and file written reports within two days of the oral reports.
  • Provide thorough and prompt investigations of all reports of harassment, bul- lying and discrimination.
  • Take prompt and reasonable actions that are reasonably calculated to end the harassment, bullying or discrimination, eliminate any hostile environ- ment, create a more positive school culture and climate, prevent recurrence of the behavior, and ensure the safety of the targeted student.
  • Make reports on harassment, bullying and discrimination data kept by the superintendent.
  • Promptly notify appropriate local law enforcement when administrators be- lieve that the conduct constitutes criminal conduct.
  • Annually transmit written or electronic district policies on bullying to school employees, students and parents. Maintain bullying policies on the district website.
  • Create guidelines on measured, balanced and age-appropriate responses to harassment, bullying or discrimination by students following a progressive model that makes appropriate use of intervention, discipline and education and that varies according to the nature of the behavior, student’s develop- mental age and student’s history of problem behaviors.
  • The State Education Department is required to provide guidance and educa- tional materials to school districts on best practices in addressing cyberbully- ing. Also, school professionals (teachers, counselors, school administrators) applying for certification or licensure after July 1, 2013 must complete train- ing on harassment, bullying and discrimination.

Chapter 449 – Prohibits smoking within 100 feet of the entrances or exits of any public or private educational institutions. Tobacco use on school grounds has been prohibited for a number of years pursuant to section 409 of the Edu- cation Law. This law extends the prohibition on smoking to within 100 feet of the entrances or exits of any public or private elementary or secondary school.

The law amends the Public Health Law in addition to the Education Law and took effect Sept. 5, 2012.

Chapter 74 – Extends for three years certain provisions relating to the imple- mentation of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004. Effective June 29, 2012.

Chapter 276 – Allows, rather than requires, a parent to request an additional parent residing in the school district to participate in committees on special education (CSPE). Under the provisions of this chapter, the additional parent need not be in attendance at any meeting of the CSPE unless specifically re- quested in writing at least 72 hours prior to such meeting by the parents or other person in parental relation to the student, the student, or a member of the CSPE. Prior to this chapter, an additional parent was required to be in atten- dance at any meeting of the committee on special education.

This law further provides that the parents or persons in parental relation to the student shall receive proper written notice of their right to have an additional parent attend any meeting of the committee regarding the student, along with a statement prepared by the State Education Department explaining the role of having the additional parent attend the meeting. Effective Aug. 1, 2012.

Chapter 279 – Authorizes access to students’ individualized education pro- gram (IEP) electronically; amends Education Law Section 4402. If a school district chooses to use the option of electronic IEPs, this law requires individuals responsible for implementing the IEP be trained on how to access it elec- tronically. Effective Aug. 1, 2012.

Chapter 2 – Amends the General Municipal Law to provide that awarding contracts on the basis of best value is allowable for school districts and other local governments except in New York City. The best value standard for se- lecting goods and services vendors is critical to efforts to use strategic sourc- ing principles to modernize the supply chain and ensure the taxpayers obtain the highest quality goods and services at the lowest potential cost. Effective Jan. 27, 2012.

Chapter 308 – Allows school districts to utilize other municipal bids within the state and across the nation. Schools can also make use of the entire federal contract plus join national cooperative purchasing contracts for goods and most services relating to the installation and maintenance of products. Effec- tive Aug. 1, 2012.

Chapter 255 – Relates to the time frame in which municipalities and school districts that incur debt can make adjustments to their budget, updating the types of obligations and other technical amendments.

This law makes the following two technical amendments:

  • Clarifies the timeline that districts issuing debt to liquidate a deficit must re- view and respond to the Comptroller’s office and SED’s recommendations regarding the districts’ proposed budgets; and
  • Conforms sections of the Local Finance Law to clarify that districts, munici- palities and district corporations can issue deficiency notes.

The law makes one nontechnical change to make permanent the increase from $1 million to $5 million in the maximum amount of bonds that districts may sell at private sale annually. Effective July 18, 2012.

Chapter 260 – Allows school districts for the first time to elect, subject to collective bargaining agreements, to hold superintendent conference days within the last two weeks of August. Importantly, such agreed upon conference days will count towards the 180-day requirement for state aid. Effective July 18, 2012.

Chapter 68 – Provides for limited public disclosure of the final quality ratings and composite effectiveness scores of teachers and building principals. Parents are entitled to request, and receive, both the quality ratings and com- posite effectiveness scores for the current teachers of their children. In addi- tion, the State Education Department is required to take the evaluation data minus the teacher names and provide an annual public report suitable for scholarly research and analysis. Effective July 1, 2012.

Chapter 271 – Provides for recognition of high academic achievement in mul- tiple languages through awarding of a state seal of biliteracy on diplomas of high school graduates. The seals will be affixed on high school diplomas and transcripts of graduating pupils who demonstrate proficiency in one or more languages in addition to English. The Board of Regents will promulgate regu- lations as may be necessary to establish the criteria that students must achieve to earn the seal. The commissioner will prepare and deliver the seals to partic- ipating school districts at no charge to the pupil. Effective Sept. 1, 2012.

Chapter 379 – Directs three state agencies to identify and review standards, guidelines and criteria for education, development or learning in programs under their jurisdiction for the “birth to 5” populations. Effective Aug. 17, 2012. The State Education Department, the Office of Children and Family Services, and the Department of Health are directed to submit a final report on the findings and recommendations to the governor and Legislature by June 30, 2013.

Chapter 396 – Authorizes BOCES to enter into contracts meeting specified criteria with out-of-state school districts for the following purposes: special education services, career and technical education services, demonstration of use of existing products on how to map the Common Core standards to assess- ments and/or webinars or online courses relating to implementation of Com- mon Core. Effective Aug. 17, 2012; will expire July 1, 2014.

Chapter 422 –Authorizes BOCES to enter into contracts with libraries, en- abling both BOCES and libraries to realize savings for services through eco- nomic efficiencies. Effective Aug. 17, 2012.

Rochester School District
Chapter 66 – Establishes that debt payments for the Rochester school facili- ties modernization program shall not affect the city of Rochester’s mainte- nance of effort requirements. Effective May 31, 2012.

New York City School District
Chapter 157– Authorizes New York City schools to require minors who are five years old to attend kindergarten. Minors whose parents elect not to enroll their children until the following September and students enrolled in nonpub- lic schools or home instruction are exempt from this requirement. The Syra- cuse City School District has had such authorization since 1987. Effective July 1, 2013.

Rochester School District
Chapter 167– Authorizes the Rochester City School District to require minors who are five years old to attend kindergarten. Minors whose parents elect not to enroll their children until the following September and students enrolled in nonpublic schools or home instruction are exempt from this requirement. The Syracuse City School District has had such authorization since 1987. Effec- tive July 18, 2012.

Delhi Central School District (Name Change)
Chapter 218 – Authorizes and directs the commissioner of education to change the name of the Delhi Central School District to the Delaware Academy Central School District at Delhi. Effective July 18, 2012.

Greenburgh School District
Chapter 283 – Authorizes the Greenburgh-Graham Union Free School Dis- trict, a “special act” public school district in Westchester County, to expand its campus to a satellite facility in the Bronx for the intended purpose of easing the transition of children leaving foster care institutions. Effective Aug. 1, 2012.

Longwood Central School District
Chapter 300 – Corrects the land boundaries within the Long Island Pine Bar- rons maritime reserve that the state had previously conveyed to the Longwood Central School District. Effective date to be consistent with prior law.

Monroe-Woodbury Central School District
Chapter 307– Provides that the Monroe-Woodbury Central School District shall be entitled to full aid notwithstanding the fact that its schools were in session for only 179 days. Effective Aug. 1, 2012.

Buffalo City School District
Chapter 431 – Amends the Education Law to simplify the nominating peti- tions of the Buffalo City School District elections of school board members. The nominating petitions will no longer require the signer to identify their school subdistrict, ward and election district. Voters wishing to sign the nomi- nating petition for school board candidates must only live in the Buffalo City School District. Effective Aug. 17, 2012.

Miscellaneous

Chapter 128 – Authorizes the state, local governments and public authorities to arrange for redeposit of moneys through a deposit placement program. The result is school deposits above $250,000 will qualify for FDIC insurance cov- erage without the cost of collateralizing such deposits. Effective July 18, 2012.

Chapter 244 – Authorizes school districts to provide busing to pre-kinder- garten students within mileage limits established by the school district. This law gives school districts the option to provide such transportation even though it is not eligible for state transportation aid. Effective July 18, 2012.

Chapter 420 – Requires the New York Power Authority to study the potential energy savings if schools were to implement alternative energy and energy conservation technologies. The report, due to the governor and the Legislature by July 31, 2013, will be based on data collected from schools that currently use alternative energy technologies, including solar panels and wind turbines. Effective Aug. 17, 2012.

Veto Message 130 – Would have allowed use of cultural background in deter- minations of appropriate special education placements. By making cultural/family background a primary determining factor in special education placement decisions, this bill would have made it easier for parents to seek private placements for their children in religiously segregated settings and then seek tuition reimbursement from school districts. Hundreds of school boards, in addition to NYSSBA and the National School Boards Association, sent letters and board resolutions in opposition, according to the governor’s veto message. The governor also noted that the measure constituted “an overly broad and ambiguous mandate that would result in incalculable signifi- cant additional costs to be borne by every school district and taxpayer.”

Veto Message 145 – Would have amended the Civil Service Law to provide equal reduction in force and recall provisions (seniority) to permanently ap- pointed employees appointed to competitive, non-competitive, and labor juris- dictional classification at all levels of state and local government (including school districts). NYSSBA opposed this bill, which related to suspension or demotion upon the abolition or reduction of positions for labor class and non- competitive titles. NYSSBA viewed it as a harmful intrusion on the flexibility needed to manage school labor and programs within approved budgets. The governor, in his veto message, concurred and stated that the bill: “would sub- stantially interfere with the operation of state and local governments by en- croaching on their ability to effectively manage their workforces” and that it: “would also undermine the collective bargaining process.”

Veto Message 147 – Would have allowed boards of education to provide cer- tain children transportation to school for a lesser distance than two miles. This legislation would have amended the Education Law to specifically allow school districts to provide transportation for students who have a parent or guardian with a disability and who live closer to the school than the statutorily required transportation mileage limits. The governor’s veto message indicated that he shared the sponsor’s concern but (as suggested by NYSSBA) he is op- posed to “taking away the power of district residents to determine what trans- portation, at additional cost, would be appropriate in their communities.”

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