One of the laws that have already affected local school boards requires a three-tier attendance policy in all Tennessee school systems. Under the new policy, there will be preventative measures taken for students who reach a certain number of absences. When they reach the third tier of the program, they are close to truancy, and more serious measures will be taken.
What measures are taken are up to each school system individually, however, the state also sent out suggestions for each tier.
Wilson County Schools and the Lebanon Special School District each adopted the three-tier system at recent board meetings. The Lebanon Special School District simply modified its existing attendance policies to fit the three-tier system, while the Wilson County school board approved a placeholder and said it would adopt a three-tier attendance policy at a later date.
Other education-centered laws that will take place July 1 include:
• A law that designates the week in which Sept. 17 falls as “Celebrate Freedom Week” in public schools. The law will require each social studies class to include age-appropriate instruction concerning the original intent, meaning and importance of the declaration of independence and U.S. constitution.
• A law that requires each local education agency to require all teachers to prepare a scholars summer guide for each student in kindergarten through eighth grade. The guide will cover curriculum from the previous and upcoming school years for the students to study, as well as required summer reading and assignments.
• A law that makes the altering of a student transcript by an employee of a school district, charter school or virtual school and retaliation by an education entity against an employee who brings unauthorized alterations to the attention of school officials punishable. Anyone who violates this law may be subject to disciplinary action, including revocation of a professional educator license or certification issued by the department and may be subject to prosecution for falsification of education or academic records, which is a present law punished as a class A misdemeanor.
• A law that extends homebound instruction to all students, instead of only pregnant students, who have a medical condition that prevents them from attending regular classes.
• An amendment that allows for the use of corporal punishment against a student with a disability if the local education agency’s discipline policy permits corporal punishment and a parent of the child with a disability permits, in writing, the use of corporal punishment against the child. The written permission must state the type of punishment that may be used and the circumstances in which punishment is permitted.
• A law that requires local education agencies to use a quality grading-point system that rewards students who take honors, dual-credit, Advanced Placement, Cambridge, International Baccalaureate or dual-enrollment courses. The student will receive more points for taking the classes.
• A law that requires a director of schools, director of a public charter school or director of a nonpublic school to report licensed educators to the state board who have been suspended, dismissed or who have resigned following allegations of conduct that would warrant consideration for license suspension or revocation under the state board.
• A law that requires the department of education to create a grant program to increase identification of and provide housing support for homeless students.
• A law that requires automated external defibrillator devices in public high schools and encourages the placement of AEDs in public middle and elementary schools within existing budgetary limits.