New Ohio Law Aims to Protect Student Athletes from Head Injuries

Over the past several years increased attention has been paid to head injuries and concussions in sports.  The NFL seems to capture most of the headlines in this area; however, head injuries can occur in any sport and at any level.  Last week, Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 143, which is designed to protect youth athletes who suffer concussions.

The Bill requires parents to submit a signed form acknowledging receipt of a concussion and head injury information sheet that will be created by the Department of Health. Students are prohibited from practicing or competing in interscholastic athletics until this form has been submitted. Districts must also require all coaches and referees to hold a pupil-activity permit issued by the State Board of Education (referees may satisfy the requirement through specified alternative training programs). The Bill also requires the State Board of Education to require completion of brain trauma and brain injury management training prior to issuing pupil-activity permits

An important component of the Bill is the requirement that student-athletes be removed from athletics when exhibiting signs, symptoms, or behaviors consistent with a concussion or similar head injury. Once a student is removed by a coach or referee, the student is not allowed to return to practice or competition for at least 24 hours and until assessed and cleared for return by a physician. The physician must provide written clearance that it is safe for the student to resume participation.

Also of importance is the immunity from liability that is provided by the Bill.  School authorities, employees, and volunteers (including coaches and referees) are protected from civil liability for injury, death, or loss that arises from providing the services or duties required by the Bill, unless their act or omission constituted willful or wanton misconduct.

Under the Bill, the Department of Health is required to create a concussion and head injury information sheet for sports participants and to provide a link on its website to one or more free online concussion training programs.  


Governor Signs New School District Grading System Into Law

Yesterday Governor John Kasich signed into law House Bill 555, which replaces the current academic performance rating system for school districts and individual buildings of districts. The new rating system will assign letter grades of  “A,” “B,” “C,” “D,” or “F” for overall academic performance, a change from the current ratings of “excellent,” “effective,” “continuous improvement,” “academic watch,” and “academic emergency.” The grade for overall academic performance will be calculated based upon specified components and performance measures that will also be assigned individual letter grades.

The bill requires the State Board of Education to establish a method to assign an overall grade for the 2014-15 school year and each following year. The method must grade each individual performance measure, which will then be grouped into one of the following larger components: gap closing, achievement, progress, graduation, kindergarten through third-grade literacy and prepared for success (the performance measures in the “prepared for success” component do not receive separate grades.) Each component will then be individually graded based upon the performance measures in its group. Only the resulting component grades will be used by the State Board to determine the overall grade.

The following meanings are attributed to each of the letter grades:

A-    Making excellent progress

B-    Making above average progress

C-    Making average progress

D-    Making below average progress

F-   Failing to meet minimum progress

The bill incrementally increases the number of graded and reported separate performance measures in each of the 2012-2013 through 2014-2015 school years. For 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, letter grades will be assigned only to specified individual performance measures. An overall letter grade will be assigned beginning with the 2014-2015 school year.  The bill also applies to community schools, STEM schools, and college-preparatory boarding schools.

ERF will continue to update its clients on this legislation and the State Board of Education’s eventual establishment of a method to assign an overall grade for the 2014-15 school year.

Organizational Meeting Tips

Its the time of year when boards of education begin preparing for their annual organizational meetings.  City, local, exempted village and JVS districts must hold their organizational meetings by January 15th.  Educational Service Centers have until January 31st.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you prepare for your organizational meeting. 

  • An organizational meeting is a regular meeting of the board of education.  There is no need to hold the organizational meeting separate from your regular board meeting.  
  • Any member of the board can call the organizational meeting to order.  Next, appoint a member to preside until the officers are elected.  The former president is always a good choice if he or she remains on the board.
  • Must elect a president and vice president, whose terms are for one year.  A majority vote of the full board is needed for election.  It is permissible for members to nominate and vote for themselves.  Once elected, the new president should preside over the remainder of the meeting.
  • Administration of the oath is only necessary for those who are beginning their term.  The treasurer, any current board member, an elected official whose office has jurisdiction over the territory of the school district (such as a mayor or city council member), a notary public and any member of the General Assembly can administer the oath.
  • Must establish the date and time for the regular meetings that are to be held throughout the remainder of the calendar year.  It is permissible for a board of education to later change the date of its meetings. However, regular meetings must be held at least once every two months.