Proposed Legislation to Address Student Threats of Violence

Senate Bill 297 was proposed by Senator Jim Hughes on March 21, 2016. This Bill seeks to amend Ohio’s student discipline statutes to address threats of violence made by students.
The proposed Bill would allow a board of education to adopt a resolution to permit a superintendent to expel a student for up to 60 days for “communicating a threat to kill or do physical harm to persons or property” if all of the following conditions are met:

  • The threat is communicated verbally or in writing, in person or via telephone, computer, or with another electronic communication device; and
  • The threat is made against persons or property at a school, on a bus, at an athletic competition, extracurricular event, other program or activity sponsored by the school district or in which the district participates, or at any other property controlled by the board of education; and
  • The student engaged in “conduct that constitutes a substantial step in a course intended to culminate in the commission of the threatened act, as determined by the superintendent in consultation” with law enforcement.

As a condition to reinstatement from expulsion, the board of education can require the student to undergo an assessment to determine whether the student poses a danger to himself/herself or to others. The superintendent may extend the expulsion for not more than one calendar year if the student fails to undergo the assessment.
A student expelled under this Bill can only be reinstated if the superintendent determines that the student has shown sufficient rehabilitation.

Another provision in this Bill allows a board of education or law enforcement agency to file a civil action seeking recovery for restitution from the parent, guardian, or custodian of a student who is expelled under this Bill. Restitution sought is for the costs of the school district or law enforcement agency that are incurred with the student’s conduct that gave rise to the expulsion.
This Bill was just recently introduced and must make its way through the legislative process before it becomes law. We will continue to keep our clients updated on its status.

Bill would address concerns about weighted grades, College Credit Plus

college-credit-plusParents and students around Ohio are complaining about what they see as an inequity involving college credit plus (CCP) courses. In February, a group of high school students testified in front of the General Assembly that they believed the CCP rule that treats all college courses as being comparable to AP courses is unfair, because it can lead to relatively easy college courses being weighted the same as AP, International Baccalaureate (IB) or honors classes for GPA purposes. For instance, a student could take an entry-level CCP science course and receive the same weighted GPA as a high school AP Physics class.

Recently, ODE held a webinar reminding districts that they must follow the law as described above; i.e. that all college courses must be comparable to AP courses- and not penalize a student for taking CCP courses. ODE claimed that CCP parents and students feel “discriminated against” because they are potentially losing out on scholarships if the classes they take are not weighted the same as AP, IB, or honors courses.

Representatives Mike Dovilla and Marlene Anielski recently sponsored House Bill 445, which proposes to correct the perceived inequities. The bill would require school districts to award weighted credit for CCP courses that the district determines are comparable to AP, IB or honors classes. This would help eliminate concerns that students are “padding” their GPA by taking entry-level CCP courses.

The bill addresses a concern about the difference between the number of hours spent in a college course as opposed to a high school course. For instance, a student taking a college course spends about 45 hours in the classroom compared to 120 hours in an AP high school class. The bill states that one high school credit is equal to four credit hours of a college course, or the equivalent if the college operates on a quarter schedule.  Students attending public, non-public, community, STEM, and home instruction also would be permitted to participate in extracurricular activities while participating in CCP.

Taking a course on a college campus would be prohibited if a comparable class is being delivered through the CCP program in the school district. Clarification that textbooks and materials purchased for CCP belong to the entity that paid for them is part of the legislation. The bill currently is in the House Education Committee and has had its first hearing before the committee. We will continue to update clients as it moves through the legislative process. A link to the bill is available here: HB 445