BILL ANALYSIS Ó Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary Senator Kevin de León, Chair SB 49 (Lieu) - School Safety Plans Amended: May 1, 2013 Policy Vote: Education 9-0 Urgency: No Mandate: Yes Hearing Date: May 23, 2013 Consultant: Jacqueline Wong-Hernandez SUSPENSE FILE. AS PROPOSED TO BE AMENDED. Bill Summary: This bill requires school safety plans to include procedures related to response to a person with a gun on campus, extends from annually to every third year the frequency of review of safety plans, and requires charter school petitions to include a description of a school safety plan. Fiscal Impact (as approved on May 23, 2013): Provisions of this bill create new costs and new savings for the state. The realization of savings in certain provisions does not depend upon incurring the costs in other provisions of the bill. Extending frequency of school safety plan reviews: Extending the frequency of required reviews from annually to every three years will likely significantly reduce the costs associated with an existing reimbursable state mandate. New requirements for school safety plans: Significant costs to expand the scope of an existing reimbursable mandate for which the state currently pays in excess of $3 million, annually. New requirements for charter petitions: Significant costs for charter petitioners, and for existing charter schools to the extent that they do not have school safety plans in place. New requirements may result in a reimbursable mandate on school districts and county offices of education (COEs) in their capacity as charter authorizers. See staff comments. Background: Existing law requires each school district and COE to be responsible for the overall development of all comprehensive school safety plans for its schools. The schoolsite council is required to write and develop a comprehensive school safety plan relevant to the needs and resources of that school. (Education Code § 32281) SB 49 (Lieu) Page 1 School districts and COEs, in consultation with law enforcement, are authorized to elect to not have schoolsite councils develop and write portions of the school safety plan that include tactical responses to criminal incidents. Portions of the safety plan containing tactical responses may be developed by school administrators in consultation with law enforcement. Governing boards are authorized to approve the tactical response portion of the safety plan in a closed session. (EC § 32281) Existing law requires the comprehensive school safety plan to include: (1) an assessment of the current status of school crime committed on school campuses and at school-related functions, and (2) identification of appropriate strategies and programs that will provide or maintain a high level of school safety and detail procedures for complying with existing laws; disaster procedures; policies regarding suspension or expulsion; a discrimination and harassment policy; and, a safe and orderly environment conducive to learning. The comprehensive school safety plan is required to be evaluated at least once a year. (EC § 32282) Existing law further requires each school to submit its school safety plan to the school district or COE for approval and requires a school district or COE to notify the California Department of Education by October 15 of every year of any school that is not in compliance. (EC § 32288) Existing law requires governing boards to grant a charter unless: 1) the charter school presents an unsound educational program; 2) the petitioners are demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the program described in the petition; 3) the petition does not contain the number of required signatures; 4) the petition does not contain specified affirmations; or, 5) the petition does not contain reasonably comprehensive descriptions of among other elements, the procedures that the school will follow to ensure the health and safety of pupils and staff. (EC § 47605) Existing law requires the State Board of Education (SBE), in its capacity as a charter authorizer, to develop criteria to be used for the review and approval of charter school petitions presented to the state board. It specifies that the criteria shall address all elements required for charter approval, and SB 49 (Lieu) Page 2 shall define "reasonably comprehensive," for purposes of the required descriptions. (EC § 47605) Existing law requires charter schools to comply with the provisions of their charters and provisions of the Education Code that apply to charter schools. Charter schools are exempt from most laws governing school districts except where specifically noted, including establishing minimum age for public school attendance, specified building code regulations, availability of coverage in a public retirement system, and the Charter School Revolving Loan Fund. (EC § 47610) Proposed Law: SB 49 makes changes to mandatory comprehensive school safety plans. Specifically, this bill: 1) Adds to the required components in school safety plans the inclusion of procedures related to individuals with guns on school campuses and at school-related functions, including training programs related to active shooters and active terrorists. 2) Requires the adoption of a plan with the changes proposed by this bill by March 1, 2014, and requires plans to be reviewed and updated by March 1 of every third year thereafter. 3) Modifies the existing requirement that schools report annually in the school accountability report card the status of school safety plans, to require the status of plans for the upcoming school year to be accurately reported no later than July 31 of every third year. 4) Allows school districts to keep confidential information relating to planned tactical responses to criminal incidents from being included at the public meeting currently required prior to the adoption of a school safety plan. 5) Requires each school principal or administrator of a school without a principal to provide written or electronic notice to each teacher and classified employee that the adopted school safety plan is readily available for inspection. SB 49 (Lieu) Page 3 6) Requires each superintendent of a school district or COE, or each administrator in charge, to annually provide written notification, by October 15, to the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) identifying each school that has not accurately reported the status of plans in the school accountability report card. 7) Adds to the required elements of a charter school petition development of a school safety plan, which must include specific topics. 8) Requires each principal or administrator in charge of a school without a principal to keep and maintain a copy of the most recent school safety plan for that school, and requires each superintendent of a school district or a COE, or each administrator in charge, to keep a copy of the most recent school safety plan and a copy of every notification sent to the SPI of schools that have not developed school safety plans. 9) Requires all related books, documents, records, and other papers kept and maintained to be open for inspection and copying, as specified. 10) Requires the CDE to monitor compliance using an existing monitoring framework. 11) Modifies the requirement that all safety-related plans and materials be readily available for inspection to strike "public" and instead specify that plans are to be available for inspection by law enforcement and school employees. Related Legislation: SB 634 (Price) requires schools to conduct specific safety drills, and adds standards for safety drills to the required elements of school safety plans. SB 634 is also scheduled to be heard in this Committee on May 13, 2013. SB 755 (Lieu) 2011 made numerous changes to the requirement that each school have a school safety plan, and how those plans should be updated, and required the SPI to publish on the CDE website the name of each school reported as not complying with the requirements to adopt, review, and update a comprehensive school safety plan. That bill was held under submission in this SB 49 (Lieu) Page 4 Committee. Staff Comments: This bill makes statutory changes to the existing state mandates regarding comprehensive school safety plans. The state has paid nearly $10 million over the past three years in local reimbursements for the 1,450 mandate claims related to mandatory comprehensive school safety plans. This bill adds new requirements for comprehensive school safety plans, and new administration, reporting, and notification requirements on school administrators. These new duties and requirements will expand the reimbursement level for the existing mandate. Since the mandate has already been approved and the reimbursement methodology determined, it will be relatively simple for school districts and COEs to show that this bill further increases their mandated duties with respect to comprehensive school safety plans. This bill extends frequency of required reviews from annually to every three years. This provision will likely reduce the costs associated with the existing reimbursable state mandate, because it reduces some of the annual workload to only being required to occur every third year. While this reduction of duties will likely offset the mandate expansion in other provisions, the reduction does not depend on that expansion. In other words, the frequency of reviews can be extended, leading to state savings, without placing in law new requirements that will lead to new state costs. Charter school petitions are currently required to include "a reasonably comprehensive description of the procedures that the school will follow to ensure the health and safety of pupils and staff." This bill adds, as part of that requirement, that a charter school petition specifically include a comprehensive school safety plan that adheres to the requirements of this bill. The fiscal impact of this requirement on charter schools will be determined by local decisions and actions regarding the evaluation of a charter's comprehensive school safety plan as part of its petition. The fiscal impact on the state, in turn, will be determined by the extent to which authorizers (often school districts) that do incur significant new costs file successful mandate claims seeking state reimbursement. While the SB 49 (Lieu) Page 5 bill's requirements appear to be on charter schools, they have a ripple effect that necessarily results in requirements on the authorizers. The local costs incurred by existing charter schools have been deemed by the Commission on State Mandates to not be reimbursable state mandates because charter schools choose to form and operate. Similarly, groups attempting to establish new charter schools would bear these costs themselves. It is not clear, however, if new requirements on school districts that have authorized charter schools and are statutorily bound to consider their renewal or revocation would be eligible for reimbursement for the cost of any new activities that could result from this legislation. Any school district or COE that may receive a new charter proposal in the future may have to take on new activities in anticipation of receiving charter proposals, whether or not it ever does. Associated costs across school districts can be aggregated in a mandate claim. Charter petitions are very extensive documents which lay out a charter's goals, the details of how its proposed education program would be implemented, and descriptions of various aspects of how the school itself will run. While there are statutory requirements for what must be included in a charter petition, those elements are subject to local interpretation as to whether a proposed charter has met all of the requirements. A school district receiving a charter petition may deny a charter after determining, using its own standards for evaluating the statutory components, that a charter does not meet certain criteria, only to have the SBE decide that the charter does meet that criteria because the SBE has evaluated the same component in a different way. Charter schools are statutorily bound to operate consistent with the policies, procedures, and educational programs committed to in the charter proposal; thus, numerous areas of the proposal can be subject to scrutiny and discussion, and can potentially become reasons for denial. If a charter is denied, the denial can be appealed to the COE or the SBE. At a minimum, authorizers would have to formally develop criteria for evaluating whether a charter has provided a school safety plan that meets the requirements of this bill. As a practical matter, charter authorizers will also need to SB 49 (Lieu) Page 6 communicate their expectations for fulfilling the provisions to existing charter school administrators (who will need to include new information in renewals), and individuals proposing new charters. This bill changes the work of charter petitioners; new charter schools will have to commit to a school safety plan very early in a school's planning process, and possibly before the school has secured a physical site for locating the school. The committee amendments would remove the provisions of the bill related to placing school safety plan requirements in charter school petitions.