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S.F. No. 2898 - The Student Inclusion and Engagement Act
Author: Senator Sandra L. Pappas
Prepared By: Bjorn E. Arneson, Senate Analyst (651/296-3812)
Date: March 23, 2016


Section 1. Citation. Provides that sections 1 to 17 of the act may be cited as “The Student Inclusion and Engagement Act.”

Section 2. Performance measures. Requires that school district performance measures under the World’s Best Workforce include measures of student engagement and connection.

Section 3. State growth target; other state measures. Requires that the state growth model report data for student categories identified under the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act, including racial and ethnic groups, economically disadvantaged status, English proficiency status, gender, migrant status, homeless and foster youth, and students with a parent in the military. Makes conforming changes related to federal reauthorization.

Section 4. Positive behavior interventions and support. Provides a cross-reference to existing language defining PBIS as “interventions and strategies to improve the school environment and teach children the skills to behave appropriately.”

Section 5. Nonexclusionary disciplinary policies and practices; alternatives to pupil removal and dismissal. Provides a definition of "nonexclusionary disciplinary policies and practices" and cross-references to other conforming policies and practices.

Section 6. Policy. Requires school officials to use nonexclusionary disciplinary policies and practices, including positive behavior interventions and support, and attempt to provide alternatives to suspension, among other interventions and strategies, before beginning dismissal proceedings. Requires school officials to limit pupil dismissals by providing alternative programs, to the extent practicable.

Section 7. Grounds for dismissal.

Subdivision 1. Providing alternative programs. Requires that a school first attempt to use nonexclusionary disciplinary policies and practices before beginning dismissal proceedings. Clarifies that immediate and substantial danger to property does not relieve a district from attempting to provide nonexclusionary disciplinary policies and practices.

Subdivision 2. Grounds for dismissal. Prohibits “zero-tolerance” policies that would require school officials to automatically dismiss a pupil, except for willful conduct that endangers the pupil, other pupils, or surrounding persons, including school staff. Clarifies that a pupil may not be dismissed for disorderly or disruptive conduct except where it appears that the conduct creates an immediate and substantial danger to self or surrounding persons. Makes other grammatical changes.

Subdivision 3. Parent notification and meeting. Clarifies the conditions under which school officials must notify the pupil’s parent or guardian of the pupil’s removal from class or dismissal from school. Requires that the school attempt to convene a meeting with the pupil’s parents or guardian to develop a plan for nonexclusionary practices, among other purposes.

Section 8. Suspension procedures.

Subdivision 1. Administrative conference before suspension. Clarifies that a pupil must be informed of their right to have an adult advocate participate in the administrative conference. Requires a school to assign an adult advocate in cases where the pupil is unable to identify an advocate. Defines adult advocate.

Subdivision 1a. Nonexclusionary disciplinary policies and practices. Requires school officials to use nonexclusionary practices and attempt alternative interventions and strategies before suspending a pupil. Requires a superintendent, together with other administrators, to provide professional development opportunities regarding nonexclusionary policies and practices.

Subdivision 2. Administrator notifies pupil of grounds for suspension. Clarifies that an administrator must inform the pupil that any testimony the pupil provides at the administrative conference may be used against the pupil in a subsequent court proceeding. Makes other grammatical changes.

Subdivision 3. Written notice of grounds for suspension. Requires that the written notice of suspension presented to the student and the student’s parent or guardian include documentation of the nonexclusionary practices that the school initially employed prior to suspension, among other facts about the school’s decision to suspend.

Subdivision 3a. Appeals of suspension. Requires a school board to establish a process that permits a teacher, a representative, a parent or guardian, or a party to a suspension decision to appeal the decision to an appropriate authority in the district

Subdivision 4. Suspension pending expulsion or exclusion hearing. Clarifies that, when an expulsion or exclusion hearing is pending and the school board suspends the pupil, the board must provide alternative educational services if the suspension exceeds three days. Makes other conforming changes.

Subdivision. 5. Minimum education services. Requires that school officials give each suspended pupil the opportunity to complete all school work assigned during the suspension and to receive full credit for satisfactorily completing the assignments. Requires that the school designate a liaison to work with the pupil's teachers and to otherwise interact with the pupil and the pupil's family to address concerns.

Subdivision 6. Re-engagement plan. Requires that each pupil who is suspended or transferred to an alternative learning program have a re-engagement plan designed to reconnect the pupil with school and help the pupil avoid future suspensions or other discipline. Requires the district to provide teachers with staff development opportunities relating to re-engagement plans.

Section 9. Nonexclusionary practices required first. Requires a superintendent, together with other administrators, to (1) provide professional development opportunities regarding the impacts of exclusionary practices; and (2) require the initial use of nonexclusionary practices.

Section 10. Written notice. Requires that the written notice of the district’s intent to expel or exclude a pupil explain the rationale for excluding or expelling the pupil instead of imposing nonexclusionary disciplinary practices and the term of the exclusion or expulsion.

Section 11. Basis of school board decision; opportunity for comment. Requires that the school board’s decision to expel or exclude a pupil explain the rationale for excluding or expelling the pupil instead of imposing nonexclusionary disciplinary practices.

Section 12. Re-engagement plan. Requires that a school administrator, after soliciting input from a pupil’s parent or guardian and in consultation with the pupil’s teachers, prepare and enforce a re-engagement plan for a pupil who was expelled or excluded from school. Clarifies required elements of the re-engagement plan. Requires school districts to provide professional development related to nonexclusionary practices and re-engagement.

Section 13. Report to commissioner of education. Clarifies that a school board must report certain disciplinary actions to the commissioner, including expulsion, exclusion, removal from class, and pre-expulsion/exclusion withdrawal of a pupil. Clarifies elements required in the report, including details about nonexclusionary practices used by the district, involvement of law enforcement, and demographic details about the pupil. Requires the commissioner to annually make a summary report of disciplinary actions under this section. Requires a district to publish at least that portion of the report concerning the district. Requires the commissioner to provide a district with technical assistance and training necessary to comply with the requirements of this section.

Section 14. Policies to be established. Clarifies the required elements of a school board’s adopted policies on pupil dismissal, expulsion, exclusion, and re-engagement. Prohibits a school district from refusing enrollment to a pupil who was previously expelled or excluded from a school district. Requires a district to transmit to the commissioner its memorandum of understanding with its peace or school resource officers. Makes other grammatical changes.

Section 15. Discipline and removal of pupils from class.

Subdivision 1. Required policy. Eliminates the requirement that a school discipline policy include minimum consequences for violation of rules. Eliminates the requirement that the policy be developed in consultation with law enforcement agencies and county attorney offices.

Subdivision 2. Grounds for removal from class. Provides that the policy must include a procedure for notifying and meeting with a pupil’s parent or guardian after the first instance that a pupil is removed from class. Clarifies that the policy is not required to address whether willful conduct that endangers property is grounds for removal from class. Makes other conforming and grammatical changes.

Subdivision 3. Policy components. Clarifies that the policy may not require that a student be removed from class for more than two periods for violating a rule of conduct. Eliminates the requirement that the policy include minimum consequences for violation of rules. Eliminates the requirement that the policy state that a teacher, school employee or bus driver, or other agent of the district may use reasonable force. Makes other grammatical and conforming changes.

Section 16. Parent notification. Provides that a school administrator must make and document reasonable efforts to immediately contact the parent or guardian of a pupil removed by a peace or school resource officer from a classroom, school building, or school grounds unless such notice is specifically prohibited by law.

Section 17. Effective staff development activities. Includes staff development on the impact of nonexclusionary practices among the required elements of a district staff development plan.

Section 18. Duties; evaluation [of a principal]. Requires that a principal’s annual evaluation include longitudinal data on pupil dismissals disaggregated by student categories, including racial and ethnic groups, economically disadvantaged status, English proficiency status, gender, migrant status, homeless and foster youth, and students with a parent in the military.

Section 19. [Charter school] Admission requirements and enrollment. Clarifies that a charter school must comply with provisions in chapter 121A governing pupil behavior and discipline.

Section 20. Appropriation. Appropriates money to the commissioner of education to provide technical assistance to districts and provide professional development necessary to implement the provisions of the Pupil Fair Dismissal Act and related pupil discipline law.

Effective Dates

Sections 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 18 are effective for the 2016-2017 school year and later.

Sections 16 and 19 are effective the day following final enactment.

All other sections are effective July 1, 2016.

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