by Lori Morrow
Delegate Angela Angel (D-25) hosted a legislative update at the Prince George’s County Education Association (PGCEA) on February 28 to discuss the eleven education bills pending before the Prince George’s Delegation this session.Over twenty community members attended to learn more about the legislation and ask questions of the delegate. Slides were presented with a brief synopsis of each of the bills.
Theresa Dudley, President of the PGCEA, spoke briefly to open the forum. Ms. Dudley encouraged everyone to contact state senators in favor of House Bill (HB) 196, which would fully repeal the 2013 changes to the Prince George’s County Board of Education governance structure. She expressed concern that the current structure politicizes the school board and does not provide proper checks and balances.
Throughout the presentation, Delegate Angel emphasized the need for the community to be involved in the legislative process. She said her purpose in hosting the session was to “educate, engage, and empower.” The most powerful statement is when community members show up in Annapolis during the legislative session, but she encouraged everyone to call, email and use social media to reach out to representatives to share their support or opposition.
- HB 216, Student Hearing and Vision Screenings: Delegate Angel supports this bill that would help identify how many students are not getting the services they need despite screenings. A community member asked why legislation is required to do this, but the delegate explained that the data collected can be used to find out why students aren’t getting the services or figure out ways to fund services for families that cannot afford them.
- HB 215, Elementary School Limit on Class Size: Delegate Angel stated that this is likely to pass and has already been passed by the Prince George’s House Delegation. She believes that Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) currently has the capacity to meet this requirement. (Local bills that are not passed by PGC Delegation will not go forward in the legislative process.)
- HB 214, Equity in Education: This bill was created to address an issue of charter schools that require higher cost logo uniforms that are not widely available. Delegate Angel says some schools have already revised their uniform requirements.
- HB 185, Students With Disability Report: This bill would collect data to find out how many student accessibility needs are actually being met.
- HB 186/207/196, Related to PGCPS Governance: Delegate Angel explained that these bills overlap and that if multiple bills pass, they would likely be amended or merged. HB 196 would fully repeal 2013 changes to the Board of Education structure. Theresa Dudley and Bob Ross, NAACP, expressed their opposition to HB 186, which addresses only the 2/3 voting requirement to override the CEO’s decision and the selection of the vice chair. To date, the PGC House Delegation has passed only HB186.
- HB 184, PGCPS Inspector General: Delegate Angel explained that this is separate from the Inspector General bill proposed by the Governor. This IG would report to the PGCPS Board of Education and County Council. A question was asked relative to the Internal Audit office that already exists, but she explained that Internal Audit does not report beyond the school system. Per the fiscal note, the IG would have six full-time positions and be funded from the PGCPS budget.
- HB 241, Telecommunications Transmission Facility on School Grounds: This bill would dictate public notification for companies proposing to install cel towers on a school.