Education bills often have special start dates to match the school calendar. School board members and administrators still need to pay attention to the calendar ticking over to 2020, though. Some laws that took effect Jan. 1, the typical start date, will impact schools and their staff.
Corporate Activity Tax. The Corporate Activity Tax raises the revenue for the Student Success Act’s investment in education. House Bill 3427 created the tax, and HB 2164 modified it slightly. OSBA News detailed the CAT and answered questions, and since that article’s publication, the Oregon Department of Revenue has submitted temporary rules for the tax and has revised guidance. School board members will likely face questions from the community about how the tax works. Although there was broad support for the Student Success Act, new taxes always raise concerns and knowledge of the tax rules could be helpful.
Mandatory reporting of child abuse. As of Jan. 1, school board members, charter school board members and employees of the Oregon Department of Education are mandatory reporters of child abuse. It is important to note this is a personal responsibility. As guidance from the Oregon Department of Human Services notes, “By law, mandatory reporters must report suspected abuse or neglect of a child regardless of whether or not the knowledge of the abuse was gained in the reporter’s official capacity. In other words, the mandatory reporting of abuse or neglect of children is a 24-hour obligation.” If you suspect child abuse, call 1-855-503-SAFE (7233). This toll-free number allows you to report abuse or neglect of any child or adult to DHS.
Labor practices changes. HB 2016 was a major priority for labor organizations during the 2019 session. The bill changes who can be considered a “designated representative” under labor law and expands some of the rights of the designated representative. It also allows electronic records and email access by labor organizations and makes other practical changes to representation and how labor organizations operate in schools.
Executive session for student-specific discussions. HB 2514 expanded the provision that allows school district boards to hold executive sessions for matters pertaining to or examination of any confidential student records, not just medical records, in accordance with the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Prior to this law, school districts sometimes had to choose between violating FERPA to discuss private student data with media members attending meetings and violating Oregon law to exclude media members from executive session.