Press Releases

Thursday, August 30, 2018 9:12 AM

The Pennsylvania Department of Education today announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently released federal income eligibility guidelines for free and reduced-price school meals and free milk for July 2018–June 2019.
WPMT Channel 43, Aug. 30, 2018
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Wednesday, August 29, 2018 3:20 PM

In June, the state Senate overwhelmingly approved Senate Bill 1095, which allows students who do not score proficient on the Keystone Exams to demonstrate their readiness to graduate through alternative routes. This bill recognizes that standardized tests aren't the only way to measure students' abilities and provides options to measure students' readiness for post-secondary education. 

Senate Bill 1095 creates multiple pathways for students to demonstrate graduation readiness beyond simply passing each Keystone Exam. Under this bill, students who do not score proficiently on all three Keystone Exams would be provided the opportunity to meet local grade-based requirements and utilize one of the following options as an alternative demonstration of graduation readiness:

  • Option 1) achieve an established composite score based on performance on all three Keystone Exams;
  • Option 2) achieve established equivalent scores on a variety of alternate assessments, achieve acceptance in a registered apprenticeship program after graduation, achieve admission to higher education, or achieve success in dual enrollment/postsecondary courses;
  • Option 3) demonstrate competency through evidence specific to career and technical education (CTE) for students who are CTE concentrators (the bill simply clarifies this option which was passed into law just last year); or
  • Option 4) present rigorous and compelling pieces of objective evidence relating to a student's career, military, or post-secondary plans that reflect readiness for graduation which have been approved for use by the State Board of Education (the Board will also approve the amount of required evidence).

The bill further provides an additional year delay of the graduation requirement as a transition period to the new system, provides that a student with a disability who satisfactorily completes their individualized education program shall be granted a high school diploma, provides for the elimination of project-based assessments, places common-sense parameters on supplemental instruction relating to Keystone Exams and addresses various other related issues.

"This proposed legislation provides school districts with commonsense alternatives for assessing student performance", said Dr. Paul Healey, executive director of the Pennsylvania Principals Association. "We are pleased to support this move away from an overemphasis on standardized testing."

This bill is supported by PSBA, PSEA, PASA and the Pennsylvania Principals Association.

Be sure to contact your legislator in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and ask him/her to support SB 1095. (Click here to find your representative.) 

 
Wednesday, August 29, 2018 3:00 PM

Act 39 of 2018 (Act 39), which was signed into law on June 22, 2018, includes multiple amendments to the Pennsylvania Public School Code (School Code). Several of these amendments are related to compulsory attendance and truancy laws.  The definition of “educational entity” in Section 1326 of the School Code was amended in two ways,

(1) nonpublic schools were removed from the definition, and

(2) charter schools, regional charter schools, and cyber charter schools were added to the definition.

Additionally, Section 1333.3 of the School Code was amended to clarify when a truancy citation may be filed if an educational entity has made a referral to the county children and youth agency, but the agency has not yet closed the case.

Accordingly, this Penn*Link replaces the Penn*Link issued on November 28, 2017 related to the authority and responsibility of charter schools to implement and enforce compulsory attendance laws. This Penn*Link further clarifies the authority and responsibility of nonpublic schools to implement and enforce compulsory attendance laws. Finally, this Penn*Link serves to clarify that a truancy citation may be filed if an educational entity has made a referral to the county children and youth agency if the educational entity has consulted with the agency prior to the filing of the citation, even if the agency has not yet closed the case.

Because of the changes made to the compulsory attendance and truancy laws through Act 39, each charter school, including each regional charter school and cyber charter school, is solely responsible for enforcing the compulsory attendance laws in accordance with the School Code as they relate to students enrolled in the charter school. Charter school responsibilities include ensuring that students and parents/guardians comply with compulsory attendance laws, ensuring that truancy prevention and elimination efforts are implemented, and taking appropriate action when a student enrolled in the charter school is habitually truant.

Specifically, a charter school must develop an attendance policy that includes: monitoring student attendance and accurately tracking and reporting excused and unexcused absences; providing timely and clear notification to the person in parental relation to the student concerning accumulated unexcused absences; convening the School Attendance Improvement Conference;  and, when a student enrolled in the charter school is habitually truant, referring the student to a school-based or community-based attendance improvement program or county child and youth agency or filing a truancy citation.

However, Act 39 requires school districts to play a role in enforcing compulsory attendance laws related to students enrolled in nonpublic schools. Although nonpublic schools do retain certain responsibilities for ensuring that students and parents/guardians comply with compulsory attendance laws and that truancy prevention and elimination efforts required by those laws are implemented, it is the student’s school district of residence that must execute the filing of a truancy citation or the referral of the student to a school-based or community-based attendance improvement program or the child and youth agency.

A nonpublic school must develop an attendance policy that includes: monitoring student attendance and accurately tracking excused and unexcused absences; providing timely and clear notification to the person in parental relation to the student concerning accumulated unexcused absences; convening the School Attendance Improvement Conference; and working with the student’s school district or residence for referral of the student to a school-based or community-based attendance improvement program or county child and youth agency or the filing of a truancy citation.

A nonpublic school’s policy may differ from that of a school district and it must define the actions the nonpublic school may take when a student is truant or habitually truant, which may include expulsion of the student from the school.  Additionally, the nonpublic school’s policy may contain criteria beyond the criteria set forth in the School Code for determining when a student is truant or habitually truant; the nonpublic school’s policy should also provide for communication and collaboration with a student’s resident school district so that the powers and responsibilities for enforcing the compulsory attendance and truancy laws are properly exercised under the authority granted to the school district by the General Assembly.

To assist with development of policies and procedures that will comply with the School Code and to provide a means for collaborative exercise of the respective responsibilities, PDE provides the following information, which outlines PDE’s recommendations on how nonpublic schools and school districts should collaborate for efficient and effective implementation of compulsory attendance and truancy requirements. Final determinations concerning these responsibilities should be made between the nonpublic school and school district.

PDE will soon issue additional guidance relating to Pennsylvania’s compulsory attendance and truancy laws through a Basic Education Circular. If you have any questions relating to Pennsylvania’s compulsory attendance and truancy laws, please contact Carol Kuntz, Director for the Office for Safe Schools at (717) 783-6469.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF A NONPUBLIC SCHOOL AND RESIDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE AND TRUANCY REQUIREMENTS RELATED TO A STUDENT ENROLLED IN A NONPUBLIC SCHOOL

 

 

NONPUBLIC SCHOOL

Accurate monitoring and tracking of excused and unexcused absences.

22 Pa. Code § 11.41

Primary responsibility.

 

Written notification to person in parental relation of violation of compulsory attendance at the third unexcused absence.

24 P.S. § 13-1333(a)

Collaborative responsibility with school district, i.e. should send notification with copy to the school district.

 

Offer and convene School Attendance Improvement Conference.

24 P.S. § 13-1333(b)

Collaborative responsibility with school district, i.e. should send notification with copy to the school district; convene conference with school district as optional participant.

 

Refer child to (a) school-based or community-based attendance improvement program or (b) county child and youth agency for possible disputation as a dependent child.

24 P.S. § 13-1333.1(a)(1).

Collaborate with school district regarding attendance improvement programs. The nonpublic school should work with the school district to establish the record of unexcused absences and notices provided and actions taken by the nonpublic school. Juvenile dependency referrals should be coordinated through the school district.

 

File truancy citation with appropriate MDJ.

24 P.S. § 13-1333.1(a)(2), (b).

Refer to school district. The nonpublic school should work with the school district to establish the record of unexcused absences and notices provided and actions taken by the nonpublic school.

Following school-based or community-based attendance improvement program, refer child to county child and youth agency for possible disposition as a dependent child.

24 P.S. § 13-1333.1(c).

Refer to school district. The nonpublic school should work with the school district to establish the record of unexcused absences and notices provided and actions taken by the nonpublic school.

 
Wednesday, August 29, 2018 8:43 AM

Students in Pennsylvania schools are required by the state health department to have both doses of the vaccine — which includes measles, mumps and rubella — and must have at least one dose by the first day of school. If they do not, they risk possible exclusion unless they have a philosophical or religious exemption. 
WITF, Aug. 28, 2018
Full story

 
Wednesday, August 29, 2018 8:42 AM

Does every student in Pennsylvania have the right to the same quality of education regardless of the wealth of their family and community? That question is at the heart of the debate expected to take place in Commonwealth Court in the coming year as a result of a lawsuit whose plaintiffs seek to get the state legislature to fund education more equitably.
Public Source, Aug. 28, 2018
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Wednesday, August 29, 2018 8:40 AM

The school safety task force report to enhance the safety of Pennsylvania schools was on target in its call for more funding and recognition there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to keeping kids safe at school, according to the Pennsylvania School Boards Association CEO.
Pennlive, Aug. 28, 2018
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Tuesday, August 28, 2018 10:00 AM

If you think it takes a lot of money to get a child ready for school, consider how much money it takes to get a school ready for a child. Pennsylvania spends almost $33 billion per year educating about 1.7 million children.
Allentown Morning Call, Aug. 27, 2018
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Tuesday, August 28, 2018 9:59 AM

The Pennsylvania School Safety Task Force continued to emphasize in a report released Monday the need for more mental health support in schools.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Aug. 27, 2018
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Monday, August 27, 2018 10:01 AM

Every school year, in all 50 states, parents have to prove their kids have received certain vaccines before enrolling them in school. Specific requirements differ from state to state, but the general rules is the same: no vaccines, no school. It took more than a century for school vaccination laws to take root. And even today, public health officials and parents continue to puzzle over who and what they should cover.
WHYY, Aug. 23, 2018
Full story

 
Friday, August 24, 2018 9:44 AM

Kumiko Kawasaki may never really know where exactly it happened — maybe on her kids’ favorite playground in Berkeley, California, or maybe at school — but somewhere along the way, her two children caught hand, foot and mouth disease. Three times.
WHYY, Aug. 23, 2018
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P.O. Box 39, 122 Valley Road, Summerdale, PA 17093 Phone: (717) 732-4999 Fax: (717) 732-4890
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