2020 General Assembly Session

School Board/Governance Related Legislation

2020 General Assembly Summary
School Board Governance Related Legislation
Fairfax County Public Schools, Office of Government Relations

This report describes all of the School Board Governance-related legislation considered during the 2020 General Assembly Regular Session.  Bills are listed in one of three categories: Approved, Continued to 2021, or Failed. 

Approved legislation goes into effect on July 1, 2020 unless otherwise specified in the legislation itself.

Bills designated as “Continued to 2021” are effectively “Failed” for purposes of the 2020 Session, but can still be acted upon by the Committee that recommended continuing the legislation prior to the 2021 Session (by December 3, 2020).  Even if a bill were to be acted upon prior to that deadline (which rarely occurs), it would still have to proceed through the remainder of the legislative process (pass in both chambers, signed by the Governor) during the 2021 Session.

Summaries are linked to the Division of Legislative Services’ web pages for text, up to date summary information, and fiscal impact statements. If a bill of interest is not found in one category, please check another as legislation often can fit under multiple categories.

UPDATED:  March 30, 2020


Community Services Efficiency Act; Department of Education; Community Schools. HB 1355 (Rasoul) requires the Department of Education to establish an interagency task force composed of state and local agencies and entities in the areas of early childhood development, health, social services, community engagement, family engagement, higher education, communities in schools, and workforce development for the purpose of developing a program for the establishment of community school whereby public elementary and secondary schools serve as centers for the provision of such community programs and services to students and their families as may be necessary on the basis of the unique needs of the student population to be served. The bill requires such program to include a process by which school boards and community partnerships may apply to the Department of Education to designate an elementary or secondary school in the local school division as a community school.

Elections; Date of June Primary Election. SB 316 (Kiggans) changes the date of the primary election held in June from the second Tuesday in June to the third Tuesday in June. The bill also changes candidate filing deadlines to reflect the change of date.

Elementary and Secondary Schools and Institutions of Higher Education in the Commonwealth HB 973 (VanValkenburg) and SB 600 (Lucas) repeal several Acts of Assembly from 1901 to 1960 that contain provisions relating to the racial segregation of students in elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth.

Immunity of Persons at Public Hearing; Attorney Fees; Costs SB 401 (Hashmi)  
allows for the award of reasonable attorney fees and costs to any person who has a subpoena against him quashed in an action for statements made at a public hearing before the governing body of a locality or other local entity when he is immune from liability for such statements.

Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, Va. Council On; Membership SB 41 (DeSteph) adds two nonlegislative citizen members to the Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, one of whom is a parent of a military child, to be appointed by the Governor, and one of whom is a military spouse serving on the Department of Education's Military Student Support Process Action Team, to be appointed by the Superintendent of Public Instruction. SB 41 incorporates SB 47 (Spruill)

Legal Holidays; Lee-Jackson Day; Election Day HB 108 (Lindsey) and SB 601 (Lucas) designate Election Day, the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, as a state holiday and removes Lee-Jackson Day as a state holiday.

Local Governing Body Meetings; Public Comment, during a Regular Meeting at Least Quarterly SB 977 (Suetterlein) requires a governing body to provide members of the general public with the opportunity for public comment during a regular meeting at least quarterly.        

Local Government Meetings; Weather SB 941 (Locke) authorizes by resolution adopted at a regular meeting, any political subdivision, board of zoning appeals or other local government board, commission or authority may fix the day or days to which a regular meeting shall be continued if the chairman, or vice-chairman if the chairman is unable to act finds and declares that weather or other conditions are such that it is hazardous for member to attend the regular meeting. Such findings shall be communicated to the members and the press as promptly as possible.  All hearings and other matters previously advertised shall be conducted at the continued meeting, and no further advertising is required.

Local Human Rights Ordinances; Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity HB 696 (Roem) provides that localities may prohibit discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, credit, and education on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Opening of the School Year; Northern Neck Technical Center SB 515 (McDougle) permits the school board of any school division from which students attend Northern Neck Technical Center to set the school calendar so that the first day that students are required to attend school is earlier than Labor Day, including earlier than 14 days before Labor Day. 

Transgender Students, Policies HB 145 (Simon) and SB 161 (Boysko) require the Department of Education to develop and make available to each school board, no later than December 31, 2020, model policies concerning the treatment of transgender students in public elementary and secondary schools that address common issues regarding transgender students in accordance with evidence-based best practices and include information, guidance, procedures, and standards relating to compliance with applicable nondiscrimination laws; maintenance of a safe and supportive learning environment free from discrimination and harassment for all students; prevention of and response to bullying and harassment;  maintenance of student records; identification of students; protection of student privacy and the confidentiality of sensitive information; enforcement of sex-based dress codes; and student participation in sex-specific school activities and events, excluding athletics, and use of school facilities. The bills require each school board to adopt, no later than the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, policies that are consistent with but may be more comprehensive than such model policies developed by the Department of Education.

School Board Member Compensation; City of Winchester SB 1040 (Vogel) provides that any elected or appointed school board may pay each of its members an annual salary that is consistent with the salary procedures and no more that the salary limits provided for local governments.

Student Voters; Virginia Voter Registration HB 1491 (Guy) requires each public high school to provide to any enrolled student who is of voting age or otherwise eligible to register to vote access to Virginia voter registration information and applications, or access to the Virginia online voter registration system on a school-owned computing device, and the opportunity to complete such application during the normal course of the school day.

United States Constitution; Ratifies Equal Rights Amendment HJ 1 (Carroll Foy) and SJ 1 (McClellan-Lucas) ratifies the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution of the United States that was proposed by Congress in 1972. SJ 1 incorporates SJ 5 (Saslaw).

Virginia Freedom of Information Act; Cost Estimates, Response Time SB 153 (Stuart) provides that if a requester asks for a cost estimate in advance of a Virginia Freedom of Information Act request, the time to respond is tolled for the amount of time that elapses between notice of the cost estimate and the response from the requester, and that if the public body receives no response from the requester within 30 days of sending the cost estimate, the request shall be deemed to be withdrawn. The bill clarifies that if a cost estimate exceeds $200 and the public body requires an advance deposit, the public body may require the requester to pay the advance deposit before the public body is required to process the request.

Virginia Freedom of Information Act; Library Records HB 313 (Gooditis) and SB 259 (Bell) clarify that information contained in library records that can be used to identify any library patron who has borrowed or accessed material or resources from a library as well as the material or resources such patron borrowed or accessed is exempt from disclosure under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.        

Virginia Freedom of Information Act; FOIA Officers, Training and Reporting Requirements SB 138 (Stuart) adds regional public bodies to the types of public bodies that must designate a FOIA officer. The bill also changes the frequency for required FOIA officer training from annually to once during each consecutive period of two calendar years and provides that the name and contact information of a FOIA officer trained by legal counsel of a public body only needs to be submitted by July 1 of the initial year of training and updated if there are changes to that information.

Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Act; Training Requirements SB 139 (Stuart) adds the option for in-person training sessions in addition to the current requirement of online training sessions for local elected officials provided by the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council or a local government attorney.  The bill provides that any FOIA training completed by a local elected official prior to July 1, 2020, but after January 1, 2020, shall satisfy the training requirement set forth in Chapter 531 of the 2019 Acts of Assembly, as it shall become effective.  The bill also clarifies that "local elected officials" includes constitutional officers.



General Assembly; Streaming and Recording of Meetings HB 182 (Levine) would require the Clerk of the House of Delegates and the Clerk of the Senate to ensure that every subcommittee or committee meeting of a standing committee of the General Assembly, regardless of meeting date, and floor session of the House of Delegates or the Senate, including any joint session of the houses, is streamed with closed captioning, recorded and archived. The bill would define "stream" and specify that a qualifying meeting is one the date and time of which have been scheduled on a public website of any agency of the General Assembly for at least one hour prior to the meeting and that takes place in the State Capitol, the Pocahontas Building, or the General Assembly Building in Richmond. The bill would have a delayed effective date of October 1, 2020.   

Legal Notices; Online Publications HB 712 (Hope) would provide that, where any ordinance, resolution, notice, or advertisement is required by law to be published in a newspaper, such ordinance, resolution, notice, or advertisement instead may be published in an online publication, subject to certain requirements specified in the bill.

Office of the Attorney General; FOIA Ombudsman; Powers and Duties; Report HB 1392 (Roem) would require the Attorney General to appoint a Virginia Freedom of Information Act Ombudsman to promote compliance by state agencies with the provisions of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

Virginia Freedom of Information Act; Scholastic Records; Charges HB 602 (Freitas) would provide that, upon request, scholastic records shall be furnished electronically once per academic quarter and physically once per academic year at no charge to the student who is the subject thereof or the student's parent or legal guardian.    



Appointed School Boards; Members, Salaries HB 1557 (Fowler) and HB 1578 (Wyatt) would have eliminated the annual salary limits for appointed school board members and permits any appointed school board to pay each of its members an annual salary that is consistent with the salary procedures and no more than the salary limits provided for local governments in Article 1.1 (§ 15.2-1414.1 et seq.) of Chapter 14 of Title 15.2 (Counties, Cities and Towns) or as provided by charter.

Demographic Statements for Bills; Preparation by JLARC HB 1320 (Aird) would have permitted, beginning October 1, 2020, the Speaker of the House of Delegates, the Minority Leader of the House of Delegates, the Majority Leader of the Senate, and the Minority Leader of the Senate to request that a demographic statement which would have been defined in the bill as a statement that uses available data to outline the potential effects of a bill on specified demographic disparities within the Commonwealth, including a statement of whether the bill is likely to increase or decrease such disparities, to the extent that such data is available, be prepared by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission.

Discrimination Against Students; Investigation and Resolution of Complaints  HB 12 (Samirah) would have required the Department of Education to establish a procedure for the receipt, investigation, and resolution of student complaints alleging discrimination on any basis that is prohibited by state or federal law, including discrimination on the basis of sex as prohibited by Title IX (20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.).

Elections; Date of June Primary Election HB 57 (Fowler) would have changed the date of the primary election held in June from the second Tuesday in June to the third Tuesday in June. The bill would have also changed candidate filing deadlines to reflect the change of date. Note however that an identical bill, SB 316, did pass.

FOIA; Electronic Meetings, Serious Medical Condition of Immediate Family Member HB 321 (Levine) would have allowed a public body to conduct a meeting through electronic communication means if, on or before the day of a meeting, a member of the public body holding the meeting notifies the chair of the public body that he is unable to attend due to a serious medical condition of an immediate family member that prevents the member's physical attendance. The bill would have also limited such participation in an electronic meeting due to a personal matter to either two meetings per calendar year or 10 percent of the meetings held that calendar year, rounded up to the nearest whole number, whichever is greater.  

Immunity of Persons; Statements Regarding Matters of Public Concern or Made at a Public Hearing SB 375 (Edwards) provides that a person claiming immunity from certain claims for making statements at a public hearing or regarding matters of public concern may file a special plea to dismiss the underlying claim. The bill further provides that, upon the filing of such a plea, discovery related to such underlying claim shall be stayed pending the entry of an order adjudicating the plea.

Legal Holidays; Indigenous Peoples Day HB 591 (Guzman) would have removed official state observation of Columbus Day and replace it with observation of Indigenous Peoples Day, honoring the historic, cultural, and contemporary significance of indigenous peoples.

Lobbying; Notification to Local Clerk; Penalty SB 383 (McPike) would have required an individual who is compensated to influence or attempt to influence a local government officer or employee regarding local government action to provide notice of such status to the clerk of the local governing body of the county, city, or town in which the officer or employee serves.

Nomination of Candidates for Elected Offices; Primary Election or Partisan Nomination Process Required; Restrictions on Nomination Method Selected by Political Party; Party Identification on Ballots HB 216 (Helmer) would have required each candidate who has been nominated by a political party or in a primary election to be identified by the name of his political party. The bill would have removed the restrictions on candidates for elected school boards and soil and water conservation districts from being nominated by a partisan nomination method or at a primary election. The bill would have further provided that a political party committee may not select a nomination method that will have the practical effect of excluding participation in the nominating process by qualified voters who are unable to attend meetings because they are a member of a uniformed service, as defined in § 24.2-452, on active duty; temporarily residing outside of the United States; a student attending a school or institution of higher education; or a person with a disability.

Parental Choice Education Savings Accounts HB 678 (LaRock) would have permitted the parents of certain children to apply to the school division in which the child resides for a one-year, renewable Parental Choice Education Savings Account that consists of an amount that is equivalent to a certain percentage of all applicable annual Standards of Quality per pupil state funds appropriated for public school purposes and apportioned to the resident school division in which the student resides, including the per pupil share of state sales tax funding in basic aid and any state per pupil share of special education funding for which the student is eligible.

Public Campaign Financing; Counties and Cities May Establish for Certain Offices HB 851 (Simon) would have authorized the governing body of a county or city to establish by ordinance a system of public campaign financing for elected local offices. The bill specifies certain requirements for a system of public campaign financing established by a governing body, including the provision of a public election fund to be administered by the treasurer of the county or city. A system of public campaign financing established by a county or city would have been permitted to more stringently regulate the campaign finance activity of participating candidates and would have been subject to regulation and oversight by the State Board of Elections to ensure its conformity with state law and policy to the extent practicable.

Ranked Choice Voting; elections for local governing bodies; local option pilot program SB 892 Ebbin would have provided that elections for local governing bodies may be conducted by ranked choice voting, which the bill defines as the method of casting and tabulating votes in which (i) voters rank candidates in order of preference, (ii) tabulation proceeds in rounds in each of which either a candidate or candidates are elected or the last-place candidate is defeated, (iii) votes for voters' next-ranked candidates are transferred from elected or defeated candidates, and (iv) tabulation ends when the number of candidates elected equals the number of offices to be filled. The bill allows any local governing body to decide to conduct such election by ranked choice voting and requires any such decision to be made in consultation with the local electoral board and general registrar and by a majority vote of the governing body.

Registered Lobbyists; Sexual Harassment Training HB 630 (Hurst) would have required lobbyists registered with the Secretary of the Commonwealth to complete the sexual harassment training course provided by the Office of the Clerk of the House of Delegates or the Office of the Clerk of the Senate once every two calendar years. The bill would have required lobbyists to provide a certificate of completion of the training that is not more than two years old to the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council in order to complete their registrations. The bill would have had a delayed effective date of May 1, 2021, to coincide with the start of the 2021-2022 lobbying year.

School Holidays; Certain Election Days SB 176 (Chase) would have prohibited local school boards from requiring students to attend school on the second Tuesday in June or the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The bill would have also prohibited parent-teacher conferences and meetings from being held on those dates.

Yellow Charter Schools HB 1124 (Davis) would have permitted any school board to enter into an operating contract with a not-for-profit entity (operating entity) to designate a public elementary or secondary school in the local school division in which at least 50 percent of enrolled students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch as a yellow school and would have required each such contract to require the school board to transfer its constitutional authority to supervise the yellow school to the operating entity, including its authority relating to personnel and curriculum, for an initial period of at least two years, provided, however, that the yellow school would have been subject to all federal and state accountability requirements prescribed by law or regulation.