Bill Summary for S 476 (2019-2020)

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Summary date: 

May 26 2020

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2019-2020 Session
Senate Bill 476 (Public) Filed Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Intro. by Horner, Tillman, Ballard.

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Bill summary

Conference report makes the following changes to the 4th edition.

Eliminates the provisions of previous Parts I and II, regarding transitioning to a competency-based assessment and teaching model for all elementary and secondary students, and requiring the adoption of a dating violence and abuse policy for identified elementary and secondary schools.

Eliminates the proposed changes set out in previous Part II, amending Article 25A of GS Chapter 115C to require each public school unit to adopt and implement a suicide risk referral protocol for school personnel who work directly with students in grades K-12. Eliminates conforming changes to related statutes.

Instead, enacts new Article 25B, Mental Health Needs of Students, of GS Chapter 115C, which provides the following.

Requires the State Board of Education (State Board) to adopt a school-based mental health policy (policy) that includes minimum requirements for a school-based mental health plan for K-12 school units (plan), and a model mental health training program (program) and model suicide risk referral protocol (protocol) for K-12 school units. Requires the program to be provided to school personnel who work with students in grades K-12 at no cost and address youth mental health, suicide prevention, substance abuse, sexual abuse prevention, sex trafficking prevention, and teenage dating violence. Requires the protocol to be provided to school personnel who work with students in grades 6-12 and provide guidelines on the identification of students at risk of suicide and procedures and referral sources that address actions that should be taken to address identified students. Requires each K-12 school unit to adopt a plan that includes minimum requirements for a plan established by the State Board of Education (State Board) and a program and protocol consistent with the model programs developed by the State Board.

Requires initial mental health training of employees of at least six hours within the first six months of employment and subsequent mental health trainings of at least two hours annually every subsequent year thereafter. Provides for waiver of the initial training if completed at another K-12 school unit. Allows training to be met by e-delivery, videoconferencing, group in-person training, and self-study.

Requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to review the School Board's minimum requirements for the plan, program, and protocol, and recommend needed changes, every five years beginning August 1, 2025. Requires the State Board to adopt the recommendation and publish updates to K-12 school units. Requires a school unit to update its plan in accordance with State Board updates.

Requires each K-12 school unit to annually report to DPI by September 15 on the content of its adopted plan and prior school year compliance with the statute. Authorizes DPI to audit school units to ensure compliance. Requires DPI to report the information it receives to the specified NCGA committees by December 15 each year.

Clarifies that the statute does not impose an additional duty on a K-12 school unit to provide mental health and suicide prevention services to students.

Provides for limited civil immunity for the governing boards of school units, their members, employees, designees, agents, and volunteers for any loss or damage caused by an act or omission relating to the provision of, participation in, or implementation of any component of a plan, program, or protocol required by the statute. Clarifies that the statute does not impose any specific duty or standard of care on a school unit.

Enacts GS 115C-75.9(n) (regarding innovative schools), GS 115C-218.75(h) (regarding charter schools), GS 115C-238.66(16) (regarding regional schools), GS 116-239.8(b)(18) (regarding laboratory schools), and Section 6(d)(16a) of SL 2018-32 (regarding renewal school systems) to require that each respective authority adopt and implement a plan, including a program and protocol, consistent with GS 115C-376.5, as enacted. 

Replaces the coordinating directive with the following. Directs the State Board of Education to adopt a plan, including a program and protocol, by December 1, 2020. Requires the school-based mental health policy to effectuate recommendations of the May 31, 2018, report of the Superintendent's Working Group on Student Health and Well-Being (Working Group) pursuant to SL 2017-57 to the extent they are consistent with the act and state law. Requires the program and protocol incorporated in the policy to meet the requirements developed by the Working Group in its October 15, 2018, report pursuant to SL 2018-32. Requires the Superintendent to ensure copies of the State Board's policy is made available to each K-12 school unit by December 31, 2020. Requires each school unit to adopt a plan that incorporates the State Board policy, including a program and protocol, by July 1, 2021.

Specifies that school personnel required to complete the training and employed in a K-12 school unit as of the date the act becomes law must complete their initial training by the end of the 2021-22 school year. 

Requires that the suicide risk referral protocols and mental health training programs be adopted and implemented by the public school units by July 1, 2021. Allows public school units to use the model suicide risk referral protocol and model mental health training program developed by the State Board of Education, modify the State Board of Education models, or develop their own models. 

Makes conforming changes to the act's titles.