Bill Summary for H 8 (2023-2024)

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Summary date: 

Sep 21 2023

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2023-2024 Session
House Bill 8 (Public) Filed Wednesday, January 25, 2023
Intro. by Paré, Torbett, Blackwell, Hardister.

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Bill summary

Senate amendments to the 3rd edition make the following changes.

Changes the act’s titles.

Amendment #1

Changes the date by which the State Board of Education must adopt the list of approved computer science courses and post it on the Department of Public Instruction’s website from July 1, 2023, to November 1, 2023.

Repeals the following portions of this act if H 259 (2023 Appropriations Act) becomes law: (1) Section 1(a), which amends GS 115C-12(9d); (2) Section 1(c), which made the changes to GS 115C-12(9d) applicable to beginning with students entering the ninth grade in 2024-25; (3) Section 2(a), which enacted new GS 115C-81.90 (computer science); and (4) Section 2(c), concerning the signed notification that schools may submit in 2024-25 and 2025-26 stating that a computer science course fulfilling the statute’s requirement was not available, and which waives the requirement to offer such a course for the school year.

Provides that if H 259 becomes law, then the following changes are made.

  • Amends GS 115C-83.31, as enacted by Section 7.72(a) of H 259, as follows. Requires for high school graduation a passing grade in a computer science course. Specifies that the course will fulfill one credit that is not an English, math, science, or social studies credit. Exempts students enrolling in a public high school after completion of the 11th grade. This requirement applies beginning with students entering the ninth grade in the 2024-25 school year. Prohibits enforcing a computer science graduation requirement for any student whose individualized education program states that the student’s disability would prevent the student from completing that graduation requirement.
  • Enacts new GS 15C-81.90 specifically requiring the State Board to include instruction in computer science, with defined components, in the standard course of study for middle and high school students. Requires public school units to offer an elective introductory course to middle school students and a course on using existing technologies and creating new technologies to high school students, with a passing grade in the latter course satisfying the graduation requirement. Authorizes units to offer the graduation requirement course to middle school students. Requires the courses to be conducted in person when practicable.
  • For the 2024-25 and 2025-26 school years, by July 1, allows public schools to submit a signed notification stating that a computer science course fulfilling the statute’s requirement was not available, which waives the requirement to offer such a course for the school year.
  • Repeals the following section of H 259: (a) Section 8A.6(k), which amended GS 115C-12 concerning the development of a sequence of courses that allows students to graduate high school in three years and (b) Section 8A.6(l), which amended GS 115C-12(9d) by removing the provision specifying that local boards of education may require students to complete a high school graduation project.
  • Amends GS 115C-83.31, as enacted in H 259, by removing the provision specifying that local boards of education may require students to complete a high school graduation project. Also adds the requirement that the State Board of Education develop a sequence of courses that allow a student to complete the credits required for graduation in a three-year period. Requires graduation within three years to be indicated on a student’s transcript. Prohibits a local board of education from requiring any additional credits beyond those that are mandated by the State Board for graduation. Makes conforming changes to GS 115C-47, GS 115C-218.85(a)(6), GS 115C-238.66(1)f, and Section 8A.6(r) of H 259.

Adds the following content.

Enacts GS 116-11.4 governing the accreditation process for UNC constituent universities, and GS 115D-6.2 governing the accreditation process for community colleges, providing as follows.

Prohibits accreditation by an accrediting agency for consecutive accreditation cycles. Requires an institution or college that pursues accreditation with a different accrediting agency in accordance with this section to pursue accreditation with a regional accrediting agency. If the constituent institution or college is not granted candidacy status by any regional accrediting agency that is different from its current accrediting agency at least three years prior to the expiration of its current accreditation, it may remain with its current accrediting agency for an additional accreditation cycle. Exempts certain programs from the accreditation requirements above, including graduate programs in law, pharmacy, engineering, or other similar educational programs as identified by the UNC BOG/State Board of Community Colleges.

Allows a constituent institution or community college to bring a civil action against any person who makes a false statement to the accrediting agency if all of the following criteria are met: (1) the statement, if true, would mean the constituent institution/community college is out of compliance with its accreditation standards; (2) the person made the statement with knowledge that the statement was false or with reckless disregard as to whether it was false; (3) the accreditation agency conducted a review of the constituent institution/community college as a proximate result of the statement; and (4) the review caused the constituent institution/community college to incur costs. Sets out damages that can be recovered by a prevailing constituent institution/community college, including costs related to the review conducted by the accrediting agency.

Requires the BOG to establish a Commission to study alternatives to the current process by which institutions of higher education are accredited and invite stakeholders, including those from other states, to participate. Requires an interim report on efforts to recruit stakeholders to participate to the specified NCGA committee by January 1, 2024. Requires a report on any findings the BOG develops to the same committee by September 1, 2024.

Requires the UNC GOB and State Board of Community Colleges to each adopt a policy requiring community colleges to be accredited in line with the act.

Makes conforming changes to GS 90-631(b) (concerning accreditation of a massage and bodywork therapy program operated by a North Carolina community college), GS 93A-4(a2) (concerning fees paid by a certified real estate education provider), GS 93A-38.5(e) (concerning fees paid by private real estate education providers), GS 93E-1-7(b2) (concerning continuing education fees), GS 93E-1-8 (concerning fees for real estate and appraiser courses), GS 115D-5 (concerning faculty credential requirements), and GS 130A-309.28 (concerning research projects on hazardous waste). Also makes conforming changes to GS 116-201(b)(8) (definition of private institution under the State Education Assistance Authority) and GS 116-280(3) (concerning need-based scholarshipS for students attending private institutions of higher education).

Provides that if H 259 becomes law, Section 8.5(a)(4) is amended to require than any faculty member hired or appointed to the School of Civic Life and Leadership be subject to the approval of the dean of the school (currently, only hired faculty subject to dean approval). 

Amendment #2

Enacts new Article 51 to GS Chapter 66, entitled the Pornography Age Verification Enforcement Act (PAVE Act). Defines eight terms. Defines harmful to minors by incorporating the definition from GS 14-190.13 (that quality of any material or performance that depicts sexually explicit nudity or sexual activity and that, taken as a whole, has the following characteristics: (1) the average adult person applying contemporary community standards would find that the material or performance has a predominant tendency to appeal to a prurient interest of minors in sex; (2) the average adult person applying contemporary community standards would find that the depiction of sexually explicit nudity or sexual activity in the material or performance is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community concerning what is suitable for minors; and (3) the material or performance lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors).  

Specifies that any commercial entity that knowingly and intentionally publishes or distributes material harmful to minors on the internet from a website that contains a substantial portion of such material must, through use of (1) a commercially available database regularly used by businesses or governmental entities for the purpose of age and identity verification or (2) another  commercially  reasonable  method  of  age  and  identity verification, verify the age of the individuals attempting to access the material. Prevents the commercial entity or a third party acting on its behalf from retaining any identifying information of the individual after access has been granted to the material. Provides for civil liability for both the entity and third parties working on its behalf. Authorizes a civil action to be brought by parents of minors who were allowed to access the material or persons whose identifying information is retained. Provides for injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, and fee shifting, including payment of attorneys' fees. Provides for legal interest on judgments. Exempts bona fide news or public interest broadcast, website, video, report, or event from the PAVE Act. Specifies that the PAVE Act should not be construed to affect the rights of any news-gathering organization.

Effective January 1, 2024, and applies to websites accessed on or after that date.