2023 Legislation: Education Justice and School-Related Bills

HB 473 (Author: Hull | Sponsor: Sparks), Relating to parental rights regarding a threat assessment of a student conducted by a public school’s threat assessment and safe and supportive school team. HB 473 requires schools to notify a parent of a student (or a person standing in parental relation to the student) before a “threat assessment and safe and supportive school team” conducts a threat assessment of that student. These assessments evaluate students who make threats of violence or exhibit harmful, threatening, or violent behavior. The team must provide the notified person the opportunity to participate in the assessment either in person or remotely, and must allow them to offer information regarding the student. Following the assessment, the team must provide its findings and conclusions to the parent or person. Effective on 6/13/23 

HB 1211 (Authors: Guillen; Ramos; Plesa | Sponsor: Zaffirini), Relating to financial assistance, including repayment of loans, for certain students attending postsecondary educational institutions. HB 1211 expands eligibility for mental health professional education loan repayment programs to include a licensed specialist in school psychology (LSSP). To be eligible to receive repayment assistance up to $40,000, LSSPs must apply to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and be employed by a school district or an open-enrollment charter school located in a federally designated mental health care health professional shortage area or a public school that receives federal funding under Title I. Additionally, LSSPs must provide mental health services to students enrolled in their district or school, and must have completed between one and five consecutive years of practice in Texas. Effective on 9/1/23 

HB 3908 (Author: Wilson | Sponsor: Creighton), Relating to fentanyl abuse prevention and drug poisoning awareness education in public schools. HB 3908 [known as “Tucker’s Law”] requires the Governor to designate one week during the school year as Fentanyl Poisoning Awareness Week to educate students about the dangers posed by the drug fentanyl and the risks of fentanyl poisoning. The week may include age-appropriate instruction, including instruction on prevention of the abuse of and addiction to fentanyl. This bill creates The Fentanyl Abuse Prevention and Drug Poisoning Awareness Education program, which requires school districts to annually provide research-based instruction related to fentanyl abuse prevention and drug poisoning awareness to students in grades 6 through 12. The required instruction must include: suicide prevention; prevention of the abuse of and addiction to fentanyl; awareness of local school and community resources and any processes involved in accessing those resources; and health education that includes information about substance use and abuse, including youth substance use and abuse. The instruction may be provided by a public or private institution of higher education, a library, a community service organization, a religious organization, a local public health agency, or an organization employing mental health professionals. Provision of this educational instruction may satisfy current statutory requirements for school districts to implement a program in the area of substance abuse prevention and intervention. Effective on 6/17/23 

SB 133 (Author: West | Sponsors: Hull; Mary González; Cain; Moody; Lozano), Relating to prohibiting the physical restraint of or use of chemical irritants or Tasers on certain public school students by peace officers and school security personnel under certain circumstances. Per SB 133, peace officers performing law enforcement duties and school security personnel performing security-related duties on school property or at a school-sponsored or school-related activity may not restrain or use a chemical irritant spray or Taser on a student enrolled in 5th grade or below, unless that student poses a serious risk of harm to themselves or another person. Effective on 6/18/23 

SB 629 (Author: Menéndez | Sponsors: Talarico; Oliverson; Leo-Wilson; Howard; Zwiener), Relating to the maintenance, administration, and disposal of opioid antagonists on public and private school campuses and to the permissible uses of money appropriated to a state agency from the opioid abatement account. SB 629 requires school districts to develop and implement a policy regarding the maintenance, administration, and disposal of opioid antagonists (medications meant to block the effects of opioids, like naloxone and naltrexone) at each district campus that serves students in grades 6 through 12, and it may adopt and implement a policy on campuses serving students in lower grade levels. Open-enrollment charter schools and private schools are similarly allowed to implement such a policy.  

The policy must: provide that school personnel and school volunteers who are authorized and trained may administer an opioid antagonist to a person who is reasonably believed to be experiencing an opioid-related drug overdose; require that each school campus subject to the policy have one or more school personnel members or school volunteers authorized and trained to administer an opioid antagonist present during regular school hours; establish the number of opioid antagonists that must be available at each campus at any given time; and require that the supply of opioid antagonists at each relevant school campus be stored in a secure location and easily accessible to authorized and trained school personnel and school volunteers. Within 10 business days of administering an opioid antagonist, the school must report relevant information to school leadership, the prescribing physician or other personnel, and the Commissioner of State Health Services. Effective on 6/18/23 

SB 798 (Author: Middleton | Sponsor: Buckley), Relating to the certification requirements for a public school counselor. SB 798 repeals the requirement that a candidate for certification of a school counselor must have experience as a classroom teacher. Effective on 9/1/23 

During the 2023 session of the Texas Legislature, the Texas Center for Justice and Equity tracked around 40 youth and adult justice bills that made it to the Governor's desk. You can find links to all of our analyses in our 2023 Bill Analysis Guide.