PSBA Bulletin September/October 2021 September/October 2021 - Page 56

Q & A

Q & A

Looking for more answers to your school law questions ? Search for Pennsylvania School Law Handbook at www . psba . org for details on ordering paperback or ebook versions .
Q : Does Pennsylvania have required
academic standards ?
A : Yes . The State Board of Education
has adopted academic standards , which are the foundation upon which school boards design local curriculum and instruction . 22 Pa . Code §§ 4.4 , 4.12 . Public schools are required to provide instruction throughout the curriculum in the following content areas : English language arts ; mathematics ; science and technology ; environment and ecology ; social studies ( civics and government , geography , economics and history ); arts and humanities ; career education and work ; health , safety and physical education ; and family and consumer science . 24 P . S . §§ 15-1511 , 16-1605 ; 22 Pa . Code §§ 4.11 , 4.12 , 4.21-4.23 . School districts may develop , expand or improve upon the academic standards . 22 Pa . Code § 4.12 .
Q : Who is responsible for establishing
high school graduation requirements ?
A : Each school board must adopt local
high school graduation requirements in accordance with Section 4.24 of the State Board of Education regulations . The graduation requirements must be provided to students and parents / guardians , and made available in each school building or on the district ’ s website . The same procedures apply when the board adopts changes to the graduation requirements , and such changes must be made available immediately following board approval . 22 Pa . Code § 4.24 ( a ).
Q : What rights do parents have to inquire about the credentials of their
children ’ s teachers ?
A : The Every Student Succeeds Act
requires that local education agencies ( LEAs ) receiving Title I money notify parents at the beginning of each school year that they have the right to request , and the LEA will provide upon request
( and in a timely manner ), information regarding the professional qualifications of a student ’ s classroom teachers , including at a minimum , the following : ( 1 ) certification information , including whether the teacher has emergency or provisional state certification and whether the teacher has met state qualification and licensing criteria for the grade levels and subject areas taught ; ( 2 ) whether the teacher is teaching in the field of discipline of the teacher ’ s certification ; and ( 3 ) whether the child is provided services by paraprofessionals and , if so , their qualifications . 20 U . S . C . § 6312 ( e ) ( 1 )( A ). This notice must be provided to parents in a uniform and understandable format , and , to the extent practicable , in a language that parents can understand . 20 U . S . C . § 6312 ( e )( 4 ).
Q : Are local or state government employees , working with federally funded programs or activities , limited in their ability to serve on a
school board by the Hatch Act ?
A : The state and local component of
the federal Hatch Act imposes various restrictions on the political activities of certain state and local employees whose principal employment “ is in connection with ” a program or activity , funded in whole or part by federal dollars . These restrictions do not apply to state or local employees of publicly supported schools and educational systems . 5 U . S . C . §§ 1501-1508 ; 5 C . F . R . § 151.101 et seq . However , changes to the law enacted in 2012 now allow such employees to be candidates for election to public office unless their compensation is paid for , directly or indirectly via loans or grants , entirely from federal sources . See Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012 , Pub . L . No . 112-230 , § 2 , 3 ( c ), Dec . 28 , 2012 , 126 Stat . 1616 ( amending 5 U . S . C . § 1502 ( a ) ( 3 )).
Q : May a school director do business
with the school district they serve ?
A : Section 324 of the Public School Code
prohibits a school director , during the term for which elected or appointed , from engaging in any business transaction with the school district . 24 P . S . § 3-324 ( a ). Act 35 of 2001 amended Section 324 of the Public School Code to permit school districts to enter into contracts with businesses with which their school directors are associated , as long as the district and the school director strictly comply with the ethics standards and financial disclosure provisions of the Ethics Act . 24 P . S . § 3-324 ( c ). The best course of action for school directors contemplating doing business with the school districts they serve is to obtain a legal opinion from the State Ethics Commission or their district solicitor before engaging in any such transactions . 65 Pa . C . S . A . §§ 1107 ( 10 ), 1109 ( g ).
Q : What is the Pennsylvania Public School Employees ’ Retirement System
( PSERS )?
A : PSERS is a mandatory retirement
system established under state law – the Public School Employees ’ Retirement Code – covering all full-time and regular part-time employees working for school districts , intermediate units , career and technical schools , and charter schools . In addition , per diem or hourly employees who work more than 80 full-day sessions or 500 hours in a fiscal year are required to participate in PSERS . 24 Pa . C . S . A . § 8301 . B
54 PSBA Bulletin September / October 2021