SB 5315 – There were months of collaboration between the private schools authorized as Non-Public Agencies and legislators. The bill was passed through both Houses and is on the Governor’s desk after multiple iterations. Non-Public Agencies are often either private schools or hospitals. They are authorized to support students with disabilities or learning challenges. The private school NPAs partner with districts to provide IEP support. The bill’s final version changes the name from NPAs to “authorized entities” and sorts out the roles of the Districts, OSPI, and the NPAs. This bill satisfies the concerns illuminated in the Seattle Times article about NPAs. The article created confusion about private schools and fueled mistrust.

SB 5515, a bipartisan bill requiring increased oversight of boarding schools, was passed by both Houses. It requires DCYF to license living accommodations at boarding schools effective July 1, 2025, unless the school is exempt. A school must be accredited by a nationally recognized accreditor to be exempt. The accreditation standards must mirror that of DCYF’s licensing requirements. The licensing requirements will be established this coming year with the help of the State Board of Education and boarding school leaders.

SB 5316 is a background check bill for early learning programs that passed both Houses. The DCYF background check system is broken. Not only does it sometimes take months for a prospective teacher to get clearance, the teacher, in some parts of the State, must drive over an hour each way to get to a background check agency. In addition, the company working with DCYF called IndentoGo prioritizes almost every other kind of background check service over childcare industry background checks, thus making it extremely difficult to work in the early learning field. This bill speeds up background checks by five days and covers the cost. This is not a solution to the background check issue but a small start.

HB 1550 is a hotly contested bill awaiting the Governor’s signature. The bill changed the current and growing Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program to a Transition-to-Kindergarten program. Advocates for the change believe that Districts should be responsible for providing age-appropriate care for four-year-olds rather than assuming that all four-year-olds will benefit from starting public school Kindergarten a year early. However, supporters of the TK program argue that guardrails requiring them to adhere to licensing regulations or modify the curriculum are excessive and expensive. Furthermore, they sought to allocate Basic Ed funding for TK programs to offer free care to more young students to tackle the problem of low enrollment rates in public schools.

This year, the firearms bill, HB 1240, was signed into law by the Governor. The bill prohibits the manufacture, importation, distribution, sale, or offering for sale of any assault weapon. Breaking these restrictions is considered a gross misdemeanor and is punishable under the Consumer Protection Act. The bill had over fifty amendments and was voted on in the House, with 56 Yeas and 42 Nays. WFIS is highlighting this bill due to ongoing discussions about school safety that have been taking place during our Tuesday calls.

SB 5048 allows public school students to take college-in-the-classroom courses without the cost of college credits. The bill is waiting for the Governor’s signature. WFIS will work on integrating private school students into this program next year with input from our high schools.

HB 1477 expands eligibility for working connections and permits individuals to apply for any Working Families Tax Credit payments they didn’t claim for the last three years. It is waiting for the Governor’s signature.

HB 1525 expands eligibility for working connections child care benefits for persons participating in state-registered apprenticeships. It is waiting for the Governor’s signature.

SB 5225 expands Working Connections eligibility to include childcare teachers and staff. It is waiting for Governor’s signature.

Bills that died this Session:

SB 5020 attempted to change the compulsory education age from 8 to 6 years. It did not make it out of committee in the Senate.

HB 5280 aimed to make the duty of clergy to report child abuse or neglect into law. The House voted to pass an amendment compelling priests to be mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect, even if the information is obtained solely during the sacrament of reconciliation. With one vote, the bill died.

SB 5024 aimed to establish a Parent’s Bill of Rights.

HB 1093 was the first School Choice bill in over a decade to get a hearing. Although it made it no further than the Education Committee, we see that as progress in WA.

SB 5059 attempted again this year to require prejudgement interest to be automatically awarded to victims. Public and private schools joined with non-profits to testify against the bill.

HB 1377 is the CCDEI clock hour bill that died this year but will be reintroduced next year. In the meantime, private schools that provide clock hours can partner with approved CCDEI training providers, including colleges and ESDs, and offer classes or use the PGP flexibility. In addition, the Professional Educators Standards Board will be developing its systems to review CCDEI courses.

SB 1479 aimed to limit isolation and restraint practices in public schools and would have mandated the reporting of their use. WFIS provided input and endorsed the final version of the bill. However, the bill needed more support from public schools due to concerns about handling complex cases in the classroom where few alternatives exist.