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Budget Bill Wellness and Success Initiatives: What You Need to Know

in Education, News

This is Part 1 in a Series of Legal Updates the Education Law Group will be providing on House Bill 33…

Student Wellness and Success Funds

House Bill 33, the “budget bill” creates several new sections of the Ohio Revised Code intended to address student wellness and success.  One such new section of the Ohio Revised Code (R.C. 3317.26) creates student wellness and success funds out of those funds received under R.C. 3317.011. Under this section:

  • At least 50% of student health and success funds must be spent on mental health services, or physical health care services, both of which can include telehealth services.
  • Districts must develop a plan to utilize student wellness and success funds in coordination with community based mental health prevention or treatment providers or local boards of alcohol, drug addiction and mental health services and a community partner (e.g., an ESC, county board of DD, community based mental health provider, etc.).

The plan developed must be shared at a Board meeting within 30 days of its creation or amendment. All student health and wellness funds allocated during fiscal years 2020-2023 must be spent by June 30, 2025. Funds allocated in fiscal year ’24 must be spent by the end of the following year. Any funds not spent must be repaid to the Department of Education and Workforce (“DEW”). If the DEW finds that funds were not spent in a compliant manner, a corrective action plan may be required. If there is a finding of noncompliance with the corrective action plan, funds can be withheld. At the end of the fiscal year, each district must submit a report to the DEW describing the initiative on which the funds were spent.

Feminine Hygiene Products

The budget bill also creates a new section of the Ohio Revised Code (R.C. 3313.6413) which requires schools that enroll female students in grades 6-12 to provide free feminine hygiene products to students.  

  • Schools are permitted to provide these products to younger students.
  • Schools are required to determine where these products are kept in the school, and use is intended to be limited to on school premises.

Two million dollars has been allocated to schools for fiscal year ’24 for the installation of hygiene product dispensers and three million dollars has been allocated to schools in fiscal year ’24 for the reimbursement of costs associated with the provision of feminine hygiene products themselves.

Seizure Disorders

HB 33 also creates a new section of the Ohio Revised Code (R.C. 3313.117) to address students with seizure disordersUnder this new provision “seizure disorder” is very broadly defined as “epilepsy or involuntary disturbance of brain function that may manifest as an impairment, loss of consciousness, behavioral abnormalities, sensory disturbance or convulsions.”

  • For each student who has an “active seizure disorder diagnosis” the school nurse (or other school employee if the school does not have a nurse), along with the student’s parent, must create an “individualized seizure action plan” for the student. “Active” is undefined.
  • The “individualized seizure action plan” must include:
    • A written request, signed by the parent, for the district to administer one or more drugs prescribed for a seizure disorder administered to the student;
    • A written statement from the student’s treating practitioner providing the necessary drug information; and
    • Any other component that may be required by the State Board of Education.

The school nurse (or school administrator if the district does not employ a school nurse) shall notify school employees, volunteers, or contractors in writing of the existence and content of the seizure action plan of any individual who:

  • Regularly interacts with the student;
  • Has a legitimate educational interest in the student or is responsible for the direct supervision of the student; or
  • Is responsible for transporting the student to/from school.

The school nurse or responsible administrator must also ensure training of these individuals in the care of students with seizure disorders, coordinate seizure disorder care, and identify each individual who has received training in the administration of drugs prescribed for seizure disorders. The seizure action plan is only good for the school year in which the parent’s written request for the administration of medication was received and must be renewed each year. The plan must be maintained in the office of the school nurse or responsible administrator, and at least one employee per school building, aside from the school nurse, must be trained on the implementation of seizure action plans every two years.

The required training must include and be consistent with the guidelines and best practices established by a nonprofit organization that supports the welfare of individuals with epilepsy and seizure disorders and must encompass the following:

  • Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a seizure; 
  • The appropriate treatment for a student who exhibits the symptoms of a seizure;
  • Administering drugs prescribed for seizure disorders, subject to section 3313.713 of the Revised Code.

A seizure training shall not exceed one hour and shall qualify as a professional development activity for the renewal of educator licenses, including activities approved by local professional development committees. Schools are also required to have each individual employed as an administrator, guidance counselor, teacher, or bus driver to complete a minimum of one hour of self-study training or in-person training on seizure disorders not later than twenty-four months after October 2, 2025.  The statute provides that a school or school district, a member of a board or governing authority, or a district or school employee is not liable in damages in a civil action for injury, death, or loss to person or property allegedly arising from providing care or performing duties under this section unless the act or omission constitutes willful or wanton misconduct.

Athletic Activity Coaches

Finally, the budget bill adds a provision to the Ohio Revised Code (R.C. 3313.5318) regarding necessary training for athletic activity coaches. This section provides that individuals are not permitted to coach unless the individual has completed a student mental health training course each time the individual applies for or renews a pupil-activity program permit. The training can be completed at any time within the duration of the individual’s new or renewed permit. Proof of completion must be provided to the State Board of Education. HB 33 also supplemented the training requirements in R.C. 3319.303 to include sudden cardiac arrest training as approved by the Department of Health. Individuals renewing pupil-activity program permits are required to present evidence of this training to the State Board of Education. 

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Weston Hurd LLP attorneys regularly assist school districts in all aspects of school law. For further information please contact Kathy Perrico at kperrico@westonhurd.com  or Christina Henagen Peer at cpeer@westonhurd.com