Kathryn PerricoJune 2Lisa-Woloszynek2, 2020 

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed Ohio House Bill 164 (H.B. 164) on Friday, June 19, 2020, also known as the Ohio Student Religious Liberties Act of 2019. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, H.B. 164 goes beyond its religious provisions to also address a variety of issues that Ohio school districts face as they prepare to reopen for the 2020-2021 school year. Recognizing that school closures impacted student instruction and reduced available assessment data, Ohio’s legislature provides the following exemptions and prohibitions to Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee provisions:

  • Prohibits a school district/school from retaining a third-grade student who does not attain a passing score on the fall administration of the third grade English language arts achievement assessment, if the student’s principal and reading teacher agree that other assessments of the student’s reading skills demonstrate the reading competency necessary for 4th grade promotion.
  • Prohibits the State Board of Education from the annual review and upward adjustment of the third grade English language arts assessment promotion score, and, instead, requires the use of the 2019-2020 promotion score of 683.
  • Exempts a teacher assigned to provide intense remediation reading services to a student pursuant to Third Grade Reading Guarantee requirements, from the training, licensure, evaluation criteria otherwise required.
  • Relieves otherwise eligible public school districts from district and/or school level reading achievement improvement plan requirements (this does not include individual student RIMPs).

The relief that H.B. 164 provides is only temporary for the 2020-2021 school year. As school districts utilize these opportunities for flexibility, it is imperative that any student retention and instructional decisions remain student centered. Decisions should remain focused on data and progress with the goals of quality instruction for reading-proficient students.

If you have any questions about H.B. 164 and how it impacts your school district, students and teachers, please reach out here.

Kathy Perrico is a partner at Walter | Haverfield who focuses her practice on education law. She can be reached at kperrico@walterhav.com or at 216-928-2948.

Lisa Woloszynek is an associate at Walter | Haverfield who focuses her practice on education law. She can be reached at lwoloszynek@walterhav.com and at 216-619-7835.