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Education policy conference committee lays out differences in House, Senate bills

With a laundry list of differences, the education policy conference committee met Wednesday to walk-through the differences between the House and Senate bills.

Largely, the Senate version of HF3782/SF3567* has a number of provisions the House does not, yet optimism abounds.

"This process might not be as arduous as one might think,” said Sen. Steve Cwodzinski (DFL-Eden Prairie). He and Rep. Laurie Pryor (DFL-Minnetonka) sponsor the respective bills.

Conferees plan to meet again Thursday.

Ban on book bans

The Senate version would prohibit banning, removing, or otherwise restricting access to an otherwise age-appropriate book or other material from a school library based solely on the viewpoint, content, message, idea, or opinion conveyed.

A governing body would adopt a policy that establishes procedures for selection of and reconsideration of library materials. The policy could not impair or limit the rights of a parent, guardian or adult student to request a curriculum content challenge to the material.

Nicknames and mascots

Starting Sept. 1, 2026, a public school may not have or adopt a name, symbol, or image that depicts or refers to an American Indian Tribe, individual, custom, or tradition to be used as a mascot, nickname, logo, letterhead, or team name of the school unless the school has obtained an exemption.

Sen. Steve Cwodzinski opens the April 24 meeting of the Conference Committee on SF3567, the education policy bill. (Screenshot courtesy Senate Media Services)

Contained in the Senate version, the prohibition would not apply to a public school located within the reservation of a federally recognized tribal nation in Minnesota where at least 95% of students meet the state definition of an American Indian student.

Cell phone use

House language would require a school district or charter school to adopt a policy on students' possession and use of cell phones in school by March 15, 2025. The Minnesota Elementary School Principals Association and the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals “must collaborate to make best practices available to schools on a range of different strategies in order to minimize the impact of cell phones on student behavior, mental health, and academic attainment."

“It’s good to see some ideas that have come from both sides that will hopefully find merit,” said Sen. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka).

Other Senate-only provisions include:

  • an update to "Erin's Law," that would require districts to offer instruction on child sexual abuse prevention to students and train all school personnel on recognizing and preventing sexual abuse and sexual violence;
  • an American Indian student or staff member may use tobacco, sage, sweetgrass, and cedar to conduct individual or group smudging in a public school;
  • school districts would be encouraged to provide instruction on healthy aging and dementia to students in grades 6 through 12; and
  • the Minnesota State High School League would provide school coaches with eating disorder prevention education resources about the nature and risks of eating disorders.

Other House-only provisions include:

  • schools would provide a parent access to their student's individual student performance data and achievement report when the it is made available to the school;
  • schools would be encouraged to provide mental health instruction for students in grades 4 through 12 aligned with local health standards; and
  • a school could receive a Purple Star School designation if it has, among other things, a designated staff member serving as a military liaison, offers professional development opportunities for staff members on issues related to military-connected students and recognizes the Month of the Military Child or Military Family Month with relevant events hosted by the school.

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