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2011 Florida Statutes

Chapter 1002
STUDENT AND PARENTAL RIGHTS AND EDUCATIONAL CHOICES
CHAPTER 1002
CHAPTER 1002
STUDENT AND PARENTAL RIGHTS AND EDUCATIONAL CHOICES
GENERAL PROVISIONS
(s. 1002.01)
STUDENT AND PARENTAL RIGHTS
(ss. 1002.20-1002.23)
EDUCATIONAL CHOICE
(ss. 1002.31-1002.395)
HOME EDUCATION, PRIVATE SCHOOLS, OTHER EDUCATION OPTIONS
(ss. 1002.41-1002.455)
VOLUNTARY PREKINDERGARTEN EDUCATION PROGRAM
(ss. 1002.51-1002.79)
GENERAL PROVISIONS
1002.01 Definitions.
1002.01 Definitions.
(1) A “home education program” means the sequentially progressive instruction of a student directed by his or her parent in order to satisfy the attendance requirements of ss. 1002.41, 1003.01(13), and 1003.21(1).
(2) A “private school” is a nonpublic school defined as an individual, association, copartnership, or corporation, or department, division, or section of such organizations, that designates itself as an educational center that includes kindergarten or a higher grade or as an elementary, secondary, business, technical, or trade school below college level or any organization that provides instructional services that meet the intent of s. 1003.01(13) or that gives preemployment or supplementary training in technology or in fields of trade or industry or that offers academic, literary, or career training below college level, or any combination of the above, including an institution that performs the functions of the above schools through correspondence or extension, except those licensed under the provisions of chapter 1005. A private school may be a parochial, religious, denominational, for-profit, or nonprofit school. This definition does not include home education programs conducted in accordance with s. 1002.41.
History.s. 90, ch. 2002-387; s. 32, ch. 2004-41; s. 76, ch. 2004-357; s. 169, ch. 2007-5.
STUDENT AND PARENTAL RIGHTS
1002.20 K-12 student and parent rights.
1002.205 Guidelines on religious expression; distribution.
1002.21 Postsecondary student and parent rights.
1002.22 Education records and reports of K-12 students; rights of parents and students; notification; penalty.
1002.221 K-12 education records.
1002.225 Education records of students in public postsecondary educational institutions; penalty.
1002.23 Family and School Partnership for Student Achievement Act.
1002.20 K-12 student and parent rights.Parents of public school students must receive accurate and timely information regarding their child’s academic progress and must be informed of ways they can help their child to succeed in school. K-12 students and their parents are afforded numerous statutory rights including, but not limited to, the following:
(1) SYSTEM OF EDUCATION.In accordance with s. 1, Art. IX of the State Constitution, all K-12 public school students are entitled to a uniform, safe, secure, efficient, and high quality system of education, one that allows students the opportunity to obtain a high quality education. Parents are responsible to ready their children for school; however, the State of Florida cannot be the guarantor of each individual student’s success.
(2) ATTENDANCE.
(a) Compulsory school attendance.The compulsory school attendance laws apply to all children between the ages of 6 and 16 years, as provided in s. 1003.21(1) and (2)(a), and, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.21(1) and (2)(a):
1. A student who attains the age of 16 years during the school year has the right to file a formal declaration of intent to terminate school enrollment if the declaration is signed by the parent. The parent has the right to be notified by the school district of the district’s receipt of the student’s declaration of intent to terminate school enrollment.
2. Students who become or have become married or who are pregnant and parenting have the right to attend school and receive the same or equivalent educational instruction as other students.
(b) Regular school attendance.Parents of students who have attained the age of 6 years by February 1 of any school year but who have not attained the age of 16 years must comply with the compulsory school attendance laws. Parents have the option to comply with the school attendance laws by attendance of the student in a public school; a parochial, religious, or denominational school; a private school; a home education program; or a private tutoring program, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.01(13).
(c) Absence for religious purposes.A parent of a public school student may request and be granted permission for absence of the student from school for religious instruction or religious holidays, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.21(2)(b).
(d) Dropout prevention and academic intervention programs.The parent of a public school student has the right to receive written notice by certified mail prior to placement of the student in a dropout prevention and academic intervention program and shall be notified in writing and entitled to an administrative review of any action by school personnel relating to the student’s placement, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.53(5).
(3) HEALTH ISSUES.
(a) School-entry health examinations.The parent of any child attending a public or private school shall be exempt from the requirement of a health examination upon written request stating objections on religious grounds in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.22(1) and (2).
(b) Immunizations.The parent of any child attending a public or private school shall be exempt from the school immunization requirements upon meeting any of the exemptions in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.22(5).
(c) Biological experiments.Parents may request that their child be excused from performing surgery or dissection in biological science classes in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.47.
(d) Reproductive health and disease education.A public school student whose parent makes written request to the school principal shall be exempted from the teaching of reproductive health or any disease, including HIV/AIDS, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.42(3).
(e) Contraceptive services to public school students.In accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.062(7), students may not be referred to or offered contraceptive services at school facilities without the parent’s consent.
(f) Career education courses involving hazardous substances.High school students must be given plano safety glasses or devices in career education courses involving the use of hazardous substances likely to cause eye injury, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.65.
(g) Substance abuse reports.The parent of a public school student must be timely notified of any verified report of a substance abuse violation by the student, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.09(8).
(h) Inhaler use.Asthmatic students whose parent and physician provide their approval to the school principal may carry a metered dose inhaler on their person while in school. The school principal shall be provided a copy of the parent’s and physician’s approval.
(i) Epinephrine use.A student who has experienced or is at risk for life-threatening allergic reactions may carry an epinephrine auto-injector and self-administer epinephrine by auto-injector while in school, participating in school-sponsored activities, or in transit to or from school or school-sponsored activities if the school has been provided with parental and physician authorization. The State Board of Education, in cooperation with the Department of Health, shall adopt rules for such use of epinephrine auto-injectors that shall include provisions to protect the safety of all students from the misuse or abuse of auto-injectors. A school district, county health department, public-private partner, and their employees and volunteers shall be indemnified by the parent of a student authorized to carry an epinephrine auto-injector for any and all liability with respect to the student’s use of an epinephrine auto-injector pursuant to this paragraph.
(j) Diabetes management.A school district may not restrict the assignment of a student who has diabetes to a particular school on the basis that the student has diabetes, that the school does not have a full-time school nurse, or that the school does not have trained diabetes personnel. Diabetic students whose parent and physician provide their written authorization to the school principal may carry diabetic supplies and equipment on their person and attend to the management and care of their diabetes while in school, participating in school-sponsored activities, or in transit to or from school or school-sponsored activities to the extent authorized by the parent and physician and within the parameters set forth by State Board of Education rule. The written authorization shall identify the diabetic supplies and equipment that the student is authorized to carry and shall describe the activities the child is capable of performing without assistance, such as performing blood-glucose level checks and urine ketone testing, administering insulin through the insulin-delivery system used by the student, and treating hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. The State Board of Education, in cooperation with the Department of Health, shall adopt rules to encourage every school in which a student with diabetes is enrolled to have personnel trained in routine and emergency diabetes care. The State Board of Education, in cooperation with the Department of Health, shall also adopt rules for the management and care of diabetes by students in schools that include provisions to protect the safety of all students from the misuse or abuse of diabetic supplies or equipment. A school district, county health department, and public-private partner, and the employees and volunteers of those entities, shall be indemnified by the parent of a student authorized to carry diabetic supplies or equipment for any and all liability with respect to the student’s use of such supplies and equipment pursuant to this paragraph.
(k) Use of prescribed pancreatic enzyme supplements.A student who has experienced or is at risk for pancreatic insufficiency or who has been diagnosed as having cystic fibrosis may carry and self-administer a prescribed pancreatic enzyme supplement while in school, participating in school-sponsored activities, or in transit to or from school or school-sponsored activities if the school has been provided with authorization from the student’s parent and prescribing practitioner. The State Board of Education, in cooperation with the Department of Health, shall adopt rules for the use of prescribed pancreatic enzyme supplements which shall include provisions to protect the safety of all students from the misuse or abuse of the supplements. A school district, county health department, public-private partner, and their employees and volunteers shall be indemnified by the parent of a student authorized to use prescribed pancreatic enzyme supplements for any and all liability with respect to the student’s use of the supplements under this paragraph.
(4) DISCIPLINE.
(a) Suspension of public school student.In accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.09(1)-(4):
1. A student may be suspended only as provided by rule of the district school board. A good faith effort must be made to immediately inform the parent by telephone of the student’s suspension and the reason. Each suspension and the reason must be reported in writing within 24 hours to the parent by United States mail. A good faith effort must be made to use parental assistance before suspension unless the situation requires immediate suspension.
2. A student with a disability may only be recommended for suspension or expulsion in accordance with State Board of Education rules.
(b) Expulsion.Public school students and their parents have the right to written notice of a recommendation of expulsion, including the charges against the student and a statement of the right of the student to due process, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.08(1).
(c) Corporal punishment.
1. In accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.32, corporal punishment of a public school student may only be administered by a teacher or school principal within guidelines of the school principal and according to district school board policy. Another adult must be present and must be informed in the student’s presence of the reason for the punishment. Upon request, the teacher or school principal must provide the parent with a written explanation of the reason for the punishment and the name of the other adult who was present.
2. A district school board having a policy authorizing the use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline shall review its policy on corporal punishment once every 3 years during a district school board meeting held pursuant to s. 1001.372. The district school board shall take public testimony at the board meeting. If such board meeting is not held in accordance with this subparagraph, the portion of the district school board’s policy authorizing corporal punishment expires.
(5) SAFETY.In accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.13(6), students who have been victims of certain felony offenses by other students, as well as the siblings of the student victims, have the right to be kept separated from the student offender both at school and during school transportation.
(6) EDUCATIONAL CHOICE.
(a) Public school choices.Parents of public school students may seek whatever public school choice options that are applicable and available to students in their school districts. These options may include controlled open enrollment, single-gender programs, lab schools, virtual instruction programs, charter schools, charter technical career centers, magnet schools, alternative schools, special programs, auditory-oral education programs, advanced placement, dual enrollment, International Baccalaureate, International General Certificate of Secondary Education (pre-AICE), Advanced International Certificate of Education, early admissions, credit by examination or demonstration of competency, the New World School of the Arts, the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, and the Florida Virtual School. These options may also include the public school choice options of the Opportunity Scholarship Program and the McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program.
1(b) Private school choices.Parents of public school students may seek private school choice options under certain programs.
1. Under the McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program, the parent of a public school student with a disability may request and receive a McKay Scholarship for the student to attend a private school in accordance with the provisions of s. 1002.39.
2. Under the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, the parent of a student who qualifies for free or reduced-price school lunch may seek a scholarship from an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization in accordance with the provisions of s. 1002.395.
(c) Home education.The parent of a student may choose to place the student in a home education program in accordance with the provisions of s. 1002.41.
(d) Private tutoring.The parent of a student may choose to place the student in a private tutoring program in accordance with the provisions of s. 1002.43(1).
(7) NONDISCRIMINATION.All education programs, activities, and opportunities offered by public educational institutions must be made available without discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, or marital status, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1000.05.
(8) STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES.Parents of public school students with disabilities and parents of public school students in residential care facilities are entitled to notice and due process in accordance with the provisions of ss. 1003.57 and 1003.58. Public school students with disabilities must be provided the opportunity to meet the graduation requirements for a standard high school diploma in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.43(4). Certain public school students with disabilities may be awarded a special diploma upon high school graduation.
(9) BLIND STUDENTS.Blind students have the right to an individualized written education program and appropriate instructional materials to attain literacy, in accordance with provisions of s. 1003.55.
(10) LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENT STUDENTS.In accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.56, limited English proficient students have the right to receive ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) instruction designed to develop the student’s mastery of listening, speaking, reading, and writing in English as rapidly as possible, and the students’ parents have the right of parental involvement in the ESOL program.
(11) STUDENTS WITH READING DEFICIENCIES.Each elementary school shall regularly assess the reading ability of each K-3 student. The parent of any K-3 student who exhibits a reading deficiency shall be immediately notified of the student’s deficiency with a description and explanation, in terms understandable to the parent, of the exact nature of the student’s difficulty in learning and lack of achievement in reading; shall be consulted in the development of a progress monitoring plan, as described in s. 1008.25(4)(b); and shall be informed that the student will be given intensive reading instruction until the deficiency is corrected. This subsection operates in addition to the remediation and notification provisions contained in s. 1008.25 and in no way reduces the rights of a parent or the responsibilities of a school district under that section.
(12) PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE.A public school student must be excused from reciting the pledge of allegiance upon written request by the student’s parent, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.44.
(13) STUDENT RECORDS.
(a) Parent rights.Parents have rights regarding the student records of their children, including right of access, right of waiver of access, right to challenge and hearing, and right of privacy, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1002.22.
(b) Student rights.In accordance with the provisions of s. 1008.386, a student is not required to provide his or her social security number as a condition for enrollment or graduation.
(14) STUDENT REPORT CARDS.Students and their parents have the right to receive student report cards on a regular basis that clearly depict and grade the student’s academic performance in each class or course, the student’s conduct, and the student’s attendance, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.33.
(15) STUDENT PROGRESS REPORTS.Parents of public school students shall be apprised at regular intervals of the academic progress and other needed information regarding their child, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.02(1)(h)2.
(16) SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY AND SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT RATING REPORTS.Parents of public school students are entitled to an easy-to-read report card about the grade designation, school accountability including the school financial report, and school improvement rating of their child’s school in accordance with the provisions of ss. 1008.22, 1003.02(3), and 1010.215(5).
(17) ATHLETICS; PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL.
(a) Eligibility.Eligibility requirements for all students participating in high school athletic competition must allow a student to be eligible in the school in which he or she first enrolls each school year, or makes himself or herself a candidate for an athletic team by engaging in practice before enrolling, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.20(2)(a).
(b) Medical evaluation.Students must satisfactorily pass a medical evaluation each year before participating in athletics, unless the parent objects in writing based on religious tenets or practices, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.20(2)(d).
(18) EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES.In accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.15:
(a) Eligibility.Students who meet specified academic and conduct requirements are eligible to participate in extracurricular activities.
(b) Home education students.Home education students who meet specified academic and conduct requirements are eligible to participate in extracurricular activities at the public school to which the student would be assigned or could choose to attend according to district school board policies, or may develop an agreement to participate at a private school.
(c) Charter school students.Charter school students who meet specified academic and conduct requirements are eligible to participate in extracurricular activities at the public school to which the student would be assigned or could choose to attend according to district school board policies, unless such activity is provided by the student’s charter school.
(d) Discrimination prohibited.Organizations that regulate or govern extracurricular activities of public schools shall not discriminate against any eligible student based on an educational choice of public, private, or home education.
(19) INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS.
(a) Core courses.Each public school student is entitled to sufficient instructional materials in the core courses of mathematics, language arts, social studies, science, reading, and literature, in accordance with the provisions of ss. 1003.02(1)(d) and 1006.40(2).
(b) Curricular objectives.The parent of each public school student has the right to receive effective communication from the school principal as to the manner in which instructional materials are used to implement the school’s curricular objectives, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.28(3)(a).
(c) Sale of instructional materials.Upon request of the parent of a public school student, the school principal must sell to the parent any instructional materials used in the school, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.28(3)(c).
(d) Dual enrollment students.Instructional materials purchased by a district school board or Florida College System institution board of trustees on behalf of public school dual enrollment students shall be made available to the dual enrollment students free of charge, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1007.271(14) and (15).
(20) JUVENILE JUSTICE PROGRAMS.Students who are in juvenile justice programs have the right to receive educational programs and services in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.52.
(21) PARENTAL INPUT AND MEETINGS.
(a) Meetings with school district personnel.Parents of public school students may be accompanied by another adult of their choice at any meeting with school district personnel.
(b) School district best financial management practice reviews.Public school students and their parents may provide input regarding their concerns about the operations and management of the school district both during and after the conduct of a school district best financial management practices review, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1008.35.
(c) District school board educational facilities programs.Parents of public school students and other members of the public have the right to receive proper public notice and opportunity for public comment regarding the district school board’s educational facilities work program, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1013.35.
(22) TRANSPORTATION.
(a) Transportation to school.Public school students shall be provided transportation to school, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.21(3)(a).
(b) Hazardous walking conditions.K-6 public school students shall be provided transportation if they are subjected to hazardous walking conditions, in accordance with the provisions of ss. 1006.21(3)(b) and 1006.23.
(c) Parental consent.Each parent of a public school student must be notified in writing and give written consent before the student may be transported in a privately owned motor vehicle to a school function, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.22(2)(b).
(23) ORDERLY, DISCIPLINED CLASSROOMS.Public school students shall be in orderly, disciplined classrooms conducive to learning without the distraction caused by disobedient, disrespectful, violent, abusive, uncontrollable, or disruptive students, in accordance with s. 1003.32.
History.s. 92, ch. 2002-387; s. 6, ch. 2003-118; s. 32, ch. 2003-391; s. 33, ch. 2004-41; s. 5, ch. 2004-42; s. 77, ch. 2004-357; s. 2, ch. 2005-75; s. 1, ch. 2005-196; s. 14, ch. 2006-74; s. 170, ch. 2007-5; s. 2, ch. 2008-26; s. 2, ch. 2008-147; s. 1, ch. 2009-53; s. 4, ch. 2009-108; s. 13, ch. 2010-24; s. 2, ch. 2010-57; s. 1, ch. 2010-184; s. 25, ch. 2011-5; s. 3, ch. 2011-128; s. 12, ch. 2011-137; s. 4, ch. 2011-175.
1Note.Section 20, ch. 2010-24, provides that “[t]he Department of Revenue is authorized and all conditions are deemed met, to adopt emergency rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54, Florida Statutes, to administer the provisions of this act. The emergency rules shall remain in effect for 6 months after the rules are adopted and the rules may be renewed during the pendency of procedures to adopt permanent rules addressing the subject of the emergency rules.”
1002.205 Guidelines on religious expression; distribution.The Department of Education shall each year distribute for informational purposes to all district school board members, district school superintendents, school principals, and teachers the entire guidelines on “Religious Expression in Public Schools” published by the United States Department of Education, as updated from time to time.
History.s. 1063, ch. 2002-387.
1002.21 Postsecondary student and parent rights.
(1) LEARNING DISABLED STUDENTS.Impaired and learning disabled students may be eligible for reasonable substitution for admission, graduation, and upper-level division requirements of public postsecondary educational institutions, in accordance with the provisions of ss. 1007.264 and 1007.265.
(2) EXPULSION, SUSPENSION, DISCIPLINE.Public postsecondary education students may be expelled, suspended, or otherwise disciplined by the president of a public postsecondary educational institution after notice to the student of the charges and a hearing on the charges, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.62.
(3) RELIGIOUS BELIEFS.Public postsecondary educational institutions must provide reasonable accommodations for the religious practices and beliefs of individual students in regard to admissions, class attendance, and the scheduling of examinations and work assignments, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.53, and must provide and describe in the student handbook a grievance procedure for students to seek redress when they feel they have been unreasonably denied an educational benefit due to their religious beliefs or practices.
(4) STUDENT HANDBOOKS.Each state university and Florida College System institution shall provide its students with an up-to-date student handbook that includes student rights and responsibilities, appeals processes available to students, contact persons available to help students, student conduct code, and information regarding HIV and AIDS, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.50.
(5) STUDENT OMBUDSMAN OFFICE.Each state university and Florida College System institution shall maintain a student ombudsman office and established procedures for students to appeal to the office regarding decisions about the student’s access to courses and credit granted toward the student’s degree, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.51.
History.s. 93, ch. 2002-387; s. 8, ch. 2003-8; s. 1, ch. 2009-239; s. 26, ch. 2011-5.
1002.22 Education records and reports of K-12 students; rights of parents and students; notification; penalty.
(1) DEFINITIONS.As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Agency” means any board, agency, or other entity that provides administrative control or direction of or performs services for public elementary or secondary schools, centers, or other institutions as defined in this chapter.
(b) “Institution” means any public school, center, institution, or other entity that is part of Florida’s education system under s. 1000.04(1), (3), and (4).
(2) RIGHTS OF STUDENTS AND PARENTS.The rights of students and their parents with respect to education records created, maintained, or used by public educational institutions and agencies shall be protected in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. s. 1232g, the implementing regulations issued pursuant thereto, and this section. In order to maintain the eligibility of public educational institutions and agencies to receive federal funds and participate in federal programs, the State Board of Education shall comply with the FERPA after the board has evaluated and determined that the FERPA is consistent with the following principles:
(a) Students and their parents shall have the right to access their education records, including the right to inspect and review those records.
(b) Students and their parents shall have the right to waive their access to their education records in certain circumstances.
(c) Students and their parents shall have the right to challenge the content of education records in order to ensure that the records are not inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise a violation of privacy or other rights.
(d) Students and their parents shall have the right of privacy with respect to such records and reports.
(e) Students and their parents shall receive notice of their rights with respect to education records.
(3) DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES.The State Board of Education shall:
(a) Adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to administer this section.
(b) Monitor the FERPA and notify the Legislature of any significant change to the requirements of the FERPA or other major changes in federal law which may impact this section.
(c) Advise the Legislature of any change in the FERPA which may create a need for an exemption to the requirements of s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution.
(4) PENALTY.If any official or employee of an institution refuses to comply with this section, the aggrieved parent or student has an immediate right to bring an action in circuit court to enforce his or her rights by injunction. Any aggrieved parent or student who brings such action and whose rights are vindicated may be awarded attorney’s fees and court costs.
(5) APPLICABILITY TO RECORDS OF DEFUNCT INSTITUTIONS.This section applies to student records that any nonpublic educational institution that is no longer operating has deposited with the district school superintendent in the county where the nonpublic educational institution was located.
History.s. 94, ch. 2002-387; s. 4, ch. 2004-356; s. 78, ch. 2004-357; s. 13, ch. 2004-484; s. 2, ch. 2009-239.
1002.221 K-12 education records.
(1) Education records, as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. s. 1232g, and the federal regulations issued pursuant thereto, are confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution.
(2)(a) An agency, as defined in s. 1002.22(1)(a), or a public school, center, institution, or other entity that is part of Florida’s education system under s. 1000.04(1), (3), or (4), may not release a student’s education records without the written consent of the student or parent to any individual, agency, or organization, except in accordance with and as permitted by the FERPA. Education records released by an agency, as defined in s. 1002.22(1)(a), or by a public school, center, institution, or other entity that is part of Florida’s education system under s. 1000.04(1), (3), or (4), to the Auditor General or the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, which are necessary for such agencies to perform their official duties and responsibilities, shall be used and maintained by the Auditor General and the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability in accordance with the FERPA.
(b) In accordance with FERPA and the federal regulations issued pursuant to FERPA, an agency, as defined in s. 1002.22, or a public school, center, institution, or other entity that is part of Florida’s education system under s. 1000.04(1), (3), or (4) may release a student’s education records without written consent of the student or parent to parties to an interagency agreement among the Department of Juvenile Justice, the school, law enforcement authorities, and other signatory agencies. The purpose of such an agreement and information sharing is to reduce juvenile crime, especially motor vehicle theft, by promoting cooperation and collaboration and the sharing of appropriate information in a joint effort to improve school safety, to reduce truancy and in-school and out-of-school suspensions, and to support alternatives to in-school and out-of-school suspensions and expulsions, which provide structured and well-supervised educational programs supplemented by a coordinated overlay of other appropriate services designed to correct behaviors that lead to truancy, suspensions, and expulsions and that support students in successfully completing their education. Information provided in furtherance of an interagency agreement is intended solely for use in determining the appropriate programs and services for each juvenile or the juvenile’s family, or for coordinating the delivery of the programs and services, and as such is inadmissible in any court proceeding before a dispositional hearing unless written consent is provided by a parent or other responsible adult on behalf of the juvenile.
(3) This section is subject to the Open Government Sunset Review Act in accordance with s. 119.15 and shall stand repealed on October 2, 2014, unless reviewed and saved from repeal through reenactment by the Legislature.
History.s. 1, ch. 2009-240; s. 2, ch. 2010-192.
1002.225 Education records of students in public postsecondary educational institutions; penalty.
(1) As used in this section, the term “education records” means education records as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. s. 1232g, and the federal regulations issued pursuant thereto.
(2) All public postsecondary educational institutions shall comply with the FERPA with respect to the education records of students. A public postsecondary educational institution may charge fees for furnishing copies of education records that are requested under this section. Such fees may not exceed the actual cost incurred by the institution for producing such copies and may not include the costs of searching for or retrieving the education records.
(3) If any public postsecondary educational institution refuses to comply with this section, the aggrieved student has an immediate right to bring an action in circuit court to enforce his or her rights by injunction. Any aggrieved student who brings such action and whose rights are vindicated may be awarded attorney’s fees and court costs.
History.s. 3, ch. 2009-239.
1002.23 Family and School Partnership for Student Achievement Act.
(1) The purpose of the Family and School Partnership for Student Achievement Act is to:
(a) Provide parents with specific information about their child’s educational progress;
(b) Provide parents with comprehensive information about their choices and opportunities for involvement in their child’s education; and
(c) Provide a framework for building and strengthening partnerships among parents, teachers, principals, district school superintendents, and other personnel.

Each district school board, school district superintendent, and teacher shall fully support and cooperate in implementing a well-planned, inclusive, and comprehensive program to assist parents and families in effectively participating in their child’s education.

(2) To facilitate meaningful parent and family involvement, the Department of Education shall develop guidelines for a parent guide to successful student achievement which describes what parents need to know about their child’s educational progress and how they can help their child to succeed in school. The guidelines shall include, but need not be limited to:
(a) Parental information regarding:
1. Requirements for their child to be promoted to the next grade, as provided for in s. 1008.25;
2. Progress of their child toward achieving state and district expectations for academic proficiency;
3. Assessment results, including report cards and progress reports;
4. Qualifications of their child’s teachers; and
5. School entry requirements, including required immunizations and the recommended immunization schedule;
(b) Services available for parents and their children, such as family literacy services; mentoring, tutorial, and other academic reinforcement programs; college planning, academic advisement, and student counseling services; and after-school programs;
(c) Opportunities for parental participation, such as parenting classes, adult education, school advisory councils, and school volunteer programs;
(d) Opportunities for parents to learn about rigorous academic programs that may be available for their child, such as honors programs, dual enrollment, advanced placement, International Baccalaureate, International General Certificate of Secondary Education (pre-AICE), Advanced International Certificate of Education, Florida Virtual High School courses, and accelerated access to postsecondary education;
1(e) Educational choices, as provided for in s. 1002.20(6), and Florida tax credit scholarships, as provided for in s. 1002.395;
(f) Classroom and test accommodations available for students with disabilities;
(g) School board rules, policies, and procedures for student promotion and retention, academic standards, student assessment, courses of study, instructional materials, and contact information for school and district offices; and
(h) Resources for information on student health and other available resources for parents.
(3) The Department of Education shall develop and disseminate a checklist for school districts to provide to parents to assist with the parent’s involvement in their child’s educational progress. The checklist shall address parental actions that:
(a) Strengthen the child’s academic progress, especially in the area of reading;
(b) Strengthen the child’s citizenship, especially social skills and respect for others;
(c) Strengthen the child’s realization of high expectations and setting lifelong learning goals; and
(d) Place a strong emphasis on the communication between the school and the home.
(4) The Department of Education shall establish a parent-response center to provide assistance to parents and families in answering questions and resolving issues related to the child’s education.
(5) Each district school board shall adopt rules that strengthen family involvement and family empowerment. The rules shall be developed in collaboration with parents, school administrators, teachers, and community partners, and shall address:
(a) Parental choices and responsibilities;
(b) Links with community services;
(c) Opportunities for parental involvement in the development, implementation, and evaluation of family involvement programs; and
(d) Opportunities for parents to participate on school advisory councils and in school volunteer programs and other activities.
(6) Beginning with the 2003-2004 school year, each school district shall submit a copy of the rules developed under subsection (5) to the Department of Education by October 1.
(7) Each school district shall develop and disseminate a parent guide to successful student achievement, consistent with the guidelines of the Department of Education, which addresses what parents need to know about their child’s educational progress and how parents can help their child to succeed in school. The guide must:
(a) Be understandable to students and parents;
(b) Be distributed to all parents, students, and school personnel at the beginning of each school year;
(c) Be discussed at the beginning of each school year in meetings of students, parents, and teachers;
(d) Include information concerning services, opportunities, choices, academic standards, and student assessment; and
(e) Provide information on the importance of student health and available immunizations and vaccinations, including, but not limited to:
1. A recommended immunization schedule in accordance with United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.
2. Detailed information regarding the causes, symptoms, and transmission of meningococcal disease and the availability, effectiveness, known contraindications, and appropriate age for the administration of any required or recommended vaccine against meningococcal disease, in accordance with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The parent guide may be included as a part of the code of student conduct that is required in s. 1006.07(2).

(8) Each school district shall develop and disseminate a checklist of parental actions that can strengthen parental involvement in their child’s educational progress, consistent with the requirements in subsection (3). The checklist shall be provided each school year to all parents of students in kindergarten through grade 12 and shall focus on academics, especially reading, high expectations for students, citizenship, and communication.
(9) The State Board of Education shall annually review each school district’s compliance with this section and the district’s success in achieving improved services for families. The State Board of Education shall use all appropriate enforcement actions, as provided for in s. 1008.32, until the school district fully complies with the requirements of this section.
History.s. 2, ch. 2003-118; s. 2, ch. 2005-196; s. 1, ch. 2006-246; s. 5, ch. 2009-108; s. 14, ch. 2010-24; s. 3, ch. 2011-103.
1Note.Section 20, ch. 2010-24, provides that “[t]he Department of Revenue is authorized and all conditions are deemed met, to adopt emergency rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54, Florida Statutes, to administer the provisions of this act. The emergency rules shall remain in effect for 6 months after the rules are adopted and the rules may be renewed during the pendency of procedures to adopt permanent rules addressing the subject of the emergency rules.”
EDUCATIONAL CHOICE
1002.31 Public school parental choice.
1002.311 Single-gender programs authorized.
1002.32 Developmental research (laboratory) schools.
1002.321 Digital learning.
1002.33 Charter schools.
1002.3305 College-Preparatory Boarding Academy Pilot Program for at-risk students.
1002.331 High-performing charter schools.
1002.332 High-performing charter school system.
1002.34 Charter technical career centers.
1002.345 Determination of deteriorating financial conditions and financial emergencies for charter schools and charter technical career centers.
1002.35 New World School of the Arts.
1002.36 Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.
1002.361 Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind; direct-support organization; authority.
1002.37 The Florida Virtual School.
1002.375 Alternative credit for high school courses; pilot project.
1002.38 Opportunity Scholarship Program.
1002.39 The John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program.
1002.391 Auditory-oral education programs.
1002.395 Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program.
1002.31 Public school parental choice.
(1) As used in this section, “controlled open enrollment” means a public education delivery system that allows school districts to make student school assignments using parents’ indicated preferential school choice as a significant factor.
(2) Each district school board may offer controlled open enrollment within the public schools. The controlled open enrollment program shall be offered in addition to the existing choice programs such as virtual instruction programs, magnet schools, alternative schools, special programs, advanced placement, and dual enrollment.
(3) Each district school board shall develop a controlled open enrollment plan which describes the implementation of subsection (2).
(4) School districts shall adhere to federal desegregation requirements. No controlled open enrollment plan that conflicts with federal desegregation orders shall be implemented.
(5) Each school district shall develop a system of priorities for its plan that includes consideration of the following:
(a) An application process required to participate in the controlled open enrollment program.
(b) A process that allows parents to declare school preferences.
(c) A process that encourages placement of siblings within the same school.
(d) A lottery procedure used by the school district to determine student assignment.
(e) An appeals process for hardship cases.
(f) The procedures to maintain socioeconomic, demographic, and racial balance.
(g) The availability of transportation.
(h) A process that promotes strong parental involvement, including the designation of a parent liaison.
(i) A strategy that establishes a clearinghouse of information designed to assist parents in making informed choices.
(6) Plans shall be submitted to the Commissioner of Education. The Commissioner of Education shall develop an annual report on the status of school choice and deliver the report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives at least 90 days prior to the convening of the regular session of the Legislature.
(7) Notwithstanding any provision of this section, a school district with schools operating on both multiple session schedules and single session schedules shall afford parents of students in multiple session schools preferred access to the controlled open enrollment program of the school district.
(8) Each district school board shall annually report the number of students applying for and attending the various types of public schools of choice in the district, including schools such as virtual instruction programs, magnet schools, and public charter schools, according to rules adopted by the State Board of Education.
History.s. 96, ch. 2002-387; s. 3, ch. 2008-147.
1002.311 Single-gender programs authorized.
(1) Subject to subsection (2) and in accordance with 34 C.F.R. s. 106.34, a district school board may establish and maintain a nonvocational class, extracurricular activity, or school for elementary, middle, or high school students in which enrollment is limited to a single gender if the school district also makes available a substantially equal:
(a) Single-gender class, extracurricular activity, or school to students of the other gender; and
(b) Coeducational class, extracurricular activity, or school to all students.
(2) A district school board that establishes a single-gender class, extracurricular activity, or school:
(a) May not require participation by any student. The district school board must ensure that participation in the single-gender class, extracurricular activity, or school is voluntary.
(b) Must evaluate each single-gender class, extracurricular activity, or school in the school district at least once every 2 years in order to ensure that it is in compliance with this section and 34 C.F.R. s. 106.34.
History.s. 3, ch. 2008-26.
1002.32 Developmental research (laboratory) schools.
(1) SHORT TITLE.This section may be cited as the “Sidney Martin Developmental Research School Act.”
(2) ESTABLISHMENT.There is established a category of public schools to be known as developmental research (laboratory) schools (lab schools). Each lab school shall provide sequential instruction and shall be affiliated with the college of education within the state university of closest geographic proximity. A lab school to which a charter has been issued under s. 1002.33(5)(a) 2. must be affiliated with the college of education within the state university that issued the charter, but is not subject to the requirement that the state university be of closest geographic proximity. For the purpose of state funding, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Florida Atlantic University, Florida State University, the University of Florida, and other universities approved by the State Board of Education and the Legislature are authorized to sponsor a lab school. The limitation of one lab school per university shall not apply to the following charter lab schools authorized prior to June 1, 2003: Florida State University Charter Lab K-12 School in Broward County, Florida Atlantic University Charter Lab 9-12 High School in Palm Beach County, and Florida Atlantic University Charter Lab K-12 School in St. Lucie County.
(3) MISSION.The mission of a lab school shall be the provision of a vehicle for the conduct of research, demonstration, and evaluation regarding management, teaching, and learning. Programs to achieve the mission of a lab school shall embody the goals and standards established pursuant to ss. 1000.03(5) and 1001.23(2) and shall ensure an appropriate education for its students.
(a) Each lab school shall emphasize mathematics, science, computer science, and foreign languages. The primary goal of a lab school is to enhance instruction and research in such specialized subjects by using the resources available on a state university campus, while also providing an education in nonspecialized subjects. Each lab school shall provide sequential elementary and secondary instruction where appropriate. A lab school may not provide instruction at grade levels higher than grade 12 without authorization from the State Board of Education. Each lab school shall develop and implement a school improvement plan pursuant to s. 1003.02(3).
(b) Research, demonstration, and evaluation conducted at a lab school may be generated by the college of education and other colleges within the university with which the school is affiliated.
(c) Research, demonstration, and evaluation conducted at a lab school may be generated by the State Board of Education. Such research shall respond to the needs of the education community at large, rather than the specific needs of the affiliated college.
(d) Research, demonstration, and evaluation conducted at a lab school may consist of pilot projects to be generated by the affiliated college, the State Board of Education, or the Legislature.
(e) The exceptional education programs offered at a lab school shall be determined by the research and evaluation goals and the availability of students for efficiently sized programs. The fact that a lab school offers an exceptional education program in no way lessens the general responsibility of the local school district to provide exceptional education programs.
(4) STUDENT ADMISSIONS.Each lab school may establish a primary research objective related to fundamental issues and problems that occur in the public elementary and secondary schools of the state. A student population reflective of the student population of the public school environment in which the issues and problems are most prevalent shall be promoted and encouraged through the establishment and implementation of an admission process that is designed to result in a representative sample of public school enrollment based on gender, race, socioeconomic status, and academic ability, notwithstanding the provisions of s. 1000.05.
(5) STUDENT FEES.Each lab school may charge a student activity and service fee. Any school that elects to charge such a fee shall provide information regarding the use of the fee as well as an annual report that documents the manner in which the moneys provided by such fee were expended. The annual report prescribed in this subsection shall be distributed to the parents of each student. No additional fees shall be charged.
(6) SUPPLEMENTAL-SUPPORT ORGANIZATIONS.Each lab school may accrue supplemental revenue from supplemental-support organizations, which include, but are not limited to, alumni associations, foundations, parent-teacher associations, and booster associations. The governing body of each supplemental-support organization shall recommend the expenditure of moneys collected by the organization for the benefit of the school. Such expenditures shall be contingent upon the recommendations of the school advisory council and review of the director. The director may override any proposed expenditure of the organization that would violate Florida Statutes or breach sound educational management.
(7) PERSONNEL.
(a) Each lab school may employ either a director or a principal, or both, at the discretion of the university. The duties of such personnel shall be as follows:
1. Each director shall be the chief executive officer and shall oversee the education, research, and evaluation goals of the school. The director shall be responsible for recommending policy to the advisory board. The director shall be accountable for the financial resources of the school.
2. Each principal shall be the chief educational officer and shall oversee the educational program of the school. The principal shall be accountable for the daily operation and administration of the school.
(b) Faculty may serve simultaneously as instructional personnel for the lab school and the university with which the school is affiliated. Nothing in this section is intended to affect the collective bargaining rights of lab school employees, except as specifically provided in this section.
(c) Lab school faculty members shall meet the certification requirements of ss. 1012.32 and 1012.42.
(8) ADVISORY BOARDS.Each public school in the state shall establish a school advisory council that is reflective of the population served by the school, pursuant to s. 1001.452, and is responsible for the development and implementation of the school improvement plan pursuant to s. 1003.02(3). Lab schools shall comply with the provisions of s. 1001.452 in one of two ways:
(a) Each lab school may establish two advisory bodies as follows:
1. An advisory body pursuant to the provisions and requirements of s. 1001.452 to be responsible for the development and implementation of the school improvement plan, pursuant to s. 1003.02(3).
2. An advisory board to provide general oversight and guidance. The dean of the affiliated college of education shall be a standing member of the board, and the president of the university shall appoint four faculty members from the related university, at least two of whom are from the college of education, one layperson who resides in the county in which the school is located, two parents of students who attend the lab school, and one lab school student appointed by the principal to serve on the advisory board. The term of each member shall be for 2 years, and any vacancy shall be filled with a person of the same classification as his or her predecessor for the balance of the unexpired term. The president shall stagger the terms of the initial appointees in a manner that results in the expiration of terms of no more than two members in any year. The president shall call the organizational meeting of the board. The board shall annually elect a chair and a vice chair. There shall be no limitation on successive appointments to the board or successive terms that may be served by a chair or vice chair. The board shall adopt internal organizational procedures or bylaws necessary for efficient operation as provided in chapter 120. Board members shall not receive per diem or travel expenses for the performance of their duties. The board shall:
a. Meet at least quarterly.
b. Monitor the operations of the school and the distribution of moneys allocated for such operations.
c. Establish necessary policy, program, and administration modifications.
d. Evaluate biennially the performance of the director and principal and recommend corresponding action to the dean of the college of education.
e. Annually review evaluations of the school’s operation and research findings.
(b) Each lab school may establish one advisory body responsible for the development and implementation of the school improvement plan, pursuant to s. 1003.02(3), in addition to general oversight and guidance responsibilities. The advisory body shall reflect the membership composition requirements established in s. 1001.452, but may also include membership by the dean of the college of education and additional members appointed by the president of the university that represent faculty members from the college of education, the university, or other bodies deemed appropriate for the mission of the school.
(9) FUNDING.Funding for a lab school, including a charter lab school, shall be provided as follows:
(a) Each lab school shall be allocated its proportional share of operating funds from the Florida Education Finance Program as provided in s. 1011.62 based on the county in which the lab school is located and the General Appropriations Act. The nonvoted ad valorem millage that would otherwise be required for lab schools shall be allocated from state funds. The required local effort funds calculated pursuant to s. 1011.62 shall be allocated from state funds to the schools as a part of the allocation of operating funds pursuant to s. 1011.62. Each eligible lab school in operation as of September 1, 2002, shall also receive a proportional share of the sparsity supplement as calculated pursuant to s. 1011.62. In addition, each lab school shall receive its proportional share of all categorical funds, with the exception of s. 1011.68, and new categorical funds enacted after July 1, 1994, for the purpose of elementary or secondary academic program enhancement. The sum of funds available as provided in this paragraph shall be included annually in the Florida Education Finance Program and appropriate categorical programs funded in the General Appropriations Act.
(b) There is created a Lab School Educational Facility Trust Fund to be administered by the Commissioner of Education. Allocations from such fund shall be expended solely for the purpose of facility construction, repair, renovation, remodeling, site improvement, or maintenance. The commissioner shall administer the fund in accordance with ss. 1013.60, 1013.64, 1013.65, and 1013.66.
(c) All operating funds provided under this section shall be deposited in a Lab School Trust Fund and shall be expended for the purposes of this section. The university assigned a lab school shall be the fiscal agent for these funds, and all rules of the university governing the budgeting and expenditure of state funds shall apply to these funds unless otherwise provided by law or rule of the State Board of Education. The university board of trustees shall be the public employer of lab school personnel for collective bargaining purposes for lab schools in operation prior to the 2002-2003 fiscal year. Employees of charter lab schools authorized prior to June 1, 2003, but not in operation prior to the 2002-2003 fiscal year shall be employees of the entity holding the charter and must comply with the provisions of s. 1002.33(12).
(d) Each lab school shall receive funds for operating purposes in an amount determined as follows: multiply the maximum allowable nonvoted discretionary millage for operations pursuant to s. 1011.71(1) and (3) by the value of 96 percent of the current year’s taxable value for school purposes for the district in which each lab school is located; divide the result by the total full-time equivalent membership of the district; and multiply the result by the full-time equivalent membership of the lab school. The amount thus obtained shall be discretionary operating funds and shall be appropriated from state funds in the General Appropriations Act to the Lab School Trust Fund.
(e) Each lab school shall receive funds for capital improvement purposes in an amount determined as follows: multiply the maximum allowable nonvoted discretionary millage for capital improvements pursuant to s. 1011.71(2) by the value of 96 percent of the current year’s taxable value for school purposes for the district in which each lab school is located; divide the result by the total full-time equivalent membership of the district; and multiply the result by the full-time equivalent membership of the lab school. The amount thus obtained shall be discretionary capital improvement funds and shall be appropriated from state funds in the General Appropriations Act to the Lab School Educational Facility Trust Fund.
(f) In addition to the funds appropriated for capital outlay budget needs, lab schools may receive specific funding as specified in the General Appropriations Act for upgrading, renovating, and remodeling science laboratories.
(g) Each lab school is designated a teacher education center and may provide inservice training to school district personnel. The Department of Education shall provide funds to the Lab School Trust Fund for this purpose from appropriations for inservice teacher education.
(h) A lab school to which a charter has been issued under s. 1002.33(5)(a)2. is eligible to receive funding for charter school capital outlay if it meets the eligibility requirements of s. 1013.62. If the lab school receives funds from charter school capital outlay, the school shall receive capital outlay funds otherwise provided in this subsection only to the extent that funds allocated pursuant to s. 1013.62 are insufficient to provide capital outlay funds to the lab school at one-fifteenth of the cost per student station.
(10) IMPLEMENTATION.The State Board of Education shall adopt rules necessary to facilitate the implementation of this section.
(11) EXCEPTIONS TO LAW.To encourage innovative practices and facilitate the mission of the lab schools, in addition to the exceptions to law specified in s. 1001.23(2), the following exceptions shall be permitted for lab schools:
(a) The methods and requirements of the following statutes shall be held in abeyance: ss. 316.75; 1001.30; 1001.31; 1001.32; 1001.33; 1001.34; 1001.35; 1001.36; 1001.361; 1001.362; 1001.363; 1001.37; 1001.371; 1001.372; 1001.38; 1001.39; 1001.395; 1001.40; 1001.41; 1001.44; 1001.453; 1001.46; 1001.461; 1001.462; 1001.463; 1001.464; 1001.47; 1001.48; 1001.49; 1001.50; 1001.51; 1006.12(1); 1006.21(3), (4); 1006.23; 1010.07(2); 1010.40; 1010.41; 1010.42; 1010.43; 1010.44; 1010.45; 1010.46; 1010.47; 1010.48; 1010.49; 1010.50; 1010.51; 1010.52; 1010.53; 1010.54; 1010.55; 1011.02(1)-(3), (5); 1011.04; 1011.20; 1011.21; 1011.22; 1011.23; 1011.71; 1011.72; 1011.73; and 1011.74.
(b) With the exception of s. 1001.42(18), s. 1001.42 shall be held in abeyance. Reference to district school boards in s. 1001.42(18) shall mean the president of the university or the president’s designee.
History.s. 97, ch. 2002-387; s. 2, ch. 2003-393; s. 34, ch. 2004-41; s. 4, ch. 2004-271; s. 3, ch. 2004-354; s. 21, ch. 2006-122; s. 13, ch. 2008-108; s. 5, ch. 2010-154.
1002.321 Digital learning.
(1) DIGITAL LEARNING NOW ACT.There is created the Digital Learning Now Act.
(2) ELEMENTS OF HIGH-QUALITY DIGITAL LEARNING.The Legislature finds that each student should have access to a high-quality digital learning environment that provides:
(a) Access to digital learning.
(b) Access to high-quality digital content and online courses.
(c) Education that is customized to the needs of the student using digital content.
(d) A means for the student to demonstrate competency in completed coursework.
(e) High-quality digital content, instructional materials, and online and blended learning courses.
(f) High-quality digital instruction and teachers.
(g) Content and instruction that are evaluated on the metric of student learning.
(h) The use of funding as an incentive for performance, options, and innovation.
(i) Infrastructure that supports digital learning.
(j) Online administration of state assessments.
(3) DIGITAL PREPARATION.Each student must graduate from high school having taken at least one online course, as provided in s. 1003.428.
(4) CUSTOMIZED AND ACCELERATED LEARNING.A school district must establish multiple opportunities for student participation in part-time and full-time kindergarten through grade 12 virtual instruction. Options include, but are not limited to:
(a) School district operated part-time or full-time virtual instruction programs under s. 1002.45(1)(b) for kindergarten through grade 12 students enrolled in the school district. A full-time program shall operate under its own Master School Identification Number.
(b) Florida Virtual School instructional services authorized under s. 1002.37.
(c) Blended learning instruction provided by charter schools authorized under s. 1002.33.
(d) Full-time virtual charter school instruction authorized under s. 1002.33.
(e) Courses delivered in the traditional school setting by personnel providing direct instruction through a virtual environment or though a blended virtual and physical environment pursuant to s. 1003.498.
(f) Virtual courses offered in the course code directory to students within the school district or to students in other school districts throughout the state pursuant to s. 1003.498.
History.s. 1, ch. 2011-137.
1002.33 Charter schools.
(1) AUTHORIZATION.Charter schools shall be part of the state’s program of public education. All charter schools in Florida are public schools. A charter school may be formed by creating a new school or converting an existing public school to charter status. A charter school may operate a virtual charter school pursuant to s. 1002.45(1)(d) to provide full-time online instruction to eligible students, pursuant to s. 1002.455, in kindergarten through grade 12. A charter school must amend its charter or submit a new application pursuant to subsection (6) to become a virtual charter school. A virtual charter school is subject to the requirements of this section; however, a virtual charter school is exempt from subsections (18) and (19), 1subparagraphs (20)(a)2.-5., paragraph (20)(c), and s. 1003.03. A public school may not use the term charter in its name unless it has been approved under this section.
(2) GUIDING PRINCIPLES; PURPOSE.
(a) Charter schools in Florida shall be guided by the following principles:
1. Meet high standards of student achievement while providing parents flexibility to choose among diverse educational opportunities within the state’s public school system.
2. Promote enhanced academic success and financial efficiency by aligning responsibility with accountability.
3. Provide parents with sufficient information on whether their child is reading at grade level and whether the child gains at least a year’s worth of learning for every year spent in the charter school.
(b) Charter schools shall fulfill the following purposes:
1. Improve student learning and academic achievement.
2. Increase learning opportunities for all students, with special emphasis on low-performing students and reading.
3. Encourage the use of innovative learning methods.
4. Require the measurement of learning outcomes.
(c) Charter schools may fulfill the following purposes:
1. Create innovative measurement tools.
2. Provide rigorous competition within the public school district to stimulate continual improvement in all public schools.
3. Expand the capacity of the public school system.
4. Mitigate the educational impact created by the development of new residential dwelling units.
5. Create new professional opportunities for teachers, including ownership of the learning program at the school site.
(3) APPLICATION FOR CHARTER STATUS.
(a) An application for a new charter school may be made by an individual, teachers, parents, a group of individuals, a municipality, or a legal entity organized under the laws of this state.
(b) An application for a conversion charter school shall be made by the district school board, the principal, teachers, parents, and/or the school advisory council at an existing public school that has been in operation for at least 2 years prior to the application to convert. A public school-within-a-school that is designated as a school by the district school board may also submit an application to convert to charter status. An application submitted proposing to convert an existing public school to a charter school shall demonstrate the support of at least 50 percent of the teachers employed at the school and 50 percent of the parents voting whose children are enrolled at the school, provided that a majority of the parents eligible to vote participate in the ballot process, according to rules adopted by the State Board of Education. A district school board denying an application for a conversion charter school shall provide notice of denial to the applicants in writing within 10 days after the meeting at which the district school board denied the application. The notice must articulate in writing the specific reasons for denial and must provide documentation supporting those reasons. A private school, parochial school, or home education program shall not be eligible for charter school status.
(4) UNLAWFUL REPRISAL.
(a) No district school board, or district school board employee who has control over personnel actions, shall take unlawful reprisal against another district school board employee because that employee is either directly or indirectly involved with an application to establish a charter school. As used in this subsection, the term “unlawful reprisal” means an action taken by a district school board or a school system employee against an employee who is directly or indirectly involved in a lawful application to establish a charter school, which occurs as a direct result of that involvement, and which results in one or more of the following: disciplinary or corrective action; adverse transfer or reassignment, whether temporary or permanent; suspension, demotion, or dismissal; an unfavorable performance evaluation; a reduction in pay, benefits, or rewards; elimination of the employee’s position absent of a reduction in workforce as a result of lack of moneys or work; or other adverse significant changes in duties or responsibilities that are inconsistent with the employee’s salary or employment classification. The following procedures shall apply to an alleged unlawful reprisal that occurs as a consequence of an employee’s direct or indirect involvement with an application to establish a charter school:
1. Within 60 days after the date upon which a reprisal prohibited by this subsection is alleged to have occurred, an employee may file a complaint with the Department of Education.
2. Within 3 working days after receiving a complaint under this section, the Department of Education shall acknowledge receipt of the complaint and provide copies of the complaint and any other relevant preliminary information available to each of the other parties named in the complaint, which parties shall each acknowledge receipt of such copies to the complainant.
3. If the Department of Education determines that the complaint demonstrates reasonable cause to suspect that an unlawful reprisal has occurred, the Department of Education shall conduct an investigation to produce a fact-finding report.
4. Within 90 days after receiving the complaint, the Department of Education shall provide the district school superintendent of the complainant’s district and the complainant with a fact-finding report that may include recommendations to the parties or a proposed resolution of the complaint. The fact-finding report shall be presumed admissible in any subsequent or related administrative or judicial review.
5. If the Department of Education determines that reasonable grounds exist to believe that an unlawful reprisal has occurred, is occurring, or is to be taken, and is unable to conciliate a complaint within 60 days after receipt of the fact-finding report, the Department of Education shall terminate the investigation. Upon termination of any investigation, the Department of Education shall notify the complainant and the district school superintendent of the termination of the investigation, providing a summary of relevant facts found during the investigation and the reasons for terminating the investigation. A written statement under this paragraph is presumed admissible as evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding.
6. The Department of Education shall either contract with the Division of Administrative Hearings under s. 120.65, or otherwise provide for a complaint for which the Department of Education determines reasonable grounds exist to believe that an unlawful reprisal has occurred, is occurring, or is to be taken, and is unable to conciliate, to be heard by a panel of impartial persons. Upon hearing the complaint, the panel shall make findings of fact and conclusions of law for a final decision by the Department of Education.

It shall be an affirmative defense to any action brought pursuant to this section that the adverse action was predicated upon grounds other than, and would have been taken absent, the employee’s exercise of rights protected by this section.

(b) In any action brought under this section for which it is determined reasonable grounds exist to believe that an unlawful reprisal has occurred, is occurring, or is to be taken, the relief shall include the following:
1. Reinstatement of the employee to the same position held before the unlawful reprisal was commenced, or to an equivalent position, or payment of reasonable front pay as alternative relief.
2. Reinstatement of the employee’s full fringe benefits and seniority rights, as appropriate.
3. Compensation, if appropriate, for lost wages, benefits, or other lost remuneration caused by the unlawful reprisal.
4. Payment of reasonable costs, including attorney’s fees, to a substantially prevailing employee, or to the prevailing employer if the employee filed a frivolous action in bad faith.
5. Issuance of an injunction, if appropriate, by a court of competent jurisdiction.
6. Temporary reinstatement to the employee’s former position or to an equivalent position, pending the final outcome of the complaint, if it is determined that the action was not made in bad faith or for a wrongful purpose, and did not occur after a district school board’s initiation of a personnel action against the employee that includes documentation of the employee’s violation of a disciplinary standard or performance deficiency.
(5) SPONSOR; DUTIES.
(a) Sponsoring entities.
1. A district school board may sponsor a charter school in the county over which the district school board has jurisdiction.
2. A state university may grant a charter to a lab school created under s. 1002.32 and shall be considered to be the school’s sponsor. Such school shall be considered a charter lab school.
(b) Sponsor duties.
1.a. The sponsor shall monitor and review the charter school in its progress toward the goals established in the charter.
b. The sponsor shall monitor the revenues and expenditures of the charter school and perform the duties provided in s. 1002.345.
c. The sponsor may approve a charter for a charter school before the applicant has identified space, equipment, or personnel, if the applicant indicates approval is necessary for it to raise working funds.
d. The sponsor’s policies shall not apply to a charter school unless mutually agreed to by both the sponsor and the charter school.
e. The sponsor shall ensure that the charter is innovative and consistent with the state education goals established by s. 1000.03(5).
f. The sponsor shall ensure that the charter school participates in the state’s education accountability system. If a charter school falls short of performance measures included in the approved charter, the sponsor shall report such shortcomings to the Department of Education.
g. The sponsor shall not be liable for civil damages under state law for personal injury, property damage, or death resulting from an act or omission of an officer, employee, agent, or governing body of the charter school.
h. The sponsor shall not be liable for civil damages under state law for any employment actions taken by an officer, employee, agent, or governing body of the charter school.
i. The sponsor’s duties to monitor the charter school shall not constitute the basis for a private cause of action.
j. The sponsor shall not impose additional reporting requirements on a charter school without providing reasonable and specific justification in writing to the charter school.
2. Immunity for the sponsor of a charter school under subparagraph 1. applies only with respect to acts or omissions not under the sponsor’s direct authority as described in this section.
3. This paragraph does not waive a district school board’s sovereign immunity.
4. A Florida College System institution may work with the school district or school districts in its designated service area to develop charter schools that offer secondary education. These charter schools must include an option for students to receive an associate degree upon high school graduation. District school boards shall cooperate with and assist the Florida College System institution on the charter application. Florida College System institution applications for charter schools are not subject to the time deadlines outlined in subsection (6) and may be approved by the district school board at any time during the year. Florida College System institutions may not report FTE for any students who receive FTE funding through the Florida Education Finance Program.
(6) APPLICATION PROCESS AND REVIEW.Charter school applications are subject to the following requirements:
(a) A person or entity wishing to open a charter school shall prepare and submit an application on a model application form prepared by the Department of Education which:
1. Demonstrates how the school will use the guiding principles and meet the statutorily defined purpose of a charter school.
2. Provides a detailed curriculum plan that illustrates how students will be provided services to attain the Sunshine State Standards.
3. Contains goals and objectives for improving student learning and measuring that improvement. These goals and objectives must indicate how much academic improvement students are expected to show each year, how success will be evaluated, and the specific results to be attained through instruction.
4. Describes the reading curriculum and differentiated strategies that will be used for students reading at grade level or higher and a separate curriculum and strategies for students who are reading below grade level. A sponsor shall deny a charter if the school does not propose a reading curriculum that is consistent with effective teaching strategies that are grounded in scientifically based reading research.
5. Contains an annual financial plan for each year requested by the charter for operation of the school for up to 5 years. This plan must contain anticipated fund balances based on revenue projections, a spending plan based on projected revenues and expenses, and a description of controls that will safeguard finances and projected enrollment trends.
6. Documents that the applicant has participated in the training required in subparagraph (f)2. A sponsor may require an applicant to provide additional information as an addendum to the charter school application described in this paragraph.
7. For the establishment of a virtual charter school, documents that the applicant has contracted with a provider of virtual instruction services pursuant to s. 1002.45(1)(d).
(b) A sponsor shall receive and review all applications for a charter school using an evaluation instrument developed by the Department of Education. A sponsor shall receive and consider charter school applications received on or before August 1 of each calendar year for charter schools to be opened at the beginning of the school district’s next school year, or to be opened at a time agreed to by the applicant and the sponsor. A sponsor may receive applications later than this date if it chooses. A sponsor may not charge an applicant for a charter any fee for the processing or consideration of an application, and a sponsor may not base its consideration or approval of an application upon the promise of future payment of any kind. Before approving or denying any application, the sponsor shall allow the applicant, upon receipt of written notification, at least 7 calendar days to make technical or nonsubstantive corrections and clarifications, including, but not limited to, corrections of grammatical, typographical, and like errors or missing signatures, if such errors are identified by the sponsor as cause to deny the application.
1. In order to facilitate an accurate budget projection process, a sponsor shall be held harmless for FTE students who are not included in the FTE projection due to approval of charter school applications after the FTE projection deadline. In a further effort to facilitate an accurate budget projection, within 15 calendar days after receipt of a charter school application, a sponsor shall report to the Department of Education the name of the applicant entity, the proposed charter school location, and its projected FTE.
2. In order to ensure fiscal responsibility, an application for a charter school shall include a full accounting of expected assets, a projection of expected sources and amounts of income, including income derived from projected student enrollments and from community support, and an expense projection that includes full accounting of the costs of operation, including start-up costs.
3.a. A sponsor shall by a majority vote approve or deny an application no later than 60 calendar days after the application is received, unless the sponsor and the applicant mutually agree in writing to temporarily postpone the vote to a specific date, at which time the sponsor shall by a majority vote approve or deny the application. If the sponsor fails to act on the application, an applicant may appeal to the State Board of Education as provided in paragraph (c). If an application is denied, the sponsor shall, within 10 calendar days after such denial, articulate in writing the specific reasons, based upon good cause, supporting its denial of the charter application and shall provide the letter of denial and supporting documentation to the applicant and to the Department of Education.
b. An application submitted by a high-performing charter school identified pursuant to s. 1002.331 may be denied by the sponsor only if the sponsor demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that:
(I) The application does not materially comply with the requirements in paragraph (a);
(II) The charter school proposed in the application does not materially comply with the requirements in paragraphs (9)(a)-(f);
(III) The proposed charter school’s educational program does not substantially replicate that of the applicant or one of the applicant’s high-performing charter schools;
(IV) The applicant has made a material misrepresentation or false statement or concealed an essential or material fact during the application process; or
(V) The proposed charter school’s educational program and financial management practices do not materially comply with the requirements of this section.

Material noncompliance is a failure to follow requirements or a violation of prohibitions applicable to charter school applications, which failure is quantitatively or qualitatively significant either individually or when aggregated with other noncompliance. An applicant is considered to be replicating a high-performing charter school if the proposed school is substantially similar to at least one of the applicant’s high-performing charter schools and the organization or individuals involved in the establishment and operation of the proposed school are significantly involved in the operation of replicated schools.

c. If the sponsor denies an application submitted by a high-performing charter school, the sponsor must, within 10 calendar days after such denial, state in writing the specific reasons, based upon the criteria in sub-subparagraph b., supporting its denial of the application and must provide the letter of denial and supporting documentation to the applicant and to the Department of Education. The applicant may appeal the sponsor’s denial of the application directly to the State Board of Education pursuant to sub-subparagraph (c)3.b.
4. For budget projection purposes, the sponsor shall report to the Department of Education the approval or denial of a charter application within 10 calendar days after such approval or denial. In the event of approval, the report to the Department of Education shall include the final projected FTE for the approved charter school.
5. Upon approval of a charter application, the initial startup shall commence with the beginning of the public school calendar for the district in which the charter is granted unless the sponsor allows a waiver of this subparagraph for good cause.
(c)1. An applicant may appeal any denial of that applicant’s application or failure to act on an application to the State Board of Education no later than 30 calendar days after receipt of the sponsor’s decision or failure to act and shall notify the sponsor of its appeal. Any response of the sponsor shall be submitted to the State Board of Education within 30 calendar days after notification of the appeal. Upon receipt of notification from the State Board of Education that a charter school applicant is filing an appeal, the Commissioner of Education shall convene a meeting of the Charter School Appeal Commission to study and make recommendations to the State Board of Education regarding its pending decision about the appeal. The commission shall forward its recommendation to the state board no later than 7 calendar days prior to the date on which the appeal is to be heard.
2. The Charter School Appeal Commission may reject an appeal submission for failure to comply with procedural rules governing the appeals process. The rejection shall describe the submission errors. The appellant shall have 15 calendar days after notice of rejection in which to resubmit an appeal that meets the requirements set forth in State Board of Education rule. An appeal submitted subsequent to such rejection is considered timely if the original appeal was filed within 30 calendar days after receipt of notice of the specific reasons for the sponsor’s denial of the charter application.
3.a. The State Board of Education shall by majority vote accept or reject the decision of the sponsor no later than 90 calendar days after an appeal is filed in accordance with State Board of Education rule. The State Board of Education shall remand the application to the sponsor with its written decision that the sponsor approve or deny the application. The sponsor shall implement the decision of the State Board of Education. The decision of the State Board of Education is not subject to the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act, chapter 120.
b. If an appeal concerns an application submitted by a high-performing charter school identified pursuant to s. 1002.331, the State Board of Education shall determine whether the sponsor has shown, by clear and convincing evidence, that:
(I) The application does not materially comply with the requirements in paragraph (a);
(II) The charter school proposed in the application does not materially comply with the requirements in paragraphs (9)(a)-(f);
(III) The proposed charter school’s educational program does not substantially replicate that of the applicant or one of the applicant’s high-performing charter schools;
(IV) The applicant has made a material misrepresentation or false statement or concealed an essential or material fact during the application process; or
(V) The proposed charter school’s educational program and financial management practices do not materially comply with the requirements of this section.

The State Board of Education shall approve or reject the sponsor’s denial of an application no later than 90 calendar days after an appeal is filed in accordance with State Board of Education rule. The State Board of Education shall remand the application to the sponsor with its written decision that the sponsor approve or deny the application. The sponsor shall implement the decision of the State Board of Education. The decision of the State Board of Education is not subject to the Administrative Procedure Act, chapter 120.

(d) The sponsor shall act upon the decision of the State Board of Education within 30 calendar days after it is received. The State Board of Education’s decision is a final action subject to judicial review in the district court of appeal.
(e)1. A Charter School Appeal Commission is established to assist the commissioner and the State Board of Education with a fair and impartial review of appeals by applicants whose charter applications have been denied, whose charter contracts have not been renewed, or whose charter contracts have been terminated by their sponsors.
2. The Charter School Appeal Commission may receive copies of the appeal documents forwarded to the State Board of Education, review the documents, gather other applicable information regarding the appeal, and make a written recommendation to the commissioner. The recommendation must state whether the appeal should be upheld or denied and include the reasons for the recommendation being offered. The commissioner shall forward the recommendation to the State Board of Education no later than 7 calendar days prior to the date on which the appeal is to be heard. The state board must consider the commission’s recommendation in making its decision, but is not bound by the recommendation. The decision of the Charter School Appeal Commission is not subject to the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act, chapter 120.
3. The commissioner shall appoint a number of members to the Charter School Appeal Commission sufficient to ensure that no potential conflict of interest exists for any commission appeal decision. Members shall serve without compensation but may be reimbursed for travel and per diem expenses in conjunction with their service. Of the members hearing the appeal, one-half must represent currently operating charter schools and one-half must represent sponsors. The commissioner or a named designee shall chair the Charter School Appeal Commission.
4. The chair shall convene meetings of the commission and shall ensure that the written recommendations are completed and forwarded in a timely manner. In cases where the commission cannot reach a decision, the chair shall make the written recommendation with justification, noting that the decision was rendered by the chair.
5. Commission members shall thoroughly review the materials presented to them from the appellant and the sponsor. The commission may request information to clarify the documentation presented to it. In the course of its review, the commission may facilitate the postponement of an appeal in those cases where additional time and communication may negate the need for a formal appeal and both parties agree, in writing, to postpone the appeal to the State Board of Education. A new date certain for the appeal shall then be set based upon the rules and procedures of the State Board of Education. Commission members shall provide a written recommendation to the state board as to whether the appeal should be upheld or denied. A fact-based justification for the recommendation must be included. The chair must ensure that the written recommendation is submitted to the State Board of Education members no later than 7 calendar days prior to the date on which the appeal is to be heard. Both parties in the case shall also be provided a copy of the recommendation.
(f)1. The Department of Education shall provide or arrange for training and technical assistance to charter schools in developing and adjusting business plans and accounting for costs and income. Training and technical assistance shall also address, at a minimum, state and federal grant and student performance accountability reporting requirements and provide assistance in identifying and applying for the types and amounts of state and federal financial assistance the charter school may be eligible to receive. The department may provide other technical assistance to an applicant upon written request.
2. A charter school applicant must participate in the training provided by the Department of Education after approval of an application but at least 30 calendar days before the first day of classes at the charter school. However, a sponsor may require the charter school applicant to attend training provided by the sponsor in lieu of the department’s training if the sponsor’s training standards meet or exceed the standards developed by the department. In such case, the sponsor may not require the charter school applicant to attend the training within 30 calendar days before the first day of classes at the charter school. The training must include instruction in accurate financial planning and good business practices. If the applicant is a management company or a nonprofit organization, the charter school principal and the chief financial officer or his or her equivalent must also participate in the training. A sponsor may not require a high-performing charter school or high-performing charter school system applicant to participate in the training described in this subparagraph more than once.
(g) In considering charter applications for a lab school, a state university shall consult with the district school board of the county in which the lab school is located. The decision of a state university may be appealed pursuant to the procedure established in this subsection.
(h) The terms and conditions for the operation of a charter school shall be set forth by the sponsor and the applicant in a written contractual agreement, called a charter. The sponsor shall not impose unreasonable rules or regulations that violate the intent of giving charter schools greater flexibility to meet educational goals. The sponsor shall have 60 days to provide an initial proposed charter contract to the charter school. The applicant and the sponsor shall have 75 days thereafter to negotiate and notice the charter contract for final approval by the sponsor unless both parties agree to an extension. The proposed charter contract shall be provided to the charter school at least 7 calendar days prior to the date of the meeting at which the charter is scheduled to be voted upon by the sponsor. The Department of Education shall provide mediation services for any dispute regarding this section subsequent to the approval of a charter application and for any dispute relating to the approved charter, except disputes regarding charter school application denials. If the Commissioner of Education determines that the dispute cannot be settled through mediation, the dispute may be appealed to an administrative law judge appointed by the Division of Administrative Hearings. The administrative law judge may rule on issues of equitable treatment of the charter school as a public school, whether proposed provisions of the charter violate the intended flexibility granted charter schools by statute, or on any other matter regarding this section except a charter school application denial, a charter termination, or a charter nonrenewal and shall award the prevailing party reasonable attorney’s fees and costs incurred to be paid by the losing party. The costs of the administrative hearing shall be paid by the party whom the administrative law judge rules against.
(7) CHARTER.The major issues involving the operation of a charter school shall be considered in advance and written into the charter. The charter shall be signed by the governing board of the charter school and the sponsor, following a public hearing to ensure community input.
(a) The charter shall address and criteria for approval of the charter shall be based on:
1. The school’s mission, the students to be served, and the ages and grades to be included.
2. The focus of the curriculum, the instructional methods to be used, any distinctive instructional techniques to be employed, and identification and acquisition of appropriate technologies needed to improve educational and administrative performance which include a means for promoting safe, ethical, and appropriate uses of technology which comply with legal and professional standards.
a. The charter shall ensure that reading is a primary focus of the curriculum and that resources are provided to identify and provide specialized instruction for students who are reading below grade level. The curriculum and instructional strategies for reading must be consistent with the Sunshine State Standards and grounded in scientifically based reading research.
b. In order to provide students with access to diverse instructional delivery models, to facilitate the integration of technology within traditional classroom instruction, and to provide students with the skills they need to compete in the 21st century economy, the Legislature encourages instructional methods for blended learning courses consisting of both traditional classroom and online instructional techniques. Charter schools may implement blended learning courses which combine traditional classroom instruction and virtual instruction. Students in a blended learning course must be full-time students of the charter school and receive the online instruction in a classroom setting at the charter school. Instructional personnel certified pursuant to s. 1012.55 who provide virtual instruction for blended learning courses may be employees of the charter school or may be under contract to provide instructional services to charter school students. At a minimum, such instructional personnel must hold an active state or school district adjunct certification under s. 1012.57 for the subject area of the blended learning course. The funding and performance accountability requirements for blended learning courses are the same as those for traditional courses.
3. The current incoming baseline standard of student academic achievement, the outcomes to be achieved, and the method of measurement that will be used. The criteria listed in this subparagraph shall include a detailed description of:
a. How the baseline student academic achievement levels and prior rates of academic progress will be established.
b. How these baseline rates will be compared to rates of academic progress achieved by these same students while attending the charter school.
c. To the extent possible, how these rates of progress will be evaluated and compared with rates of progress of other closely comparable student populations.

The district school board is required to provide academic student performance data to charter schools for each of their students coming from the district school system, as well as rates of academic progress of comparable student populations in the district school system.

4. The methods used to identify the educational strengths and needs of students and how well educational goals and performance standards are met by students attending the charter school. The methods shall provide a means for the charter school to ensure accountability to its constituents by analyzing student performance data and by evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of its major educational programs. Students in charter schools shall, at a minimum, participate in the statewide assessment program created under s. 1008.22.
5. In secondary charter schools, a method for determining that a student has satisfied the requirements for graduation in s. 1003.428, s. 1003.429, or s. 1003.43.
6. A method for resolving conflicts between the governing board of the charter school and the sponsor.
7. The admissions procedures and dismissal procedures, including the school’s code of student conduct.
8. The ways by which the school will achieve a racial/ethnic balance reflective of the community it serves or within the racial/ethnic range of other public schools in the same school district.
9. The financial and administrative management of the school, including a reasonable demonstration of the professional experience or competence of those individuals or organizations applying to operate the charter school or those hired or retained to perform such professional services and the description of clearly delineated responsibilities and the policies and practices needed to effectively manage the charter school. A description of internal audit procedures and establishment of controls to ensure that financial resources are properly managed must be included. Both public sector and private sector professional experience shall be equally valid in such a consideration.
10. The asset and liability projections required in the application which are incorporated into the charter and shall be compared with information provided in the annual report of the charter school.
11. A description of procedures that identify various risks and provide for a comprehensive approach to reduce the impact of losses; plans to ensure the safety and security of students and staff; plans to identify, minimize, and protect others from violent or disruptive student behavior; and the manner in which the school will be insured, including whether or not the school will be required to have liability insurance, and, if so, the terms and conditions thereof and the amounts of coverage.
12. The term of the charter which shall provide for cancellation of the charter if insufficient progress has been made in attaining the student achievement objectives of the charter and if it is not likely that such objectives can be achieved before expiration of the charter. The initial term of a charter shall be for 4 or 5 years. In order to facilitate access to long-term financial resources for charter school construction, charter schools that are operated by a municipality or other public entity as provided by law are eligible for up to a 15-year charter, subject to approval by the district school board. A charter lab school is eligible for a charter for a term of up to 15 years. In addition, to facilitate access to long-term financial resources for charter school construction, charter schools that are operated by a private, not-for-profit, s. 501(c)(3) status corporation are eligible for up to a 15-year charter, subject to approval by the district school board. Such long-term charters remain subject to annual review and may be terminated during the term of the charter, but only according to the provisions set forth in subsection (8).
13. The facilities to be used and their location.
14. The qualifications to be required of the teachers and the potential strategies used to recruit, hire, train, and retain qualified staff to achieve best value.
15. The governance structure of the school, including the status of the charter school as a public or private employer as required in paragraph (12)(i).
16. A timetable for implementing the charter which addresses the implementation of each element thereof and the date by which the charter shall be awarded in order to meet this timetable.
17. In the case of an existing public school that is being converted to charter status, alternative arrangements for current students who choose not to attend the charter school and for current teachers who choose not to teach in the charter school after conversion in accordance with the existing collective bargaining agreement or district school board rule in the absence of a collective bargaining agreement. However, alternative arrangements shall not be required for current teachers who choose not to teach in a charter lab school, except as authorized by the employment policies of the state university which grants the charter to the lab school.
18. Full disclosure of the identity of all relatives employed by the charter school who are related to the charter school owner, president, chairperson of the governing board of directors, superintendent, governing board member, principal, assistant principal, or any other person employed by the charter school who has equivalent decisionmaking authority. For the purpose of this subparagraph, the term “relative” means father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, or half sister.
19. Implementation of the activities authorized under s. 1002.331 by the charter school when it satisfies the eligibility requirements for a high-performing charter school. A high-performing charter school shall notify its sponsor in writing by March 1 if it intends to increase enrollment or expand grade levels the following school year. The written notice shall specify the amount of the enrollment increase and the grade levels that will be added, as applicable.
(b)1. A charter may be renewed provided that a program review demonstrates that the criteria in paragraph (a) have been successfully accomplished and that none of the grounds for nonrenewal established by paragraph (8)(a) has been documented. In order to facilitate long-term financing for charter school construction, charter schools operating for a minimum of 3 years and demonstrating exemplary academic programming and fiscal management are eligible for a 15-year charter renewal. Such long-term charter is subject to annual review and may be terminated during the term of the charter.
2. The 15-year charter renewal that may be granted pursuant to subparagraph 1. shall be granted to a charter school that has received a school grade of “A” or “B” pursuant to s. 1008.34 in 3 of the past 4 years and is not in a state of financial emergency or deficit position as defined by this section. Such long-term charter is subject to annual review and may be terminated during the term of the charter pursuant to subsection (8).
(c) A charter may be modified during its initial term or any renewal term upon the recommendation of the sponsor or the charter school’s governing board and the approval of both parties to the agreement.
(d)1. Each charter school’s governing board must appoint a representative to facilitate parental involvement, provide access to information, assist parents and others with questions and concerns, and resolve disputes. The representative must reside in the school district in which the charter school is located and may be a governing board member, charter school employee, or individual contracted to represent the governing board. If the governing board oversees multiple charter schools in the same school district, the governing board must appoint a separate individual representative for each charter school in the district. The representative’s contact information must be provided annually in writing to parents and posted prominently on the charter school’s website if a website is maintained by the school. The sponsor may not require that governing board members reside in the school district in which the charter school is located if the charter school complies with this paragraph.
2. Each charter school’s governing board must hold at least two public meetings per school year in the school district. The meetings must be noticed, open, and accessible to the public, and attendees must be provided an opportunity to receive information and provide input regarding the charter school’s operations. The appointed representative and charter school principal or director, or his or her equivalent, must be physically present at each meeting.
(8) CAUSES FOR NONRENEWAL OR TERMINATION OF CHARTER.
(a) The sponsor may choose not to renew or may terminate the charter for any of the following grounds:
1. Failure to participate in the state’s education accountability system created in s. 1008.31, as required in this section, or failure to meet the requirements for student performance stated in the charter.
2. Failure to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management.
3. Violation of law.
4. Other good cause shown.
(b) At least 90 days prior to renewing or terminating a charter, the sponsor shall notify the governing board of the school of the proposed action in writing. The notice shall state in reasonable detail the grounds for the proposed action and stipulate that the school’s governing board may, within 14 calendar days after receiving the notice, request a hearing. The hearing shall be conducted at the sponsor’s election in accordance with one of the following procedures:
1. A direct hearing conducted by the sponsor within 60 days after receipt of the request for a hearing. The hearing shall be conducted in accordance with ss. 120.569 and 120.57. The sponsor shall decide upon nonrenewal or termination by a majority vote. The sponsor’s decision shall be a final order; or
2. A hearing conducted by an administrative law judge assigned by the Division of Administrative Hearings. The hearing shall be conducted within 60 days after receipt of the request for a hearing and in accordance with chapter 120. The administrative law judge’s recommended order shall be submitted to the sponsor. A majority vote by the sponsor shall be required to adopt or modify the administrative law judge’s recommended order. The sponsor shall issue a final order.
(c) The final order shall state the specific reasons for the sponsor’s decision. The sponsor shall provide its final order to the charter school’s governing board and the Department of Education no later than 10 calendar days after its issuance. The charter school’s governing board may, within 30 calendar days after receiving the sponsor’s final order, appeal the decision pursuant to s. 120.68.
(d) A charter may be terminated immediately if the sponsor sets forth in writing the particular facts and circumstances indicating that an immediate and serious danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the charter school’s students exists. The sponsor’s determination is subject to the procedures set forth in paragraphs (b) and (c), except that the hearing may take place after the charter has been terminated. The sponsor shall notify in writing the charter school’s governing board, the charter school principal, and the department if a charter is terminated immediately. The sponsor shall clearly identify the specific issues that resulted in the immediate termination and provide evidence of prior notification of issues resulting in the immediate termination when appropriate. Upon receiving written notice from the sponsor, the charter school’s governing board has 10 calendar days to request a hearing. A requested hearing must be expedited and the final order must be issued within 60 days after the date of request. The sponsor shall assume operation of the charter school throughout the pendency of the hearing under paragraphs (b) and (c) unless the continued operation of the charter school would materially threaten the health, safety, or welfare of the students. Failure by the sponsor to assume and continue operation of the charter school shall result in the awarding of reasonable costs and attorney’s fees to the charter school if the charter school prevails on appeal.
(e) When a charter is not renewed or is terminated, the school shall be dissolved under the provisions of law under which the school was organized, and any unencumbered public funds, except for capital outlay funds and federal charter school program grant funds, from the charter school shall revert to the sponsor. Capital outlay funds provided pursuant to s. 1013.62 and federal charter school program grant funds that are unencumbered shall revert to the department to be redistributed among eligible charter schools. In the event a charter school is dissolved or is otherwise terminated, all district school board property and improvements, furnishings, and equipment purchased with public funds shall automatically revert to full ownership by the district school board, subject to complete satisfaction of any lawful liens or encumbrances. Any unencumbered public funds from the charter school, district school board property and improvements, furnishings, and equipment purchased with public funds, or financial or other records pertaining to the charter school, in the possession of any person, entity, or holding company, other than the charter school, shall be held in trust upon the district school board’s request, until any appeal status is resolved.
(f) If a charter is not renewed or is terminated, the charter school is responsible for all debts of the charter school. The district may not assume the debt from any contract made between the governing body of the school and a third party, except for a debt that is previously detailed and agreed upon in writing by both the district and the governing body of the school and that may not reasonably be assumed to have been satisfied by the district.
(g) If a charter is not renewed or is terminated, a student who attended the school may apply to, and shall be enrolled in, another public school. Normal application deadlines shall be disregarded under such circumstances.
(9) CHARTER SCHOOL REQUIREMENTS.
(a) A charter school shall be nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and operations.
(b) A charter school shall admit students as provided in subsection (10).
(c) A charter school shall be accountable to its sponsor for performance as provided in subsection (7).
(d) A charter school shall not charge tuition or registration fees, except those fees normally charged by other public schools. However, a charter lab school may charge a student activity and service fee as authorized by s. 1002.32(5).
(e) A charter school shall meet all applicable state and local health, safety, and civil rights requirements.
(f) A charter school shall not violate the antidiscrimination provisions of s. 1000.05.
(g) In order to provide financial information that is comparable to that reported for other public schools, charter schools are to maintain all financial records that constitute their accounting system:
1. In accordance with the accounts and codes prescribed in the most recent issuance of the publication titled “Financial and Program Cost Accounting and Reporting for Florida Schools”; or
2. At the discretion of the charter school’s governing board, a charter school may elect to follow generally accepted accounting standards for not-for-profit organizations, but must reformat this information for reporting according to this paragraph.

Charter schools shall provide annual financial report and program cost report information in the state-required formats for inclusion in district reporting in compliance with s. 1011.60(1). Charter schools that are operated by a municipality or are a component unit of a parent nonprofit organization may use the accounting system of the municipality or the parent but must reformat this information for reporting according to this paragraph. A charter school shall provide a monthly financial statement to the sponsor unless the charter school is designated as a high-performing charter school pursuant to s. 1002.331, in which case the high-performing charter school may provide a quarterly financial statement. The financial statement required under this paragraph shall be in a form prescribed by the Department of Education.

(h) The governing board of the charter school shall annually adopt and maintain an operating budget.
(i) The governing body of the charter school shall exercise continuing oversight over charter school operations.
(j) The governing body of the charter school shall be responsible for:
1. Ensuring that the charter school has retained the services of a certified public accountant or auditor for the annual financial audit, pursuant to s. 1002.345(2), who shall submit the report to the governing body.
2. Reviewing and approving the audit report, including audit findings and recommendations for the financial recovery plan.
3.a. Performing the duties in s. 1002.345, including monitoring a corrective action plan.
b. Monitoring a financial recovery plan in order to ensure compliance.
4. Participating in governance training approved by the department which must include government in the sunshine, conflicts of interest, ethics, and financial responsibility.
(k) The governing body of the charter school shall report its progress annually to its sponsor, which shall forward the report to the Commissioner of Education at the same time as other annual school accountability reports. The Department of Education shall develop a uniform, online annual accountability report to be completed by charter schools. This report shall be easy to utilize and contain demographic information, student performance data, and financial accountability information. A charter school shall not be required to provide information and data that is duplicative and already in the possession of the department. The Department of Education shall include in its compilation a notation if a school failed to file its report by the deadline established by the department. The report shall include at least the following components:
1. Student achievement performance data, including the information required for the annual school report and the education accountability system governed by ss. 1008.31 and 1008.345. Charter schools are subject to the same accountability requirements as other public schools, including reports of student achievement information that links baseline student data to the school’s performance projections identified in the charter. The charter school shall identify reasons for any difference between projected and actual student performance.
2. Financial status of the charter school which must include revenues and expenditures at a level of detail that allows for analysis of the charter school’s ability to meet financial obligations and timely repayment of debt.
3. Documentation of the facilities in current use and any planned facilities for use by the charter school for instruction of students, administrative functions, or investment purposes.
4. Descriptive information about the charter school’s personnel, including salary and benefit levels of charter school employees, the proportion of instructional personnel who hold professional or temporary certificates, and the proportion of instructional personnel teaching in-field or out-of-field.
(l) A charter school shall not levy taxes or issue bonds secured by tax revenues.
(m) A charter school shall provide instruction for at least the number of days required by law for other public schools and may provide instruction for additional days.
(n) The director and a representative of the governing body of a charter school that has received a school grade of “D” under s. 1008.34(2) shall appear before the sponsor or the sponsor’s staff at least once a year to present information concerning each contract component having noted deficiencies. The sponsor shall communicate at the meeting, and in writing to the director, the services provided to the school to help the school address its deficiencies.
(o) Upon notification that a charter school receives a school grade of “D” for 2 consecutive years or a school grade of “F” under s. 1008.34(2), the charter school sponsor or the sponsor’s staff shall require the director and a representative of the governing body to submit to the sponsor for approval a school improvement plan to raise student achievement and to implement the plan. The sponsor has the authority to approve a school improvement plan that the charter school will implement in the following school year. The sponsor may also consider the State Board of Education’s recommended action pursuant to 2s. 1008.33(1) as part of the school improvement plan. The Department of Education shall offer technical assistance and training to the charter school and its governing body and establish guidelines for developing, submitting, and approving such plans.
1. If the charter school fails to improve its student performance from the year immediately prior to the implementation of the school improvement plan, the sponsor shall place the charter school on probation and shall require the charter school governing body to take one of the following corrective actions:
a. Contract for the educational services of the charter school;
b. Reorganize the school at the end of the school year under a new director or principal who is authorized to hire new staff and implement a plan that addresses the causes of inadequate progress; or
c. Reconstitute the charter school.
2. A charter school that is placed on probation shall continue the corrective actions required under subparagraph 1. until the charter school improves its student performance from the year prior to the implementation of the school improvement plan.
3. Notwithstanding any provision of this paragraph, the sponsor may terminate the charter at any time pursuant to subsection (8).
(p) The director and a representative of the governing body of a graded charter school that has submitted a school improvement plan or has been placed on probation under paragraph (o) shall appear before the sponsor or the sponsor’s staff at least once a year to present information regarding the corrective strategies that are being implemented by the school pursuant to the school improvement plan. The sponsor shall communicate at the meeting, and in writing to the director, the services provided to the school to help the school address its deficiencies.
(10) ELIGIBLE STUDENTS.
(a) A charter school shall be open to any student covered in an interdistrict agreement or residing in the school district in which the charter school is located; however, in the case of a charter lab school, the charter lab school shall be open to any student eligible to attend the lab school as provided in s. 1002.32 or who resides in the school district in which the charter lab school is located. Any eligible student shall be allowed interdistrict transfer to attend a charter school when based on good cause. Good cause shall include, but is not limited to, geographic proximity to a charter school in a neighboring school district.
(b) The charter school shall enroll an eligible student who submits a timely application, unless the number of applications exceeds the capacity of a program, class, grade level, or building. In such case, all applicants shall have an equal chance of being admitted through a random selection process.
(c) When a public school converts to charter status, enrollment preference shall be given to students who would have otherwise attended that public school. The district school board shall consult and negotiate with the conversion charter school every 3 years to determine whether realignment of the conversion charter school’s attendance zone is appropriate in order to ensure that students residing closest to the charter school are provided with an enrollment preference.
(d) A charter school may give enrollment preference to the following student populations:
1. Students who are siblings of a student enrolled in the charter school.
2. Students who are the children of a member of the governing board of the charter school.
3. Students who are the children of an employee of the charter school.
4. Students who are the children of:
a. An employee of the business partner of a charter school-in-the-workplace established under paragraph (15)(b) or a resident of the municipality in which such charter school is located; or
b. A resident of a municipality that operates a charter school-in-a-municipality pursuant to paragraph (15)(c).
5. Students who have successfully completed a voluntary prekindergarten education program under ss. 1002.51-1002.79 provided by the charter school or the charter school’s governing board during the previous year.
6. Students who are the children of an active duty member of any branch of the United States Armed Forces.
(e) A charter school may limit the enrollment process only to target the following student populations:
1. Students within specific age groups or grade levels.
2. Students considered at risk of dropping out of school or academic failure. Such students shall include exceptional education students.
3. Students enrolling in a charter school-in-the-workplace or charter school-in-a-municipality established pursuant to subsection (15).
4. Students residing within a reasonable distance of the charter school, as described in paragraph (20)(c). Such students shall be subject to a random lottery and to the racial/ethnic balance provisions described in subparagraph (7)(a)8. or any federal provisions that require a school to achieve a racial/ethnic balance reflective of the community it serves or within the racial/ethnic range of other public schools in the same school district.
5. Students who meet reasonable academic, artistic, or other eligibility standards established by the charter school and included in the charter school application and charter or, in the case of existing charter schools, standards that are consistent with the school’s mission and purpose. Such standards shall be in accordance with current state law and practice in public schools and may not discriminate against otherwise qualified individuals.
6. Students articulating from one charter school to another pursuant to an articulation agreement between the charter schools that has been approved by the sponsor.
7. Students living in a development in which a business entity provides the school facility and related property having an appraised value of at least $10 million to be used as a charter school for the development. Students living in the development shall be entitled to 50 percent of the student stations in the charter school. The students who are eligible for enrollment are subject to a random lottery, the racial/ethnic balance provisions, or any federal provisions, as described in subparagraph 4. The remainder of the student stations shall be filled in accordance with subparagraph 4.
(f) Students with disabilities and students served in English for Speakers of Other Languages programs shall have an equal opportunity of being selected for enrollment in a charter school.
(g) A student may withdraw from a charter school at any time and enroll in another public school as determined by district school board rule.
(h) The capacity of the charter school shall be determined annually by the governing board, in conjunction with the sponsor, of the charter school in consideration of the factors identified in this subsection unless the charter school is designated as a high-performing charter school pursuant to s. 1002.331. A sponsor may not require a charter school to waive the provisions of s. 1002.331 or require a student enrollment cap that prohibits a high-performing charter school from increasing enrollment in accordance with s. 1002.331(2) as a condition of approval or renewal of a charter.
(i) The capacity of a high-performing charter school identified pursuant to s. 1002.331 shall be determined annually by the governing board of the charter school. The governing board shall notify the sponsor of any increase in enrollment by March 1 of the school year preceding the increase.
(11) PARTICIPATION IN INTERSCHOLASTIC EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES.A charter school student is eligible to participate in an interscholastic extracurricular activity at the public school to which the student would be otherwise assigned to attend pursuant to s. 1006.15(3)(d).
(12) EMPLOYEES OF CHARTER SCHOOLS.
(a) A charter school shall select its own employees. A charter school may contract with its sponsor for the services of personnel employed by the sponsor.
(b) Charter school employees shall have the option to bargain collectively. Employees may collectively bargain as a separate unit or as part of the existing district collective bargaining unit as determined by the structure of the charter school.
(c) The employees of a conversion charter school shall remain public employees for all purposes, unless such employees choose not to do so.
(d) The teachers at a charter school may choose to be part of a professional group that subcontracts with the charter school to operate the instructional program under the auspices of a partnership or cooperative that they collectively own. Under this arrangement, the teachers would not be public employees.
(e) Employees of a school district may take leave to accept employment in a charter school upon the approval of the district school board. While employed by the charter school and on leave that is approved by the district school board, the employee may retain seniority accrued in that school district and may continue to be covered by the benefit programs of that school district, if the charter school and the district school board agree to this arrangement and its financing. School districts shall not require resignations of teachers desiring to teach in a charter school. This paragraph shall not prohibit a district school board from approving alternative leave arrangements consistent with chapter 1012.
(f) Teachers employed by or under contract to a charter school shall be certified as required by chapter 1012. A charter school governing board may employ or contract with skilled selected noncertified personnel to provide instructional services or to assist instructional staff members as education paraprofessionals in the same manner as defined in chapter 1012, and as provided by State Board of Education rule for charter school governing boards. A charter school may not knowingly employ an individual to provide instructional services or to serve as an education paraprofessional if the individual’s certification or licensure as an educator is suspended or revoked by this or any other state. A charter school may not knowingly employ an individual who has resigned from a school district in lieu of disciplinary action with respect to child welfare or safety, or who has been dismissed for just cause by any school district with respect to child welfare or safety. The qualifications of teachers shall be disclosed to parents.
(g)1. A charter school shall employ or contract with employees who have undergone background screening as provided in s. 1012.32. Members of the governing board of the charter school shall also undergo background screening in a manner similar to that provided in s. 1012.32.
2. A charter school shall disqualify instructional personnel and school administrators, as defined in s. 1012.01, from employment in any position that requires direct contact with students if the personnel or administrators are ineligible for such employment under s. 1012.315.
3. The governing board of a charter school shall adopt policies establishing standards of ethical conduct for instructional personnel and school administrators. The policies must require all instructional personnel and school administrators, as defined in s. 1012.01, to complete training on the standards; establish the duty of instructional personnel and school administrators to report, and procedures for reporting, alleged misconduct by other instructional personnel and school administrators which affects the health, safety, or welfare of a student; and include an explanation of the liability protections provided under ss. 39.203 and 768.095. A charter school, or any of its employees, may not enter into a confidentiality agreement regarding terminated or dismissed instructional personnel or school administrators, or personnel or administrators who resign in lieu of termination, based in whole or in part on misconduct that affects the health, safety, or welfare of a student, and may not provide instructional personnel or school administrators with employment references or discuss the personnel’s or administrators’ performance with prospective employers in another educational setting, without disclosing the personnel’s or administrators’ misconduct. Any part of an agreement or contract that has the purpose or effect of concealing misconduct by instructional personnel or school administrators which affects the health, safety, or welfare of a student is void, is contrary to public policy, and may not be enforced.
4. Before employing instructional personnel or school administrators in any position that requires direct contact with students, a charter school shall conduct employment history checks of each of the personnel’s or administrators’ previous employers, screen the instructional personnel or school administrators through use of the educator screening tools described in s. 1001.10(5), and document the findings. If unable to contact a previous employer, the charter school must document efforts to contact the employer.
5. The sponsor of a charter school that knowingly fails to comply with this paragraph shall terminate the charter under subsection (8).
(h) For the purposes of tort liability, the governing body and employees of a charter school shall be governed by s. 768.28.
(i) A charter school shall organize as, or be operated by, a nonprofit organization. A charter school may be operated by a municipality or other public entity as provided for by law. As such, the charter school may be either a private or a public employer. As a public employer, a charter school may participate in the Florida Retirement System upon application and approval as a “covered group” under s. 121.021(34). If a charter school participates in the Florida Retirement System, the charter school employees shall be compulsory members of the Florida Retirement System. As either a private or a public employer, a charter school may contract for services with an individual or group of individuals who are organized as a partnership or a cooperative. Individuals or groups of individuals who contract their services to the charter school are not public employees.
(13) CHARTER SCHOOL COOPERATIVES.Charter schools may enter into cooperative agreements to form charter school cooperative organizations that may provide the following services: charter school planning and development, direct instructional services, and contracts with charter school governing boards to provide personnel administrative services, payroll services, human resource management, evaluation and assessment services, teacher preparation, and professional development.
(14) CHARTER SCHOOL FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS; INDEMNIFICATION OF THE STATE AND SCHOOL DISTRICT; CREDIT OR TAXING POWER NOT TO BE PLEDGED.Any arrangement entered into to borrow or otherwise secure funds for a charter school authorized in this section from a source other than the state or a school district shall indemnify the state and the school district from any and all liability, including, but not limited to, financial responsibility for the payment of the principal or interest. Any loans, bonds, or other financial agreements are not obligations of the state or the school district but are obligations of the charter school authority and are payable solely from the sources of funds pledged by such agreement. The credit or taxing power of the state or the school district shall not be pledged and no debts shall be payable out of any moneys except those of the legal entity in possession of a valid charter approved by a district school board pursuant to this section.
(15) CHARTER SCHOOLS-IN-THE-WORKPLACE; CHARTER SCHOOLS-IN-A-MUNICIPALITY.
(a) In order to increase business partnerships in education, to reduce school and classroom overcrowding throughout the state, and to offset the high costs for educational facilities construction, the Legislature intends to encourage the formation of business partnership schools or satellite learning centers and municipal-operated schools through charter school status.
(b) A charter school-in-the-workplace may be established when a business partner provides the school facility to be used; enrolls students based upon a random lottery that involves all of the children of employees of that business or corporation who are seeking enrollment, as provided for in subsection (10); and enrolls students according to the racial/ethnic balance provisions described in subparagraph (7)(a)8. Any portion of a facility used for a public charter school shall be exempt from ad valorem taxes, as provided for in s. 1013.54, for the duration of its use as a public school.
(c) A charter school-in-a-municipality designation may be granted to a municipality that possesses a charter; enrolls students based upon a random lottery that involves all of the children of the residents of that municipality who are seeking enrollment, as provided for in subsection (10); and enrolls students according to the racial/ethnic balance provisions described in subparagraph (7)(a)8. When a municipality has submitted charter applications for the establishment of a charter school feeder pattern, consisting of elementary, middle, and senior high schools, and each individual charter application is approved by the district school board, such schools shall then be designated as one charter school for all purposes listed pursuant to this section. Any portion of the land and facility used for a public charter school shall be exempt from ad valorem taxes, as provided for in s. 1013.54, for the duration of its use as a public school.
(d) As used in this subsection, the terms “business partner” or “municipality” may include more than one business or municipality to form a charter school-in-the-workplace or charter school-in-a-municipality.
(16) EXEMPTION FROM STATUTES.
(a) A charter school shall operate in accordance with its charter and shall be exempt from all statutes in chapters 1000-1013. However, a charter school shall be in compliance with the following statutes in chapters 1000-1013:
1. Those statutes specifically applying to charter schools, including this section.
2. Those statutes pertaining to the student assessment program and school grading system.
3. Those statutes pertaining to the provision of services to students with disabilities.
4. Those statutes pertaining to civil rights, including s. 1000.05, relating to discrimination.
5. Those statutes pertaining to student health, safety, and welfare.
(b) Additionally, a charter school shall be in compliance with the following statutes:
1. Section 286.011, relating to public meetings and records, public inspection, and criminal and civil penalties.
2. Chapter 119, relating to public records.
3. Section 1003.03, relating to the maximum class size, except that the calculation for compliance pursuant to s. 1003.03 shall be the average at the school level.
4. Section 1012.22(1)(c), relating to compensation and salary schedules.
5. Section 1012.33(5), relating to workforce reductions.
6. Section 1012.335, relating to contracts with instructional personnel hired on or after July 1, 2011.
7. Section 1012.34, relating to the substantive requirements for performance evaluations for instructional personnel and school administrators.
(17) FUNDING.Students enrolled in a charter school, regardless of the sponsorship, shall be funded as if they are in a basic program or a special program, the same as students enrolled in other public schools in the school district. Funding for a charter lab school shall be as provided in s. 1002.32.
(a) Each charter school shall report its student enrollment to the sponsor as required in s. 1011.62, and in accordance with the definitions in s. 1011.61. The sponsor shall include each charter school’s enrollment in the district’s report of student enrollment. All charter schools submitting student record information required by the Department of Education shall comply with the Department of Education’s guidelines for electronic data formats for such data, and all districts shall accept electronic data that complies with the Department of Education’s electronic format.
(b) The basis for the agreement for funding students enrolled in a charter school shall be the sum of the school district’s operating funds from the Florida Education Finance Program as provided in s. 1011.62 and the General Appropriations Act, including gross state and local funds, discretionary lottery funds, and funds from the school district’s current operating discretionary millage levy; divided by total funded weighted full-time equivalent students in the school district; multiplied by the weighted full-time equivalent students for the charter school. Charter schools whose students or programs meet the eligibility criteria in law shall be entitled to their proportionate share of categorical program funds included in the total funds available in the Florida Education Finance Program by the Legislature, including transportation. Total funding for each charter school shall be recalculated during the year to reflect the revised calculations under the Florida Education Finance Program by the state and the actual weighted full-time equivalent students reported by the charter school during the full-time equivalent student survey periods designated by the Commissioner of Education.
(c) If the district school board is providing programs or services to students funded by federal funds, any eligible students enrolled in charter schools in the school district shall be provided federal funds for the same level of service provided students in the schools operated by the district school board. Pursuant to provisions of 20 U.S.C. 8061 s. 10306, all charter schools shall receive all federal funding for which the school is otherwise eligible, including Title I funding, not later than 5 months after the charter school first opens and within 5 months after any subsequent expansion of enrollment.
(d) Charter schools shall be included by the Department of Education and the district school board in requests for federal stimulus funds in the same manner as district school board-operated public schools, including Title I and IDEA funds and shall be entitled to receive such funds. Charter schools are eligible to participate in federal competitive grants that are available as part of the federal stimulus funds.
(e) District school boards shall make timely and efficient payment and reimbursement to charter schools, including processing paperwork required to access special state and federal funding for which they may be eligible. The district school board may distribute funds to a charter school for up to 3 months based on the projected full-time equivalent student membership of the charter school. Thereafter, the results of full-time equivalent student membership surveys shall be used in adjusting the amount of funds distributed monthly to the charter school for the remainder of the fiscal year. The payment shall be issued no later than 10 working days after the district school board receives a distribution of state or federal funds. If a warrant for payment is not issued within 10 working days after receipt of funding by the district school board, the school district shall pay to the charter school, in addition to the amount of the scheduled disbursement, interest at a rate of 1 percent per month calculated on a daily basis on the unpaid balance from the expiration of the 10 working days until such time as the warrant is issued.
(f) Funding for a virtual charter school shall be as provided in s. 1002.45(7).
(18) FACILITIES.
(a) A startup charter school shall utilize facilities which comply with the Florida Building Code pursuant to chapter 553 except for the State Requirements for Educational Facilities. Conversion charter schools shall utilize facilities that comply with the State Requirements for Educational Facilities provided that the school district and the charter school have entered into a mutual management plan for the reasonable maintenance of such facilities. The mutual management plan shall contain a provision by which the district school board agrees to maintain charter school facilities in the same manner as its other public schools within the district. Charter schools, with the exception of conversion charter schools, are not required to comply, but may choose to comply, with the State Requirements for Educational Facilities of the Florida Building Code adopted pursuant to s. 1013.37. The local governing authority shall not adopt or impose any local building requirements or site-development restrictions, such as parking and site-size criteria, that are addressed by and more stringent than those found in the State Requirements for Educational Facilities of the Florida Building Code. Beginning July 1, 2011, a local governing authority must treat charter schools equitably in comparison to similar requirements, restrictions, and processes imposed upon public schools that are not charter schools. The agency having jurisdiction for inspection of a facility and issuance of a certificate of occupancy or use shall be the local municipality or, if in an unincorporated area, the county governing authority.
(b) A charter school shall utilize facilities that comply with the Florida Fire Prevention Code, pursuant to s. 633.025, as adopted by the authority in whose jurisdiction the facility is located as provided in paragraph (a).
(c) Any facility, or portion thereof, used to house a charter school whose charter has been approved by the sponsor and the governing board, pursuant to subsection (7), shall be exempt from ad valorem taxes pursuant to s. 196.1983. Library, community service, museum, performing arts, theatre, cinema, church, Florida College System institution, college, and university facilities may provide space to charter schools within their facilities under their preexisting zoning and land use designations.
(d) Charter school facilities are exempt from assessments of fees for building permits, except as provided in s. 553.80; fees for building and occupational licenses; impact fees or exactions; service availability fees; and assessments for special benefits.
(e) If a district school board facility or property is available because it is surplus, marked for disposal, or otherwise unused, it shall be provided for a charter school’s use on the same basis as it is made available to other public schools in the district. A charter school receiving property from the school district may not sell or dispose of such property without written permission of the school district. Similarly, for an existing public school converting to charter status, no rental or leasing fee for the existing facility or for the property normally inventoried to the conversion school may be charged by the district school board to the parents and teachers organizing the charter school. The charter school shall agree to reasonable maintenance provisions in order to maintain the facility in a manner similar to district school board standards. The Public Education Capital Outlay maintenance funds or any other maintenance funds generated by the facility operated as a conversion school shall remain with the conversion school.
(f) To the extent that charter school facilities are specifically created to mitigate the educational impact created by the development of new residential dwelling units, pursuant to subparagraph (2)(c)4., some of or all of the educational impact fees required to be paid in connection with the new residential dwelling units may be designated instead for the construction of the charter school facilities that will mitigate the student station impact. Such facilities shall be built to the State Requirements for Educational Facilities and shall be owned by a public or nonprofit entity. The local school district retains the right to monitor and inspect such facilities to ensure compliance with the State Requirements for Educational Facilities. If a facility ceases to be used for public educational purposes, either the facility shall revert to the school district subject to any debt owed on the facility, or the owner of the facility shall have the option to refund all educational impact fees utilized for the facility to the school district. The district and the owner of the facility may contractually agree to another arrangement for the facilities if the facilities cease to be used for educational purposes. The owner of property planned or approved for new residential dwelling units and the entity levying educational impact fees shall enter into an agreement that designates the educational impact fees that will be allocated for the charter school student stations and that ensures the timely construction of the charter school student stations concurrent with the expected occupancy of the residential units. The application for use of educational impact fees shall include an approved charter school application. To assist the school district in forecasting student station needs, the entity levying the impact fees shall notify the affected district of any agreements it has approved for the purpose of mitigating student station impact from the new residential dwelling units.
(g) Each school district shall annually provide to the Department of Education as part of its 5-year work plan the number of existing vacant classrooms in each school that the district does not intend to use or does not project will be needed for educational purposes for the following school year. The department may recommend that a district make such space available to an appropriate charter school.
(19) CAPITAL OUTLAY FUNDING.Charter schools are eligible for capital outlay funds pursuant to s. 1013.62. Capital outlay funds authorized in ss. 1011.71(2) and 1013.62 which have been shared with a charter school-in-the-workplace prior to July 1, 2010, are deemed to have met the authorized expenditure requirements for such funds.
(20) SERVICES.
(a)1. A sponsor shall provide certain administrative and educational services to charter schools. These services shall include contract management services; full-time equivalent and data reporting services; exceptional student education administration services; services related to eligibility and reporting duties required to ensure that school lunch services under the federal lunch program, consistent with the needs of the charter school, are provided by the school district at the request of the charter school, that any funds due to the charter school under the federal lunch program be paid to the charter school as soon as the charter school begins serving food under the federal lunch program, and that the charter school is paid at the same time and in the same manner under the federal lunch program as other public schools serviced by the sponsor or the school district; test administration services, including payment of the costs of state-required or district-required student assessments; processing of teacher certificate data services; and information services, including equal access to student information systems that are used by public schools in the district in which the charter school is located. Student performance data for each student in a charter school, including, but not limited to, FCAT scores, standardized test scores, previous public school student report cards, and student performance measures, shall be provided by the sponsor to a charter school in the same manner provided to other public schools in the district.
2. A total administrative fee for the provision of such services shall be calculated based upon up to 5 percent of the available funds defined in paragraph (17)(b) for all students. However, a sponsor may only withhold up to a 5-percent administrative fee for enrollment for up to and including 250 students. For charter schools with a population of 251 or more students, the difference between the total administrative fee calculation and the amount of the administrative fee withheld may only be used for capital outlay purposes specified in s. 1013.62(2).
3. For high-performing charter schools, as defined in ch. 2011-232, a sponsor may withhold a total administrative fee of up to 2 percent for enrollment up to and including 250 students per school.
4. In addition, a sponsor may withhold only up to a 5-percent administrative fee for enrollment for up to and including 500 students within a system of charter schools which meets all of the following:
a. Includes both conversion charter schools and nonconversion charter schools;
b. Has all schools located in the same county;
c. Has a total enrollment exceeding the total enrollment of at least one school district in the state;
d. Has the same governing board; and
e. Does not contract with a for-profit service provider for management of school operations.
5. The difference between the total administrative fee calculation and the amount of the administrative fee withheld pursuant to subparagraph 4. may be used for instructional and administrative purposes as well as for capital outlay purposes specified in s. 1013.62(2).
6. For a high-performing charter school system that also meets the requirements in subparagraph 4., a sponsor may withhold a 2-percent administrative fee for enrollments up to and including 500 students per system.
7. Sponsors shall not charge charter schools any additional fees or surcharges for administrative and educational services in addition to the maximum 5-percent administrative fee withheld pursuant to this paragraph.
8. The sponsor of a virtual charter school may withhold a fee of up to 5 percent. The funds shall be used to cover the cost of services provided under subparagraph 1. and for the school district’s local instructional improvement system pursuant to s. 1006.281 or other technological tools that are required to access electronic and digital instructional materials.
(b) If goods and services are made available to the charter school through the contract with the school district, they shall be provided to the charter school at a rate no greater than the district’s actual cost unless mutually agreed upon by the charter school and the sponsor in a contract negotiated separately from the charter. When mediation has failed to resolve disputes over contracted services or contractual matters not included in the charter, an appeal may be made for a dispute resolution hearing before the Charter School Appeal Commission. To maximize the use of state funds, school districts shall allow charter schools to participate in the sponsor’s bulk purchasing program if applicable.
(c) Transportation of charter school students shall be provided by the charter school consistent with the requirements of subpart I.E. of chapter 1006 and s. 1012.45. The governing body of the charter school may provide transportation through an agreement or contract with the district school board, a private provider, or parents. The charter school and the sponsor shall cooperate in making arrangements that ensure that transportation is not a barrier to equal access for all students residing within a reasonable distance of the charter school as determined in its charter.
(21) PUBLIC INFORMATION ON CHARTER SCHOOLS.
(a) The Department of Education shall provide information to the public, directly and through sponsors, on how to form and operate a charter school and how to enroll in a charter school once it is created. This information shall include a standard application format, charter format, evaluation instrument, and charter renewal format, which shall include the information specified in subsection (7) and shall be developed by consulting and negotiating with both school districts and charter schools before implementation. The charter and charter renewal formats shall be used by charter school sponsors.
(b)1. The Department of Education shall report student assessment data pursuant to s. 1008.34(3)(c) which is reported to schools that receive a school grade or student assessment data pursuant to s. 1008.341(3) which is reported to alternative schools that receive a school improvement rating to each charter school that:
a. Does not receive a school grade pursuant to s. 1008.34 or a school improvement rating pursuant to s. 1008.341; and
b. Serves at least 10 students who are tested on the statewide assessment test pursuant to s. 1008.22.
2. The charter school shall report the information in subparagraph 1. to each parent of a student at the charter school, the parent of a child on a waiting list for the charter school, the district in which the charter school is located, and the governing board of the charter school. This paragraph does not abrogate the provisions of s. 1002.22, relating to student records, or the requirements of 20 U.S.C. s. 1232g, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
3.a. Pursuant to this paragraph, the Department of Education shall compare the charter school student performance data for each charter school in subparagraph 1. with the student performance data in traditional public schools in the district in which the charter school is located and other charter schools in the state. For alternative charter schools, the department shall compare the student performance data described in this paragraph with all alternative schools in the state. The comparative data shall be provided by the following grade groupings:
(I) Grades 3 through 5;
(II) Grades 6 through 8; and
(III) Grades 9 through 11.
b. Each charter school shall provide the information specified in this paragraph on its Internet website and also provide notice to the public at large in a manner provided by the rules of the State Board of Education. The State Board of Education shall adopt rules to administer the notice requirements of this subparagraph pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54. The website shall include, through links or actual content, other information related to school performance.
(22) FACILITIES SHARED BY CHARTER SCHOOLS.
(a) If a charter school moves out of a facility that is shared with another charter school having a separate Master School Identification Number, the charter school must provide for an audit of all equipment, educational materials and supplies, curriculum materials, and other items purchased or developed with federal charter school program grant funds, and such items must be transferred to the charter school’s new location. The audit report must be submitted to the Department of Education within 60 days after completion.
(b) A charter school may not transfer an enrolled student to another charter school having a separate Master School Identification Number without first obtaining the written approval of the student’s parent.
(23) ANALYSIS OF CHARTER SCHOOL PERFORMANCE.Upon receipt of the annual report required by paragraph (9)(k), the Department of Education shall provide to the State Board of Education, the Commissioner of Education, the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives an analysis and comparison of the overall performance of charter school students, to include all students whose scores are counted as part of the statewide assessment program, versus comparable public school students in the district as determined by the statewide assessment program currently administered in the school district, and other assessments administered pursuant to s. 1008.22(3).
(24) RESTRICTION ON EMPLOYMENT OF RELATIVES.
(a) This subsection applies to charter school personnel in a charter school operated by a private entity. As used in this subsection, the term:
1. “Charter school personnel” means a charter school owner, president, chairperson of the governing board of directors, superintendent, governing board member, principal, assistant principal, or any other person employed by the charter school who has equivalent decisionmaking authority and in whom is vested the authority, or to whom the authority has been delegated, to appoint, employ, promote, or advance individuals or to recommend individuals for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement in connection with employment in a charter school, including the authority as a member of a governing body of a charter school to vote on the appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement of individuals.
2. “Relative” means father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, or half sister.
(b) Charter school personnel may not appoint, employ, promote, or advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a position in the charter school in which the personnel are serving or over which the personnel exercises jurisdiction or control any individual who is a relative. An individual may not be appointed, employed, promoted, or advanced in or to a position in a charter school if such appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement has been advocated by charter school personnel who serve in or exercise jurisdiction or control over the charter school and who is a relative of the individual or if such appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement is made by the governing board of which a relative of the individual is a member.
(c) The approval of budgets does not constitute “jurisdiction or control” for the purposes of this subsection.

Charter school personnel in schools operated by a municipality or other public entity are subject to s. 112.3135.

3(25) LOCAL EDUCATIONAL AGENCY STATUS FOR CERTAIN CHARTER SCHOOL SYSTEMS.A charter school system shall be designated a local educational agency for the purpose of receiving federal funds, the same as though the charter school system were a school district, if the governing board of the charter school system has adopted and filed a resolution with its sponsoring district school board and the Department of Education in which the governing board of the charter school system accepts the full responsibility for all local education agency requirements and the charter school system meets all of the following:
(a) Includes both conversion charter schools and nonconversion charter schools;
(b) Has all schools located in the same county;
(c) Has a total enrollment exceeding the total enrollment of at least one school district in the state;
(d) Has the same governing board; and
(e) Does not contract with a for-profit service provider for management of school operations.

Such designation does not apply to other provisions unless specifically provided in law.

(26) STANDARDS OF CONDUCT AND FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE.
(a) A member of a governing board of a charter school, including a charter school operated by a private entity, is subject to ss. 112.313(2), (3), (7), and (12) and 112.3143(3).
(b) A member of a governing board of a charter school operated by a municipality or other public entity is subject to s. 112.3145, which relates to the disclosure of financial interests.
(27) RULEMAKING.The Department of Education, after consultation with school districts and charter school directors, shall recommend that the State Board of Education adopt rules to implement specific subsections of this section. Such rules shall require minimum paperwork and shall not limit charter school flexibility authorized by statute. The State Board of Education shall adopt rules, pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54, to implement a charter model application form, evaluation instrument, and charter and charter renewal formats in accordance with this section.
History.s. 98, ch. 2002-387; s. 23, ch. 2003-391; s. 1, ch. 2003-393; ss. 35, 78, ch. 2004-41; s. 3, ch. 2004-295; s. 1, ch. 2004-354; s. 1, ch. 2006-190; s. 2, ch. 2006-302; s. 5, ch. 2007-234; s. 14, ch. 2008-108; s. 4, ch. 2008-142; s. 1, ch. 2008-204; s. 7, ch. 2009-214; s. 24, ch. 2010-70; s. 6, ch. 2010-154; s. 6, ch. 2011-1; s. 27, ch. 2011-5; s. 13, ch. 2011-37; s. 8, ch. 2011-55; s. 2, ch. 2011-137; ss. 3, 5, ch. 2011-232.
1Note.Redesignated as subparagraphs (20)(a)2., 4., 5., and 7. by s. 8, ch. 2011-55.
2Note.Section 1008.33 was substantially reworded by s. 3, ch. 2009-144; the subject matter referenced at s. 1002.33(9)(o) does not appear at s. 1008.33(1) as substantially reworded.
3Note.As created by s. 8, ch. 2011-55. For a description of multiple acts in the same session affecting a statutory provision, see preface to the Florida Statutes, “Statutory Construction.” Substantially similar material was created as subsection (26) by s. 3, ch. 2011-232, and redesignated as subsection (25) by the editors, and that version reads:

(25) LOCAL EDUCATIONAL AGENCY STATUS FOR CERTAIN CHARTER SCHOOL SYSTEMS.A charter school system shall be designated a local educational agency solely for the purpose of receiving federal funds, in the same manner as if the charter school system were a school district, if the governing board of the charter school system has adopted and filed a resolution with its sponsoring district school board and the Department of Education in which the governing board accepts full responsibility for all local educational agency requirements and if the charter school system meets all of the following:

(a) Includes both conversion charter schools and nonconversion charter schools;

(b) Has all schools located in the same county;

(c) Has a total enrollment exceeding the total enrollment of at least one school district in the state;

(d) Has the same governing board; and

(e) Does not contract with a for-profit service provider for management of school operations.

Such designation does not apply to other provisions of law unless specifically provided by law.

1002.3305 College-Preparatory Boarding Academy Pilot Program for at-risk students.
(1) PROGRAM CREATION.The College-Preparatory Boarding Academy Pilot Program is created for the purpose of providing unique educational opportunities to dependent or at-risk children who are academic underperformers but who have the potential to progress from at-risk to college-bound. The State Board of Education shall implement this program.
(2) DEFINITIONS.As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Board” means the board of trustees of a college-preparatory boarding academy for at-risk students.
(b) “Eligible student” means a student who is a resident of the state and entitled to attend school in a participating school district, is at risk of academic failure, is currently enrolled in grade 5 or 6, is from a family whose income is below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, and who meets at least one of the following additional risk factors:
1. The child is in foster care or has been declared an adjudicated dependent by a court.
2. The student’s head of household is not the student’s custodial parent.
3. The student resides in a household that receives a housing voucher or has been determined eligible for public housing assistance.
4. A member of the student’s immediate family has been incarcerated.
(c) “Operator” means a private, nonprofit corporation that is selected by the state under subsection (3) to operate the program.
(d) “Program” means a college-preparatory boarding academy for at-risk students which includes:
1. A remedial curriculum for middle school grades;
2. The college-preparatory curriculum for high school grades;
3. Extracurricular activities, including athletics and cultural events;
4. College admissions counseling;
5. Health and mental health services;
6. Tutoring;
7. Community service and service learning opportunities;
8. A residential student life program;
9. Extended school days and supplemental programs; and
10. Professional services focused on the language arts and reading standards, mathematics standards, science standards, technology standards, and developmental or life skill standards using innovative and best practices for all students.
(e) “Sponsor” means a public school district that acts as a sponsor pursuant to s. 1002.33.
(3) PROPOSALS.
(a) The State Board of Education shall select a private, nonprofit corporation to operate the program which must meet all of the following qualifications:
1. The nonprofit corporation has, or will receive as a condition of the contract, a public charter school authorized under s. 1002.33 to offer grades 6 through 12, or has a partnership with a sponsor to operate a school.
2. The nonprofit corporation has experience operating a school or program similar to the program authorized under this section.
3. The nonprofit corporation has demonstrated success with a school or program similar to the program authorized under this section.
4. The nonprofit corporation has the capacity to finance and secure private funds for the development of a campus for the program.
(b) Within 60 days after July 1, 2011, the State Board of Education shall issue a request for proposals from private, nonprofit corporations interested in operating the program. The state board shall select operators from among the qualified responders within 120 days after the issuance of the requests for proposal.
(c) Each proposal must contain the following information:
1. The proposed location of the college-preparatory boarding academy;
2. A plan for offering grade 6 in the program’s initial year of operation and a plan for expanding the grade levels offered by the school in subsequent years; and
3. Any other information about the proposed educational program, facilities, or operations of the school determined necessary by the state board.
(4) CONTRACT.The State Board of Education shall contract with the operator of a college-preparatory boarding academy. The contract must stipulate that:
(a) The academy operates only if, and to the extent that, it holds a valid charter authorized under s. 1002.33 or is authorized by a local school district defined as a sponsor pursuant to s. 1002.33.
(b) The operator finances and oversees the acquisition of a facility for the academy.
(c) The operator operates the academy in accordance with the terms of the proposal accepted by the state board.
(d) The operator complies with this section.
(e) The operator complies with any other provisions of law specified in the contract, the charter granted by the local school district or the operating agreement with the sponsor, and the rules adopted by the state board for schools operating in this state.
(f) The operator complies with the bylaws adopted pursuant to subsection (5).
(g) The operator complies with the standards for admission of students to the academy and for dismissal of students from the academy which are included in the contract and may be reevaluated and revised by mutual agreement between the operator and the state board.
(h) The operator meets the academic goals and other performance standards established by the contract.
(i) The state board or the operator may terminate the contract in accordance with the procedures specified in the contract, which must at least require that the party seeking termination give prior written notice of the intent to terminate and that the party receiving the termination notice is granted an opportunity to redress any grievances cited therein.
(j) If the school closes for any reason, the academy’s board of trustees execute the closing in a manner specified in the contract.
(5) OPERATOR BYLAWS.The operator of the program shall adopt bylaws for the oversight and operation of the academy which are in accordance with this section, state law, and the contract between the operator and the State Board of Education. The bylaws must include procedures for the appointment of board members to the academy’s board of trustees, which may not exceed 25 members, 5 members of whom shall be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The bylaws are subject to approval of the state board.
(6) OUTREACH.The program operator shall adopt an outreach program with the local education agency or school district and community. The outreach program must give special attention to the recruitment of eligible children in the state who are academic underperformers and who, if given the unique educational opportunity provided in the program, have the potential to progress from at-risk children to college-bound children.
(7) FUNDING.The college-preparatory boarding academy must be a public school and part of the state’s program of education. If the program receives state funding from noneducation sources, the State Board of Education shall coordinate, streamline, and simplify any requirements to eliminate duplicate, redundant, or conflicting requirements and oversight by various governmental programs or agencies. Funding for the operation of the boarding academy is contingent on the development of a plan by the Department of Education, the Department of Juvenile Justice, and the Department of Children and Family Services which details how educational and noneducational funds that would otherwise be committed to the students in the school and their families can be repurposed to provide for the operation of the school and related services. Such plans must be based on federal and state funding streams for children and families meeting the eligibility criteria for eligible students as specified in paragraph (2)(b) and include recommendations for modifications to the criteria for eligible students which further the program’s goals or improve the feasibility of using existing funding sources. The plan shall be submitted, together with relevant budget requests, through the legislative budget request process under s. 216.023 or through requests for budget amendments to the Legislative Budget Commission in accordance with s. 216.181.
(8) STUDENT SERVICES.Students enrolled in the program who have been adjudicated dependent must remain under the case management services and supervision of the lead agency and its respective providers. The operator may contract with its own providers as necessary to provide services to children in the program and to ensure continuity of the full range of services required by children in foster care who attend the academy. The decision of a foster parent to withdraw a child from the program who is in foster care and has been admitted to the program is subject to the review and approval of the state agency.
(9) MEDICAID BILLING.This section does not prohibit an operator from appropriately billing Medicaid for services rendered to eligible students through the program or from earning federal or local funding for services provided.
(10) ADMISSION.An eligible student may apply for admission to the program. If more eligible students apply for admission than the number of students permitted by the capacity established by the board of trustees, admission shall be determined by lottery.
(11) STUDENT HOUSING.Notwithstanding ss. 409.1677(3)(d) and 409.176 or any other provision of law, an operator may house and educate dependent, at-risk youth in its residential school for the purpose of facilitating the mission of the program and encouraging innovative practices.
(12) ANNUAL REPORT.
(a) The State Board of Education shall issue an annual report for each college-preparatory boarding academy which includes all information applicable to schools.
(b) The college-preparatory boarding academy shall report to the Department of Education, in the form and manner prescribed in the contract, all information applicable to public schools and any additional information as specified by the contract.
(c) The operator shall comply with all provisions applicable to public schools. The operator shall provide the student’s legal guardians with sufficient information on whether the student is reading at grade level and whether the student gains at least a year’s worth of learning for every year spent in the program.
History.s. 4, ch. 2011-236.
1002.331 High-performing charter schools.
(1) A charter school is a high-performing charter school if it:
(a) Received at least two school grades of “A” and no school grade below “B,” pursuant to s. 1008.34, during each of the previous 3 school years.
(b) Received an unqualified opinion on each annual financial audit required under s. 218.39 in the most recent 3 fiscal years for which such audits are available.
(c) Did not receive a financial audit that revealed one or more of the financial emergency conditions set forth in s. 218.503(1) in the most recent 3 fiscal years for which such audits are available. However, this requirement is deemed met for a charter school-in-the-workplace if there is a finding in an audit that the school has the monetary resources available to cover any reported deficiency or that the deficiency does not result in a deteriorating financial condition pursuant to s. 1002.345(1)(a)3.

A virtual charter school established under s. 1002.33 is not eligible for designation as a high-performing charter school.

(2) A high-performing charter school is authorized to:
(a) Increase its student enrollment once per school year by up to 15 percent more than the capacity identified in the charter.
(b) Expand grade levels within kindergarten through grade 12 to add grade levels not already served if any annual enrollment increase resulting from grade level expansion is within the limit established in paragraph (a).
(c) Submit a quarterly, rather than a monthly, financial statement to the sponsor pursuant to s. 1002.33(9)(g).
(d) Consolidate under a single charter the charters of multiple high-performing charter schools operated in the same school district by the charter schools’ governing board regardless of the renewal cycle.
(e) Receive a modification of its charter to a term of 15 years or a 15-year charter renewal. The charter may be modified or renewed for a shorter term at the option of the high-performing charter school. The charter must be consistent with s. 1002.33(7)(a)19. and (10)(h) and (i), is subject to annual review by the sponsor, and may be terminated during its term pursuant to s. 1002.33(8).

A high-performing charter school shall notify its sponsor in writing by March 1 if it intends to increase enrollment or expand grade levels the following school year. The written notice shall specify the amount of the enrollment increase and the grade levels that will be added, as applicable.

(3)(a) A high-performing charter school may submit an application pursuant to s. 1002.33(6) in any school district in the state to establish and operate a new charter school that will substantially replicate its educational program. An application submitted by a high-performing charter school must state that the application is being submitted pursuant to this paragraph and must include the verification letter provided by the Commissioner of Education pursuant to subsection (5). If the sponsor fails to act on the application within 60 days after receipt, the application is deemed approved and the procedure in s. 1002.33(6)(h) applies. If the sponsor denies the application, the high-performing charter school may appeal pursuant to s. 1002.33(6).
(b) A high-performing charter school may not establish more than one charter school within the state under paragraph (a) in any year. A subsequent application to establish a charter school under paragraph (a) may not be submitted unless each charter school established in this manner achieves high-performing charter school status.
(4) A high-performing charter school may not increase enrollment or expand grade levels following any school year in which it receives a school grade of “C” or below. If the charter school receives a school grade of “C” or below in any 2 years during the term of the charter awarded under subsection (2), the term of the charter may be modified by the sponsor and the charter school loses its high-performing charter school status until it regains that status under subsection (1).
(5) The Commissioner of Education, upon request by a charter school, shall verify that the charter school meets the criteria in subsection (1) and provide a letter to the charter school and the sponsor stating that the charter school is a high-performing charter school pursuant to this section.
(6) A high-performing charter school replicated under this section may not be replicated as a virtual charter school.
History.s. 1, ch. 2011-232.
1002.332 High-performing charter school system.
(1) For purposes of this section, the term:
(a) “Entity” means a municipality or other public entity that is authorized by law to operate a charter school; a private, nonprofit corporation with tax-exempt status under s. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; or a private, for-profit education management corporation.
(b) “High-performing charter school system” means an entity that:
1. Operates at least three high-performing charter schools in the state;
2. Operates a system of charter schools in which at least 50 percent of the charter schools are high-performing charter schools pursuant to s. 1002.331 and no charter school received a school grade of “D” or “F” pursuant to s. 1008.34, except that:
a. If the entity has assumed operation of a public school pursuant to s. 1008.33(5)(a)3. with a school grade of “D” or “F,” that school’s grade shall not be considered in determining high-performing charter school system status for a period of 3 years.
b. If the entity establishes a new charter school that serves a student population the majority of which resides in a school zone served by a public school that is identified as lowest performing under s. 1008.33(4)(b), that charter school’s grade shall not be considered in determining high-performing charter school system status if it attains and maintains a school grade that is higher than that of the public school serving that school zone within 3 years after establishment; and
3. Has not received a financial audit that revealed one or more of the financial emergency conditions set forth in s. 218.503(1) for any charter school assumed or established by the entity.
(2)(a) The Commissioner of Education, upon request by an entity, shall verify that the entity meets the criteria in subsection (1) for the prior school year and provide a letter to the entity stating that it is a high-performing charter school system.
(b) A high-performing charter school system may replicate its high-performing charter schools pursuant to s. 1002.331(3).
History.s. 2, ch. 2011-232.
1002.34 Charter technical career centers.
(1) AUTHORIZATION.The Legislature finds that the establishment of charter technical career centers can assist in promoting advances and innovations in workforce preparation and economic development. A charter technical career center may provide a learning environment that better serves the needs of a specific population group or a group of occupations, thus promoting diversity and choices within the public education and public postsecondary technical education community in this state. Therefore, the creation of such centers is authorized as part of the state’s program of public education. A charter technical career center may be formed by creating a new school or converting an existing school district or Florida College System institution program to charter technical status.
(2) PURPOSE.The purpose of a charter technical career center is to:
(a) Develop a competitive workforce to support local business and industry and economic development.
(b) Create a training and education model that is reflective of marketplace realities.
(c) Offer a continuum of career educational opportunities using a school-to-work, tech-prep, technical, academy, and magnet school model.
(d) Provide career pathways for lifelong learning and career mobility.
(e) Enhance career and technical training.
(3) DEFINITIONS.As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Charter technical career center” or “center” means a public school or a public technical center operated under a charter granted by a district school board or Florida College System institution board of trustees or a consortium, including one or more district school boards and Florida College System institution boards of trustees, that includes the district in which the facility is located, that is nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and operations, and is managed by a board of directors.
(b) “Sponsor” means a district school board, a Florida College System institution board of trustees, or a consortium of one or more of each.
(4) CHARTER.A sponsor may designate centers as provided in this section. An application to establish a center may be submitted by a sponsor or another organization that is determined, by rule of the State Board of Education, to be appropriate. However, an independent school is not eligible for status as a center. The charter must be signed by the governing body of the center and the sponsor and must be approved by the district school board and Florida College System institution board of trustees in whose geographic region the facility is located. If a charter technical career center is established by the conversion to charter status of a public technical center formerly governed by a district school board, the charter status of that center takes precedence in any question of governance. The governance of the center or of any program within the center remains with its board of directors unless the board agrees to a change in governance or its charter is revoked as provided in subsection (15). Such a conversion charter technical career center is not affected by a change in the governance of public technical centers or of programs within other centers that are or have been governed by district school boards. A charter technical career center, or any program within such a center, that was governed by a district school board and transferred to a Florida College System institution prior to the effective date of this act is not affected by this provision. An applicant who wishes to establish a center must submit to the district school board or Florida College System institution board of trustees, or a consortium of one or more of each, an application on a form developed by the Department of Education which includes:
(a) The name of the proposed center.
(b) The proposed structure of the center, including a list of proposed members of the board of directors or a description of the qualifications for and method of their appointment or election.
(c) The workforce development goals of the center, the curriculum to be offered, and the outcomes and the methods of assessing the extent to which the outcomes are met.
(d) The admissions policy and criteria for evaluating the admission of students.
(e) A description of the staff responsibilities and the proposed qualifications of the teaching staff.
(f) A description of the procedures to be implemented to ensure significant involvement of representatives of business and industry in the operation of the center.
(g) A method for determining whether a student has satisfied the requirements for graduation specified in s. 1003.43 and for completion of a postsecondary certificate or degree.
(h) A method for granting secondary and postsecondary diplomas, certificates, and degrees.
(i) A description of and address for the physical facility in which the center will be located.
(j) A method for resolving conflicts between the governing body of the center and the sponsor and between consortium members, if applicable.
(k) A method for reporting student data as required by law and rule.
(l) A statement that the applicant has participated in the training provided by the Department of Education.
(m) The identity of all relatives employed by the charter technical career center who are related to the center owner, president, chairperson of the governing board of directors, superintendent, governing board member, principal, assistant principal, or any other person employed by the center who has equivalent decisionmaking authority. As used in this paragraph, the term “relative” means father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, or half sister.
(n) Other information required by the district school board or Florida College System institution board of trustees.

Students at a center must meet the same testing and academic performance standards as those established by law and rule for students at public schools and public technical centers. The students must also meet any additional assessment indicators that are included within the charter approved by the district school board or Florida College System institution board of trustees.

(5) APPLICATION.An application to establish a center must be submitted by February 1 of the year preceding the school year in which the center will begin operation. The sponsor must review the application using an evaluation instrument developed by the Department of Education and make a final decision on whether to approve the application and grant the charter by March 1, and may condition the granting of a charter on the center’s taking certain actions or maintaining certain conditions. Such actions and conditions must be provided to the applicant in writing. The district school board or Florida College System institution board of trustees is not required to issue a charter to any person.
(6) SPONSOR.A district school board or Florida College System institution board of trustees or a consortium of one or more of each may sponsor a center in the county in which the board has jurisdiction.
(a) A sponsor must review all applications for centers received through at least February 1 of each calendar year for centers to be opened at the beginning of the sponsor’s next school year. A sponsor may receive applications later than this date if it so chooses. To facilitate an accurate budget projection process, a sponsor shall be held harmless for FTE students who are not included in the FTE projection due to approval of applications after the FTE projection deadline. A sponsor must, by a majority vote, approve or deny an application no later than 60 days after the application is received. If an application is denied, the sponsor must, within 10 days, notify the applicant in writing of the specific reasons for denial, which must be based upon good cause. Upon approval of a charter application, the initial startup must be consistent with the beginning of the public school or Florida College System institution calendar for the district in which the charter is granted, unless the sponsor allows a waiver of this provision for good cause.
(b) An applicant may appeal any denial of its application to the State Board of Education within 30 days after the sponsor’s denial and shall notify the sponsor of its appeal. Any response of the sponsor must be submitted to the state board within 30 days after notification of the appeal. The State Board of Education must, by majority vote, accept or reject the decision of the sponsor no later than 60 days after an appeal is filed, pursuant to State Board of Education rule. The State Board of Education may reject an appeal for failure to comply with procedural rules governing the appeals process, and the rejection must describe the submission errors. The appellant may have up to 15 days after notice of rejection to resubmit an appeal. An application for appeal submitted after a rejection is timely if the original appeal was filed within 30 days after the sponsor’s denial. The State Board of Education shall remand the application to the sponsor with a written recommendation that the sponsor approve or deny the application, consistent with the state board’s decision. The decision of the State Board of Education is not subject to the provisions of chapter 120.
(c) The sponsor must act upon the recommendation of the State Board of Education within 30 days after it is received, unless the sponsor determines by competent substantial evidence that approving the state board’s recommendation would be contrary to law or the best interests of the students or the community. The sponsor must notify the applicant in writing concerning the specific reasons for its failure to follow the state board’s recommendation. The sponsor’s action on the state board’s recommendation is a final action, subject to judicial review.
(d)1. The Department of Education shall offer or arrange for training and technical assistance to applicants in developing business plans and estimating costs and income. This assistance shall address estimating startup costs, projecting enrollment, and identifying the types and amounts of state and federal financial assistance the center may be eligible to receive. The training shall include instruction in accurate financial planning and good business practices.
2. An applicant must participate in the training provided by the Department of Education before filing an application. The Department of Education may provide technical assistance to an applicant upon written request.
(e) The terms and conditions for the operation of a center must be agreed to by the sponsor and the applicant in a written contract. The sponsor may not impose unreasonable requirements that violate the intent of giving centers greater flexibility to meet educational goals. The applicant and sponsor must reach an agreement on the provisions of the contract or the application is deemed denied.
(f) The sponsor shall monitor and review the center’s progress toward charter goals and shall monitor the center’s revenues and expenditures. The sponsor shall perform the duties provided in s. 1002.345.
(7) LEGAL ENTITY.A center must organize as a nonprofit organization and adopt a name and corporate seal. A center is a body corporate and politic, with all powers to implement its charter program. The center may:
(a) Be a private or a public employer.
(b) Sue and be sued, but only to the same extent and upon the same conditions that a public entity can be sued.
(c) Acquire real property by purchase, lease, lease with an option to purchase, or gift, to use as a center facility.
(d) Receive and disburse funds.
(e) Enter into contracts or leases for services, equipment, or supplies.
(f) Incur temporary debts in anticipation of the receipt of funds.
(g) Solicit and accept gifts or grants for career center purposes.
(h) Take any other action that is not inconsistent with this section and rules adopted under this section.
(8) ELIGIBLE STUDENTS.A center must be open to all students as space is available and may not discriminate in admissions policies or practices on the basis of an individual’s physical disability or proficiency in English or on any other basis that would be unlawful if practiced by a public school or a Florida College System institution. A center may establish reasonable criteria by which to evaluate prospective students, which criteria must be outlined in the charter.
(9) FACILITIES.A center may be located in any suitable location, including part of an existing public school or Florida College System institution building, space provided on a public worksite, or a public building. A center’s facilities must comply with the State Uniform Building Code for Public Educational Facilities Construction adopted pursuant to s. 1013.37, or with applicable state minimum building codes pursuant to chapter 553, and state minimum fire protection codes pursuant to s. 633.025, adopted by the authority in whose jurisdiction the facility is located. If K-12 public school funds are used for construction, the facility must remain on the local school district’s Florida Inventory of School Houses (FISH) school building inventory of the district school board and must revert to the district school board if the consortium dissolves and the program is discontinued. If Florida College System institution public school funds are used for construction, the facility must remain on the local Florida College System institution’s facilities inventory and must revert to the local Florida College System institution board of trustees if the consortium dissolves and the program is discontinued. The additional student capacity created by the addition of the center to the local school district’s FISH may not be calculated in the permanent student capacity for the purpose of determining need or eligibility for state capital outlay funds while the facility is used as a center. If the construction of the center is funded jointly by K-12 public school funds and Florida College System institution funds, the sponsoring entities must agree, before granting the charter, on the appropriate owner and terms of transfer of the facility if the charter is dissolved.
(10) EXEMPTION FROM STATUTES.
(a) A center must operate pursuant to its charter and is exempt from all statutes of the Florida School Code except provisions pertaining to civil rights and to student health, safety, and welfare, or as otherwise required by law.
(b) A center must comply with the Florida K-20 Education Code with respect to providing services to students with disabilities.
(c) A center must comply with the antidiscrimination provisions in s. 1000.05 and the provisions in s. 1002.33(24) which relate to the employment of relatives.
(11) FUNDING.
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a charter technical career center’s student membership enrollment must be calculated pursuant to this section.
(b) Each district school board and Florida College System institution that sponsors a charter technical career center shall pay directly to the center an amount stated in the charter. State funding shall be generated for the center for its student enrollment and program outcomes as provided in law. A center is eligible for funding from workforce education funds, the Florida Education Finance Program, and the Florida College System Program Fund, depending upon the programs conducted by the center.
(c) A center may receive other state and federal aid, grants, and revenue through the district school board or Florida College System institution board of trustees.
(d) A center may receive gifts and grants from private sources.
(e) A center may not levy taxes or issue bonds, but it may charge a student tuition fee consistent with authority granted in its charter and permitted by law.
(f) A center shall provide for an annual financial audit in accordance with s. 218.39. A center shall provide a monthly financial statement to the sponsor. The monthly financial statement shall be in a form prescribed by the Department of Education.
(g) A center must define in the charter agreement the delivery system in which the instructional offering of educational services will be placed. The rules governing this delivery system must be applied to all of the center’s students and must authorize all other sponsoring educational systems to report required enrollment and student data based solely on the rules of the offering institution. Each sponsor shall earn full-time equivalent membership for each student for funding and reporting purposes.
(12) EMPLOYEES OF A CENTER.
(a) A center may select its own employees.
(b) A center may contract for services with an individual, partnership, or a cooperative. Such persons contracted with are not public employees.
(c) If a center contracts with a public educational agency for services, the terms of employment must follow existing state law and rule and local policies and procedures.
(d) The employees of a center may bargain collectively, as a separate unit or as part of the existing district collective bargaining unit, as determined by the structure of the center.
(e) As a public employer, a center may participate in:
1. The Florida Retirement System upon application and approval as a “covered group” under s. 121.021(34). If a center participates in the Florida Retirement System, its employees are compulsory members of the Florida Retirement System.
2. The State Community College System Optional Retirement Program pursuant to s. 1012.875(2), if the charter is granted by a Florida College System institution that participates in the optional retirement program and meets the eligibility criteria of s. 121.051(2)(c).
(f) Teachers who are considered qualified by the career center are exempt from state certification requirements.
(g) A public school or Florida College System institution teacher or administrator may take a leave of absence to accept employment in a charter technical career center upon the approval of the school district or Florida College System institution.
(h) An employee who is on a leave of absence under this section may retain seniority accrued in that school district or Florida College System institution and may continue to be covered by the benefit programs of that district or Florida College System institution if the center and the district school board or Florida College System institution board of trustees agree to this arrangement and its financing.
(13) BOARD OF DIRECTORS AUTHORITY.The board of directors of a center may decide matters relating to the operation of the school, including budgeting, curriculum, and operating procedures, subject to the center’s charter. The board of directors is responsible for performing the duties provided in s. 1002.345, including monitoring the corrective action plan. The board of directors must comply with s. 1002.33(26).
(14) ACCOUNTABILITY.Each center must submit a report to the participating district school board or Florida College System institution board of trustees by August 1 of each year. The report must be in such form as the sponsor prescribes and must include:
(a) A discussion of progress made toward the achievement of the goals outlined in the center’s charter.
(b) A financial statement setting forth by appropriate categories the revenue and expenditures for the previous school year.
(15) TERMS OF THE CHARTER.The term of an initial charter may not exceed 5 years. Thereafter, the sponsor may renew a charter for a period up to 5 years. The sponsor may refuse to renew a charter or may revoke a charter if the center has not fulfilled a condition imposed under the charter or if the center has violated any provision of the charter. The sponsor may place the center on probationary status to allow the implementation of a remedial plan, after which, if the plan is unsuccessful, the charter may be summarily revoked. The sponsor shall develop procedures and guidelines for the revocation and renewal of a center’s charter. The sponsor must give written notice of its intent not to renew the charter at least 12 months before the charter expires. If the sponsor revokes a charter before the scheduled expiration date, the sponsor must provide written notice to the governing board of the center at least 60 days before the date of termination, stating the grounds for the proposed revocation. The governing board of the center may request in writing an informal hearing before the sponsor within 14 days after receiving the notice of revocation. A revocation takes effect at the conclusion of a school year, unless the sponsor determines that earlier revocation is necessary to protect the health, safety, and welfare of students. The sponsor shall monitor and review the center in its progress toward the goals established in the charter and shall monitor the revenues and expenditures of the center.
(16) TRANSPORTATION.The center may provide transportation, pursuant to chapter 1006, through a contract with the district school board or the Florida College System institution board of trustees, a private provider, or parents of students. The center must ensure that transportation is not a barrier to equal access for all students in grades K-12 residing within a reasonable distance of the facility.
(17) IMMUNITY.For the purposes of tort liability, the governing body and employees of a center are governed by s. 768.28.
(18) RULES.The State Board of Education shall adopt rules, pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54, relating to the implementation of charter technical career centers, including rules to implement a charter model application form and an evaluation instrument in accordance with this section.
(19) EVALUATION; REPORT.The Commissioner of Education shall provide for an annual comparative evaluation of charter technical career centers and public technical centers. The evaluation may be conducted in cooperation with the sponsor, through private contracts, or by department staff. At a minimum, the comparative evaluation must address the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of the students served, the types and costs of services provided, and the outcomes achieved. By December 30 of each year, the Commissioner of Education shall submit to the Governor, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Senate and House committees that have responsibility for secondary and postsecondary career and technical education a report of the comparative evaluation completed for the previous school year.
History.s. 99, ch. 2002-387; s. 1, ch. 2004-357; s. 8, ch. 2009-214; s. 28, ch. 2011-5; s. 9, ch. 2011-55.
1002.345 Determination of deteriorating financial conditions and financial emergencies for charter schools and charter technical career centers.This section applies to charter schools operating pursuant to s. 1002.33 and to charter technical career centers operating pursuant to s. 1002.34.
(1) EXPEDITED REVIEW; REQUIREMENTS.
(a) A charter school or a charter technical career center is subject to an expedited review by the sponsor if one of the following occurs:
1. Failure to provide for an audit required by s. 218.39.
2. Failure to comply with reporting requirements pursuant to s. 1002.33(9) or s. 1002.34(11)(f) or (14).
3. A deteriorating financial condition identified through an annual audit pursuant to s. 218.39(5) or a monthly financial statement pursuant to s. 1002.33(9)(g) or s. 1002.34(11)(f). “Deteriorating financial condition” means a circumstance that significantly impairs the ability of a charter school or a charter technical career center to generate enough revenues to meet its expenditures without causing the occurrence of a condition described in s. 218.503(1).
4. Notification pursuant to s. 218.503(2) that one or more of the conditions specified in s. 218.503(1) have occurred or will occur if action is not taken to assist the charter school or charter technical career center.
(b) A sponsor shall notify the governing board within 7 business days after one or more of the conditions specified in paragraph (a) occur.
(c) The governing board and the sponsor shall develop a corrective action plan and file the plan with the Commissioner of Education within 30 business days after notification is received as provided in paragraph (b). If the governing board and the sponsor are unable to agree on a corrective action plan, the Commissioner of Education shall determine the components of the plan. The governing board shall implement such plan.
(d) The governing board shall include the corrective action plan and the status of its implementation in the annual progress report to the sponsor which is required pursuant to s. 1002.33(9)(k) or s. 1002.34(14).
(e) If the governing board fails to implement the corrective action plan within 1 year after one or more of the conditions specified in paragraph (a) occur, the State Board of Education shall prescribe any steps necessary for the charter school or the charter technical career center to comply with state requirements.
(f) The chair of the governing board shall annually appear before the State Board of Education and report on the implementation of the State Board of Education’s requirements referenced in paragraph (e).
(2) FINANCIAL EMERGENCY; REQUIREMENTS.
(a)1. If a financial audit conducted by a certified public accountant in accordance with s. 218.39 reveals that one or more of the conditions in s. 218.503(1) have occurred or will occur if action is not taken to assist the charter school or charter technical career center, the auditor shall notify the governing board of the charter school or charter technical career center, as appropriate, the sponsor, and the Commissioner of Education within 7 business days after the finding is made.
2. If the charter school or charter technical career center is found to be in a state of financial emergency pursuant to s. 218.503(4), the charter school or charter technical career center shall file a financial recovery plan pursuant to s. 218.503 with the sponsor and the Commissioner of Education within 30 days after being notified by the Commissioner of Education that a financial recovery plan is needed.
(b) The governing board shall include the financial recovery plan and the status of its implementation in the annual progress report to the sponsor which is required under s. 1002.33(9)(k) or s. 1002.34(14).
(3) REPORT.The Commissioner of Education shall annually report to the State Board of Education each charter school and charter technical career center that is subject to a financial recovery plan or a corrective action plan under this section.
(4) RULES.The State Board of Education shall adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 for developing financial recovery and corrective action plans, defining a deteriorating financial condition pursuant to subparagraph (1)(a)3., and establishing procedures for determining a deteriorating financial condition pursuant to subparagraph (1)(a)3. and s. 218.39(5). In adopting the rules, the State Board of Education may obtain technical assistance from the Auditor General.
(5) TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE.The Department of Education shall provide technical assistance to charter schools, charter technical career centers, governing boards, and sponsors in developing financial recovery and corrective action plans.
(6) FAILURE TO CORRECT DEFICIENCIES.The sponsor may decide not to renew or may terminate a charter if the charter school or charter technical career center fails to correct the deficiencies noted in the corrective action plan within 1 year after being notified of the deficiencies or exhibits one or more financial emergency conditions specified in s. 218.503 for 2 consecutive years. This subsection does not affect a sponsor’s authority to terminate or not renew a charter pursuant to s. 1002.33(8).
History.s. 9, ch. 2009-214.
1002.35 New World School of the Arts.
(1) The New World School of the Arts is created as a center of excellence for the performing and visual arts, to serve all of the State of Florida. The school shall offer a program of academic and artistic studies in the visual and performing arts which shall be available to talented high school and college students.
(2)(a) For purposes of governance, the New World School of the Arts is assigned to Miami Dade College, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, and one or more universities designated by the State Board of Education. The State Board of Education, in conjunction with the Board of Governors, shall assign to the New World School of the Arts a university partner or partners. In this selection, the State Board of Education and the Board of Governors shall consider the accreditation status of the core programs. Florida International University, in its capacity as the provider of university services to Miami-Dade County, shall be a partner to serve the New World School of the Arts, upon meeting the accreditation criteria. The respective boards shall appoint members to an executive board for administration of the school. The executive board may include community members and shall reflect proportionately the participating institutions. Miami Dade College shall serve as fiscal agent for the school.
(b) The New World School of the Arts Foundation is created for the purpose of providing auxiliary financial support for the school’s programs, including, but not limited to, the promotion and sponsorship of special events and scholarships. Foundation membership shall be determined by the executive board.
(c) The school may affiliate with other public or private educational or arts institutions. The school shall serve as a professional school for all qualified students within appropriations and limitations established by the Legislature and the respective educational institutions.
(3) The school shall submit annually a formula-driven budget request to the commissioner and the Legislature. This formula shall be developed in consultation with the Department of Education and staff of the Legislature. However, the actual funding for the school shall be determined by the Legislature in the General Appropriations Act.
(4) The State Board of Education and the Board of Governors shall utilize resources, programs, and faculty from the various state universities in planning and providing the curriculum and courses at the New World School of the Arts, drawing on program strengths at each state university.
History.s. 100, ch. 2002-387; s. 81, ch. 2007-217; s. 176, ch. 2008-4.
1002.36 Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.
(1) RESPONSIBILITIES.The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, located in St. Johns County, is a state-supported residential public school for hearing-impaired and visually impaired students in preschool through 12th grade. The school is a component of the delivery of public education within Florida’s K-20 education system and shall be funded through the Department of Education. The school shall provide educational programs and support services appropriate to meet the education and related evaluation and counseling needs of hearing-impaired and visually impaired students in the state who meet enrollment criteria. Unless otherwise provided by law, the school shall comply with all laws and rules applicable to state agencies. Education services may be provided on an outreach basis for sensory-impaired children ages 0 through 5 years and to district school boards upon request. Graduates of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind shall be eligible for the William L. Boyd, IV, Florida Resident Access Grant Program as provided in s. 1009.89.
(2) MISSION.The mission of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is to utilize all available talent, energy, and resources to provide free appropriate public education for eligible sensory-impaired students of Florida. As a school of academic excellence, the school shall strive to provide students an opportunity to access education services in a caring, safe, unique learning environment to prepare them to be literate, employable, and independent lifelong learners. The school shall provide outreach services that include collaboration with district school boards and shall encourage input from students, staff, parents, and the community. As a diverse organization, the school shall foster respect and understanding for each individual.
(3) AUDITS.The Auditor General shall conduct audits of the accounts and records of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind as provided in s. 11.45. The Department of Education’s Inspector General is authorized to conduct investigations at the school as provided in s. 1001.20(4)(e).
(4) BOARD OF TRUSTEES.
(a) There is hereby created a Board of Trustees for the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind which shall consist of seven members. Of these seven members, one appointee shall be a blind person and one appointee shall be a deaf person. Each member shall have been a resident of the state for a period of at least 10 years. Their terms of office shall be 4 years. The appointment of the trustees shall be by the Governor with the confirmation of the Senate. The Governor may remove any member for cause and shall fill all vacancies that occur.
(b) The board of trustees shall elect a chair annually. The trustees shall be reimbursed for travel expenses as provided in s. 112.061, the accounts of which shall be paid by the Chief Financial Officer upon itemized vouchers duly approved by the chair.
(c) The board of trustees has authority to adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to implement provisions of law relating to operation of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. Such rules shall be submitted to the State Board of Education for approval or disapproval. After a rule is approved by the State Board of Education, the rule shall be filed immediately with the Department of State. The board of trustees shall act at all times in conjunction with the rules of the State Board of Education.
(d) The board of trustees is a body corporate and shall have a corporate seal. Unless otherwise provided by law, all actions of the board of trustees shall be consistent with all laws and rules applicable to state agencies. Title to any gift, donation, or bequest received by the board of trustees pursuant to subparagraph (e)11. shall vest in the board of trustees. Title to all other property and other assets of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind shall vest in the State Board of Education, but the board of trustees shall have complete jurisdiction over the management of the school.
(e) The board of trustees is invested with full power and authority to:
1. Appoint a president, faculty, teachers, and other employees and remove the same as in its judgment may be best and fix their compensation.
2. Procure professional services, such as medical, mental health, architectural, and engineering.
3. Procure legal services without the prior written approval of the Attorney General.
4. Determine eligibility of students and procedure for admission.
5. Provide for the students of the school necessary bedding, clothing, food, and medical attendance and such other things as may be proper for the health and comfort of the students without cost to their parents, except that the board of trustees may set tuition and other fees for nonresidents.
6. Provide for the proper keeping of accounts and records and for budgeting of funds.
7. Enter into contracts.
8. Sue and be sued.
9. Secure public liability insurance.
10. Do and perform every other matter or thing requisite to the proper management, maintenance, support, and control of the school at the highest efficiency economically possible, the board of trustees taking into consideration the purposes of the establishment.
11. Receive gifts, donations, and bequests of money or property, real or personal, tangible or intangible, from any person, firm, corporation, or other legal entity. However, the board of trustees may not obligate the state to any expenditure or policy that is not specifically authorized by law. If the bill of sale, will, trust indenture, deed, or other legal conveyance specifies terms and conditions concerning the use of such money or property, the board of trustees shall observe such terms and conditions.
12. Deposit outside the State Treasury such moneys as are received as gifts, donations, or bequests and may disburse and expend such moneys, upon its own warrant, for the use and benefit of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind and its students, as the board of trustees deems to be in the best interest of the school and its students. Such money or property shall not constitute or be considered a part of any legislative appropriation.
13. Sell or convey by bill of sale, deed, or other legal instrument any property, real or personal, received as a gift, donation, or bequest, upon such terms and conditions as the board of trustees deems to be in the best interest of the school and its students.
14. Invest such moneys in securities enumerated under s. 215.47(1), (2)(c), (3), (4), and (10), and in The Common Fund, an Investment Management Fund exclusively for nonprofit educational institutions.
(f) The board of trustees shall:
1. Prepare and submit legislative budget requests for operations and fixed capital outlay, in accordance with chapter 216 and ss. 1011.56 and 1013.60, to the Department of Education for review and approval. The department must analyze the amount requested for fixed capital outlay to determine if the request is consistent with the school’s campus master plan, educational plant survey, and facilities master plan. Projections of facility space needs may exceed the norm space and occupant design criteria established in the State Requirements for Educational Facilities.
2. Approve and administer an annual operating budget in accordance with ss. 1011.56 and 1011.57.
3. Require all funds received other than gifts, donations, bequests, funds raised by or belonging to student clubs or student organizations, and funds held for specific students or in accounts for individual students to be deposited in the State Treasury and expended as authorized in the General Appropriations Act.
4. Require all purchases to be in accordance with the provisions of chapter 287 except for purchases made with funds received as gifts, donations, or bequests; funds raised by or belonging to student clubs or student organizations; or funds held for specific students or in accounts for individual students.
5. Administer and maintain personnel programs for all employees of the board of trustees and the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind who shall be state employees, including the personnel classification and pay plan established in accordance with ss. 110.205(2)(d) and 216.251(2)(a)2. for academic and academic administrative personnel, the provisions of chapter 110, and the provisions of law that grant authority to the Department of Management Services over such programs for state employees.
6. Give preference in appointment and retention in positions of employment as provided within s. 295.07(1).
7. Ensure that the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind complies with s. 1013.351 concerning the coordination of planning between the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind and local governing bodies.
8. Ensure that the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind complies with s. 112.061 concerning per diem and travel expenses of public officers, employees, and authorized persons with respect to all funds other than funds received as gifts, donations, or bequests; funds raised by or belonging to student clubs or student organizations; or funds held for specific students or in accounts for individual students.
9. Adopt a master plan which specifies the mission and objectives of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. The plan shall include, but not be limited to, procedures for systematically measuring the school’s progress toward meeting its objectives, analyzing changes in the student population, and modifying school programs and services to respond to such changes. The plan shall be for a period of 5 years and shall be reviewed for needed modifications every 2 years. The board of trustees shall submit the initial plan and subsequent modifications to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate.
10. Designate a portion of the school as “The Verle Allyn Pope Complex for the Deaf,” in tribute to the late Senator Verle Allyn Pope.
(5) STUDENT AND EMPLOYEE PERSONNEL RECORDS.The Board of Trustees for the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind shall provide for the content and custody of student and employee personnel records. Student records shall be subject to the provisions of s. 1002.22. Employee personnel records shall be subject to the provisions of s. 1012.31.
(6) LEGAL SERVICES.The Board of Trustees for the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind may provide legal services for officers and employees of the board of trustees who are charged with civil or criminal actions arising out of and in the course of the performance of assigned duties and responsibilities. The board of trustees may provide for reimbursement of reasonable expenses for legal services for officers and employees of said board of trustees who are charged with civil or criminal actions arising out of and in the course of the performance of assigned duties and responsibilities upon successful defense by the officer or employee. However, in any case in which the officer or employee pleads guilty or nolo contendere or is found guilty of any such action, the officer or employee shall reimburse the board of trustees for any legal services that the board of trustees may have supplied pursuant to this section. The board of trustees may also reimburse an officer or employee thereof for any judgment that may be entered against him or her in a civil action arising out of and in the course of the performance of his or her assigned duties and responsibilities. Each expenditure by the board of trustees for legal defense of an officer or employee, or for reimbursement pursuant to this section, shall be made at a public meeting with notice pursuant to s. 120.525(1). The providing of such legal services or reimbursement under the conditions described in this subsection is declared to be a school purpose for which school funds may be expended.
(7) PERSONNEL SCREENING.
(a) The Board of Trustees of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind shall, because of the special trust or responsibility of employees of the school, require all employees and applicants for employment to undergo personnel screening and security background investigations as provided in chapter 435, using the level 2 standards for screening set forth in that chapter, as a condition of employment and continued employment. The cost of a personnel screening and security background investigation for an employee of the school shall be paid by the school. The cost of such a screening and investigation for an applicant for employment may be paid by the school.
(b) As a prerequisite for initial and continuing employment at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind:
1. The applicant or employee shall submit to the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind a complete set of fingerprints taken by an authorized law enforcement agency or an employee of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind who is trained to take fingerprints. The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind shall submit the fingerprints to the Department of Law Enforcement for state processing and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for federal processing.
2.a. The applicant or employee shall attest to the minimum standards for good moral character as contained in chapter 435, using the level 2 standards set forth in that chapter under penalty of perjury.
b. New personnel shall be on a probationary status pending a determination of compliance with such minimum standards for good moral character. This paragraph is in addition to any probationary status provided for by Florida law or Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind rules or collective bargaining contracts.
3. The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind shall review the record of the applicant or employee with respect to the crimes contained in s. 435.04 and shall notify the applicant or employee of its findings. When disposition information is missing on a criminal record, it shall be the responsibility of the applicant or employee, upon request of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, to obtain and supply within 30 days the missing disposition information to the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. Failure to supply missing information within 30 days or to show reasonable efforts to obtain such information shall result in automatic disqualification of an applicant and automatic termination of an employee.
4. After an initial personnel screening and security background investigation, written notification shall be given to the affected employee within a reasonable time prior to any subsequent screening and investigation.
(c) The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind may grant exemptions from disqualification as provided in s. 435.07.
(d) The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind may not use the criminal records, private investigator findings, or information reference checks obtained by the school pursuant to this section for any purpose other than determining if a person meets the minimum standards for good moral character for personnel employed by the school. The criminal records, private investigator findings, and information from reference checks obtained by the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind for determining the moral character of employees of the school are confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution.
(e) It is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083, for any person willfully, knowingly, or intentionally to:
1. Fail, by false statement, misrepresentation, impersonation, or other fraudulent means, to disclose in any application for voluntary or paid employment a material fact used in making a determination as to such person’s qualifications for a position of special trust.
2. Use the criminal records, private investigator findings, or information from reference checks obtained under this section or information obtained from such records or findings for purposes other than screening for employment or release such information or records to persons for purposes other than screening for employment.
(f) For the purpose of teacher certification, the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind shall be considered a school district.
(g) For purposes of protecting the health, safety, or welfare of students, the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is considered a school district and must, except as otherwise provided in this section, comply with ss. 1001.03, 1001.42, 1001.51, 1006.061, 1012.27, 1012.315, 1012.32, 1012.33, 1012.56, 1012.795, and 1012.796.
(8) CAMPUS POLICE.
(a) The Board of Trustees for the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is permitted and empowered to employ police officers for the school, who must be designated Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind campus police.
(b) Each Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind campus police officer is a law enforcement officer of the state and a conservator of the peace who has the authority to arrest, in accordance with the laws of this state, any person for a violation of state law or applicable county or municipal ordinance if that violation occurs on or in any property or facilities of the school. A campus police officer may also arrest a person off campus for a violation committed on campus after a hot pursuit of that person which began on campus. A campus police officer shall have full authority to bear arms in the performance of the officer’s duties and carry out a search pursuant to a search warrant on the campus. Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind campus police, upon request of the sheriff or local police authority, may serve subpoenas or other legal process and may make arrests of persons against whom arrest warrants have been issued or against whom charges have been made for violations of federal or state laws or county or municipal ordinances. Campus police officers shall have authority to enforce traffic laws within the boundaries of the campus in accordance with s. 316.640.
(c) The campus police shall promptly deliver all persons arrested and charged with felonies to the sheriff of the county within which the school is located and all persons arrested and charged with misdemeanors to the applicable authority as provided by law, but otherwise to the sheriff of the county in which the school is located.
(d) The campus police must meet the minimum standards established by the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission of the Department of Law Enforcement and chapter 943 for law enforcement officers. Each campus police officer must, before entering into the performance of the officer’s duties, take the oath of office established by the board of trustees. The board of trustees must provide a uniform set of identifying credentials to each campus police officer it employs.
(e) In performance of any of the powers, duties, and functions authorized by law, campus police have the same rights, protections, and immunities afforded other law enforcement officers.
(f) The board of trustees shall adopt rules, including, without limitation, rules for the appointment, employment, and removal of campus police in accordance with the State Career Service System and shall establish in writing a policy manual, that includes, without limitation, procedures for managing routine law enforcement situations and emergency law enforcement situations. The board of trustees shall furnish a copy of the policy manual to each of the campus police officers it employs. A campus police officer appointed by the board of trustees must have completed the training required by the school in the special needs and proper procedures for dealing with students served by the school.
(9) REPORT OF CAMPUS CRIME STATISTICS.
(a) The school shall prepare an annual report of statistics of crimes committed on its campus and shall submit the report to the board of trustees and the Commissioner of Education. The data for these reports may be taken from the annual report of the Department of Law Enforcement. The board of trustees shall prescribe the form for submission of these reports.
(b) The school shall prepare annually a report of statistics of crimes committed on its campus for the preceding 3 years. The school shall give students and prospective students notice that this report is available upon request.
History.s. 101, ch. 2002-387; s. 1944, ch. 2003-261; s. 65, ch. 2004-267; s. 3, ch. 2004-331; s. 1, ch. 2006-132; s. 4, ch. 2006-205; s. 15, ch. 2008-108; s. 96, ch. 2009-21; s. 9, ch. 2011-52.
1002.361 Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind; direct-support organization; authority.
(1) The board of trustees of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind may establish a direct-support organization that is:
(a) A Florida corporation, not for profit, incorporated under chapter 617 and approved by the Secretary of State.
(b) Organized and operated exclusively to receive, hold, invest, and administer property and to make expenditures to or for the benefit of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind or the board of trustees.
(c) An organization that the board of trustees, after review, has certified to be operating in a manner consistent with the goals of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind and the board of trustees and in the best interests of the state. Unless so certified, the organization may not use the name of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.
(2) The direct-support organization shall operate under written contract with the board of trustees. The contract must provide for:
(a) Approval of the articles of incorporation and bylaws of the direct-support organization by the board of trustees.
(b) Submission of an annual budget for the approval of the board of trustees. The budget must comply with rules adopted by the board of trustees.
(c) Certification by the board of trustees that the direct-support organization is complying with the terms of the contract and in a manner consistent with the goals and purposes of the board and in the best interest of the state. The certification must be made annually and reported in the official minutes of a meeting of the board of trustees.
(d) The reversion to the board of trustees, or to the state if the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind or the board of trustees ceases to exist, of moneys and property held in trust by the direct-support organization for the benefit of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind or the board of trustees, if the direct-support organization is no longer approved to operate for the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind or board of trustees or if the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind or the board of trustees ceases to exist.
(e) The fiscal year of the direct-support organization, which must begin July 1 of each year and end June 30 of the following year.
(f) The disclosure of material provisions of the contract and of the distinction between the board of trustees and the direct-support organization to donors of gifts, contributions, or bequests, and the disclosure on all promotional and fundraising publications.
(3) The direct-support organization shall provide for an annual financial audit in accordance with s. 215.981. The board of trustees and Auditor General may require and receive from the organization or its independent auditor any detail or supplemental data relative to the operation of the organization.
(4) The chair of the board of trustees and the chief administrative employee of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind shall be directors of the direct-support organization and shall jointly name, at a minimum, three other individuals to serve as directors of the organization.
(5) The board of trustees may authorize the direct-support organization established in this section to use property of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind or of the board of trustees, except money, and use facilities and personal services subject to this section. If the direct-support organization does not provide equal employment opportunities to all persons regardless of race, color, religion, gender, age, or national origin, it may not use the property, facilities, or personal services of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind or of the board of trustees. For the purposes of this section, the term “personal services” includes full-time personnel and part-time personnel as well as payroll processing as prescribed by rule of the board of trustees. The board of trustees shall adopt rules prescribing the procedures by which the direct-support organization is governed and any conditions with which a direct-support organization must comply to use property, facilities, or personal services of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind or of the board of trustees.
History.s. 6, ch. 2004-331.
1002.37 The Florida Virtual School.
(1)(a) The Florida Virtual School is established for the development and delivery of online and distance learning education. The Commissioner of Education shall monitor the school’s performance and report its performance to the State Board of Education and the Legislature.
(b) The mission of the Florida Virtual School is to provide students with technology-based educational opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed. The school shall serve any student in the state who meets the profile for success in this educational delivery context and shall give priority to:
1. Students who need expanded access to courses in order to meet their educational goals, such as home education students and students in inner-city and rural high schools who do not have access to higher-level courses.
2. Students seeking accelerated access in order to obtain a high school diploma at least one semester early.
(c) To ensure students are informed of the opportunities offered by the Florida Virtual School, the commissioner shall provide the board of trustees of the Florida Virtual School access to the records of public school students in a format prescribed by the board of trustees.

The board of trustees of the Florida Virtual School shall identify appropriate performance measures and standards based on student achievement that reflect the school’s statutory mission and priorities, and shall implement an accountability system for the school that includes assessment of its effectiveness and efficiency in providing quality services that encourage high student achievement, seamless articulation, and maximum access.

(2) The Florida Virtual School shall be governed by a board of trustees comprised of seven members appointed by the Governor to 4-year staggered terms. The board of trustees shall be a public agency entitled to sovereign immunity pursuant to s. 768.28, and board members shall be public officers who shall bear fiduciary responsibility for the Florida Virtual School. The board of trustees shall have the following powers and duties:
(a)1. The board of trustees shall meet at least 4 times each year, upon the call of the chair, or at the request of a majority of the membership.
2. The fiscal year for the Florida Virtual School shall be the state fiscal year as provided in s. 216.011(1)(o).
(b) The board of trustees shall be responsible for the Florida Virtual School’s development of a state-of-the-art technology-based education delivery system that is cost-effective, educationally sound, marketable, and capable of sustaining a self-sufficient delivery system through the Florida Education Finance Program.
(c) The board of trustees shall aggressively seek avenues to generate revenue to support its future endeavors, and shall enter into agreements with distance learning providers. The board of trustees may acquire, enjoy, use, and dispose of patents, copyrights, and trademarks and any licenses and other rights or interests thereunder or therein. Ownership of all such patents, copyrights, trademarks, licenses, and rights or interests thereunder or therein shall vest in the state, with the board of trustees having full right of use and full right to retain the revenues derived therefrom. Any funds realized from patents, copyrights, trademarks, or licenses shall be considered internal funds as provided in s. 1011.07. Such funds shall be used to support the school’s marketing and research and development activities in order to improve courseware and services to its students.
(d) The board of trustees shall be responsible for the administration and control of all local school funds derived from all activities or sources and shall prescribe the principles and procedures to be followed in administering these funds.
(e) The Florida Virtual School may accrue supplemental revenue from supplemental support organizations, which include, but are not limited to, alumni associations, foundations, parent-teacher associations, and booster associations. The governing body of each supplemental support organization shall recommend the expenditure of moneys collected by the organization for the benefit of the school. Such expenditures shall be contingent upon the review of the executive director. The executive director may override any proposed expenditure of the organization that would violate Florida law or breach sound educational management.
(f) In accordance with law and rules of the State Board of Education, the board of trustees shall administer and maintain personnel programs for all employees of the board of trustees and the Florida Virtual School. The board of trustees may adopt rules, policies, and procedures related to the appointment, employment, and removal of personnel.
1. The board of trustees shall determine the compensation, including salaries and fringe benefits, and other conditions of employment for such personnel.
2. The board of trustees may establish and maintain a personnel loan or exchange program by which persons employed by the board of trustees for the Florida Virtual School as academic administrative and instructional staff may be loaned to, or exchanged with persons employed in like capacities by, public agencies either within or without this state, or by private industry. With respect to public agency employees, the program authorized by this subparagraph shall be consistent with the requirements of part II of chapter 112. The salary and benefits of board of trustees personnel participating in the loan or exchange program shall be continued during the period of time they participate in a loan or exchange program, and such personnel shall be deemed to have no break in creditable or continuous service or employment during such time. The salary and benefits of persons participating in the personnel loan or exchange program who are employed by public agencies or private industry shall be paid by the originating employers of those participants, and such personnel shall be deemed to have no break in creditable or continuous service or employment during such time.
3. The employment of all Florida Virtual School academic administrative and instructional personnel shall be subject to rejection for cause by the board of trustees, and shall be subject to policies of the board of trustees relative to certification, tenure, leaves of absence, sabbaticals, remuneration, and such other conditions of employment as the board of trustees deems necessary and proper, not inconsistent with law.
4. Each person employed by the board of trustees in an academic administrative or instructional capacity with the Florida Virtual School shall be entitled to a contract as provided by rules of the board of trustees.
5. All employees except temporary, seasonal, and student employees may be state employees for the purpose of being eligible to participate in the Florida Retirement System and receive benefits. The classification and pay plan, including terminal leave and other benefits, and any amendments thereto, shall be subject to review and approval by the Department of Management Services and the Executive Office of the Governor prior to adoption.
(g) The board of trustees shall establish priorities for admission of students in accordance with paragraph (1)(b).
(h) The board of trustees shall establish and distribute to all school districts and high schools in the state procedures for enrollment of students in courses offered by the Florida Virtual School.
(i) The board of trustees shall establish criteria defining the elements of an approved franchise. The board of trustees may enter into franchise agreements with Florida district school boards and may establish the terms and conditions governing such agreements. The board of trustees shall establish the performance and accountability measures and report the performance of each school district franchise to the Commissioner of Education.
(j) The board of trustees shall submit to the State Board of Education both forecasted and actual enrollments and credit completions for the Florida Virtual School, according to procedures established by the State Board of Education. At a minimum, such procedures must include the number of public, private, and home education students served by program and by county of residence.
(k) The board of trustees shall provide for the content and custody of student and employee personnel records. Student records shall be subject to the provisions of s. 1002.22. Employee records shall be subject to the provisions of s. 1012.31.
(l) The financial records and accounts of the Florida Virtual School shall be maintained under the direction of the board of trustees and under rules adopted by the State Board of Education for the uniform system of financial records and accounts for the schools of the state.

The Governor shall designate the initial chair of the board of trustees to serve a term of 4 years. Members of the board of trustees shall serve without compensation, but may be reimbursed for per diem and travel expenses pursuant to s. 112.061. The board of trustees shall be a body corporate with all the powers of a body corporate and such authority as is needed for the proper operation and improvement of the Florida Virtual School. The board of trustees is specifically authorized to adopt rules, policies, and procedures, consistent with law and rules of the State Board of Education related to governance, personnel, budget and finance, administration, programs, curriculum and instruction, travel and purchasing, technology, students, contracts and grants, and property as necessary for optimal, efficient operation of the Florida Virtual School. Tangible personal property owned by the board of trustees shall be subject to the provisions of chapter 273.

(3) Funding for the Florida Virtual School shall be provided as follows:
(a)1. For a student in grades 9 through 12, a “full-time equivalent student” is one student who has successfully completed six full-credit courses that count toward the minimum number of credits required for high school graduation. A student who completes fewer than six full-credit courses is a fraction of a full-time equivalent student. Half-credit course completions shall be included in determining a full-time equivalent student. Credit completed by a student in excess of the minimum required for that student for high school graduation is not eligible for funding.
2. For a student in kindergarten through grade 8, a “full-time equivalent student” is one student who has successfully completed six courses or the prescribed level of content that counts toward promotion to the next grade. A student who completes fewer than six courses or the prescribed level of content shall be a fraction of a full-time equivalent student.
3. Beginning in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, when s. 1008.22(3)(g) is implemented, the reported full-time equivalent students and associated funding of students enrolled in courses requiring passage of an end-of-course assessment shall be adjusted after the student completes the end-of-course assessment. However, no adjustment shall be made for home education program students who choose not to take an end-of-course assessment.

For purposes of this paragraph, the calculation of “full-time equivalent student” shall be as prescribed in s. 1011.61(1)(c)1.b.(V).

(b) Full-time equivalent student credit completed through the Florida Virtual School, including credits completed during the summer, shall be reported to the Department of Education in the manner prescribed by the department and shall be funded through the Florida Education Finance Program.
(c) School districts may not limit student access to courses offered through the Florida Virtual School.
(d) Full-time equivalent student credit completion for courses offered through the Florida Virtual School shall be reported only by the Florida Virtual School. School districts shall report full-time equivalent student membership only for courses for which the district provides the instruction.
(e) The district cost differential as provided in s. 1011.62(2) shall be established as 1.000.
(f) The Florida Virtual School shall receive funds for operating purposes in an amount determined as follows: multiply the maximum allowable nonvoted discretionary millage for operations pursuant to s. 1011.71(1) and (3) by the value of 96 percent of the current year’s taxable value for school purposes for the state; divide the result by the total full-time equivalent membership of the state; and multiply the result by the full-time equivalent membership of the school. The amount thus obtained shall be discretionary operating funds and shall be appropriated from state funds in the General Appropriations Act.
(g) The Florida Virtual School shall receive additional state funds as may be provided in the General Appropriations Act; however, such funds may not be provided for the purpose of fulfilling the class size requirements in ss. 1003.03 and 1011.685.
(h) In addition to the funds provided in the General Appropriations Act, the Florida Virtual School may receive other funds from grants and donations.
(4) School districts operating a virtual school that is an approved franchise of the Florida Virtual School may count full-time equivalent students, as provided in paragraph (3)(a), if such school has been certified as an approved franchise by the Commissioner of Education based on criteria established by the board of trustees pursuant to paragraph (2)(i).
(5) Under no circumstance may the credit of the state be pledged on behalf of the Florida Virtual School.
(6) The board of trustees shall annually submit to the Governor, the Legislature, the Commissioner of Education, and the State Board of Education a complete and detailed report setting forth:
(a) The operations and accomplishments of the Florida Virtual School.
(b) The marketing and operational plan for the Florida Virtual School, including recommendations regarding methods for improving the delivery of education through the Internet and other distance learning technology.
(c) The assets and liabilities of the Florida Virtual School at the end of the fiscal year.
(d) A copy of an annual financial audit of the accounts and records of the Florida Virtual School, conducted by an independent certified public accountant and performed in accordance with rules adopted by the Auditor General.
(e) Recommendations regarding the unit cost of providing services to students. In order to most effectively develop public policy regarding any future funding of the Florida Virtual School, it is imperative that the cost of the program is accurately identified. The identified cost of the program must be based on reliable data.
(f) Recommendations regarding an accountability mechanism to assess the effectiveness of the services provided by the Florida Virtual School.
(7) The State Board of Education may adopt rules it deems necessary to implement reporting requirements for the Florida Virtual School.
(8)(a) The Florida Virtual School may provide full-time instruction for students in kindergarten through grade 12 and part-time instruction for students in grades 4 through 12. To receive full-time instruction in grades 2 through 5, a student must meet at least one of the eligibility criteria in s. 1002.455(2). Part-time instruction for grades 4 and 5 may be provided only to public school students taking grade 6 through grade 8 courses.
(b) For students receiving part-time instruction in grades 4 and 5 and students receiving full-time instruction in kindergarten through grade 12 from the Florida Virtual School, the combined total of all FTE reported by both the school district and the Florida Virtual School may not exceed 1.0 FTE.
(9) Each elementary school principal must notify the parent of each student who scores at Level 4 or Level 5 on FCAT Reading or FCAT Mathematics of the option for the student to take accelerated courses through the Florida Virtual School.
(10)(a) Public school students receiving full-time instruction in kindergarten through grade 12 by the Florida Virtual School must take all statewide assessments required pursuant to s. 1008.22.
(b) Public school students receiving part-time instruction by the Florida Virtual School in courses requiring statewide end-of-course assessments must take all statewide end-of-course assessments required pursuant to s. 1008.22(3)(c)2.
(c) All statewide assessments must be taken within the school district in which the student resides. A school district must provide the student with access to the district’s testing facilities.
(11) The Florida Virtual School shall receive a school grade pursuant to s. 1008.34 for students receiving full-time instruction.
History.s. 102, ch. 2002-387; s. 19, ch. 2003-391; s. 10, ch. 2009-59; s. 7, ch. 2010-154; s. 3, ch. 2011-137; s. 5, ch. 2011-175.
1002.375 Alternative credit for high school courses; pilot project.
(1) The Commissioner of Education shall implement a pilot project in up to three school districts beginning in the 2008-2009 school year which allows school districts to award alternative course credit for students enrolled in nationally or state-recognized industry certification programs, as defined by the former Agency for Workforce Innovation or the Department of Economic Opportunity, in accordance with the criteria described in s. 1003.492(2). The Commissioner of Education shall establish criteria for districts that participate in the pilot program. School districts interested in participating in the program must submit a letter of interest by July 15, 2008, to the Commissioner of Education identifying up to five nationally or state-recognized industry certification programs, as defined by the former Agency for Workforce Innovation or the Department of Economic Opportunity, in accordance with the criteria described in s. 1003.492(2), under which the district would like to award alternative credit for the eligible courses identified in subsection (2). The Commissioner of Education shall select up to three participating school districts by July 30, 2008. The Commissioner of Education shall submit a report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives identifying the number of students choosing to earn alternative credit, the number of students that received alternative credit, and legislative recommendations for expanding the use of alternative credit for core academic courses required for high school graduation. The report shall be submitted by January 1, 2010.
(2) For purposes of designing and implementing a successful pilot project, eligible alternative credit courses include Algebra 1a, Algebra 1b, Algebra 1, Geometry, and Biology. Alternative credits shall be awarded for courses in which a student is not enrolled, but for which the student may earn academic credit by enrolling in another course or sequence of courses required to earn a nationally or state-recognized industry certificate, as defined by the former Agency for Workforce Innovation or the Department of Economic Opportunity, in accordance with the criteria described in s. 1003.492(2), of which the majority of the standards-based content in the course description is consistent with the alternative credit course description approved by the Department of Education.
(3) An alternative credit course is not subject to:
(a) The definition of credit under s. 1003.436;
(b) The time requirements of s. 1011.60(2); or
(c) The net hours of instruction requirements for purposes of determining full-time equivalency pursuant to s. 1011.61(1)(a)1. under the Florida Education Finance Program.
(4) The Department of Education may approve a course as an alternative credit course pursuant to this section. In order to earn credit, each participating student must pass an end-of-course assessment that measures proficiency in the Sunshine State Standards addressed by the course. The Department of Education shall approve each end-of-course assessment and the minimum passing score for each assessment. Approved assessments shall be limited to assessments for Algebra 1a, Algebra 1b, Algebra 1, Geometry, and Biology developed by the Florida Virtual School, or end-of-course statewide standardized assessments for these courses which may be adopted or developed by the department. The department shall approve the method of administering end-of-course assessments for alternative credit courses in each participating school district in order to ensure the validity of the assessment results.
(5) School districts shall report all enrollments and credits awarded for alternative education courses pursuant to this section under procedures prescribed by the Department of Education.
(6) The Department of Education shall maintain a list of approved assessments and minimum passing scores for each approved course. The approved list must be incorporated into the Course Code Directory. The department shall prescribe the information a district must provide in order to have a course considered for inclusion in the directory listing for the approved courses used in the pilot program. A properly completed request by a district to have a course included in the directory must be approved or denied by the department within 30 days after receipt. When a request is denied, the department must provide the district with its reason for denial in writing within 10 days after the denial.
(7) The State Board of Education shall adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to implement the pilot program created in this section.
History.s. 1, ch. 2008-174; s. 448, ch. 2011-142.
1002.38 Opportunity Scholarship Program.
(1) FINDINGS AND INTENT.The purpose of this section is to provide enhanced opportunity for students in this state to gain the knowledge and skills necessary for postsecondary education, a career education, or the world of work. The Legislature recognizes that the voters of the State of Florida, in the November 1998 general election, amended s. 1, Art. IX of the Florida Constitution so as to make education a paramount duty of the state. The Legislature finds that the State Constitution requires the state to provide a uniform, safe, secure, efficient, and high-quality system which allows the opportunity to obtain a high-quality education. The Legislature further finds that a student should not be compelled, against the wishes of the student’s parent, to remain in a school found by the state to be failing. The Legislature shall make available opportunity scholarships in order to give parents the opportunity for their children to attend a public school that is performing satisfactorily.
(2) OPPORTUNITY SCHOLARSHIP ELIGIBILITY.
(a) For purposes of this section, a school’s grade shall be based upon statewide assessments administered pursuant to s. 1008.22. A public school student’s parent may request and receive an opportunity scholarship for the student to enroll in and attend a public school in accordance with the provisions of this section if:
1. By assigned school attendance area or by special assignment, the student has spent the prior school year in attendance at a public school that has been designated as performance grade category “D” or “F” and that is in one of the two lowest-performing categories pursuant to s. 1008.33, and the student’s attendance occurred during a school year in which such designation was in effect;
2. The student has been in attendance elsewhere in the public school system and has been assigned to such school for the next school year; or
3. The student has been notified that he or she has been assigned to such school for the next school year.
(b)  This section does not apply to a student who is enrolled in a school operating for the purpose of providing educational services to youth in Department of Juvenile Justice commitment programs. For purposes of continuity of educational choice, the opportunity scholarship shall remain in force until the student graduates from high school.
(3) SCHOOL DISTRICT OBLIGATIONS.
(a) A school district shall, for each student enrolled in or assigned to a school that has been designated as provided in subsection (2):
1. Timely notify the parent of the student as soon as such designation is made of all options available pursuant to this section.
2. Offer that student’s parent an opportunity to enroll the student in a public school within the district that has been designated by the state as a school performing higher than that in which the student is currently enrolled or to which the student has been assigned, but not less than performance grade category “C.” The student shall have the opportunity to continue attendance in the higher-performing public school feeder pattern until the student graduates from high school.
(b) The parent of a student enrolled in or assigned to a school that has been designated as provided in subsection (2) may choose as an alternative to subparagraph (a)2. to enroll the student in and transport the student to a higher-performing public school that has available space in any other school district in the state, and that school district shall accept the student and report the student for purposes of the district’s funding pursuant to the Florida Education Finance Program.
(c) For students in the school district who are participating in the state Opportunity Scholarship Program, the school district shall provide locations and times to take all statewide assessments required pursuant to s. 1008.22.
(d) Students with disabilities who are eligible to receive services from the school district under federal or state law, and who participate in this program, remain eligible to receive services from the school district as provided by federal or state law.
(e)  If the parent chooses to request that the student be enrolled in a higher-performing public school in the school district, transportation costs to the higher-performing public school shall be the responsibility of the school district. The district may utilize state categorical transportation funds or state-appropriated public school choice incentive funds for this purpose.
(4) RULES.The State Board of Education may adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to implement this section. Rules shall include penalties for noncompliance.
History.s. 103, ch. 2002-387; s. 1945, ch. 2003-261; s. 79, ch. 2004-357; s. 1, ch. 2011-128; s. 6, ch. 2011-175.
1002.39 The John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program.There is established a program that is separate and distinct from the Opportunity Scholarship Program and is named the John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program.
(1) THE JOHN M. MCKAY SCHOLARSHIPS FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES PROGRAM.The John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program is established to provide the option to attend a public school other than the one to which assigned, or to provide a scholarship to a private school of choice, for students with disabilities for whom:
(a) An individual educational plan has been written in accordance with rules of the State Board of Education; or
(b) A 504 accommodation plan has been issued under s. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Students with disabilities include K-12 students who are documented as having an intellectual disability; a speech impairment; a language impairment; a hearing impairment, including deafness; a visual impairment, including blindness; a dual sensory impairment; an orthopedic impairment; an other health impairment; an emotional or behavioral disability; a specific learning disability, including, but not limited to, dyslexia, dyscalculia, or developmental aphasia; a traumatic brain injury; a developmental delay; or autism spectrum disorder.

(2) JOHN M. MCKAY SCHOLARSHIP ELIGIBILITY.The parent of a student with a disability may request and receive from the state a John M. McKay Scholarship for the child to enroll in and attend a private school in accordance with this section if:
(a) The student has:
1. Received specialized instructional services under the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program pursuant to s. 1002.66 during the previous school year and the student has a current individual educational plan developed by the local school board in accordance with rules of the State Board of Education for the John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program or a 504 accommodation plan has been issued under s. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973;
2. Spent the prior school year in attendance at a Florida public school or the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. For purposes of this subparagraph, prior school year in attendance means that the student was enrolled and reported by:
a. A school district for funding during the preceding October and February Florida Education Finance Program surveys in kindergarten through grade 12, which includes time spent in a Department of Juvenile Justice commitment program if funded under the Florida Education Finance Program;
b.  The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind during the preceding October and February student membership surveys in kindergarten through grade 12; or
c.  A school district for funding during the preceding October and February Florida Education Finance Program surveys, was at least 4 years of age when so enrolled and reported, and was eligible for services under s. 1003.21(1)(e); or
3. Been enrolled and reported by a school district for funding, during the October and February Florida Education Finance Program surveys, in any of the 5 years prior to the 2010-2011 fiscal year; has a current individualized educational plan developed by the district school board in accordance with rules of the State Board of Education for the John M. McKay Scholarship Program no later than June 30, 2011; and receives a first-time John M. McKay scholarship for the 2011-2012 school year. Upon request of the parent, the local school district shall complete a matrix of services as required in subparagraph (5)(b)1. for a student requesting a current individualized educational plan in accordance with the provisions of this subparagraph.

However, a dependent child of a member of the United States Armed Forces who transfers to a school in this state from out of state or from a foreign country due to a parent’s permanent change of station orders is exempt from this paragraph but must meet all other eligibility requirements to participate in the program.

(b) The parent has obtained acceptance for admission of the student to a private school that is eligible for the program under subsection (8) and has requested from the department a scholarship at least 60 days before the date of the first scholarship payment. The request must be communicated directly to the department in a manner that creates a written or electronic record of the request and the date of receipt of the request. The department must notify the district of the parent’s intent upon receipt of the parent’s request.
(3) JOHN M. MCKAY SCHOLARSHIP PROHIBITIONS.A student is not eligible for a John M. McKay Scholarship:
(a) While he or she is enrolled in a school operating for the purpose of providing educational services to youth in Department of Juvenile Justice commitment programs;
1(b) While he or she is receiving a Florida tax credit scholarship under s. 1002.395;
(c) While he or she is receiving an educational scholarship pursuant to this chapter;
(d) While he or she is participating in a home education program as defined in s. 1002.01(1);
(e) While he or she is participating in a private tutoring program pursuant to s. 1002.43;
(f) While he or she is participating in a virtual school, correspondence school, or distance learning program that receives state funding pursuant to the student’s participation unless the participation is limited to no more than two courses per school year;
(g) While he or she is enrolled in the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind;
(h) While he or she is not having regular and direct contact with his or her private school teachers at the school’s physical location; or
(i) If he or she has been issued a temporary 504 accommodation plan under s. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which is valid for 6 months or less.
(4) TERM OF JOHN M. MCKAY SCHOLARSHIP.
(a) For purposes of continuity of educational choice, a John M. McKay Scholarship shall remain in force until the student returns to a public school, graduates from high school, or reaches the age of 22, whichever occurs first. A scholarship student who enrolls in a public school or public school program is considered to have returned to a public school for the purpose of determining the end of the scholarship’s term. However, if a student enters a Department of Juvenile Justice detention center for a period of no more than 21 days, the student is not considered to have returned to a public school for that purpose.
(b) Upon reasonable notice to the department and the school district, the student’s parent may remove the student from the private school and place the student in a public school in accordance with this section.
(c) Upon reasonable notice to the department, the student’s parent may move the student from one participating private school to another participating private school.
(5) SCHOOL DISTRICT OBLIGATIONS; PARENTAL OPTIONS.
(a)1. By April 1 of each year and within 10 days after an individual education plan meeting or a 504 accommodation plan is issued under s. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a school district shall notify the parent of the student of all options available pursuant to this section, inform the parent of the availability of the department’s telephone hotline and Internet website for additional information on John M. McKay Scholarships, and offer that student’s parent an opportunity to enroll the student in another public school in the district.
2. The parent is not required to accept the offer of enrolling in another public school in lieu of requesting a John M. McKay Scholarship to a private school. However, if the parent chooses the public school option, the student may continue attending a public school chosen by the parent until the student graduates from high school.
3. If the parent chooses a public school consistent with the district school board’s choice plan under s. 1002.31, the school district shall provide transportation to the public school selected by the parent. The parent is responsible to provide transportation to a public school chosen that is not consistent with the district school board’s choice plan under s. 1002.31.
(b)1. For a student with disabilities who does not have a matrix of services under s. 1011.62(1)(e), the school district must complete a matrix that assigns the student to one of the levels of service as they existed prior to the 2000-2001 school year.
2.a. Within 10 school days after it receives notification of a parent’s request for a John M. McKay Scholarship, a school district must notify the student’s parent if the matrix of services has not been completed and inform the parent that the district is required to complete the matrix within 30 days after receiving notice of the parent’s request for a John M. McKay Scholarship. This notice should include the required completion date for the matrix.
b. The school district must complete the matrix of services for any student who is participating in the John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program and must notify the department of the student’s matrix level within 30 days after receiving notification of a request to participate in the scholarship program. The school district must provide the student’s parent with the student’s matrix level within 10 school days after its completion.
c. The department shall notify the private school of the amount of the scholarship within 10 days after receiving the school district’s notification of the student’s matrix level.
d. A school district may change a matrix of services only if the change is to correct a technical, typographical, or calculation error.
(c) A school district shall provide notification to parents of the availability of a reevaluation at least every 3 years of each student who receives a John M. McKay Scholarship.
(d) If the parent chooses the private school option and the student is accepted by the private school pending the availability of a space for the student, the parent of the student must notify the department 60 days prior to the first scholarship payment and before entering the private school in order to be eligible for the scholarship when a space becomes available for the student in the private school.
(e) The parent of a student may choose, as an alternative, to enroll the student in and transport the student to a public school in an adjacent school district which has available space and has a program with the services agreed to in the student’s individual education plan or 504 accommodation plan already in place, and that school district shall accept the student and report the student for purposes of the district’s funding pursuant to the Florida Education Finance Program.
(f) For a student who participates in the John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program whose parent requests that the student take the statewide assessments under s. 1008.22, the district in which the student attends private school shall provide locations and times to take all statewide assessments.
(6) DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OBLIGATIONS.The department shall:
(a) Establish a toll-free hotline that provides parents and private schools with information on participation in the John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program.
(b) Annually verify the eligibility of private schools that meet the requirements of subsection (8).
(c) Establish a process by which individuals may notify the department of any violation by a parent, private school, or school district of state laws relating to program participation. The department shall conduct an inquiry of any written complaint of a violation of this section, or make a referral to the appropriate agency for an investigation, if the complaint is signed by the complainant and is legally sufficient. A complaint is legally sufficient if it contains ultimate facts that show that a violation of this section or any rule adopted by the State Board of Education has occurred. In order to determine legal sufficiency, the department may require supporting information or documentation from the complainant. A department inquiry is not subject to the requirements of chapter 120.
(d) Require an annual, notarized, sworn compliance statement by participating private schools certifying compliance with state laws and shall retain such records.
(e) Cross-check the list of participating scholarship students with the public school enrollment lists prior to each scholarship payment to avoid duplication.
(f)1. Conduct random site visits to private schools participating in the John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program. The purpose of the site visits is solely to verify the information reported by the schools concerning the enrollment and attendance of students, the credentials of teachers, background screening of teachers, and teachers’ fingerprinting results, which information is required by rules of the State Board of Education, subsection (8), and s. 1002.421. The Department of Education may not make more than three random site visits each year and may not make more than one random site visit each year to the same private school.
2. Annually, by December 15, report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives the Department of Education’s actions with respect to implementing accountability in the scholarship program under this section and s. 1002.421, any substantiated allegations or violations of law or rule by an eligible private school under this program concerning the enrollment and attendance of students, the credentials of teachers, background screening of teachers, and teachers’ fingerprinting results and the corrective action taken by the Department of Education.
(7) COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION AUTHORITY AND OBLIGATIONS.
(a) The Commissioner of Education:
1. Shall deny, suspend, or revoke a private school’s participation in the scholarship program if it is determined that the private school has failed to comply with the provisions of this section. However, if the noncompliance is correctable within a reasonable amount of time and if the health, safety, or welfare of the students is not threatened, the commissioner may issue a notice of noncompliance which provides the private school with a timeframe within which to provide evidence of compliance before taking action to suspend or revoke the private school’s participation in the scholarship program.
2. May deny, suspend, or revoke a private school’s participation in the scholarship program if the commissioner determines that an owner or operator of the private school is operating or has operated an educational institution in this state or in another state or jurisdiction in a manner contrary to the health, safety, or welfare of the public.
a. In making such a determination, the commissioner may consider factors that include, but are not limited to, acts or omissions by an owner or operator which led to a previous denial or revocation of participation in an education scholarship program; an owner’s or operator’s failure to reimburse the Department of Education for scholarship funds improperly received or retained by a school; imposition of a prior criminal sanction related to an owner’s or operator’s management or operation of an educational institution; imposition of a civil fine or administrative fine, license revocation or suspension, or program eligibility suspension, termination, or revocation related to an owner’s or operator’s management or operation of an educational institution; or other types of criminal proceedings in which an owner or operator was found guilty of, regardless of adjudication, or entered a plea of nolo contendere or guilty to, any offense involving fraud, deceit, dishonesty, or moral turpitude.
b. For purposes of this subparagraph, the term “owner or operator” includes an owner, operator, superintendent, or principal of, or a person who has equivalent decisionmaking authority over, a private school participating in the scholarship program.
(b) The commissioner’s determination is subject to the following:
1. If the commissioner intends to deny, suspend, or revoke a private school’s participation in the scholarship program, the department shall notify the private school of such proposed action in writing by certified mail and regular mail to the private school’s address of record with the department. The notification shall include the reasons for the proposed action and notice of the timelines and procedures set forth in this paragraph.
2. The private school that is adversely affected by the proposed action shall have 15 days from receipt of the notice of proposed action to file with the department’s agency clerk a request for a proceeding pursuant to ss. 120.569 and 120.57. If the private school is entitled to a hearing under s. 120.57(1), the department shall forward the request to the Division of Administrative Hearings.
3. Upon receipt of a request referred pursuant to this paragraph, the director of the Division of Administrative Hearings shall expedite the hearing and assign an administrative law judge who shall commence a hearing within 30 days after the receipt of the formal written request by the division and enter a recommended order within 30 days after the hearing or within 30 days after receipt of the hearing transcript, whichever is later. Each party shall be allowed 10 days in which to submit written exceptions to the recommended order. A final order shall be entered by the agency within 30 days after the entry of a recommended order. The provisions of this subparagraph may be waived upon stipulation by all parties.
(c) The commissioner may immediately suspend payment of scholarship funds if it is determined that there is probable cause to believe that there is:
1. An imminent threat to the health, safety, or welfare of the students; or
2. Fraudulent activity on the part of the private school. Notwithstanding s. 1002.22, in incidents of alleged fraudulent activity pursuant to this section, the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General is authorized to release personally identifiable records or reports of students to the following persons or organizations:
a. A court of competent jurisdiction in compliance with an order of that court or the attorney of record in accordance with a lawfully issued subpoena, consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. s. 1232g.
b. A person or entity authorized by a court of competent jurisdiction in compliance with an order of that court or the attorney of record pursuant to a lawfully issued subpoena, consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. s. 1232g.
c. Any person, entity, or authority issuing a subpoena for law enforcement purposes when the court or other issuing agency has ordered that the existence or the contents of the subpoena or the information furnished in response to the subpoena not be disclosed, consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. s. 1232g, and 34 C.F.R. s. 99.31.

The commissioner’s order suspending payment pursuant to this paragraph may be appealed pursuant to the same procedures and timelines as the notice of proposed action set forth in paragraph (b).

(8) PRIVATE SCHOOL ELIGIBILITY AND OBLIGATIONS.To be eligible to participate in the John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program, a private school may be sectarian or nonsectarian and must:
(a) Comply with all requirements for private schools participating in state school choice scholarship programs pursuant to s. 1002.421.
(b) Provide to the department all documentation required for a student’s participation, including the private school’s and student’s fee schedules, at least 30 days before any quarterly scholarship payment is made for the student pursuant to paragraph (10)(e). A student is not eligible to receive a quarterly scholarship payment if the private school fails to meet this deadline.
(c) Be academically accountable to the parent for meeting the educational needs of the student by:
1. At a minimum, annually providing to the parent a written explanation of the student’s progress.
2. Cooperating with the scholarship student whose parent chooses to participate in the statewide assessments pursuant to s. 1008.22.
(d) Maintain in this state a physical location where a scholarship student regularly attends classes.

The inability of a private school to meet the requirements of this subsection shall constitute a basis for the ineligibility of the private school to participate in the scholarship program as determined by the department.

(9) PARENT AND STUDENT RESPONSIBILITIES FOR PROGRAM PARTICIPATION.A parent who applies for a John M. McKay Scholarship is exercising his or her parental option to place his or her child in a private school.
(a) The parent must select the private school and apply for the admission of his or her child.
(b) The parent must have requested the scholarship at least 60 days prior to the date of the first scholarship payment.
(c) Any student participating in the John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program must remain in attendance throughout the school year unless excused by the school for illness or other good cause.
(d) Each parent and each student has an obligation to the private school to comply with the private school’s published policies.
(e) If the parent requests that the student participating in the John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program take all statewide assessments required pursuant to s. 1008.22, the parent is responsible for transporting the student to the assessment site designated by the school district.
(f) Upon receipt of a scholarship warrant, the parent to whom the warrant is made must restrictively endorse the warrant to the private school for deposit into the account of the private school. The parent may not designate any entity or individual associated with the participating private school as the parent’s attorney in fact to endorse a scholarship warrant. A participant who fails to comply with this paragraph forfeits the scholarship.
(10) JOHN M. MCKAY SCHOLARSHIP FUNDING AND PAYMENT.
(a)1. The maximum scholarship granted for an eligible student with disabilities shall be equivalent to the base student allocation in the Florida Education Finance Program multiplied by the appropriate cost factor for the educational program that would have been provided for the student in the district school to which he or she was assigned, multiplied by the district cost differential.
2. In addition, a share of the guaranteed allocation for exceptional students shall be determined and added to the amount in subparagraph 1. The calculation shall be based on the methodology and the data used to calculate the guaranteed allocation for exceptional students for each district in chapter 2000-166, Laws of Florida. Except as provided in subparagraphs 3. and 4., the calculation shall be based on the student’s grade, matrix level of services, and the difference between the 2000-2001 basic program and the appropriate level of services cost factor, multiplied by the 2000-2001 base student allocation and the 2000-2001 district cost differential for the sending district. The calculated amount shall include the per-student share of supplemental academic instruction funds, instructional materials funds, technology funds, and other categorical funds as provided in the General Appropriations Act.
3. The scholarship amount for a student who is eligible under sub-subparagraph (2)(a)2.b. shall be calculated as provided in subparagraphs 1. and 2. However, the calculation shall be based on the school district in which the parent resides at the time of the scholarship request.
4. Until the school district completes the matrix required by paragraph (5)(b), the calculation shall be based on the matrix that assigns the student to support level I of service as it existed prior to the 2000-2001 school year. When the school district completes the matrix, the amount of the payment shall be adjusted as needed.
5. The scholarship amount for a student eligible under s. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 shall be based on the program cost factor the student currently generates through the Florida Education Finance Program.
(b) The amount of the John M. McKay Scholarship shall be the calculated amount or the amount of the private school’s tuition and fees, whichever is less. The amount of any assessment fee required by the participating private school may be paid from the total amount of the scholarship.
(c)1. The school district shall report all students who are attending a private school under this program. The students with disabilities attending private schools on John M. McKay Scholarships shall be reported separately from other students reported for purposes of the Florida Education Finance Program.
2. For program participants who are eligible under sub-subparagraph (2)(a)2.b., the school district that is used as the basis for the calculation of the scholarship amount as provided in subparagraph (a)3. shall:
a. Report to the department all such students who are attending a private school under this program.
b. Be held harmless for such students from the weighted enrollment ceiling for group 2 programs in s. 1011.62(1)(d)3.b. during the first school year in which the students are reported.
(d) Following notification on July 1, September 1, December 1, or February 1 of the number of program participants, the department shall transfer, from General Revenue funds only, the amount calculated under paragraph (b) from the school district’s total funding entitlement under the Florida Education Finance Program and from authorized categorical accounts to a separate account for the scholarship program for quarterly disbursement to the parents of participating students. Funds may not be transferred from any funding provided to the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind for program participants who are eligible under sub-subparagraph (2)(a)2.b. For a student exiting a Department of Juvenile Justice commitment program who chooses to participate in the scholarship program, the amount of the John M. McKay Scholarship calculated pursuant to paragraph (b) shall be transferred from the school district in which the student last attended a public school before commitment to the Department of Juvenile Justice. When a student enters the scholarship program, the department must receive all documentation required for the student’s participation, including the private school’s and the student’s fee schedules, at least 30 days before the first quarterly scholarship payment is made for the student.
(e) Upon notification by the department that it has received the documentation required under paragraph (d), the Chief Financial Officer shall make scholarship payments in four equal amounts no later than September 1, November 1, February 1, and April 1 of each academic year in which the scholarship is in force. The initial payment shall be made after department verification of admission acceptance, and subsequent payments shall be made upon verification of continued enrollment and attendance at the private school. Payment must be by individual warrant made payable to the student’s parent and mailed by the department to the private school of the parent’s choice, and the parent shall restrictively endorse the warrant to the private school for deposit into the account of the private school.
(f) Subsequent to each scholarship payment, the department shall request from the Department of Financial Services a sample of endorsed warrants to review and confirm compliance with endorsement requirements.
(11) LIABILITY.No liability shall arise on the part of the state based on the award or use of a John M. McKay Scholarship.
(12) SCOPE OF AUTHORITY.The inclusion of eligible private schools within options available to Florida public school students does not expand the regulatory authority of the state, its officers, or any school district to impose any additional regulation of private schools beyond those reasonably necessary to enforce requirements expressly set forth in this section.
(13) RULES.The State Board of Education shall adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to administer this section, including rules that school districts must use to expedite the development of a matrix of services based on an active individual education plan from another state or a foreign country for a transferring student with a disability who is a dependent child of a member of the United States Armed Forces. The rules must identify the appropriate school district personnel who must complete the matrix of services. For purposes of these rules, a transferring student with a disability is one who was previously enrolled as a student with a disability in an out-of-state or an out-of-country public or private school or agency program and who is transferring from out of state or from a foreign country pursuant to a parent’s permanent change of station orders.
History.s. 104, ch. 2002-387; s. 1946, ch. 2003-261; s. 11, ch. 2004-230; s. 1, ch. 2006-75; s. 1, ch. 2006-126; s. 177, ch. 2008-4; s. 2, ch. 2008-204; s. 6, ch. 2009-108; s. 5, ch. 2009-239; s. 15, ch. 2010-24; s. 8, ch. 2010-154; s. 1, ch. 2010-227; s. 1, ch. 2011-127; s. 7, ch. 2011-175.
1Note.Section 20, ch. 2010-24, provides that “[t]he Department of Revenue is authorized and all conditions are deemed met, to adopt emergency rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54, Florida Statutes, to administer the provisions of this act. The emergency rules shall remain in effect for 6 months after the rules are adopted and the rules may be renewed during the pendency of procedures to adopt permanent rules addressing the subject of the emergency rules.”
1002.391 Auditory-oral education programs.
(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Auditory-oral education program” means a program that develops and relies solely on listening skills and uses an implant or assistive hearing device for the purpose of relying on speech and spoken language skills as the method of communication.
(b) “Deaf or hard of hearing” means aided or unaided hearing loss that affects the processing of linguistic information and adversely affects performance in the educational environment. The degree of loss may range from mild to profound in accordance with criteria established by rule of the State Board of Education.
(c) “School” means a public or private school located in this state which can teach children who have obtained an implant or assistive hearing device, using faculty certified as listening and spoken language specialists.
(2) The parent of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing and who meets the following requirements may enroll the child in an auditory-oral education program as a school of choice pursuant to s. 1002.20. Such child may continue attending the school and complete the development of listening and spoken language skills at the school. In order to enroll and attend, the child must:
(a) Have received an implant or assistive hearing device;
(b) Be between the ages of 3 and 7 years, or between the ages of 2 and 7 years when the school district elects to serve children with disabilities who are under the age of 3 years; and
(c) Be a resident of the state.
(3) The level of services shall be determined by the individual educational plan team or individualized family support plan team, which includes the child’s parent in accordance with the rules of the State Board of Education. A child is eligible for services under this section until the end of the school year in which he or she reaches the age of 7 years or after grade 2, whichever comes first.
History.s. 8, ch. 2011-175.
11002.395 Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program.
(1) FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.
(a) The Legislature finds that:
1. It has the inherent power to determine subjects of taxation for general or particular public purposes.
2. Expanding educational opportunities and improving the quality of educational services within the state are valid public purposes that the Legislature may promote using its sovereign power to determine subjects of taxation and exemptions from taxation.
3. Ensuring that all parents, regardless of means, may exercise and enjoy their basic right to educate their children as they see fit is a valid public purpose that the Legislature may promote using its sovereign power to determine subjects of taxation and exemptions from taxation.
4. Expanding educational opportunities and the healthy competition they promote are critical to improving the quality of education in the state and to ensuring that all children receive the high-quality education to which they are entitled.
(b) The purpose of this section is to:
1. Enable taxpayers to make private, voluntary contributions to nonprofit scholarship-funding organizations in order to promote the general welfare.
2. Provide taxpayers who wish to help parents with limited resources exercise their basic right to educate their children as they see fit with a means to do so.
3. Promote the general welfare by expanding educational opportunities for children of families that have limited financial resources.
4. Enable children in this state to achieve a greater level of excellence in their education.
5. Improve the quality of education in this state, both by expanding educational opportunities for children and by creating incentives for schools to achieve excellence.
(2) DEFINITIONS.As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Annual tax credit amount” means, for any state fiscal year, the sum of the amount of tax credits approved under paragraph (5)(b), including tax credits to be taken under s. 220.1875 or s. 624.51055, which are approved for a taxpayer whose taxable year begins on or after January 1 of the calendar year preceding the start of the applicable state fiscal year.
(b) “Department” means the Department of Revenue.
(c) “Direct certification list” means the certified list of children who qualify for the food assistance program, the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Program, or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations provided to the Department of Education by the Department of Children and Family Services.
(d) “Division” means the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
(e) “Eligible contribution” means a monetary contribution from a taxpayer, subject to the restrictions provided in this section, to an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization. The taxpayer making the contribution may not designate a specific child as the beneficiary of the contribution.
(f) “Eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization” means a charitable organization that:
1. Is exempt from federal income tax pursuant to s. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code;
2. Is a Florida entity formed under chapter 607, chapter 608, or chapter 617 and whose principal office is located in the state; and
3. Complies with the provisions of subsection (6).
(g) “Eligible private school” means a private school, as defined in s. 1002.01(2), located in Florida which offers an education to students in any grades K-12 and that meets the requirements in subsection (8).
(h) “Owner or operator” includes:
1. An owner, president, officer, or director of an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization or a person with equivalent decisionmaking authority over an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization.
2. An owner, operator, superintendent, or principal of an eligible private school or a person with equivalent decisionmaking authority over an eligible private school.
(i) “Tax credit cap amount” means the maximum annual tax credit amount that the department may approve in a state fiscal year.
(j) “Unweighted FTE funding amount” means the statewide average total funds per unweighted full-time equivalent funding amount that is incorporated by reference in the General Appropriations Act, or any subsequent special appropriations act, for the applicable state fiscal year.
(3) PROGRAM; SCHOLARSHIP ELIGIBILITY.
(a) The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program is established.
(b) Contingent upon available funds:
1. A student is eligible for a Florida tax credit scholarship under this section if the student qualifies for free or reduced-price school lunches under the National School Lunch Act or is on the direct certification list and:
a. Was counted as a full-time equivalent student during the previous state fiscal year for purposes of state per-student funding;
b. Received a scholarship from an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization or from the State of Florida during the previous school year;
c. Is eligible to enter kindergarten or first grade; or
d. Is currently placed, or during the previous state fiscal year was placed, in foster care as defined in s. 39.01.
2.  A student may continue in the scholarship program as long as the student’s household income level does not exceed 230 percent of the federal poverty level.
3. A sibling of a student who is continuing in the scholarship program and who resides in the same household as the student shall also be eligible as a first-time tax credit scholarship recipient if the sibling meets one or more of the criteria specified in subparagraph 1. and as long as the student’s and sibling’s household income level does not exceed 230 percent of the federal poverty level.
(c) Household income for purposes of a student who is currently in foster care as defined in s. 39.01 shall consist only of the income that may be considered in determining whether he or she qualifies for free or reduced-price school lunches under the National School Lunch Act.
(4) SCHOLARSHIP PROHIBITIONS.A student is not eligible for a scholarship while he or she is:
(a) Enrolled in a school operating for the purpose of providing educational services to youth in Department of Juvenile Justice commitment programs;
(b) Receiving a scholarship from another eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization under this section;
(c) Receiving an educational scholarship pursuant to chapter 1002;
(d) Participating in a home education program as defined in s. 1002.01(1);
(e) Participating in a private tutoring program pursuant to s. 1002.43;
(f) Participating in a virtual school, correspondence school, or distance learning program that receives state funding pursuant to the student’s participation unless the participation is limited to no more than two courses per school year; or
(g) Enrolled in the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.
(5)  SCHOLARSHIP FUNDING TAX CREDITS; LIMITATIONS.
(a)1. The tax credit cap amount is $140 million in the 2010-2011 state fiscal year.
2. In the 2011-2012 state fiscal year and each state fiscal year thereafter, the tax credit cap amount is the tax credit cap amount in the prior state fiscal year. However, in any state fiscal year when the annual tax credit amount for the prior state fiscal year is equal to or greater than 90 percent of the tax credit cap amount applicable to that state fiscal year, the tax credit cap amount shall increase by 25 percent. The department shall publish on its website information identifying the tax credit cap amount when it is increased pursuant to this subparagraph.
(b) A taxpayer may submit an application to the department for a tax credit or credits under one or more of s. 211.0251, s. 212.1831, s. 220.1875, s. 561.1211, or s. 624.51055. The taxpayer shall specify in the application each tax for which the taxpayer requests a credit and the applicable taxable year for a credit under s. 220.1875 or s. 624.51055 or the applicable state fiscal year for a credit under s. 211.0251, s. 212.1831, or s. 561.1211. The department shall approve tax credits on a first-come, first-served basis and must obtain the division’s approval prior to approving a tax credit under s. 561.1211.
(c) If a tax credit approved under paragraph (b) is not fully used within the specified state fiscal year for credits under s. 211.0251, s. 212.1831, or s. 561.1211 or against taxes due for the specified taxable year for credits under s. 220.1875 or s. 624.51055 because of insufficient tax liability on the part of the taxpayer, the unused amount may be carried forward for a period not to exceed 5 years. However, any taxpayer that seeks to carry forward an unused amount of tax credit must submit an application to the department for approval of the carryforward tax credit in the year that the taxpayer intends to use the carryforward. The department must obtain the division’s approval prior to approving the carryforward of a tax credit under s. 561.1211.
(d) A taxpayer may not convey, assign, or transfer an approved tax credit or a carryforward tax credit to another entity unless all of the assets of the taxpayer are conveyed, assigned, or transferred in the same transaction.
(e) Within any state fiscal year, a taxpayer may rescind all or part of a tax credit approved under paragraph (b). The amount rescinded shall become available for that state fiscal year to another eligible taxpayer as approved by the department if the taxpayer receives notice from the department that the rescindment has been accepted by the department. The department must obtain the division’s approval prior to accepting the rescindment of a tax credit under s. 561.1211. Any amount rescinded under this paragraph shall become available to an eligible taxpayer on a first-come, first-served basis based on tax credit applications received after the date the rescindment is accepted by the department.
(6) OBLIGATIONS OF ELIGIBLE NONPROFIT SCHOLARSHIP-FUNDING ORGANIZATIONS.An eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization:
(a) Must comply with the antidiscrimination provisions of 42 U.S.C. s. 2000d.
(b) Must comply with the following background check requirements:
1. All owners and operators as defined in subparagraph (2)(h)1. are, upon employment or engagement to provide services, subject to level 2 background screening as provided under chapter 435. The fingerprints for the background screening must be electronically submitted to the Department of Law Enforcement and can be taken by an authorized law enforcement agency or by an employee of the eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization or a private company who is trained to take fingerprints. However, the complete set of fingerprints of an owner or operator may not be taken by the owner or operator. The results of the state and national criminal history check shall be provided to the Department of Education for screening under chapter 435. The cost of the background screening may be borne by the eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization or the owner or operator.
2. Every 5 years following employment or engagement to provide services or association with an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization, each owner or operator must meet level 2 screening standards as described in s. 435.04, at which time the nonprofit scholarship-funding organization shall request the Department of Law Enforcement to forward the fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for level 2 screening. If the fingerprints of an owner or operator are not retained by the Department of Law Enforcement under subparagraph 3., the owner or operator must electronically file a complete set of fingerprints with the Department of Law Enforcement. Upon submission of fingerprints for this purpose, the eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization shall request that the Department of Law Enforcement forward the fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for level 2 screening, and the fingerprints shall be retained by the Department of Law Enforcement under subparagraph 3.
3. Beginning July 1, 2007, all fingerprints submitted to the Department of Law Enforcement as required by this paragraph must be retained by the Department of Law Enforcement in a manner approved by rule and entered in the statewide automated fingerprint identification system authorized by s. 943.05(2)(b). The fingerprints must thereafter be available for all purposes and uses authorized for arrest fingerprint cards entered in the statewide automated fingerprint identification system pursuant to s. 943.051.
4. Beginning July 1, 2007, the Department of Law Enforcement shall search all arrest fingerprint cards received under s. 943.051 against the fingerprints retained in the statewide automated fingerprint identification system under subparagraph 3. Any arrest record that is identified with an owner’s or operator’s fingerprints must be reported to the Department of Education. The Department of Education shall participate in this search process by paying an annual fee to the Department of Law Enforcement and by informing the Department of Law Enforcement of any change in the employment, engagement, or association status of the owners or operators whose fingerprints are retained under subparagraph 3. The Department of Law Enforcement shall adopt a rule setting the amount of the annual fee to be imposed upon the Department of Education for performing these services and establishing the procedures for the retention of owner and operator fingerprints and the dissemination of search results. The fee may be borne by the owner or operator of the nonprofit scholarship-funding organization.
5. A nonprofit scholarship-funding organization whose owner or operator fails the level 2 background screening shall not be eligible to provide scholarships under this section.
6. A nonprofit scholarship-funding organization whose owner or operator in the last 7 years has filed for personal bankruptcy or corporate bankruptcy in a corporation of which he or she owned more than 20 percent shall not be eligible to provide scholarships under this section.
(c) Must not have an owner or operator who owns or operates an eligible private school that is participating in the scholarship program.
(d) Must provide scholarships, from eligible contributions, to eligible students for the cost of:
1. Tuition and fees for an eligible private school; or
2. Transportation to a Florida public school that is located outside the district in which the student resides or to a lab school as defined in s. 1002.32.
(e) Must give priority to eligible students who received a scholarship from an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization or from the State of Florida during the previous school year.
(f) Must provide a scholarship to an eligible student on a first-come, first-served basis unless the student qualifies for priority pursuant to paragraph (e).
(g) May not restrict or reserve scholarships for use at a particular private school or provide scholarships to a child of an owner or operator.
(h) Must allow an eligible student to attend any eligible private school and must allow a parent to transfer a scholarship during a school year to any other eligible private school of the parent’s choice.
(i)1. May use up to 3 percent of eligible contributions received during the state fiscal year in which such contributions are collected for administrative expenses if the organization has operated under this section for at least 3 state fiscal years and did not have any negative financial findings in its most recent audit under paragraph (l). Such administrative expenses must be reasonable and necessary for the organization’s management and distribution of eligible contributions under this section. No more than one-third of the funds authorized for administrative expenses under this subparagraph may be used for expenses related to the recruitment of contributions from taxpayers.
2. Must expend for annual or partial-year scholarships an amount equal to or greater than 75 percent of the net eligible contributions remaining after administrative expenses during the state fiscal year in which such contributions are collected. No more than 25 percent of such net eligible contributions may be carried forward to the following state fiscal year. Any amounts carried forward shall be expended for annual or partial-year scholarships in the following state fiscal year. Net eligible contributions remaining on June 30 of each year that are in excess of the 25 percent that may be carried forward shall be returned to the State Treasury for deposit in the General Revenue Fund.
3. Must, before granting a scholarship for an academic year, document each scholarship student’s eligibility for that academic year. A scholarship-funding organization may not grant multiyear scholarships in one approval process.
(j) Must maintain separate accounts for scholarship funds and operating funds.
(k) With the prior approval of the Department of Education, may transfer funds to another eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization if additional funds are required to meet scholarship demand at the receiving nonprofit scholarship-funding organization. A transfer shall be limited to the greater of $500,000 or 20 percent of the total contributions received by the nonprofit scholarship-funding organization making the transfer. All transferred funds must be deposited by the receiving nonprofit scholarship-funding organization into its scholarship accounts. All transferred amounts received by any nonprofit scholarship-funding organization must be separately disclosed in the annual financial and compliance audit required in this section.
(l) Must provide to the Auditor General and the Department of Education an annual financial and compliance audit of its accounts and records conducted by an independent certified public accountant and in accordance with rules adopted by the Auditor General. The audit must be conducted in compliance with generally accepted auditing standards and must include a report on financial statements presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles set forth by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants for not-for-profit organizations and a determination of compliance with the statutory eligibility and expenditure requirements set forth in this section. Audits must be provided to the Auditor General and the Department of Education within 180 days after completion of the eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization’s fiscal year.
(m) Must prepare and submit quarterly reports to the Department of Education pursuant to paragraph (9)(m). In addition, an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization must submit in a timely manner any information requested by the Department of Education relating to the scholarship program.
(n)1.a. Must participate in the joint development of agreed-upon procedures to be performed by an independent certified public accountant as required under paragraph (8)(e) if the scholarship-funding organization provided more than $250,000 in scholarship funds to an eligible private school under this section during the 2009-2010 state fiscal year. The agreed-upon procedures must uniformly apply to all private schools and must determine, at a minimum, whether the private school has been verified as eligible by the Department of Education under paragraph (9)(c); has an adequate accounting system, system of financial controls, and process for deposit and classification of scholarship funds; and has properly expended scholarship funds for education-related expenses. During the development of the procedures, the participating scholarship-funding organizations shall specify guidelines governing the materiality of exceptions that may be found during the accountant’s performance of the procedures. The procedures and guidelines shall be provided to private schools and the Commissioner of Education by March 15, 2011.
b. Must participate in a joint review of the agreed-upon procedures and guidelines developed under sub-subparagraph a., by February 2013 and biennially thereafter, if the scholarship-funding organization provided more than $250,000 in scholarship funds to an eligible private school under this section during the state fiscal year preceding the biennial review. If the procedures and guidelines are revised, the revisions must be provided to private schools and the Commissioner of Education by March 15, 2013, and biennially thereafter.
c. Must monitor the compliance of a private school with paragraph (8)(e) if the scholarship-funding organization provided the majority of the scholarship funding to the school. For each private school subject to paragraph (8)(e), the appropriate scholarship-funding organization shall notify the Commissioner of Education by October 30, 2011, and annually thereafter of:
(I) A private school’s failure to submit a report required under paragraph (8)(e); or
(II) Any material exceptions set forth in the report required under paragraph (8)(e).
2. Must seek input from the accrediting associations that are members of the Florida Association of Academic Nonpublic Schools when jointly developing the agreed-upon procedures and guidelines under sub-subparagraph 1.a. and conducting a review of those procedures and guidelines under sub-subparagraph 1.b.

Any and all information and documentation provided to the Department of Education and the Auditor General relating to the identity of a taxpayer that provides an eligible contribution under this section shall remain confidential at all times in accordance with s. 213.053.

(7) PARENT AND STUDENT RESPONSIBILITIES FOR PROGRAM PARTICIPATION.
(a) The parent must select an eligible private school and apply for the admission of his or her child.
(b) The parent must inform the child’s school district when the parent withdraws his or her child to attend an eligible private school.
(c) Any student participating in the scholarship program must remain in attendance throughout the school year unless excused by the school for illness or other good cause.
(d) Each parent and each student has an obligation to the private school to comply with the private school’s published policies.
(e) The parent shall ensure that the student participating in the scholarship program takes the norm-referenced assessment offered by the private school. The parent may also choose to have the student participate in the statewide assessments pursuant to s. 1008.22. If the parent requests that the student participating in the scholarship program take statewide assessments pursuant to s. 1008.22, the parent is responsible for transporting the student to the assessment site designated by the school district.
(f) Upon receipt of a scholarship warrant from the eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization, the parent to whom the warrant is made must restrictively endorse the warrant to the private school for deposit into the account of the private school. The parent may not designate any entity or individual associated with the participating private school as the parent’s attorney in fact to endorse a scholarship warrant. A participant who fails to comply with this paragraph forfeits the scholarship.
(8) PRIVATE SCHOOL ELIGIBILITY AND OBLIGATIONS.An eligible private school may be sectarian or nonsectarian and must:
(a) Comply with all requirements for private schools participating in state school choice scholarship programs pursuant to s. 1002.421.
(b) Provide to the eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization, upon request, all documentation required for the student’s participation, including the private school’s and student’s fee schedules.
(c) Be academically accountable to the parent for meeting the educational needs of the student by:
1. At a minimum, annually providing to the parent a written explanation of the student’s progress.
2. Annually administering or making provision for students participating in the scholarship program in grades 3 through 10 to take one of the nationally norm-referenced tests identified by the Department of Education. Students with disabilities for whom standardized testing is not appropriate are exempt from this requirement. A participating private school must report a student’s scores to the parent and to the independent research organization selected by the Department of Education as described in paragraph (9)(j).
3. Cooperating with the scholarship student whose parent chooses to have the student participate in the statewide assessments pursuant to s. 1008.22.
(d) Employ or contract with teachers who have regular and direct contact with each student receiving a scholarship under this section at the school’s physical location.
(e) Annually contract with an independent certified public accountant to perform the agreed-upon procedures developed under paragraph (6)(n) and produce a report of the results if the private school receives more than $250,000 in funds from scholarships awarded under this section in the 2010-2011 state fiscal year or a state fiscal year thereafter. A private school subject to this paragraph must submit the report by September 15, 2011, and annually thereafter to the scholarship-funding organization that awarded the majority of the school’s scholarship funds. The agreed-upon procedures must be conducted in accordance with attestation standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

The inability of a private school to meet the requirements of this subsection shall constitute a basis for the ineligibility of the private school to participate in the scholarship program as determined by the Department of Education.

(9) DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OBLIGATIONS.The Department of Education shall:
(a) Annually submit to the department and division, by March 15, a list of eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organizations that meet the requirements of paragraph (2)(f).
(b) Annually verify the eligibility of nonprofit scholarship-funding organizations that meet the requirements of paragraph (2)(f).
(c) Annually verify the eligibility of private schools that meet the requirements of subsection (8).
(d) Annually verify the eligibility of expenditures as provided in paragraph (6)(d) using the audit required by paragraph (6)(l).
(e) Establish a toll-free hotline that provides parents and private schools with information on participation in the scholarship program.
(f) Establish a process by which individuals may notify the Department of Education of any violation by a parent, private school, or school district of state laws relating to program participation. The Department of Education shall conduct an inquiry of any written complaint of a violation of this section, or make a referral to the appropriate agency for an investigation, if the complaint is signed by the complainant and is legally sufficient. A complaint is legally sufficient if it contains ultimate facts that show that a violation of this section or any rule adopted by the State Board of Education has occurred. In order to determine legal sufficiency, the Department of Education may require supporting information or documentation from the complainant. A department inquiry is not subject to the requirements of chapter 120.
(g) Require an annual, notarized, sworn compliance statement by participating private schools certifying compliance with state laws and shall retain such records.
(h) Cross-check the list of participating scholarship students with the public school enrollment lists to avoid duplication.
(i) Maintain a list of nationally norm-referenced tests identified for purposes of satisfying the testing requirement in subparagraph (8)(c)2. The tests must meet industry standards of quality in accordance with State Board of Education rule.
(j) Select an independent research organization, which may be a public or private entity or university, to which participating private schools must report the scores of participating students on the nationally norm-referenced tests administered by the private school in grades 3 through 10.
1. The independent research organization must annually report to the Department of Education on the year-to-year learning gains of participating students:
a. On a statewide basis. The report shall also include, to the extent possible, a comparison of these learning gains to the statewide learning gains of public school students with socioeconomic backgrounds similar to those of students participating in the scholarship program. To minimize costs and reduce time required for the independent research organization’s analysis and evaluation, the Department of Education shall conduct analyses of matched students from public school assessment data and calculate control group learning gains using an agreed-upon methodology outlined in the contract with the independent research organization; and
b. According to each participating private school in which there are at least 30 participating students who have scores for tests administered during or after the 2009-2010 school year for 2 consecutive years at that private school.
2. The sharing and reporting of student learning gain data under this paragraph must be in accordance with requirements of 20 U.S.C. s. 1232g, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and shall be for the sole purpose of creating the annual report required by subparagraph 1. All parties must preserve the confidentiality of such information as required by law. The annual report must not disaggregate data to a level that will identify individual participating schools, except as required under sub-subparagraph 1.b., or disclose the academic level of individual students.
3. The annual report required by subparagraph 1. shall be published by the Department of Education on its website.
(k) Notify an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization of any of the organization’s identified students who are receiving educational scholarships pursuant to chapter 1002.
(l) Notify an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization of any of the organization’s identified students who are receiving tax credit scholarships from other eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organizations.
(m) Require quarterly reports by an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization regarding the number of students participating in the scholarship program, the private schools at which the students are enrolled, and other information deemed necessary by the Department of Education.
(n)1. Conduct random site visits to private schools participating in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. The purpose of the site visits is solely to verify the information reported by the schools concerning the enrollment and attendance of students, the credentials of teachers, background screening of teachers, and teachers’ fingerprinting results. The Department of Education may not make more than seven random site visits each year and may not make more than one random site visit each year to the same private school.
2. Annually, by December 15, report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives the Department of Education’s actions with respect to implementing accountability in the scholarship program under this section and s. 1002.421, any substantiated allegations or violations of law or rule by an eligible private school under this program concerning the enrollment and attendance of students, the credentials of teachers, background screening of teachers, and teachers’ fingerprinting results and the corrective action taken by the Department of Education.
(o) Provide a process to match the direct certification list with the scholarship application data submitted by any nonprofit scholarship-funding organization eligible to receive the 3-percent administrative allowance under paragraph (6)(i).
(10) SCHOOL DISTRICT OBLIGATIONS; PARENTAL OPTIONS.Upon the request of any eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization, a school district shall inform all households within the district receiving free or reduced-priced meals under the National School Lunch Act of their eligibility to apply for a tax credit scholarship. The form of such notice shall be provided by the eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization, and the district shall include the provided form, if requested by the organization, in any normal correspondence with eligible households. If an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization requests a special communication to be issued to households within the district receiving free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Act, the organization shall reimburse the district for the cost of postage. Such notice is limited to once a year.
(11) COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION AUTHORITY AND OBLIGATIONS.
(a)1. The Commissioner of Education shall deny, suspend, or revoke a private school’s participation in the scholarship program if it is determined that the private school has failed to comply with the provisions of this section. However, in instances in which the noncompliance is correctable within a reasonable amount of time and in which the health, safety, or welfare of the students is not threatened, the commissioner may issue a notice of noncompliance that shall provide the private school with a timeframe within which to provide evidence of compliance prior to taking action to suspend or revoke the private school’s participation in the scholarship program.
2. The Commissioner of Education may deny, suspend, or revoke a private school’s participation in the scholarship program if the commissioner determines that an owner or operator of the private school is operating or has operated an educational institution in this state or another state or jurisdiction in a manner contrary to the health, safety, or welfare of the public. In making this determination, the commissioner may consider factors that include, but are not limited to, acts or omissions by an owner or operator that led to a previous denial or revocation of participation in an education scholarship program; an owner’s or operator’s failure to reimburse the Department of Education for scholarship funds improperly received or retained by a school; imposition of a prior criminal or civil administrative sanction related to an owner’s or operator’s management or operation of an educational institution; or other types of criminal proceedings in which the owner or operator was found guilty of, regardless of adjudication, or entered a plea of nolo contendere or guilty to, any offense involving fraud, deceit, dishonesty, or moral turpitude.
(b) The commissioner’s determination is subject to the following:
1. If the commissioner intends to deny, suspend, or revoke a private school’s participation in the scholarship program, the Department of Education shall notify the private school of such proposed action in writing by certified mail and regular mail to the private school’s address of record with the Department of Education. The notification shall include the reasons for the proposed action and notice of the timelines and procedures set forth in this paragraph.
2. The private school that is adversely affected by the proposed action shall have 15 days from receipt of the notice of proposed action to file with the Department of Education’s agency clerk a request for a proceeding pursuant to ss. 120.569 and 120.57. If the private school is entitled to a hearing under s. 120.57(1), the Department of Education shall forward the request to the Division of Administrative Hearings.
3. Upon receipt of a request referred pursuant to this paragraph, the director of the Division of Administrative Hearings shall expedite the hearing and assign an administrative law judge who shall commence a hearing within 30 days after the receipt of the formal written request by the division and enter a recommended order within 30 days after the hearing or within 30 days after receipt of the hearing transcript, whichever is later. Each party shall be allowed 10 days in which to submit written exceptions to the recommended order. A final order shall be entered by the agency within 30 days after the entry of a recommended order. The provisions of this subparagraph may be waived upon stipulation by all parties.
(c) The commissioner may immediately suspend payment of scholarship funds if it is determined that there is probable cause to believe that there is:
1. An imminent threat to the health, safety, and welfare of the students; or
2. Fraudulent activity on the part of the private school. Notwithstanding s. 1002.22, in incidents of alleged fraudulent activity pursuant to this section, the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General is authorized to release personally identifiable records or reports of students to the following persons or organizations:
a. A court of competent jurisdiction in compliance with an order of that court or the attorney of record in accordance with a lawfully issued subpoena, consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. s. 1232g.
b. A person or entity authorized by a court of competent jurisdiction in compliance with an order of that court or the attorney of record pursuant to a lawfully issued subpoena, consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. s. 1232g.
c. Any person, entity, or authority issuing a subpoena for law enforcement purposes when the court or other issuing agency has ordered that the existence or the contents of the subpoena or the information furnished in response to the subpoena not be disclosed, consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. s. 1232g, and 34 C.F.R. s. 99.31.

The commissioner’s order suspending payment pursuant to this paragraph may be appealed pursuant to the same procedures and timelines as the notice of proposed action set forth in paragraph (b).

(12) SCHOLARSHIP AMOUNT AND PAYMENT.
(a)1. Except as provided in subparagraph 2., the amount of a scholarship provided to any student for any single school year by an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization from eligible contributions shall be for total costs authorized under paragraph (6)(d), not to exceed annual limits, which shall be determined as follows:
a.  For a scholarship awarded to a student enrolled in an eligible private school:
(I) For the 2009-2010 state fiscal year, the limit shall be $3,950.
(II) For the 2010-2011 state fiscal year, the limit shall be 60 percent of the unweighted FTE funding amount for that year.
(III) For the 2011-2012 state fiscal year and thereafter, the limit shall be determined by multiplying the unweighted FTE funding amount in that state fiscal year by the percentage used to determine the limit in the prior state fiscal year. However, in each state fiscal year that the tax credit cap amount increases pursuant to subparagraph (5)(a)2., the prior year percentage shall be increased by 4 percentage points and the increased percentage shall be used to determine the limit for that state fiscal year. If the percentage so calculated reaches 80 percent in a state fiscal year, no further increase in the percentage is allowed and the limit shall be 80 percent of the unweighted FTE funding amount for that state fiscal year and thereafter.
b.  For a scholarship awarded to a student enrolled in a Florida public school that is located outside the district in which the student resides or in a lab school as defined in s. 1002.32, the limit shall be $500.
2. The annual limit for a scholarship under sub-subparagraph 1.a. shall be reduced by:
a. Twenty-five percent if the student’s household income level is equal to or greater than 200 percent, but less than 215 percent, of the federal poverty level.
b. Fifty percent if the student’s household income level is equal to or greater than 215 percent, but equal to or less than 230 percent, of the federal poverty level.
(b) Payment of the scholarship by the eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization shall be by individual warrant made payable to the student’s parent. If the parent chooses that his or her child attend an eligible private school, the warrant must be delivered by the eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization to the private school of the parent’s choice, and the parent shall restrictively endorse the warrant to the private school. An eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization shall ensure that the parent to whom the warrant is made restrictively endorsed the warrant to the private school for deposit into the account of the private school.
(c) An eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization shall obtain verification from the private school of a student’s continued attendance at the school for each period covered by a scholarship payment.
(d) Payment of the scholarship shall be made by the eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization no less frequently than on a quarterly basis.
(13) ADMINISTRATION; RULES.
(a) The department, the division, and the Department of Education shall develop a cooperative agreement to assist in the administration of this section.
(b) The department shall adopt rules necessary to administer this section and ss. 211.0251, 212.1831, 220.1875, 561.1211, and 624.51055, including rules establishing application forms, procedures governing the approval of tax credits and carryforward tax credits under subsection (5), and procedures to be followed by taxpayers when claiming approved tax credits on their returns.
(c) The division shall adopt rules necessary to administer its responsibilities under this section and s. 561.1211.
(d) The State Board of Education shall adopt rules to administer the responsibilities of the Department of Education and the Commissioner of Education under this section.
(14) DEPOSITS OF ELIGIBLE CONTRIBUTIONS.All eligible contributions received by an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization shall be deposited in a manner consistent with s. 17.57(2).
(15) PRESERVATION OF CREDIT.If any provision or portion of this section, s. 211.0251, s. 212.1831, s. 220.1875, s. 561.1211, or s. 624.51055 or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held unconstitutional by any court or is otherwise declared invalid, the unconstitutionality or invalidity shall not affect any credit earned under s. 211.0251, s. 212.1831, s. 220.1875, s. 561.1211, or s. 624.51055 by any taxpayer with respect to any contribution paid to an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization before the date of a determination of unconstitutionality or invalidity. Such credit shall be allowed at such time and in such a manner as if a determination of unconstitutionality or invalidity had not been made, provided that nothing in this subsection by itself or in combination with any other provision of law shall result in the allowance of any credit to any taxpayer in excess of one dollar of credit for each dollar paid to an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization.
History.s. 5, ch. 2001-225; s. 42, ch. 2002-218; s. 258, ch. 2003-261; s. 9, ch. 2003-391; s. 16, ch. 2004-5; s. 2, ch. 2006-75; s. 2, ch. 2008-142; s. 2, ch. 2008-235; s. 1, ch. 2008-241; s. 2, ch. 2009-108; s. 4, ch. 2009-239; s. 1, ch. 2010-24; s. 4, ch. 2010-209; s. 3, ch. 2011-123.
1Note.Section 20, ch. 2010-24, provides that “[t]he Department of Revenue is authorized and all conditions are deemed met, to adopt emergency rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54, Florida Statutes, to administer the provisions of this act. The emergency rules shall remain in effect for 6 months after the rules are adopted and the rules may be renewed during the pendency of procedures to adopt permanent rules addressing the subject of the emergency rules.”
Note.Former s. 220.187.
HOME EDUCATION, PRIVATE SCHOOLS,
OTHER EDUCATION OPTIONS
1002.41 Home education programs.
1002.415 K-8 Virtual School Program.
1002.42 Private schools.
1002.421 Accountability of private schools participating in state school choice scholarship programs.
1002.43 Private tutoring programs.
1002.45 Virtual instruction programs.
1002.455 Student eligibility for K-12 virtual instruction.
1002.41 Home education programs.
(1) A “home education program” is defined in s. 1002.01. The parent is not required to hold a valid regular Florida teaching certificate.
(a) The parent shall notify the district school superintendent of the county in which the parent resides of her or his intent to establish and maintain a home education program. The notice shall be in writing, signed by the parent, and shall include the names, addresses, and birthdates of all children who shall be enrolled as students in the home education program. The notice shall be filed in the district school superintendent’s office within 30 days of the establishment of the home education program. A written notice of termination of the home education program shall be filed in the district school superintendent’s office within 30 days after said termination.
(b) The parent shall maintain a portfolio of records and materials. The portfolio shall consist of the following:
1. A log of educational activities that is made contemporaneously with the instruction and that designates by title any reading materials used.
2. Samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks, or creative materials used or developed by the student.

The portfolio shall be preserved by the parent for 2 years and shall be made available for inspection by the district school superintendent, or the district school superintendent’s agent, upon 15 days’ written notice. Nothing in this section shall require the district school superintendent to inspect the portfolio.

(c) The parent shall provide for an annual educational evaluation in which is documented the student’s demonstration of educational progress at a level commensurate with her or his ability. The parent shall select the method of evaluation and shall file a copy of the evaluation annually with the district school superintendent’s office in the county in which the student resides. The annual educational evaluation shall consist of one of the following:
1. A teacher selected by the parent shall evaluate the student’s educational progress upon review of the portfolio and discussion with the student. Such teacher shall hold a valid regular Florida certificate to teach academic subjects at the elementary or secondary level;
2. The student shall take any nationally normed student achievement test administered by a certified teacher;
3. The student shall take a state student assessment test used by the school district and administered by a certified teacher, at a location and under testing conditions approved by the school district;
4. The student shall be evaluated by an individual holding a valid, active license pursuant to the provisions of s. 490.003(7) or (8); or
5. The student shall be evaluated with any other valid measurement tool as mutually agreed upon by the district school superintendent of the district in which the student resides and the student’s parent.
(2) The district school superintendent shall review and accept the results of the annual educational evaluation of the student in a home education program. If the student does not demonstrate educational progress at a level commensurate with her or his ability, the district school superintendent shall notify the parent, in writing, that such progress has not been achieved. The parent shall have 1 year from the date of receipt of the written notification to provide remedial instruction to the student. At the end of the 1-year probationary period, the student shall be reevaluated as specified in paragraph (1)(c). Continuation in a home education program shall be contingent upon the student demonstrating educational progress commensurate with her or his ability at the end of the probationary period.
(3) A home education program shall be excluded from meeting the requirements of a school day.
(4) Home education students may participate in interscholastic extracurricular student activities in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.15.
(5) Home education students may participate in the Bright Futures Scholarship Program in accordance with the provisions of ss. 1009.53-1009.539.
(6) Home education students may participate in dual enrollment programs in accordance with the provisions of ss. 1007.27(4) and 1007.271(10).
(7) Home education students are eligible for admission to Florida College System institutions in accordance with the provisions of s. 1007.263.
(8) Home education students are eligible for admission to state universities in accordance with the policies and guidelines of the Board of Governors.
(9) Home education program students may receive testing and evaluation services at diagnostic and resource centers, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.03.
History.s. 106, ch. 2002-387; s. 82, ch. 2007-217; s. 29, ch. 2011-5.
1002.415 K-8 Virtual School Program.Subject to annual legislative appropriation, a kindergarten through grade 8 virtual school program is established within the Department of Education for the purpose of making academic instruction available to full-time students in kindergarten through grade 8 using online and distance learning technology. The department shall use an application process to select schools to deliver program instruction.
(1) SCHOOL ELIGIBILITY.
(a) To be eligible to participate in the K-8 Virtual School Program a school must:
1. Be nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and operations;
2. Comply with the antidiscrimination provisions of s. 1000.05;
3. Participate in the state’s school accountability system created in s. 1008.31;
4. Locate its administrative office in this state and require its administrative and instructional staff members to be state residents; and
5. Require no tuition or student registration fee.
(b) Schools applying to participate in the K-8 Virtual School Program may be for-profit or nonprofit entities.
(2) APPLICATION.
(a) The Department of Education shall provide an application form to be completed by each school seeking to participate in the K-8 Virtual School Program. Initial application forms must be made available in sufficient time to enable schools to apply and be approved to participate in the K-8 Virtual School Program by the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year. In addition to information that may be required by the department, applicants must provide verification that:
1. The applicant meets the eligibility criteria required by this section;
2. All members of the school’s instructional staff are certified professional educators under the provisions of chapter 1012; and
3. All school employees have undergone background screening as required by s. 1012.32.
(b) In addition to a completed application form, each applicant must provide the department with:
1. A detailed plan describing how the school curriculum and course content will conform to the Sunshine State Standards; and
2. An annual financial plan for each year of operation of the school for a minimum of 3 years. The plan must contain anticipated fund balances based on revenue projections, a spending plan based on projected revenues and expenses, and a description of controls that will safeguard finances and projected enrollment trends.
(c) The department must approve or deny a school’s participation in the K-8 Virtual School Program within 90 days after receipt of an application.
(3) PARTICIPATING SCHOOLS.
(a) A school approved by the department to participate in the K-8 Virtual School Program shall receive an initial 3-year contract with the department to provide program services, subject to annual department review and legislative appropriation. Contract renewals may be for up to 5 years upon agreement of both parties, contingent upon annual funding in the General Appropriations Act.
(b) A school approved to participate in the program is deemed to be an independent virtual school providing, on behalf of the state, a program of instruction that is full time, of 180 days’ duration, and an online program of instruction to students in kindergarten through grade 8.
(c) A school approved to participate in the program must provide each student enrolled in the virtual school with:
1. All necessary instructional materials;
2. All equipment, including, but not limited to, a computer, computer monitor, and printer for each household that has a student enrolled in the virtual school; and
3. Access to or reimbursement for all Internet services necessary for online delivery of instruction for each household that has a student enrolled in the virtual school.
(4) PILOT SCHOOLS.
(a) The two pilot K-8 virtual schools provided for in the 2005 General Appropriations Act may continue operation for the entire 2006-2007 school year.
(b) With the exception of the application and contracting requirements, the pilot schools are subject to the provisions of this section for the 2006-2007 school year.
(c) Each pilot school must complete the application requirements of this section and be approved by the department in order to participate in the K-8 Virtual School Program beyond the 2006-2007 school year.
(5) STUDENT ELIGIBILITY.
(a) Enrollment in each participating school is open to any K-8 student in this state if the student meets at least one of the following conditions:
1. Spent the prior school year in attendance at a public school in this state and was enrolled and reported by a public school district for funding during the preceding October and February for purposes of the Florida Education Finance Program surveys;
2. Was enrolled during the prior school year in a K-8 virtual school funded pursuant to this section or from funds provided in the 2005 General Appropriations Act;
3. Is eligible to enroll in kindergarten or the first grade; or
4. Has a sibling who is currently enrolled in a participating K-8 virtual school and was enrolled at the end of the prior school year.
(b) Students enrolled in a K-8 virtual school are subject to the compulsory attendance requirements of s. 1003.21. Student attendance must be verified according to procedures of the Department of Education.
(c) Each student enrolled in a K-8 virtual school must take state assessment tests within the student’s school district of residence, which must provide that student with access to the district’s testing facilities.
(6) FUNDING.
(a) State funding for each school participating in the K-8 Virtual School Program shall be based on a total program enrollment and amount per full-time equivalent student established annually in the General Appropriations Act.
(b) Upon proper documentation of student enrollment, which must be reviewed and approved by the department, payments shall be made to participating schools in four equal payments no later than September 1, November 1, February 1, and April 15 of each academic year. The initial payment shall be made after the department verifies each student’s admission to the school, and subsequent payments shall be made upon verification of the continued enrollment and attendance of the student.
(7) ASSESSMENT AND ACCOUNTABILITY.
(a) Each K-8 virtual school must participate in the statewide assessment program created under s. 1008.22 and shall be subject to the school grading system created by s. 1008.34.
(b) A K-8 virtual school that has a performance grade category of “D” or “F” must file a school improvement plan with the department for consultation to determine the causes for low performance and to develop a plan for correction and improvement.
(c) The department shall terminate the contract of any K-8 virtual school that receives a performance grade category of “D” or “F” for 2 years during any consecutive 4-year period.
(8) CAUSES FOR NONRENEWAL OR TERMINATION OF A CONTRACT.
(a) At the end of a contract with a K-8 virtual school, the department may choose not to renew the contract for any of the following grounds:
1. Failure to participate in the state’s education accountability system created in s. 1008.31, as required in this section;
2. Failure to receive a school performance grade of “C” or better under the school grading system created by s. 1008.34 for any 2 years in a consecutive 4-year period;
3. Failure to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management;
4. Violation of law;
5. Failure of the Legislature to fund the program; or
6. Other good cause shown.
(b) During the term of the contract, the department may terminate the contract for any of the grounds listed in paragraph (a).
(c) If a contract is not renewed or is terminated, the K-8 virtual school is responsible for all debts of the school.
(d) If a contract is not renewed or is terminated, a student who attended the school must be allowed to be enrolled in a public school in the county in which the student is a resident.
(9) RULES.The State Board of Education shall adopt rules under ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to administer this section.
History.s. 1, ch. 2006-48.
1002.42 Private schools.
(1) DEFINITION.A “private school” is defined in s. 1002.01.
(2) ANNUAL PRIVATE SCHOOL SURVEY.
(a) The Department of Education shall organize, maintain, and annually update a database of educational institutions within the state coming within the provisions of this section. There shall be included in the database of each institution the name, address, and telephone number of the institution; the type of institution; the names of administrative officers; the enrollment by grade or special group (e.g., career education and exceptional child education); the number of graduates; the number of instructional and administrative personnel; the number of days the school is in session; and such data as may be needed to meet the provisions of this section and s. 1003.23(2).
(b) For the purpose of organizing, maintaining, and updating this database, each private school shall annually execute and file a database survey form on a date designated by the Department of Education which shall include a notarized statement ascertaining that the owner of the private school has complied with the provisions of paragraph (c). For the purpose of this section, “owner” means any individual who is the chief administrative officer of a private school.
(c)1. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (h), each person who is an owner or who establishes, purchases, or otherwise becomes an owner of a private school shall, within 5 days of assuming ownership of a school, file with the Department of Law Enforcement a complete set of fingerprints for state processing and checking for criminal background. The fingerprints shall be taken by an authorized law enforcement officer or an employee of the school who is trained to take fingerprints. The costs of fingerprinting, criminal records checking, and processing shall be borne by the applicant or private school. The result of the criminal records checking by the Department of Law Enforcement shall be forwarded to the owner of the private school and shall be made available for public inspection in the private school office as soon as it is received.
2. It shall be unlawful for a person who has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude to own or operate a private school.
3. An owner of a private school may require school employees to file a complete set of fingerprints with the Department of Law Enforcement for processing and criminal records checking. Findings from such processing and checking shall be reported to the owner for use in employment decisions.
4. Owners or employees of private schools who have been fingerprinted pursuant to this paragraph, s. 1012.32, or s. 402.3055 shall not be required to be refingerprinted if they have not been unemployed or unassociated with a private school or child care facility for more than 90 days.
5. Persons holding a valid Florida teaching certificate who have been fingerprinted pursuant to s. 1012.35 shall not be required to comply with the provisions of this paragraph.
(d) The data inquiries to be included and answered in the survey required in paragraph (b) shall be limited to matters set forth in paragraph (a). The department shall furnish annually to each school sufficient copies of this form.
(e) To ensure completeness and accuracy of the database, each existing private educational institution falling within the provisions of this section shall notify the Department of Education of any change in the name of the institution, the address, or the chief administrative officer. Each new institution shall notify the department of its establishment.
(f) Annually, the department shall make accessible to the public data on private education in this state. Such data shall include that collected pursuant to paragraph (a) and from other sources.
(g) The failure of any institution to submit the annual database survey form and notarized statement of compliance with the provisions of paragraph (c), as required by this section, shall be judged a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, proper authorities of such institution shall be subject to a fine not exceeding $500. Submission of data for a nonexistent school or an institution providing no instruction or training, the purpose of which is to defraud the public, is unlawful and the person or persons responsible commit a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. Persons found to be in violation of subparagraph (c)2. commit a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(h) It is the intent of the Legislature not to regulate, control, approve, or accredit private educational institutions, but to create a database where current information may be obtained relative to the educational institutions in this state coming within the provisions of this section as a service to the public, to governmental agencies, and to other interested parties. It is not the intent of the Legislature to regulate, control, or monitor, expressly or implicitly, churches, their ministries, or religious instruction, freedoms, or rites. It is the intent of the Legislature that the annual submission of the database survey by a school shall not be used by that school to imply approval or accreditation by the Department of Education.
(3) RETENTION OF RECORDS.
(a) As used in this subsection:
1. “Defunct private school” means any private school that has terminated the operation of an education or training program, or that has no students in attendance, or that has dissolved as a business entity.
2. “Student records” means those records, files, documents, and other materials that contain information directly related to students that are maintained by a private school or by a person acting for such institution and that are accessible to other professional personnel to facilitate the instruction, guidance, and educational progress of students. Information contained in student records shall be classified as follows:
a. Permanent information, which includes verified information of clear educational importance, containing the following: student’s full name and any known changes thereto due to marriage or adoption; authenticated birthdate, place of birth, race, and sex; last known address of student; names of student’s parents; name and location of last school attended; number of days present and absent; date enrolled; date withdrawn; courses taken and record of achievement; and date of graduation or program achievement.
b. Temporary information, which includes verified information subject to change, containing, but not limited to, the following: health information, standardized test scores, honors and activities, personal attributes, work experience, teacher and counselor comments, and special reports.
(b) All private schools that become defunct shall transfer all permanent information contained in student records to the district school superintendent of the public school district in which the private school was located; or, if the private school is a member of a private school system or association, such school may transfer such records to the principal office of such system or association, which shall constitute full compliance with this subsection. In the event that such private school system or association becomes defunct, it shall transfer all the permanent information contained in its files to the district school superintendent of the public school district in which the private school was located.
(c) All private schools that become defunct shall notify the Department of Education Office of Private Schools and Home Education Programs of the date of transfer of student records, the location of storage, the custodian of such records, and the number of records to be stored. The department shall act as a clearinghouse and maintain a registry of such transfers of student records.
(d) It is not the intent of the Legislature to limit or restrict the use or possession of any student records while a school is operational, but to facilitate access to academic records by former students seeking to continue their education or training after a private school has become defunct.
(4) ATTENDANCE RECORDS AND REPORTS.All officials, teachers, and other employees in parochial, religious, denominational, and private schools shall keep and prepare records in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.23(2).
(5) SCHOOL-ENTRY HEALTH EXAMINATIONS.The governing authority of each private school shall require students to present a certification of a school-entry health examination in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.22(1) and (2).
(6) IMMUNIZATIONS.The governing authority of each private school shall:
(a) Require students to present a certification of immunization in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.22(3)-(11).
(b) Provide information on the importance of student health and available immunizations and vaccinations, including, but not limited to:
1. A recommended immunization schedule in accordance with United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.
2. Detailed information regarding the causes, symptoms, and transmission of meningococcal disease and the availability, effectiveness, known contraindications, and appropriate age for the administration of any required or recommended vaccine against meningococcal disease, in accordance with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
(7) ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS.Attendance of a student at a private, parochial, religious, or denominational school satisfies the attendance requirements of ss. 1003.01(13) and 1003.21(1).
(8) ATHLETIC COMPETITION.A private school may participate in athletic competition with a public high school in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.20(1).
(9) RECEIPT OF EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS.The Department of Education may disseminate educational materials and sell copies for educational use to private schools pursuant to s. 1006.39.
(10) INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS.District school boards may dispose of instructional materials when they become unserviceable or surplus or are no longer on state contract by giving them to a private school in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.41.
(11) DIAGNOSTIC AND RESOURCE CENTERS.Diagnostic and resource centers may provide testing and evaluation services to private school students in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.03(3).
(12) EXCEPTIONAL EDUCATION SERVICES.District school boards may provide instruction for an appropriate program of special instruction, facilities, and services for exceptional students through contractual arrangements with approved private schools in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.57.
(13) PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM.An organization of private schools that has no fewer than 10 member schools in this state may develop a professional development system to be filed with the Department of Education in accordance with the provisions of s. 1012.98(6).
(14) BUS DRIVER TRAINING.Private school bus drivers may participate in a district school board’s bus driver training program, if the district school board makes the program available pursuant to s. 1012.45(4).
(15) POOL PURCHASE OF SCHOOL BUSES.
(a) Florida private schools that demonstrate a racially nondiscriminatory student admission policy may purchase school buses from the state pool purchase program as authorized in s. 1006.27(1), if the private school meets the following conditions:
1. Students in one or more grades, kindergarten through grade 12, are provided an education program by the school and the school has submitted the information required pursuant to this section and the most recent school survey required in subsection (2).
2. All conditions of the contracts for purchasing school buses between the Department of Education and the companies involved, including bus specifications, ordering deadlines, delivery period and procedures, and payment requirements, shall be met.
3. Purchase orders shall be made out to the appropriate company or companies involved and shall be accompanied by a certified check in the amount of 25 percent of the total cost of the bus or buses as a good faith deposit that the bus or buses will be purchased.
4. The remainder of the total cost shall be paid upon delivery of the bus or buses to the representative of the private school receiving the bus or buses, or shall be paid when the company informs the purchaser that the buses are ready for delivery if the purchaser has specified that buses are to be picked up at the company’s location. If the chassis and the body are purchased from different companies, the remainder of the chassis’ total cost shall be payable upon delivery of the chassis to the body manufacturer.
5. If the private school does not meet the obligation stated in subparagraph 4. within 30 calendar days after notice that the bus is ready for delivery or that the chassis has been delivered to the body manufacturer, the selling company may retain 15 percent of the amount being held by the company as a good faith deposit, and all obligations to the private school may be canceled. When the 15 percent is retained, the company shall return 10 percent of the good faith deposit to the nonpublic school within 15 days of cancellation of the companies’ objection.
(b) Any bus purchased under this section may not be sold, if still titled as a motor vehicle, within 5 calendar years of the date of the initial Florida title being issued, unless the following conditions are met:
1. The bus or buses may be sold only to a Florida public school district or Florida private school. Any such sale during the first 5 years shall be documented to the Department of Education within 15 days after the sale.
2. The bus or buses shall be advertised by the private school in one major newspaper located in each of the five regions of the state for 3 consecutive days and a copy of the advertisement and the name of each newspaper shall be sent to the Department of Education before the first day of advertising the bus or buses for sale.
3. The bus may not be sold at a profit. The bus shall be depreciated at a rate of 10 percent per calendar year, with the first year starting on the date of issue of the initial title in this state.
4. Notwithstanding any other provisions of law and rule regarding purchase of used school buses, the bus may be sold to a public school district if the conditions of subparagraph 3. are met.
5. Any public school district or private school purchasing a bus under the conditions of this subsection must accept the obligations of this subsection, and such shall be entered in the sales contract.
(c) Any private school, including the owner or corporation purchasing a bus or buses under the conditions of this section, that does not comply with all the conditions of this section shall not be eligible for future purchases of a school bus under this section.
(d) Any private school interested in purchasing a bus under this section shall notify, in writing, the Department of Education. The Department of Education shall send the school the appropriate forms, instructions, and price quotations.
(e) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, no school bus manufacturer, distributor, or dealer shall be required to violate any dealer contract or franchise agreement entered into before the effective date of this section regarding the sale of its buses.
(f) The State Board of Education may adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536 and 120.54 necessary to implement this section, maintain the integrity of the school bus pool purchase program, and ensure the best and lowest price for purchasing school buses by the public school districts.
History.s. 107, ch. 2002-387; s. 33, ch. 2003-391; s. 36, ch. 2004-41; s. 80, ch. 2004-357; s. 2, ch. 2006-246.
1002.421 Accountability of private schools participating in state school choice scholarship programs.
1(1) A Florida private school participating in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program established pursuant to s. 1002.395 or an educational scholarship program established pursuant to this chapter must comply with all requirements of this section in addition to private school requirements outlined in s. 1002.42, specific requirements identified within respective scholarship program laws, and other provisions of Florida law that apply to private schools.
(2) A private school participating in a scholarship program must be a Florida private school as defined in s. 1002.01(2), must be registered in accordance with s. 1002.42, and must:
(a) Comply with the antidiscrimination provisions of 42 U.S.C. s. 2000d.
(b) Notify the department of its intent to participate in a scholarship program.
(c) Notify the department of any change in the school’s name, school director, mailing address, or physical location within 15 days after the change.
(d) Complete student enrollment and attendance verification requirements, including use of an online attendance verification form, prior to scholarship payment.
(e) Annually complete and submit to the department a notarized scholarship compliance statement certifying that all school employees and contracted personnel with direct student contact have undergone background screening pursuant to s. 943.0542.
(f) Demonstrate fiscal soundness and accountability by:
1. Being in operation for at least 3 school years or obtaining a surety bond or letter of credit for the amount equal to the scholarship funds for any quarter and filing the surety bond or letter of credit with the department.
2. Requiring the parent of each scholarship student to personally restrictively endorse the scholarship warrant to the school. The school may not act as attorney in fact for the parent of a scholarship student under the authority of a power of attorney executed by such parent, or under any other authority, to endorse scholarship warrants on behalf of such parent.
(g) Meet applicable state and local health, safety, and welfare laws, codes, and rules, including:
1. Firesafety.
2. Building safety.
(h) Employ or contract with teachers who hold baccalaureate or higher degrees, have at least 3 years of teaching experience in public or private schools, or have special skills, knowledge, or expertise that qualifies them to provide instruction in subjects taught.
(i) Require each employee and contracted personnel with direct student contact, upon employment or engagement to provide services, to undergo a state and national background screening, pursuant to s. 943.0542, by electronically filing with the Department of Law Enforcement a complete set of fingerprints taken by an authorized law enforcement agency or an employee of the private school, a school district, or a private company who is trained to take fingerprints and deny employment to or terminate an employee if he or she fails to meet the screening standards under s. 435.04. Results of the screening shall be provided to the participating private school. For purposes of this paragraph:
1. An “employee or contracted personnel with direct student contact” means any employee or contracted personnel who has unsupervised access to a scholarship student for whom the private school is responsible.
2. The costs of fingerprinting and the background check shall not be borne by the state.
3. Continued employment of an employee or contracted personnel after notification that he or she has failed the background screening under this paragraph shall cause a private school to be ineligible for participation in a scholarship program.
4. An employee or contracted personnel holding a valid Florida teaching certificate who has been fingerprinted pursuant to s. 1012.32 is not required to comply with the provisions of this paragraph.
(3)(a) Beginning July 1, 2007, all fingerprints submitted to the Department of Law Enforcement as required by this section shall be retained by the Department of Law Enforcement in a manner provided by rule and entered in the statewide automated fingerprint identification system authorized by s. 943.05(2)(b). Such fingerprints shall thereafter be available for all purposes and uses authorized for arrest fingerprint cards entered in the statewide automated fingerprint identification system pursuant to s. 943.051.
(b) Beginning July 1, 2007, the Department of Law Enforcement shall search all arrest fingerprint cards received under s. 943.051 against the fingerprints retained in the statewide automated fingerprint identification system under paragraph (a). Any arrest record that is identified with the retained fingerprints of a person subject to the background screening under this section shall be reported to the employing school with which the person is affiliated. Each private school participating in a scholarship program is required to participate in this search process by informing the Department of Law Enforcement of any change in the employment or contractual status of its personnel whose fingerprints are retained under paragraph (a). The Department of Law Enforcement shall adopt a rule setting the amount of the annual fee to be imposed upon each private school for performing these searches and establishing the procedures for the retention of private school employee and contracted personnel fingerprints and the dissemination of search results. The fee may be borne by the private school or the person fingerprinted.
(c) Employees and contracted personnel whose fingerprints are not retained by the Department of Law Enforcement under paragraphs (a) and (b) are required to be refingerprinted and must meet state and national background screening requirements upon reemployment or reengagement to provide services in order to comply with the requirements of this section.
(d) Every 5 years following employment or engagement to provide services with a private school, employees or contracted personnel required to be screened under this section must meet screening standards under s. 435.04, at which time the private school shall request the Department of Law Enforcement to forward the fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for national processing. If the fingerprints of employees or contracted personnel are not retained by the Department of Law Enforcement under paragraph (a), employees and contracted personnel must electronically file a complete set of fingerprints with the Department of Law Enforcement. Upon submission of fingerprints for this purpose, the private school shall request that the Department of Law Enforcement forward the fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for national processing, and the fingerprints shall be retained by the Department of Law Enforcement under paragraph (a).
1(4) A private school that accepts scholarship students under s. 1002.39 or s. 1002.395 must:
(a) Disqualify instructional personnel and school administrators, as defined in s. 1012.01, from employment in any position that requires direct contact with students if the personnel or administrators are ineligible for such employment under s. 1012.315.
(b) Adopt policies establishing standards of ethical conduct for instructional personnel and school administrators. The policies must require all instructional personnel and school administrators, as defined in s. 1012.01, to complete training on the standards; establish the duty of instructional personnel and school administrators to report, and procedures for reporting, alleged misconduct by other instructional personnel and school administrators which affects the health, safety, or welfare of a student; and include an explanation of the liability protections provided under ss. 39.203 and 768.095. A private school, or any of its employees, may not enter into a confidentiality agreement regarding terminated or dismissed instructional personnel or school administrators, or personnel or administrators who resign in lieu of termination, based in whole or in part on misconduct that affects the health, safety, or welfare of a student, and may not provide the instructional personnel or school administrators with employment references or discuss the personnel’s or administrators’ performance with prospective employers in another educational setting, without disclosing the personnel’s or administrators’ misconduct. Any part of an agreement or contract that has the purpose or effect of concealing misconduct by instructional personnel or school administrators which affects the health, safety, or welfare of a student is void, is contrary to public policy, and may not be enforced.
(c) Before employing instructional personnel or school administrators in any position that requires direct contact with students, conduct employment history checks of each of the personnel’s or administrators’ previous employers, screen the personnel or administrators through use of the educator screening tools described in s. 1001.10(5), and document the findings. If unable to contact a previous employer, the private school must document efforts to contact the employer.

The department shall suspend the payment of funds under ss. 1002.39 and 1002.395 to a private school that knowingly fails to comply with this subsection, and shall prohibit the school from enrolling new scholarship students, for 1 fiscal year and until the school complies.

(5) The inability of a private school to meet the requirements of this section shall constitute a basis for the ineligibility of the private school to participate in a scholarship program as determined by the department.
(6) The inclusion of eligible private schools within options available to Florida public school students does not expand the regulatory authority of the state, its officers, or any school district to impose any additional regulation of private schools beyond those reasonably necessary to enforce requirements expressly set forth in this section.
(7) The State Board of Education shall adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to administer this section.
History.s. 3, ch. 2006-75; s. 16, ch. 2008-108; s. 7, ch. 2009-108; s. 16, ch. 2010-24.
1Note.Section 20, ch. 2010-24, provides that “[t]he Department of Revenue is authorized and all conditions are deemed met, to adopt emergency rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54, Florida Statutes, to administer the provisions of this act. The emergency rules shall remain in effect for 6 months after the rules are adopted and the rules may be renewed during the pendency of procedures to adopt permanent rules addressing the subject of the emergency rules.”
1002.43 Private tutoring programs.
(1) Regular school attendance as defined in s. 1003.01(13) may be achieved by attendance in a private tutoring program if the person tutoring the student meets the following requirements:
(a) Holds a valid Florida certificate to teach the subjects or grades in which instruction is given.
(b) Keeps all records and makes all reports required by the state and district school board and makes regular reports on the attendance of students in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.23(2).
(c) Requires students to be in actual attendance for the minimum length of time prescribed by s. 1011.60(2).
(2) Private tutors shall keep and prepare records in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.23(2).
History.s. 108, ch. 2002-387; s. 37, ch. 2004-41.
1002.45 Virtual instruction programs.
(1) PROGRAM.
(a) For purposes of this section, the term:
1. “Approved provider” means a provider that is approved by the Department of Education under subsection (2), the Florida Virtual School, a franchise of the Florida Virtual School, or a Florida College System institution.
2. “Virtual instruction program” means a program of instruction provided in an interactive learning environment created through technology in which students are separated from their teachers by time or space, or both.
(b)  Each school district that is eligible for the sparsity supplement pursuant to s. 1011.62(7) shall provide all enrolled public school students within its boundaries the option of participating in part-time and full-time virtual instruction programs. Each school district that is not eligible for the sparsity supplement shall provide at least three options for part-time and full-time virtual instruction. All school districts must provide parents with timely written notification of an open enrollment period for full-time students of at least 90 days that ends no later than 30 days prior to the first day of the school year. The purpose of the program is to make quality virtual instruction available to students using online and distance learning technology in the nontraditional classroom. A school district virtual instruction program shall provide the following:
1. Full-time virtual instruction for students enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12.
2.  Part-time virtual instruction for students enrolled in grades 9 through 12 courses that are measured pursuant to subparagraph (8)(a)2.
3. Full-time or part-time virtual instruction for students enrolled in dropout prevention and academic intervention programs under s. 1003.53, Department of Juvenile Justice education programs under s. 1003.52, core-curricula courses to meet class size requirements under s. 1003.03, or Florida College System institutions under this section.
(c) To provide students with the option of participating in virtual instruction programs as required by paragraph (b), a school district may:
1. Contract with the Florida Virtual School or establish a franchise of the Florida Virtual School for the provision of a program under paragraph (b). Using this option is subject to the requirements of this section and s. 1011.61(1)(c)1.b.(III) and (IV).
2. Contract with an approved provider under subsection (2) for the provision of a full-time program under subparagraph (b)1. or subparagraph (b)3. or a part-time program under subparagraph (b)2. or subparagraph (b)3.
3. Enter into an agreement with other school districts to allow the participation of its students in an approved virtual instruction program provided by the other school district. The agreement must indicate a process for the transfer of funds required by paragraph (7)(f).
4. Establish school district operated part-time or full-time kindergarten through grade 12 virtual instruction programs under paragraph (b) for students enrolled in the school district. A full-time program shall operate under its own Master School Identification Number.
5. Enter into an agreement with a virtual charter school authorized by the school district under s. 1002.33.

Contracts under subparagraph 1. or subparagraph 2. may include multidistrict contractual arrangements that may be executed by a regional consortium for its member districts. A multidistrict contractual arrangement or an agreement under subparagraph 3. is not subject to s. 1001.42(4)(d) and does not require the participating school districts to be contiguous. These arrangements may be used to fulfill the requirements of paragraph (b).

(d) A virtual charter school may provide full-time virtual instruction for students in kindergarten through grade 12 if the virtual charter school has a charter approved pursuant to s. 1002.33 authorizing full-time virtual instruction. A virtual charter school may:
1. Contract with the Florida Virtual School.
2. Contract with an approved provider under subsection (2).
3. Enter into an agreement with a school district to allow the participation of the virtual charter school’s students in the school district’s virtual instruction program. The agreement must indicate a process for reporting of student enrollment and the transfer of funds required by paragraph (7)(f).
1(e)1. Each school district shall provide to the department by October 1, 2011, and by each October 1 thereafter, a copy of each contract and the amounts paid per unweighted full-time equivalent student for services procured pursuant to paragraph (c).
2. Each school district shall expend the difference in funds provided for a student participating in the school district virtual instruction program pursuant to subsection (7) and the price paid for contracted services procured pursuant to paragraph (c) for the district’s local instructional improvement system pursuant to s. 1006.281 or other technological tools that are required to access electronic and digital instructional materials.
(2) PROVIDER QUALIFICATIONS.
(a) The department shall annually publish online a list of providers approved to offer virtual instruction programs. To be approved by the department, a provider must document that it:
1. Is nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and operations;
2. Complies with the antidiscrimination provisions of s. 1000.05;
3. Locates an administrative office or offices in this state, requires its administrative staff to be state residents, requires all instructional staff to be Florida-certified teachers under chapter 1012, and conducts background screenings for all employees or contracted personnel, as required by s. 1012.32, using state and national criminal history records;
4. Possesses prior, successful experience offering online courses to elementary, middle, or high school students as demonstrated by quantified student learning gains in each subject area and grade level provided for consideration as an instructional program option;
5. Is accredited by a regional accrediting association as defined by State Board of Education rule;
6. Ensures instructional and curricular quality through a detailed curriculum and student performance accountability plan that addresses every subject and grade level it intends to provide through contract with the school district, including:
a. Courses and programs that meet the standards of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning and the Southern Regional Education Board.
b. Instructional content and services that align with, and measure student attainment of, student proficiency in the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.
c. Mechanisms that determine and ensure that a student has satisfied requirements for grade level promotion and high school graduation with a standard diploma, as appropriate;
7. Publishes for the general public, in accordance with disclosure requirements adopted in rule by the State Board of Education, as part of its application as a provider and in all contracts negotiated pursuant to this section:
a. Information and data about the curriculum of each full-time and part-time program.
b. School policies and procedures.
c. Certification status and physical location of all administrative and instructional personnel.
d. Hours and times of availability of instructional personnel.
e. Student-teacher ratios.
f. Student completion and promotion rates.
g. Student, educator, and school performance accountability outcomes; and
8. If the provider is a Florida College System institution, employs instructors who meet the certification requirements for instructional staff under chapter 1012.
(b) An approved provider shall retain its approved status during the 3 school years after the date of the department’s approval under paragraph (a) as long as the provider continues to comply with all requirements of this section. However, each provider approved by the department for the 2011-2012 school year must reapply for approval to provide a part-time program for students in grades 9 through 12.
(3)  VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS.Each virtual instruction program under this section must:
(a) Align virtual course curriculum and course content to the Sunshine State Standards under s. 1003.41.
(b) Offer instruction that is designed to enable a student to gain proficiency in each virtually delivered course of study.
(c) Provide each student enrolled in the program with all the necessary instructional materials.
(d) Provide each full-time student enrolled in the program who qualifies for free or reduced-price school lunches under the National School Lunch Act, or who is on the direct certification list, and who does not have a computer or Internet access in his or her home with:
1. All equipment necessary for participants in the virtual instruction program, including, but not limited to, a computer, computer monitor, and printer, if a printer is necessary to participate in the program; and
2. Access to or reimbursement for all Internet services necessary for online delivery of instruction.
(e) Not require tuition or student registration fees.
(4) CONTRACT REQUIREMENTS.Each contract with an approved provider must at minimum:
(a) Set forth a detailed curriculum plan that illustrates how students will be provided services and be measured for attainment of proficiency in the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards for each grade level and subject.
(b) Provide a method for determining that a student has satisfied the requirements for graduation in s. 1003.428, s. 1003.429, or s. 1003.43 if the contract is for the provision of a full-time virtual instruction program to students in grades 9 through 12.
(c) Specify a method for resolving conflicts among the parties.
(d) Specify authorized reasons for termination of the contract.
(e) Require the approved provider to be responsible for all debts of the virtual instruction program if the contract is not renewed or is terminated.
(f) Require the approved provider to comply with all requirements of this section.
(5) STUDENT ELIGIBILITY.A student may enroll in a virtual instruction program provided by the school district or by a virtual charter school operated in the district in which he or she resides if the student meets eligibility requirements for virtual instruction pursuant to s. 1002.455.
(6) STUDENT PARTICIPATION REQUIREMENTS.Each student enrolled in a virtual instruction program or virtual charter school must:
(a) Comply with the compulsory attendance requirements of s. 1003.21. Student attendance must be verified by the school district.
(b) Take state assessment tests within the school district in which such student resides, which must provide the student with access to the district’s testing facilities.
(7) VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION PROGRAM AND VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOL FUNDING.
(a) Students enrolled in a virtual instruction program or a virtual charter school shall be funded through the Florida Education Finance Program as provided in the General Appropriations Act. However, such funds may not be provided for the purpose of fulfilling the class size requirements in ss. 1003.03 and 1011.685.
(b) For purposes of a virtual instruction program or a virtual charter school, “full-time equivalent student” has the same meaning as provided in s. 1011.61(1)(c)1.b.(III) or (IV).
(c) For a student enrolled part-time in a grades 6 through 12 program, a “full-time equivalent student” has the same meaning as provided in s. 1011.61(1)(c)1.b.(IV).
(d) A student may not be reported as more than 1.0 full-time equivalent student in any given school year.
(e) Beginning in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, when s. 1008.22(3)(g) is implemented, the reported full-time equivalent students and associated funding of students enrolled in courses requiring passage of an end-of-course assessment shall be adjusted after the student completes the end-of-course assessment.
(f) The school district in which the student resides shall report full-time equivalent students for a virtual instruction program or a virtual charter school to the department in a manner prescribed by the department, and funding shall be provided through the Florida Education Finance Program. Funds received by the school district of residence for a student in a virtual instruction program provided by another school district under this section shall be transferred to the school district providing the virtual instruction program.
(g) A Florida College System institution provider may not report students who are served in a virtual instruction program for funding under the Florida College System Program Fund.
(8) ASSESSMENT AND ACCOUNTABILITY.
(a) Each approved provider contracted under this section must:
1. Participate in the statewide assessment program under s. 1008.22 and in the state’s education performance accountability system under s. 1008.31.
2. Receive a school grade under s. 1008.34 or a school improvement rating under s. 1008.341, as applicable. The school grade or school improvement rating received by each approved provider shall be based upon the aggregated assessment scores of all students served by the provider statewide. The department shall publish the school grade or school improvement rating received by each approved provider on its Internet website. The department shall develop an evaluation method for providers of part-time programs which includes the percentage of students making learning gains, the percentage of students successfully passing any required end-of-course assessment, the percentage of students taking Advanced Placement examinations, and the percentage of students scoring 3 or higher on an Advanced Placement examination.
(b) The performance of part-time students in grades 9 through 12 shall not be included for purposes of school grades or school improvement ratings under subparagraph (a)2.; however, their performance shall be included for school grading or school improvement rating purposes by the nonvirtual school providing the student’s primary instruction.
(c) An approved provider that receives a school grade of “D” or “F” under s. 1008.34 or a school improvement rating of “Declining” under s. 1008.341 must file a school improvement plan with the department for consultation to determine the causes for low performance and to develop a plan for correction and improvement.
(d) An approved provider’s contract must be terminated if the provider receives a school grade of “D” or “F” under s. 1008.34 or a school improvement rating of “Declining” under s. 1008.341 for 2 years during any consecutive 4-year period or has violated any qualification requirement pursuant to subsection (2). A provider that has a contract terminated under this paragraph may not be an approved provider for a period of at least 1 year after the date upon which the contract was terminated and until the department determines that the provider is in compliance with subsection (2) and has corrected each cause of the provider’s low performance.
(9) EXCEPTIONS.A provider of digital or online content or curriculum that is used to supplement the instruction of students who are not enrolled in a virtual instruction program under this section is not required to meet the requirements of this section.
(10) MARKETING.Each school district shall provide information to parents and students about the parent’s and student’s right to participate in a virtual instruction program under this section and in courses offered by the Florida Virtual School under s. 1002.37.
(11) RULES.The State Board of Education shall adopt rules necessary to administer this section, including rules that prescribe disclosure requirements under subsection (2) and school district reporting requirements under subsection (7).
History.s. 4, ch. 2008-147; s. 11, ch. 2009-59; s. 9, ch. 2010-154; s. 30, ch. 2011-5; s. 10, ch. 2011-55; s. 4, ch. 2011-137; s. 9, ch. 2011-175.
1Note.As created by s. 10, ch. 2011-55. For a description of multiple acts in the same session affecting a statutory provision, see preface to the Florida Statutes, “Statutory Construction.” Paragraph (1)(e) was also created by s. 4, ch. 2011-137, and that version reads:

(e) Each school district shall:

1. Provide to the department by October 1, 2011, and by each October 1 thereafter, a copy of each contract and the amounts paid per unweighted full-time equivalent student for services procured pursuant to subparagraphs (c)1. and 2.

2. Expend the difference in funds provided for a student participating in the school district virtual instruction program pursuant to subsection (7) and the price paid for contracted services procured pursuant to subparagraphs (c)1. and 2. for the district’s local instructional improvement system pursuant to s. 1006.281 or other technological tools that are required to access electronic and digital instructional materials.

3. At the end of each fiscal year, but no later than September 1, report to the department an itemized list of the technological tools purchased with these funds.

1002.455 Student eligibility for K-12 virtual instruction.
(1) A student may participate in virtual instruction in the school district in which he or she resides if the student meets the eligibility criteria in subsection (2).
(2) A student is eligible to participate in virtual instruction if:
(a) The student spent the prior school year in attendance at a public school in the state and was enrolled and reported by the school district for funding during October and February for purposes of the Florida Education Finance Program surveys;
(b) The student is a dependent child of a member of the United States Armed Forces who was transferred within the last 12 months to this state from another state or from a foreign country pursuant to a permanent change of station order;
(c) The student was enrolled during the prior school year in a virtual instruction program under s. 1002.45, the K-8 Virtual School Program under s. 1002.415, or a full-time Florida Virtual School program under s. 1002.37(8)(a);
(d) The student has a sibling who is currently enrolled in a virtual instruction program and the sibling was enrolled in that program at the end of the prior school year; or
(e) The student is eligible to enter kindergarten or first grade.
(3) The virtual instruction options for which this eligibility section applies include:
(a) School district operated part-time or full-time kindergarten through grade 12 virtual instruction programs under s. 1002.45(1)(b) for students enrolled in the school district.
(b) Full-time virtual charter school instruction authorized under s. 1002.33.
(c) Courses delivered in the traditional school setting by personnel providing direct instruction through a virtual environment or though a blended virtual and physical environment pursuant to s. 1003.498 and as authorized pursuant to s. 1002.321(4)(e).
(d) Virtual courses offered in the course code directory to students within the school district or to students in other school districts throughout the state pursuant to s. 1003.498.
History.s. 5, ch. 2011-137.
VOLUNTARY PREKINDERGARTEN
EDUCATION PROGRAM
1002.51 Definitions.
1002.53 Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program; eligibility and enrollment.
1002.55 School-year prekindergarten program delivered by private prekindergarten providers.
1002.57 Prekindergarten director credential.
1002.59 Emergent literacy training courses.
1002.61 Summer prekindergarten program delivered by public schools and private prekindergarten providers.
1002.63 School-year prekindergarten program delivered by public schools.
1002.65 Professional credentials of prekindergarten instructors; aspirational goals; legislative intent.
1002.66 Specialized instructional services for children with disabilities.
1002.67 Performance standards; curricula and accountability.
1002.69 Statewide kindergarten screening; kindergarten readiness rates; state-approved prekindergarten enrollment screening; good cause exemption.
1002.71 Funding; financial and attendance reporting.
1002.72 Records of children in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program.
1002.73 Department of Education; powers and duties; accountability requirements.
1002.75 Office of Early Learning; powers and duties; operational requirements.
1002.77 Florida Early Learning Advisory Council.
1002.79 Rulemaking authority.
1002.51 Definitions.As used in this part, the term:
(1) “Department” means the Department of Education.
(2) “Disability” means any disability listed in the definition of exceptional student in s. 1003.01.
(3) “Specialized instructional services provider” means a provider delivering specialized instructional services under s. 1002.66.
(4) “Early learning coalition” or “coalition” means an early learning coalition created under s. 411.01.
(5) “Prekindergarten director” means an onsite person ultimately responsible for the overall operation of a private prekindergarten provider or, alternatively, of the provider’s prekindergarten program, regardless of whether the person is the owner of the provider.
(6) “Prekindergarten instructor” means a teacher or child care personnel as defined in s. 402.302 who provide instruction to students in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program.
(7) “Private prekindergarten provider” means a provider other than a public school which is eligible to deliver the school-year prekindergarten program under s. 1002.55 or the summer prekindergarten program under s. 1002.61.
History.s. 1, ch. 2004-484; s. 2, ch. 2010-227.
1002.53 Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program; eligibility and enrollment.
(1)  The Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program is created and shall be organized, designed, and delivered in accordance with s. 1(b) and (c), Art. IX of the State Constitution.
(2) Each child who resides in this state who will have attained the age of 4 years on or before September 1 of the school year is eligible for the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program during that school year. The child remains eligible until the beginning of the school year for which the child is eligible for admission to kindergarten in a public school under s. 1003.21(1)(a)2. or until the child is admitted to kindergarten, whichever occurs first.
(3) The parent of each child eligible under subsection (2) may enroll the child in one of the following programs:
(a) A school-year prekindergarten program delivered by a private prekindergarten provider under s. 1002.55;
(b) A summer prekindergarten program delivered by a public school or private prekindergarten provider under s. 1002.61;
(c) A school-year prekindergarten program delivered by a public school; or
(d) A specialized instructional services program for children who have disabilities, if the child has been evaluated and determined as eligible, has a current individual educational plan developed by the local school board, and is eligible for the program under s. 1002.66.

Except as provided in s. 1002.71(4), a child may not enroll in more than one of these programs.

(4)(a) Each parent enrolling a child in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program must complete and submit an application to the early learning coalition through the single point of entry established under s. 411.01.
(b) The application must be submitted on forms prescribed by the Office of Early Learning and must be accompanied by a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate. The forms must include a certification, in substantially the form provided in s. 1002.71(6)(b)2., that the parent chooses the private prekindergarten provider or public school in accordance with this section and directs that payments for the program be made to the provider or school. The Office of Early Learning may authorize alternative methods for submitting proof of the child’s age in lieu of a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate.
(c) Each early learning coalition shall coordinate with each of the school districts within the coalition’s county or multicounty region in the development of procedures for enrolling children in prekindergarten programs delivered by public schools.
(5) The early learning coalition shall provide each parent enrolling a child in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program with a profile of every private prekindergarten provider and public school delivering the program within the county where the child is being enrolled. The profiles shall be provided to parents in a format prescribed by the Office of Early Learning. The profiles must include, at a minimum, the following information about each provider and school:
(a) The provider’s or school’s services, curriculum, instructor credentials, and instructor-to-student ratio; and
(b) The provider’s or school’s kindergarten readiness rate calculated in accordance with s. 1002.69, based upon the most recent available results of the statewide kindergarten screening.
(6)(a) A parent may enroll his or her child with any private prekindergarten provider that is eligible to deliver the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program under this part; however, the provider may determine whether to admit any child. An early learning coalition may not limit the number of students admitted by any private prekindergarten provider for enrollment in the program. However, this paragraph does not authorize an early learning coalition to allow a provider to exceed any staff-to-children ratio, square footage per child, or other requirement imposed under ss. 402.301-402.319 as a result of admissions in the prekindergarten program.
(b) A parent may enroll his or her child with any public school within the school district which is eligible to deliver the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program under this part, subject to available space. Each school district may limit the number of students admitted by any public school for enrollment in the program; however, the school district must provide for the admission of every eligible child within the district whose parent enrolls the child in a summer prekindergarten program delivered by a public school under s. 1002.61.
(c) Each private prekindergarten provider and public school must comply with the antidiscrimination requirements of 42 U.S.C. s. 2000d, regardless of whether the provider or school receives federal financial assistance. A private prekindergarten provider or public school may not discriminate against a parent or child, including the refusal to admit a child for enrollment in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program, in violation of these antidiscrimination requirements.
History.s. 1, ch. 2004-484; s. 4, ch. 2009-3; s. 26, ch. 2010-210; s. 3, ch. 2010-227; s. 449, ch. 2011-142.
1002.55 School-year prekindergarten program delivered by private prekindergarten providers.
(1) Each early learning coalition shall administer the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program at the county or regional level for students enrolled under s. 1002.53(3)(a) in a school-year prekindergarten program delivered by a private prekindergarten provider.
(2) Each school-year prekindergarten program delivered by a private prekindergarten provider must comprise at least 540 instructional hours.
(3) To be eligible to deliver the prekindergarten program, a private prekindergarten provider must meet each of the following requirements:
(a) The private prekindergarten provider must be a child care facility licensed under s. 402.305, family day care home licensed under s. 402.313, large family child care home licensed under s. 402.3131, nonpublic school exempt from licensure under s. 402.3025(2), or faith-based child care provider exempt from licensure under s. 402.316.
(b) The private prekindergarten provider must:
1. Be accredited by an accrediting association that is a member of the National Council for Private School Accreditation, or the Florida Association of Academic Nonpublic Schools, or be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or Western Association of Colleges and Schools, or North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, or Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, or New England Association of Colleges and Schools; and have written accreditation standards that meet or exceed the state’s licensing requirements under s. 402.305, s. 402.313, or s. 402.3131 and require at least one onsite visit to the provider or school before accreditation is granted;
2. Hold a current Gold Seal Quality Care designation under s. 402.281; or
3. Be licensed under s. 402.305, s. 402.313, or s. 402.3131 and demonstrate, before delivering the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program, as verified by the early learning coalition, that the provider meets each of the requirements of the program under this part, including, but not limited to, the requirements for credentials and background screenings of prekindergarten instructors under paragraphs (c) and (d), minimum and maximum class sizes under paragraph (f), prekindergarten director credentials under paragraph (g), and a developmentally appropriate curriculum under s. 1002.67(2)(b).
(c) The private prekindergarten provider must have, for each prekindergarten class of 11 children or fewer, at least one prekindergarten instructor who meets each of the following requirements:
1. The prekindergarten instructor must hold, at a minimum, one of the following credentials:
a. A child development associate credential issued by the National Credentialing Program of the Council for Professional Recognition; or
b. A credential approved by the Department of Children and Family Services as being equivalent to or greater than the credential described in sub-subparagraph a.

The Department of Children and Family Services may adopt rules under ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 which provide criteria and procedures for approving equivalent credentials under sub-subparagraph b.

2. The prekindergarten instructor must successfully complete an emergent literacy training course approved by the department as meeting or exceeding the minimum standards adopted under s. 1002.59. This subparagraph does not apply to a prekindergarten instructor who successfully completes approved training in early literacy and language development under s. 402.305(2)(d)5., s. 402.313(6), or s. 402.3131(5) before the establishment of one or more emergent literacy training courses under s. 1002.59 or April 1, 2005, whichever occurs later.
(d) Each prekindergarten instructor employed by the private prekindergarten provider must be of good moral character, must be screened using the level 2 screening standards in s. 435.04 before employment and rescreened at least once every 5 years, must be denied employment or terminated if required under s. 435.06, and must not be ineligible to teach in a public school because his or her educator certificate is suspended or revoked.
(e) A private prekindergarten provider may assign a substitute instructor to temporarily replace a credentialed instructor if the credentialed instructor assigned to a prekindergarten class is absent, as long as the substitute instructor is of good moral character and has been screened before employment in accordance with level 2 background screening requirements in chapter 435. The Office of Early Learning shall adopt rules to implement this paragraph which shall include required qualifications of substitute instructors and the circumstances and time limits for which a private prekindergarten provider may assign a substitute instructor.
(f) Each of the private prekindergarten provider’s prekindergarten classes must be composed of at least 4 students but may not exceed 20 students. In order to protect the health and safety of students, each private prekindergarten provider must also provide appropriate adult supervision for students at all times and, for each prekindergarten class composed of 12 or more students, must have, in addition to a prekindergarten instructor who meets the requirements of paragraph (c), at least one adult prekindergarten instructor who is not required to meet those requirements but who must meet each requirement of paragraph (d). This paragraph does not supersede any requirement imposed on a provider under ss. 402.301-402.319.
(g) Before the beginning of the 2006-2007 school year, the private prekindergarten provider must have a prekindergarten director who has a prekindergarten director credential that is approved by the department as meeting or exceeding the minimum standards adopted under s. 1002.57. Successful completion of a child care facility director credential under s. 402.305(2)(f) before the establishment of the prekindergarten director credential under s. 1002.57 or July 1, 2006, whichever occurs later, satisfies the requirement for a prekindergarten director credential under this paragraph.
(h) The private prekindergarten provider must register with the early learning coalition on forms prescribed by the Office of Early Learning.
(i) The private prekindergarten provider must deliver the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program in accordance with this part.
(4) A prekindergarten instructor, in lieu of the minimum credentials and courses required under paragraph (3)(c), may hold one of the following educational credentials:
(a) A bachelor’s or higher degree in early childhood education, prekindergarten or primary education, preschool education, or family and consumer science;
(b) A bachelor’s or higher degree in elementary education, if the prekindergarten instructor has been certified to teach children any age from birth through 6th grade, regardless of whether the instructor’s educator certificate is current, and if the instructor is not ineligible to teach in a public school because his or her educator certificate is suspended or revoked;
(c) An associate’s or higher degree in child development;
(d) An associate’s or higher degree in an unrelated field, at least 6 credit hours in early childhood education or child development, and at least 480 hours of experience in teaching or providing child care services for children any age from birth through 8 years of age; or
(e) An educational credential approved by the department as being equivalent to or greater than an educational credential described in this subsection. The department may adopt criteria and procedures for approving equivalent educational credentials under this paragraph.
(5) Notwithstanding paragraph (3)(b), a private prekindergarten provider may not participate in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program if the provider has child disciplinary policies that do not prohibit children from being subjected to discipline that is severe, humiliating, frightening, or associated with food, rest, toileting, spanking, or any other form of physical punishment as provided in s. 402.305(12).
History.s. 1, ch. 2004-484; s. 5, ch. 2008-196; s. 27, ch. 2010-210; s. 11, ch. 2011-55; s. 450, ch. 2011-142.
1002.57 Prekindergarten director credential.
(1) By July 1, 2006, the department shall adopt minimum standards for a credential for prekindergarten directors of private prekindergarten providers delivering the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program. The credential must encompass requirements for education and onsite experience.
(2) The educational requirements must include training in the following:
(a) Professionally accepted standards for prekindergarten programs, early learning, and strategies and techniques to address the age-appropriate progress of prekindergarten students in attaining the performance standards adopted by the department under s. 1002.67;
(b) Strategies that allow students with disabilities and other special needs to derive maximum benefit from the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program; and
(c) Program administration and operations, including management, organizational leadership, and financial and legal issues.
(3) The prekindergarten director credential must meet or exceed the requirements of the Department of Children and Family Services for the child care facility director credential under s. 402.305(2)(f), and successful completion of the prekindergarten director credential satisfies these requirements for the child care facility director credential.
(4) The department shall, to the maximum extent practicable, award credit to a person who successfully completes the child care facility director credential under s. 402.305(2)(f) for those requirements of the prekindergarten director credential which are duplicative of requirements for the child care facility director credential.
History.s. 1, ch. 2004-484.
1002.59 Emergent literacy training courses.By April 1, 2005, the department shall adopt minimum standards for one or more training courses in emergent literacy for prekindergarten instructors. Each course must comprise 5 clock hours and provide instruction in strategies and techniques to address the age-appropriate progress of prekindergarten students in developing emergent literacy skills, including oral communication, knowledge of print and letters, phonemic and phonological awareness, and vocabulary and comprehension development. Each course must also provide resources containing strategies that allow students with disabilities and other special needs to derive maximum benefit from the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program. Successful completion of an emergent literacy training course approved under this section satisfies requirements for approved training in early literacy and language development under ss. 402.305(2)(d)5., 402.313(6), and 402.3131(5).
History.s. 1, ch. 2004-484.
1002.61 Summer prekindergarten program delivered by public schools and private prekindergarten providers.
(1)(a) Each school district shall administer the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program at the district level for students enrolled under s. 1002.53(3)(b) in a summer prekindergarten program delivered by a public school.
(b) Each early learning coalition shall administer the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program at the county or regional level for students enrolled under s. 1002.53(3)(b) in a summer prekindergarten program delivered by a private prekindergarten provider.
(2) Each summer prekindergarten program delivered by a public school or private prekindergarten provider must:
(a) Comprise at least 300 instructional hours;
(b) Not begin earlier than May 1 of the school year; and
(c) Not deliver the program for a child earlier than the summer immediately before the school year for which the child is eligible for admission to kindergarten in a public school under s. 1003.21(1)(a)2.
(3)(a) Each district school board shall determine which public schools in the school district are eligible to deliver the summer prekindergarten program. The school district shall use educational facilities available in the public schools during the summer term for the summer prekindergarten program.
(b) Except as provided in this section, to be eligible to deliver the summer prekindergarten program, a private prekindergarten provider must meet each requirement in s. 1002.55.
(4) Notwithstanding ss. 1002.55(3)(c)1. and 1002.63(4), each public school and private prekindergarten provider must have, for each prekindergarten class, at least one prekindergarten instructor who:
(a) Is a certified teacher; or
(b) Holds one of the educational credentials specified in s. 1002.55(4)(a) or (b).

As used in this subsection, the term “certified teacher” means a teacher holding a valid Florida educator certificate under s. 1012.56 who has the qualifications required by the district school board to instruct students in the summer prekindergarten program. In selecting instructional staff for the summer prekindergarten program, each school district shall give priority to teachers who have experience or coursework in early childhood education.

(5) Each prekindergarten instructor employed by a public school or private prekindergarten provider delivering the summer prekindergarten program must be of good moral character, must be screened using the level 2 screening standards in s. 435.04 before employment and rescreened at least once every 5 years, must be denied employment or terminated if required under s. 435.06, and must not be ineligible to teach in a public school because his or her educator certificate is suspended or revoked. This subsection does not supersede employment requirements for instructional personnel in public schools which are more stringent than the requirements of this subsection.
(6) A public school or private prekindergarten provider may assign a substitute instructor to temporarily replace a credentialed instructor if the credentialed instructor assigned to a prekindergarten class is absent, as long as the substitute instructor is of good moral character and has been screened before employment in accordance with level 2 background screening requirements in chapter 435. This subsection does not supersede employment requirements for instructional personnel in public schools which are more stringent than the requirements of this subsection. The Office of Early Learning shall adopt rules to implement this subsection which shall include required qualifications of substitute instructors and the circumstances and time limits for which a public school or private prekindergarten provider may assign a substitute instructor.
(7) Notwithstanding ss. 1002.55(3)(f) and 1002.63(7), each prekindergarten class in the summer prekindergarten program, regardless of whether the class is a public school’s or private prekindergarten provider’s class, must be composed of at least 4 students but may not exceed 12 students beginning with the 2009 summer session. In order to protect the health and safety of students, each public school or private prekindergarten provider must also provide appropriate adult supervision for students at all times. This subsection does not supersede any requirement imposed on a provider under ss. 402.301-402.319.
(8) Each public school delivering the summer prekindergarten program must also:
(a) Register with the early learning coalition on forms prescribed by the Office of Early Learning; and
(b) Deliver the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program in accordance with this part.
History.s. 1, ch. 2004-484; s. 6, ch. 2008-196; s. 5, ch. 2009-3; s. 451, ch. 2011-142.
1002.63 School-year prekindergarten program delivered by public schools.
(1) Each school district may administer the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program at the district level for students enrolled under s. 1002.53(3)(c) in a school-year prekindergarten program delivered by a public school.
(2) Each school-year prekindergarten program delivered by a public school must comprise at least 540 instructional hours.
(3) The district school board of each school district shall determine which public schools in the district may deliver the prekindergarten program during the school year.
(4) Each public school must have, for each prekindergarten class, at least one prekindergarten instructor who meets each requirement in s. 1002.55(3)(c) for a prekindergarten instructor of a private prekindergarten provider.
(5) Each prekindergarten instructor employed by a public school delivering the school-year prekindergarten program must be of good moral character, must be screened using the level 2 screening standards in s. 435.04 before employment and rescreened at least once every 5 years, must be denied employment or terminated if required under s. 435.06, and must not be ineligible to teach in a public school because his or her educator certificate is suspended or revoked. This subsection does not supersede employment requirements for instructional personnel in public schools which are more stringent than the requirements of this subsection.
(6) A public school prekindergarten provider may assign a substitute instructor to temporarily replace a credentialed instructor if the credentialed instructor assigned to a prekindergarten class is absent, as long as the substitute instructor is of good moral character and has been screened before employment in accordance with level 2 background screening requirements in chapter 435. This subsection does not supersede employment requirements for instructional personnel in public schools which are more stringent than the requirements of this subsection. The Office of Early Learning shall adopt rules to implement this subsection which shall include required qualifications of substitute instructors and the circumstances and time limits for which a public school prekindergarten provider may assign a substitute instructor.
(7) Each prekindergarten class in a public school delivering the school-year prekindergarten program must be composed of at least 4 students but may not exceed 20 students. In order to protect the health and safety of students, each school must also provide appropriate adult supervision for students at all times and, for each prekindergarten class composed of 12 or more students, must have, in addition to a prekindergarten instructor who meets the requirements of s. 1002.55(3)(c), at least one adult prekindergarten instructor who is not required to meet those requirements but who must meet each requirement of subsection (5).
(8) Each public school delivering the school-year prekindergarten program must:
(a) Register with the early learning coalition on forms prescribed by the Office of Early Learning; and
(b) Deliver the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program in accordance with this part.
History.s. 1, ch. 2004-484; s. 7, ch. 2008-196; s. 6, ch. 2009-3; s. 12, ch. 2011-55; s. 452, ch. 2011-142.
1002.65 Professional credentials of prekindergarten instructors; aspirational goals; legislative intent.
(1) The Legislature recognizes that there is a strong relationship between the skills and preparation of prekindergarten instructors and the educational outcomes of students in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program.
(2) To improve these educational outcomes, the Legislature intends that all prekindergarten instructors will continue to improve their skills and preparation through education and training, so that the following aspirational goals will be achieved:
(a) By the 2010-2011 school year:
1. Each prekindergarten class will have at least one prekindergarten instructor who holds an associate’s or higher degree in the field of early childhood education or child development; and
2. For each prekindergarten class composed of 11 or more students, in addition to a prekindergarten instructor who meets the requirements of subparagraph 1., the class will have at least one prekindergarten instructor who meets the requirements of s. 1002.55(3)(c).
(b) By the 2013-2014 school year, each prekindergarten class will have at least one prekindergarten instructor who holds a bachelor’s or higher degree in the field of early childhood education or child development.
History.s. 1, ch. 2004-484.
1002.66 Specialized instructional services for children with disabilities.
(1) Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, a child who has a disability and enrolls with the early learning coalition under s. 1002.53(3)(d) is eligible for specialized instructional services if:
(a) The child is eligible for the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program under s. 1002.53; and
(b) A current individual educational plan has been developed for the child by the local school board in accordance with rules of the State Board of Education.
(2) The parent of a child who is eligible for the prekindergarten program for children with disabilities may select one or more specialized instructional services that are consistent with the child’s individual educational plan. These specialized instructional services may include, but are not limited to:
(a) Applied behavior analysis as defined in ss. 627.6686 and 641.31098.
(b) Speech-language pathology as defined in s. 468.1125.
(c) Occupational therapy as defined in s. 468.203.
(d) Physical therapy as defined is s. 486.021.
(e) Listening and spoken language specialists and an appropriate acoustical environment for a child who is deaf or hard of hearing who has received an implant or assistive hearing device.
(3) The specialized instructional services provided for a child under this section must be delivered according to professionally accepted standards; must be in accordance with the performance standards adopted by the department under s. 1002.67; and must address the age-appropriate progress of the child in the development of the capabilities, capacities, and skills required under s. 1(b), Art. IX of the State Constitution.
(4) The department shall approve specialized instructional service providers whose services meet the standards in subsection (3), maintain a list of approved providers, and notify each school district and early learning coalition of the approved provider list. Upon the request of a child’s parent, the department may approve a specialized instructional service provider that is not on the approved list if the provider’s services meet the standards in subsection (3) and the service is consistent with the child’s individual educational plan.
(5) The coalition shall reimburse an approved specialized instructional service provider for authorized services provided to an eligible child; however, the cumulative total of services reimbursed for a child may not exceed the amount of the base student allocation provided in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program in the General Appropriations Act. Providers shall be reimbursed from funds allocated to the early learning coalition for the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program.
History.s. 4, ch. 2010-227; s. 10, ch. 2011-175.
1002.67 Performance standards; curricula and accountability.
(1)(a) The department shall develop and adopt performance standards for students in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program. The performance standards must address the age-appropriate progress of students in the development of:
1. The capabilities, capacities, and skills required under s. 1(b), Art. IX of the State Constitution; and
2. Emergent literacy skills, including oral communication, knowledge of print and letters, phonemic and phonological awareness, and vocabulary and comprehension development.
(b) The State Board of Education shall periodically review and revise the performance standards for the statewide kindergarten screening administered under s. 1002.69 and align the standards to the standards established by the state board for student performance on the statewide assessments administered pursuant to s. 1008.22.
(2)(a) Each private prekindergarten provider and public school may select or design the curriculum that the provider or school uses to implement the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program, except as otherwise required for a provider or school that is placed on probation under paragraph (3)(c).
(b) Each private prekindergarten provider’s and public school’s curriculum must be developmentally appropriate and must:
1. Be designed to prepare a student for early literacy;
2. Enhance the age-appropriate progress of students in attaining the performance standards adopted by the department under subsection (1); and
3. Prepare students to be ready for kindergarten based upon the statewide kindergarten screening administered under s. 1002.69.
(c) The department shall review and approve curricula for use by private prekindergarten providers and public schools that are placed on probation under paragraph (3)(c). The department shall maintain a list of the curricula approved under this paragraph. Each approved curriculum must meet the requirements of paragraph (b).
(3)(a) Each early learning coalition shall verify that each private prekindergarten provider delivering the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program within the coalition’s county or multicounty region complies with this part. Each district school board shall verify that each public school delivering the program within the school district complies with this part.
(b) If a private prekindergarten provider or public school fails or refuses to comply with this part, or if a provider or school engages in misconduct, the Office of Early Learning shall require the early learning coalition to remove the provider, and the Department of Education shall require the school district to remove the school from eligibility to deliver the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program and receive state funds under this part.
(c)1. If the kindergarten readiness rate of a private prekindergarten provider or public school falls below the minimum rate adopted by the State Board of Education as satisfactory under s. 1002.69(6), the early learning coalition or school district, as applicable, shall require the provider or school to submit an improvement plan for approval by the coalition or school district, as applicable, and to implement the plan.
2. If a private prekindergarten provider or public school fails to meet the minimum rate adopted by the State Board of Education as satisfactory under s. 1002.69(6), the early learning coalition or school district, as applicable, shall place the provider or school on probation and must require the provider or school to take certain corrective actions, including the use of a curriculum approved by the department under paragraph (2)(c) or a staff development plan to strengthen instruction in language development and phonological awareness approved by the department.
3. A private prekindergarten provider or public school that is placed on probation must continue the corrective actions required under subparagraph 2., including the use of a curriculum or a staff development plan to strengthen instruction in language development and phonological awareness approved by the department, until the provider or school meets the minimum rate adopted by the State Board of Education as satisfactory under s. 1002.69(6).
4. If a private prekindergarten provider or public school remains on probation for 2 consecutive years and fails to meet the minimum rate adopted by the State Board of Education as satisfactory under s. 1002.69(6) and is not granted a good cause exemption by the department pursuant to s. 1002.69(7), the Office of Early Learning shall require the early learning coalition or the Department of Education shall require the school district to remove, as applicable, the provider or school from eligibility to deliver the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program and receive state funds for the program.
(d) Each early learning coalition, the Office of Early Learning, and the department shall coordinate with the Child Care Services Program Office of the Department of Children and Family Services to minimize interagency duplication of activities for monitoring private prekindergarten providers for compliance with requirements of the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program under this part, the school readiness programs under s. 411.01, and the licensing of providers under ss. 402.301-402.319.
History.s. 1, ch. 2004-484; s. 28, ch. 2010-210; s. 453, ch. 2011-142; s. 11, ch. 2011-175.
1002.69 Statewide kindergarten screening; kindergarten readiness rates; state-approved prekindergarten enrollment screening; good cause exemption.
(1) The department shall adopt a statewide kindergarten screening that assesses the readiness of each student for kindergarten based upon the performance standards adopted by the department under s. 1002.67(1) for the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program. The department shall require that each school district administer the statewide kindergarten screening to each kindergarten student in the school district within the first 30 school days of each school year. Nonpublic schools may administer the statewide kindergarten screening to each kindergarten student in a nonpublic school who was enrolled in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program.
(2) The statewide kindergarten screening shall provide objective data concerning each student’s readiness for kindergarten and progress in attaining the performance standards adopted by the department under s. 1002.67(1).
(3) The statewide kindergarten screening shall incorporate mechanisms for recognizing potential variations in kindergarten readiness rates for students with disabilities.
(4) Each parent who enrolls his or her child in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program must submit the child for the statewide kindergarten screening, regardless of whether the child is admitted to kindergarten in a public school or nonpublic school. Each school district shall designate sites to administer the statewide kindergarten screening for children admitted to kindergarten in a nonpublic school.
(5) The State Board of Education shall adopt procedures for the department to annually calculate each private prekindergarten provider’s and public school’s kindergarten readiness rate, which must be expressed as the percentage of the provider’s or school’s students who are assessed as ready for kindergarten. The kindergarten readiness rates must be based exclusively upon the results of the statewide kindergarten screening for students completing the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program, beginning with students completing the program during the 2005-2006 school year who are administered the statewide kindergarten screening during the 2006-2007 school year. The methodology for calculating each provider’s kindergarten readiness rate must include the percentage of students who meet all state readiness measures. The rates must not include students who are not administered the statewide kindergarten screening.
(6) The State Board of Education shall periodically adopt a minimum kindergarten readiness rate that, if achieved by a private prekindergarten provider or public school, would demonstrate the provider’s or school’s satisfactory delivery of the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program.
(7)(a) Notwithstanding s. 1002.67(3)(c)4., the State Board of Education, upon the request of a private prekindergarten provider or public school that remains on probation for 2 consecutive years or more and subsequently fails to meet the minimum rate adopted under subsection (6) and for good cause shown, may grant to the provider or school an exemption from being determined ineligible to deliver the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program and receive state funds for the program. Such exemption is valid for 1 year and, upon the request of the private prekindergarten provider or public school and for good cause shown, may be renewed.
(b) A private prekindergarten provider’s or public school’s request for a good cause exemption, or renewal of such an exemption, must be submitted to the state board in the manner and within the timeframes prescribed by the state board and must include the following:
1. Submission of data by the private prekindergarten provider or public school which documents the achievement and progress of the children served as measured by the state-approved prekindergarten enrollment screening and the standardized postassessment approved by the department pursuant to subparagraph (c)1.
2. Submission and review of data available from the respective early learning coalition or district school board, the Department of Children and Family Services, local licensing authority, or an accrediting association, as applicable, relating to the private prekindergarten provider’s or public school’s compliance with state and local health and safety standards.
3. Submission and review of data available to the department on the performance of the children served and the calculation of the private prekindergarten provider’s or public school’s kindergarten readiness rate.
(c) The State Board of Education shall adopt criteria for granting good cause exemptions. Such criteria shall include, but are not limited to:
1. Learning gains of children served in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program by the private prekindergarten provider or public school. A provider seeking a good cause exemption shall have the early learning coalition or a department-approved second party administer the state-approved prekindergarten enrollment screening to each child in the prekindergarten provider’s program within the first 30 days of each school year for which a good cause exemption is sought, and the provider shall administer the standardized postassessment approved by the department to measure the student’s learning gains for the year or summer, as appropriate. All data must be submitted to the department within 30 days after the administration of each assessment. Each parent who enrolls his or her child in a Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program offered by a provider seeking a good cause exemption must submit the child for the state-approved prekindergarten enrollment screening.
2. Verification that local and state health and safety requirements are met.
(d) A good cause exemption may not be granted to any private prekindergarten provider that has any class I violations or two or more class II violations within the 2 years preceding the provider’s or school’s request for the exemption. For purposes of this paragraph, class I and class II violations have the same meaning as provided in s. 402.281(4).
(e) A private prekindergarten provider or public school granted a good cause exemption shall continue to implement its improvement plan and continue the corrective actions required under s. 1002.67(3)(c)2., including the use of a curriculum approved by the department, until the provider or school meets the minimum rate adopted under subsection (6).
(f) The State Board of Education shall notify the Office of Early Learning of any good cause exemption granted to a private prekindergarten provider under this subsection. If a good cause exemption is granted to a private prekindergarten provider who remains on probation for 2 consecutive years, the Office of Early Learning shall notify the early learning coalition of the good cause exemption and direct that the coalition, notwithstanding s. 1002.67(3)(c)4., not remove the provider from eligibility to deliver the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program or to receive state funds for the program, if the provider meets all other applicable requirements of this part.
History.s. 1, ch. 2004-484; s. 30, ch. 2010-210; s. 52, ch. 2011-4; s. 454, ch. 2011-142; s. 12, ch. 2011-175.
1002.71 Funding; financial and attendance reporting.
(1) Funds appropriated for the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program may be used only for the program in accordance with this part. If the student enrollment in the program for a fiscal year exceeds the estimated enrollment upon which the appropriation for that fiscal year is provided, thereby causing a shortfall, funds appropriated to the program for the subsequent fiscal year must be used first to fund the shortfall.
(2) A full-time equivalent student in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program shall be calculated as follows:
(a) For a student in a school-year prekindergarten program delivered by a private prekindergarten provider: 540 instructional hours.
(b) For a student in a summer prekindergarten program delivered by a public school or private prekindergarten provider: 300 instructional hours.
(c) For a student in a school-year prekindergarten program delivered by a public school: 540 instructional hours.

Except as provided in subsection (4), a student may not be reported for funding purposes as more than one full-time equivalent student.

(3)(a) A separate base student allocation per full-time equivalent student in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program shall be provided in the General Appropriations Act for a school-year prekindergarten program and for a summer prekindergarten program. The base student allocation for a school-year program shall be equal for each student, regardless of whether the student is enrolled in a school-year prekindergarten program delivered by a public school or a private prekindergarten provider. The base student allocation for a summer prekindergarten program shall be equal for each student, regardless of whether the student is enrolled in a summer prekindergarten program delivered by a public school or private prekindergarten provider.
(b) Each county’s allocation per full-time equivalent student in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program shall be calculated annually by multiplying the base student allocation provided in the General Appropriations Act by the county’s district cost differential provided in s. 1011.62(2). Each private prekindergarten provider and public school shall be paid in accordance with the county’s allocation per full-time equivalent student.
(c) The initial allocation shall be based on estimated student enrollment in each coalition service area. The Office of Early Learning shall reallocate funds among the coalitions based on actual full-time equivalent student enrollment in each coalition service area.
(d) For programs offered by school districts pursuant to s. 1002.61 and beginning with the 2009 summer program, each district’s funding shall be based on a student enrollment that is evenly divisible by 12. If the result of dividing a district’s student enrollment by 12 is not a whole number, the district’s enrollment calculation shall be adjusted by adding the minimum number of students to produce a student enrollment calculation that is evenly divisible by 12.
(4) Notwithstanding s. 1002.53(3) and subsection (2):
(a) A child who, for any of the prekindergarten programs listed in s. 1002.53(3), has not completed more than 70 percent of the hours authorized to be reported for funding under subsection (2), or has not expended more than 70 percent of the funds authorized for the child under s. 1002.66, may withdraw from the program for good cause and reenroll in one of the programs. The total funding for a child who reenrolls in one of the programs for good cause may not exceed one full-time equivalent student. Funding for a child who withdraws and reenrolls in one of the programs for good cause shall be issued in accordance with the Office of Early Learning’s uniform attendance policy adopted pursuant to paragraph (6)(d).
(b) A child who has not substantially completed any of the prekindergarten programs listed in s. 1002.53(3) may withdraw from the program due to an extreme hardship that is beyond the child’s or parent’s control, reenroll in one of the summer programs, and be reported for funding purposes as a full-time equivalent student in the summer program for which the child is reenrolled.

A child may reenroll only once in a prekindergarten program under this section. A child who reenrolls in a prekindergarten program under this subsection may not subsequently withdraw from the program and reenroll, unless the child is granted a good cause exemption under this subsection. The Office of Early Learning shall establish criteria specifying whether a good cause exists for a child to withdraw from a program under paragraph (a), whether a child has substantially completed a program under paragraph (b), and whether an extreme hardship exists which is beyond the child’s or parent’s control under paragraph (b).

(5)(a) Each early learning coalition shall maintain through the single point of entry established under s. 411.01 a current database of the students enrolled in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program for each county within the coalition’s region.
(b) The Office of Early Learning shall adopt procedures for the payment of private prekindergarten providers and public schools delivering the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program. The procedures shall provide for the advance payment of providers and schools based upon student enrollment in the program, the certification of student attendance, and the reconciliation of advance payments in accordance with the uniform attendance policy adopted under paragraph (6)(d). The procedures shall provide for the monthly distribution of funds by the Office of Early Learning to the early learning coalitions for payment by the coalitions to private prekindergarten providers and public schools. The department shall transfer to the Office of Early Learning at least once each quarter the funds available for payment to private prekindergarten providers and public schools in accordance with this paragraph from the funds appropriated for that purpose.
(6)(a) Each parent enrolling his or her child in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program must agree to comply with the attendance policy of the private prekindergarten provider or district school board, as applicable. Upon enrollment of the child, the private prekindergarten provider or public school, as applicable, must provide the child’s parent with a copy of the provider’s or school district’s attendance policy, as applicable.
(b)1. Each private prekindergarten provider’s and district school board’s attendance policy must require the parent of each student in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program to verify, each month, the student’s attendance on the prior month’s certified student attendance.
2. The parent must submit the verification of the student’s attendance to the private prekindergarten provider or public school on forms prescribed by the Office of Early Learning. The forms must include, in addition to the verification of the student’s attendance, a certification, in substantially the following form, that the parent continues to choose the private prekindergarten provider or public school in accordance with s. 1002.53 and directs that payments for the program be made to the provider or school:

VERIFICATION OF STUDENT’S ATTENDANCE
AND CERTIFICATION OF PARENTAL CHOICE

I,   (Name of Parent)  , swear (or affirm) that my child,   (Name of Student)  , attended the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program on the days listed above and certify that I continue to choose   (Name of Provider or School)   to deliver the program for my child and direct that program funds be paid to the provider or school for my child.

  (Signature of Parent)  

  (Date)  

3. The private prekindergarten provider or public school must keep each original signed form for at least 2 years. Each private prekindergarten provider must permit the early learning coalition, and each public school must permit the school district, to inspect the original signed forms during normal business hours. The Office of Early Learning shall adopt procedures for early learning coalitions and school districts to review the original signed forms against the certified student attendance. The review procedures shall provide for the use of selective inspection techniques, including, but not limited to, random sampling. Each early learning coalition and the school districts must comply with the review procedures.
(c) A private prekindergarten provider or school district, as applicable, may dismiss a student who does not comply with the provider’s or district’s attendance policy. A student dismissed under this paragraph is not removed from the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program and may continue in the program through reenrollment with another private prekindergarten provider or public school. Notwithstanding s. 1002.53(6)(b), a school district is not required to provide for the admission of a student dismissed under this paragraph.
(d) The Office of Early Learning shall adopt, for funding purposes, a uniform attendance policy for the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program. The attendance policy must apply statewide and apply equally to all private prekindergarten providers and public schools. The attendance policy must include at least the following provisions:
1.  A student’s attendance may be reported on a pro rata basis as a fractional part of a full-time equivalent student.
2. At a maximum, 20 percent of the total payment made on behalf of a student to a private prekindergarten provider or a public school may be for hours a student is absent.
3. A private prekindergarten provider or public school may not receive payment for absences that occur before a student’s first day of attendance or after a student’s last day of attendance.

The uniform attendance policy shall be used only for funding purposes and does not prohibit a private prekindergarten provider or public school from adopting and enforcing its attendance policy under paragraphs (a) and (c).

(7) The Office of Early Learning shall require that administrative expenditures be kept to the minimum necessary for efficient and effective administration of the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program. Administrative policies and procedures shall be revised, to the maximum extent practicable, to incorporate the use of automation and electronic submission of forms, including those required for child eligibility and enrollment, provider and class registration, and monthly certification of attendance for payment. A school district may use its automated daily attendance reporting system for the purpose of transmitting attendance records to the early learning coalition in a mutually agreed-upon format. In addition, actions shall be taken to reduce paperwork, eliminate the duplication of reports, and eliminate other duplicative activities. Beginning with the 2011-2012 fiscal year, each early learning coalition may retain and expend no more than 4.0 percent of the funds paid by the coalition to private prekindergarten providers and public schools under paragraph (5)(b). Funds retained by an early learning coalition under this subsection may be used only for administering the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program and may not be used for the school readiness program or other programs.
(8) Except as otherwise expressly authorized by law, a private prekindergarten provider or public school may not:
(a) Require payment of a fee or charge for services provided for a child enrolled in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program during a period reported for funding purposes; or
(b) Require a child to enroll for, or require the payment of any fee or charge for, supplemental services as a condition of admitting a child for enrollment in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program.
(9) A parent is responsible for the transportation of his or her child to and from the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program, regardless of whether the program is delivered by a private prekindergarten provider or a public school. However, a provider or school may use part of the funds it is paid under paragraph (5)(b) for transporting students to and from the program. A student enrolled in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program may not be reported under s. 1011.68 for student transportation funds.
History.s. 1, ch. 2004-484; s. 4, ch. 2005-56; s. 3, ch. 2006-27; s. 7, ch. 2009-3; s. 12, ch. 2009-59; s. 10, ch. 2010-154; s. 29, ch. 2010-210; s. 5, ch. 2010-227; s. 13, ch. 2011-55; s. 455, ch. 2011-142; s. 13, ch. 2011-175.
1002.72 Records of children in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program.
(1)(a) The records of a child enrolled in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program held by an early learning coalition, the Office of Early Learning, or a Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program provider are confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution. For purposes of this section, such records include assessment data, health data, records of teacher observations, and personal identifying information of an enrolled child and his or her parent.
(b) This exemption applies to the records of a child enrolled in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program held by an early learning coalition, the Office of Early Learning, or a Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program provider before, on, or after the effective date of this exemption.
(2) A parent has the right to inspect and review the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program record of his or her child and to obtain a copy of such record.
(3)(a) Confidential and exempt Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program records may be released to:
1. The United States Secretary of Education, the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Comptroller General of the United States for the purpose of federal audits.
2. Individuals or organizations conducting studies for institutions to develop, validate, or administer assessments or improve instruction.
3. Accrediting organizations in order to carry out their accrediting functions.
4. Appropriate parties in connection with an emergency if the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the child or other individuals.
5. The Auditor General in connection with his or her official functions.
6. A court of competent jurisdiction in compliance with an order of that court pursuant to a lawfully issued subpoena.
7. Parties to an interagency agreement among early learning coalitions, local governmental agencies, Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program providers, or state agencies for the purpose of implementing the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program.
(b) Agencies, organizations, or individuals receiving such confidential and exempt records in order to carry out their official functions must protect the records in a manner that will not permit the personal identification of an enrolled child or his or her parent by persons other than those authorized to receive the records.
History.s. 1, ch. 2005-88; s. 178, ch. 2008-4; s. 1, ch. 2010-44; s. 456, ch. 2011-142.
1002.73 Department of Education; powers and duties; accountability requirements.
(1) The department shall administer the accountability requirements of the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program at the state level.
(2) The department shall adopt procedures for its:
(a) Approval of prekindergarten director credentials under ss. 1002.55 and 1002.57.
(b) Approval of emergent literacy training courses under ss. 1002.55 and 1002.59.
(c) Administration of the statewide kindergarten screening and calculation of kindergarten readiness rates under s. 1002.69.
(d) Implementation of, and determination of costs associated with, the state-approved prekindergarten enrollment screening and the standardized postassessment approved by the department, and determination of the learning gains of students who complete the state-approved prekindergarten enrollment screening and the standardized postassessment approved by the department.
(e) Approval of specialized instructional services providers under s. 1002.66.
(f) Annual reporting of the percentage of kindergarten students who meet all state readiness measures.
(g) Granting of a private prekindergarten provider’s or public school’s request for a good cause exemption under s. 1002.69(7).
(3) Except as provided by law, the department may not impose requirements on a private prekindergarten provider that does not deliver the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program or receive state funds under this part.
History.s. 1, ch. 2004-484; s. 8, ch. 2009-3; s. 31, ch. 2010-210; s. 6, ch. 2010-227; s. 14, ch. 2011-175.
1002.75 Office of Early Learning; powers and duties; operational requirements.
(1) The Office of Early Learning shall administer the operational requirements of the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program at the state level.
(2) The Office of Early Learning shall adopt procedures governing the administration of the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program by the early learning coalitions and school districts for:
(a) Enrolling children in and determining the eligibility of children for the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program under s. 1002.53.
(b) Providing parents with profiles of private prekindergarten providers and public schools under s. 1002.53.
(c) Registering private prekindergarten providers and public schools to deliver the program under ss. 1002.55, 1002.61, and 1002.63.
(d) Determining the eligibility of private prekindergarten providers to deliver the program under ss. 1002.55 and 1002.61.
(e) Verifying the compliance of private prekindergarten providers and public schools and removing providers or schools from eligibility to deliver the program due to noncompliance or misconduct as provided in s. 1002.67.
(f) Paying private prekindergarten providers and public schools under s. 1002.71.
(g) Documenting and certifying student enrollment and student attendance under s. 1002.71.
(h) Reconciling advance payments in accordance with the uniform attendance policy under s. 1002.71.
(i) Reenrolling students dismissed by a private prekindergarten provider or public school for noncompliance with the provider’s or school district’s attendance policy under s. 1002.71.
(3) The Office of Early Learning shall adopt, in consultation with and subject to approval by the department, procedures governing the administration of the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program by the early learning coalitions and school districts for:
(a) Approving improvement plans of private prekindergarten providers and public schools under s. 1002.67.
(b) Placing private prekindergarten providers and public schools on probation and requiring corrective actions under s. 1002.67.
(c) Removing a private prekindergarten provider or public school from eligibility to deliver the program due to the provider’s or school’s remaining on probation beyond the time permitted under s. 1002.67.
(d) Enrolling children in and determining the eligibility of children for the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program under s. 1002.66.
(e) Paying specialized instructional services providers under s. 1002.66.
(4) The Office of Early Learning shall also adopt procedures for the 1agency’s distribution of funds to early learning coalitions under s. 1002.71.
(5) Except as provided by law, the Office of Early Learning may not impose requirements on a private prekindergarten provider or public school that does not deliver the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program or receive state funds under this part.
History.s. 1, ch. 2004-484; s. 7, ch. 2010-227; s. 459, ch. 2011-142.
1Note.The Office of Early Learning replaced the Agency for Workforce Innovation for purposes of funding early learning coalitions under s. 1002.71 pursuant to s. 455, ch. 2011-142.
1002.77 Florida Early Learning Advisory Council.
(1) There is created the Florida Early Learning Advisory Council within the Office of Early Learning. The purpose of the advisory council is to submit recommendations to the department on the early learning policy of this state, including recommendations relating to administration of the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program under this part and the school readiness programs under s. 411.01.
(2) The advisory council shall be composed of the following members:
(a) The chair of the advisory council who shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Governor.
(b) The chair of each early learning coalition.
(c) One member who shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the President of the Senate.
(d) One member who shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The chair of the advisory council appointed by the Governor and the members appointed by the presiding officers of the Legislature must each have a background in early learning.

(3) The advisory council shall meet at least quarterly but may meet as often as necessary to carry out its duties and responsibilities.
(4)(a) Each member of the advisory council shall serve without compensation but is entitled to receive reimbursement for per diem and travel expenses for attendance at council meetings as provided in s. 112.061.
(b) Each member of the advisory council is subject to the ethics provisions in part III of chapter 112.
(c) For purposes of tort liability, each member of the advisory council shall be governed by s. 768.28.
(5) The Office of Early Learning shall provide staff and administrative support for the advisory council.
History.s. 1, ch. 2004-484; s. 457, ch. 2011-142.
1002.79 Rulemaking authority.
(1) The State Board of Education shall adopt rules under ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to administer the provisions of this part conferring duties upon the department.
(2) The Office of Early Learning shall adopt rules under ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to administer the provisions of this part conferring duties upon the 1agency.
History.s. 1, ch. 2004-484; s. 458, ch. 2011-142.
1Note.Section 1, ch. 2011-142, transferred the Office of Early Learning from the Agency for Workforce Innovation to the Department of Education; s. 479, ch. 2011-142, repealed s. 20.50, which created the Agency for Workforce Innovation.