Florida Senate - 2014                             CS for SB 1528
       By the Committee on Education; and Senator Bradley
       581-03180-14                                          20141528c1
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to charter schools; amending s.
    3         1002.33, F.S.; authorizing contract disputes to be
    4         referred to the Division of Administrative Hearings
    5         for summary final order; requiring a charter school to
    6         request that withdrawing students or parents of
    7         withdrawing students complete a survey; requiring a
    8         charter school to annually report information
    9         concerning why students leave the charter school to
   10         its sponsor and the Department of Education; providing
   11         that a charter school may only discipline students for
   12         the grounds and in the manner specified in the code of
   13         student conduct; providing an effective date.
   15  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   17         Section 1. Paragraph (h) of subsection (6) and paragraph
   18  (g) of subsection (10) of section 1002.33, Florida Statutes, are
   19  amended, to read:
   20         1002.33 Charter schools.—
   21         (6) APPLICATION PROCESS AND REVIEW.—Charter school
   22  applications are subject to the following requirements:
   23         (h)1. The terms and conditions for the operation of a
   24  charter school shall be set forth by the sponsor and the
   25  applicant in a written contractual agreement, called a charter.
   26  The sponsor may not impose unreasonable rules or regulations
   27  that violate the intent of giving charter schools greater
   28  flexibility to meet educational goals. The sponsor has 30 days
   29  after approval of the application to provide an initial proposed
   30  charter contract to the charter school. The applicant and the
   31  sponsor have 40 days thereafter to negotiate and notice the
   32  charter contract for final approval by the sponsor unless both
   33  parties agree to an extension. The proposed charter contract
   34  shall be provided to the charter school at least 7 calendar days
   35  prior to the date of the meeting at which the charter is
   36  scheduled to be voted upon by the sponsor.
   37         2. The Department of Education shall provide mediation
   38  services for any dispute regarding this section subsequent to
   39  the approval of a charter application and for any dispute
   40  relating to the approved charter, except disputes regarding
   41  charter school application denials.
   42         3. If the Commissioner of Education determines that a the
   43  dispute cannot be settled through mediation, or if the sponsor
   44  or charter school requests to bypass mediation, a the dispute
   45  must be immediately forwarded may be appealed to an
   46  administrative law judge appointed by the Division of
   47  Administrative Hearings.
   48         a. The administrative law judge must issue a summary final
   49  order for a dispute regarding language to be included in the
   50  initial charter contract. The administrative law judge may
   51  consider all documents determined necessary by the
   52  administrative law judge to issue the summary final order. The
   53  administrative law judge must hold at least one conference with
   54  the parties to discuss the dispute, and may require other
   55  proceedings only if determined necessary by the administrative
   56  law judge. The summary final order must consist of a summary of
   57  the facts and law, the position of the charter school and
   58  sponsor, the administrative law judge’s disposition of the
   59  dispute and supporting rationale, and may include other
   60  information if determined necessary by the administrative law
   61  judge. The administrative law judge’s summary final order must
   62  be issued within 30 days of receipt of the referral of the
   63  dispute from the Commissioner of Education.
   64         b. The administrative law judge has final order authority
   65  to rule on issues of equitable treatment of the charter school
   66  as a public school, whether proposed provisions of the charter
   67  renewals or amendments violate the intended flexibility granted
   68  charter schools by statute, or on any other matter regarding
   69  this section except a charter school application denial, a
   70  charter termination, or a charter nonrenewal.
   71         c. The administrative law judge’s summary final order or
   72  final order pursuant to this subparagraph and shall award the
   73  prevailing party reasonable attorney’s fees and costs incurred
   74  to be paid by the losing party. The costs of the administrative
   75  hearing shall be paid by the party whom the administrative law
   76  judge rules against.
   77         (10) ELIGIBLE STUDENTS.—
   78         (g)1. A student may withdraw from a charter school at any
   79  time and enroll in another public school as determined by
   80  district school board rule. A charter school must request, but
   81  may not require, that the student withdrawing or parent of the
   82  student withdrawing complete a survey and provide information
   83  concerning the student’s experiences at the charter school and
   84  reasons for withdrawal. A charter school must provide in its
   85  annual report to its sponsor and the Department of Education the
   86  total number of students that leave the charter school and the
   87  reason for leaving the charter school, including but not limited
   88  to, withdrawal, suspension, and dismissal, if known.
   89         2. A student may only receive disciplinary action,
   90  including but not limited to suspension or dismissal, for the
   91  grounds and in the manner specified in the charter school’s code
   92  of student conduct.
   93         Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2014.