Florida Senate - 2011                                    SB 1822
       By Senator Benacquisto
       27-01488-11                                           20111822__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to school choice; amending s. 1002.38,
    3         F.S.; revising legislative intent and eligibility
    4         requirements for participation in the Opportunity
    5         Scholarship Program; deleting provisions that
    6         authorize an opportunity scholarship for attendance at
    7         a private school; requiring that an opportunity
    8         scholarship remain in force until the student
    9         graduates from high school; revising school district
   10         obligations and deleting provisions relating to
   11         private schools to conform to changes made by the act;
   12         amending ss. 1001.42 and 1002.20, F.S.; conforming
   13         provisions to changes made by the act; deleting an
   14         obsolete provision relating to the John M. McKay
   15         Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program;
   16         providing an effective date.
   18  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   20         Section 1. Section 1002.38, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   21  read:
   22         1002.38 Opportunity Scholarship Program.—
   23         (1) FINDINGS AND INTENT.—The purpose of this section is to
   24  provide enhanced opportunity for students in this state to gain
   25  the knowledge and skills necessary for postsecondary education,
   26  a career education, or the world of work. The Legislature
   27  recognizes that the voters of the State of Florida, in the
   28  November 1998 general election, amended s. 1, Art. IX of the
   29  Florida Constitution so as to make education a paramount duty of
   30  the state. The Legislature finds that the State Constitution
   31  requires the state to provide a uniform, safe, secure,
   32  efficient, and high-quality system which allows the opportunity
   33  to obtain a high-quality education. The Legislature further
   34  finds that a student should not be compelled, against the wishes
   35  of the student’s parent, to remain in a school found by the
   36  state to be failing for 2 years in a 4-year period. The
   37  Legislature shall make available opportunity scholarships in
   38  order to give parents the opportunity for their children to
   39  attend a public school that is performing satisfactorily or to
   40  attend an eligible private school when the parent chooses to
   41  apply the equivalent of the public education funds generated by
   42  his or her child to the cost of tuition in the eligible private
   43  school as provided in paragraph (6)(a). Eligibility of a private
   44  school shall include the control and accountability requirements
   45  that, coupled with the exercise of parental choice, are
   46  reasonably necessary to secure the educational public purpose,
   47  as delineated in subsection (4).
   49         (a) A public school student’s parent may request and
   50  receive from the state an opportunity scholarship for the
   51  student to enroll in and attend a public private school in
   52  accordance with the provisions of this section if:
   53         (a)1. By assigned school attendance area or by special
   54  assignment, the student has spent the prior school year in
   55  attendance at a public school that has been designated pursuant
   56  to s. 1008.34 as performance grade category “D” or “F,failing
   57  to make adequate progress, and that is in one of the two lowest
   58  performing categories pursuant to s. 1008.33 has had 2 school
   59  years in a 4-year period of such low performance, and the
   60  student’s attendance occurred during a school year in which such
   61  designation was in effect;
   62         2. The student has been in attendance elsewhere in the
   63  public school system and has been assigned to such school for
   64  the next school year; or
   65         3. The student is entering kindergarten or first grade and
   66  has been notified that he or she the student has been assigned
   67  to such school for the next school year.
   68         (b) The parent has obtained acceptance for admission of the
   69  student to a private school eligible for the program pursuant to
   70  subsection (4), and has notified the Department of Education and
   71  the school district of the request for an opportunity
   72  scholarship no later than July 1 of the first year in which the
   73  student intends to use the scholarship.
   74         (b)The provisions of This section does shall not apply to
   75  a student who is enrolled in a school operating for the purpose
   76  of providing educational services to youth in Department of
   77  Juvenile Justice commitment programs. For purposes of continuity
   78  of educational choice, the opportunity scholarship shall remain
   79  in force until the student graduates from high school returns to
   80  a public school or, if the student chooses to attend a private
   81  school the highest grade of which is grade 8, until the student
   82  matriculates to high school and the public high school to which
   83  the student is assigned is an accredited school with a
   84  performance grade category designation of “C” or better.
   85  However, at any time upon reasonable notice to the Department of
   86  Education and the school district, the student’s parent may
   87  remove the student from the private school and place the student
   88  in a public school, as provided in subparagraph (3)(a)2.
   90         (a) A school district shall, for each student enrolled in
   91  or assigned to a school that has been designated as provided in
   92  subsection (2) performance grade category “F” for 2 school years
   93  in a 4-year period:
   94         1. Timely notify the parent of the student as soon as such
   95  designation is made of all options available pursuant to this
   96  section.
   97         2. Offer that student’s parent an opportunity to enroll the
   98  student in a the public school within the district that has been
   99  designated by the state pursuant to s. 1008.34 as a school
  100  performing higher than that in which the student is currently
  101  enrolled or to which the student has been assigned, but not less
  102  than performance grade category “C.” The parent is not required
  103  to accept this offer in lieu of requesting a state opportunity
  104  scholarship to a private school. The student shall have the
  105  opportunity to continue attendance in attending the higher
  106  performing higher performing public school feeder pattern shall
  107  remain in force until the student graduates from high school.
  108         (b) The parent of a student enrolled in or assigned to a
  109  school that has been designated as provided in subsection (2)
  110  performance grade category “F” for 2 school years in a 4-year
  111  period may choose as an alternative to subparagraph (a)2. to
  112  enroll the student in and transport the student to a higher
  113  performing public school that has available space in any other
  114  an adjacent school district in the state, and that school
  115  district shall accept the student and report the student for
  116  purposes of the district’s funding pursuant to the Florida
  117  Education Finance Program.
  118         (c) For students in the school district who are
  119  participating in the state Opportunity Scholarship Program, the
  120  school district shall provide locations and times to take all
  121  statewide assessments required pursuant to s. 1008.22.
  122         (d) Students with disabilities who are eligible to receive
  123  services from the school district under federal or state law,
  124  and who participate in this program, remain eligible to receive
  125  services from the school district as provided by federal or
  126  state law.
  127         (e) If for any reason a qualified private school is not
  128  available for the student or If the parent chooses to request
  129  that the student be enrolled in a higher-performing the higher
  130  performing public school in the school district, rather than
  131  choosing to request the state opportunity scholarship,
  132  transportation costs to the higher-performing higher performing
  133  public school shall be the responsibility of the school
  134  district. The district may utilize state categorical
  135  transportation funds or state-appropriated public school choice
  136  incentive funds for this purpose.
  137         (4) PRIVATE SCHOOL ELIGIBILITY.—To be eligible to
  138  participate in the Opportunity Scholarship Program, a private
  139  school must be a Florida private school, may be sectarian or
  140  nonsectarian, and must:
  141         (a) Demonstrate fiscal soundness by being in operation for
  142  1 school year or provide the Department of Education with a
  143  statement by a certified public accountant confirming that the
  144  private school desiring to participate is insured and the owner
  145  or owners have sufficient capital or credit to operate the
  146  school for the upcoming year serving the number of students
  147  anticipated with expected revenues from tuition and other
  148  sources that may be reasonably expected. In lieu of such a
  149  statement, a surety bond or letter of credit for the amount
  150  equal to the opportunity scholarship funds for any quarter may
  151  be filed with the department.
  152         (b) Notify the Department of Education and the school
  153  district in whose service area the school is located of its
  154  intent to participate in the program under this section by May 1
  155  of the school year preceding the school year in which it intends
  156  to participate. The notice shall specify the grade levels and
  157  services that the private school has available for the
  158  Opportunity Scholarship Program.
  159         (c) Comply with the antidiscrimination provisions of 42
  160  U.S.C. s. 2000d.
  161         (d) Meet state and local health and safety laws and codes.
  162         (e) Accept scholarship students on an entirely random and
  163  religious-neutral basis without regard to the student’s past
  164  academic history; however, the private school may give
  165  preference in accepting applications to siblings of students who
  166  have already been accepted on a random and religious-neutral
  167  basis.
  168         (f) Be subject to the instruction, curriculum, and
  169  attendance criteria adopted by an appropriate nonpublic school
  170  accrediting body and be academically accountable to the parent
  171  for meeting the educational needs of the student. The private
  172  school must furnish a school profile which includes student
  173  performance.
  174         (g) Employ or contract with teachers who hold a
  175  baccalaureate or higher degree, or have at least 3 years of
  176  teaching experience in public or private schools, or have
  177  special skills, knowledge, or expertise that qualifies them to
  178  provide instruction in subjects taught.
  179         (h) Comply with all state statutes relating to private
  180  schools.
  181         (i) Accept as full tuition and fees the amount provided by
  182  the state for each student.
  183         (j) Agree not to compel any student attending the private
  184  school on an opportunity scholarship to profess a specific
  185  ideological belief, to pray, or to worship.
  186         (k) Adhere to the tenets of its published disciplinary
  187  procedures prior to the expulsion of any opportunity scholarship
  188  student.
  190         (a) Any student participating in the Opportunity
  191  Scholarship Program must remain in attendance throughout the
  192  school year, unless excused by the school for illness or other
  193  good cause, and must comply fully with the school’s code of
  194  conduct.
  195         (b) The parent of each student participating in the
  196  Opportunity Scholarship Program must comply fully with the
  197  private school’s parental involvement requirements, unless
  198  excused by the school for illness or other good cause.
  199         (c) The parent shall ensure that the student participating
  200  in the Opportunity Scholarship Program takes all statewide
  201  assessments required pursuant to s. 1008.22.
  202         (d) A participant who fails to comply with this subsection
  203  shall forfeit the opportunity scholarship.
  205         (a) The maximum opportunity scholarship granted for an
  206  eligible student shall be a calculated amount equivalent to the
  207  base student allocation in the Florida Education Finance Program
  208  multiplied by the appropriate cost factor for the educational
  209  program that would have been provided for the student in the
  210  district school to which he or she was assigned, multiplied by
  211  the district cost differential. In addition, the calculated
  212  amount shall include the per-student share of instructional
  213  materials funds, technology funds, and other categorical funds
  214  as provided for this purpose in the General Appropriations Act.
  215         (b) The amount of the opportunity scholarship shall be the
  216  calculated amount or the amount of the private school’s tuition
  217  and fees, whichever is less. Fees eligible shall include
  218  textbook fees, lab fees, and other fees related to instruction,
  219  including transportation.
  220         (c) The school district shall report all students who are
  221  attending a private school under this program. The students
  222  attending private schools on opportunity scholarships shall be
  223  reported separately from those students reported for purposes of
  224  the Florida Education Finance Program.
  225         (d) The public or private school that provides services to
  226  students with disabilities shall receive the weighted funding
  227  for such services at the appropriate funding level consistent
  228  with the provisions of s. 1011.62(1)(e).
  229         (e) For purposes of calculating the opportunity
  230  scholarship, a student will be eligible for the amount of the
  231  appropriate basic cost factor if:
  232         1. The student currently participates in a Group I program
  233  funded at the basic cost factor and is not subsequently
  234  identified as having a disability; or
  235         2. The student currently participates in a Group II program
  236  and the parent has chosen a private school that does not provide
  237  the additional services funded by the Group II program.
  238         (f) Following annual notification on July 1 of the number
  239  of participants, the Department of Education shall transfer from
  240  each school district’s appropriated funds the calculated amount
  241  from the Florida Education Finance Program and authorized
  242  categorical accounts to a separate account for the Opportunity
  243  Scholarship Program for quarterly disbursement to the parents of
  244  participating students.
  245         (g) Upon proper documentation reviewed and approved by the
  246  Department of Education, the Chief Financial Officer shall make
  247  opportunity scholarship payments in four equal amounts no later
  248  than September 1, November 1, February 1, and April 1 of each
  249  academic year in which the opportunity scholarship is in force.
  250  The initial payment shall be made after Department of Education
  251  verification of admission acceptance, and subsequent payments
  252  shall be made upon verification of continued enrollment and
  253  attendance at the private school. Payment must be by individual
  254  warrant made payable to the student’s parent and mailed by the
  255  Department of Education to the private school of the parent’s
  256  choice, and the parent shall restrictively endorse the warrant
  257  to the private school.
  258         (7) LIABILITY.—No liability shall arise on the part of the
  259  state based on any grant or use of an opportunity scholarship.
  260         (4)(8) RULES.—The State Board of Education may adopt rules
  261  pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to implement the
  262  provisions of this section. Rules shall include penalties for
  263  noncompliance with subsections (3) and (5). However, the
  264  inclusion of eligible private schools within options available
  265  to Florida public school students does not expand the regulatory
  266  authority of the state, its officers, or any school district to
  267  impose any additional regulation of private schools beyond those
  268  reasonably necessary to enforce requirements expressly set forth
  269  in this section.
  270         Section 2. Subsection (20) of section 1001.42, Florida
  271  Statutes, is amended to read:
  272         1001.42 Powers and duties of district school board.—The
  273  district school board, acting as a board, shall exercise all
  274  powers and perform all duties listed below:
  275         (20) OPPORTUNITY SCHOLARSHIPS.—Adopt policies allowing
  276  students attending schools that have been designated with a
  277  grade of “D” or “F,pursuant to s. 1008.34 and that are in one
  278  of the two lowest-performing categories pursuant to s. 1008.33
  279  failing to make adequate progress, for 2 school years in a 4
  280  year period to attend a higher-performing higher performing
  281  school in the district or any other an adjoining district in the
  282  state or be granted a state opportunity scholarship to a private
  283  school, in conformance with s. 1002.38 and State Board of
  284  Education rule.
  285         Section 3. Paragraph (b) of subsection (6) of section
  286  1002.20, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  287         1002.20 K-12 student and parent rights.—Parents of public
  288  school students must receive accurate and timely information
  289  regarding their child’s academic progress and must be informed
  290  of ways they can help their child to succeed in school. K-12
  291  students and their parents are afforded numerous statutory
  292  rights including, but not limited to, the following:
  293         (6) EDUCATIONAL CHOICE.—
  294         (b) Private school choices.—Parents of public school
  295  students may seek private school choice options under certain
  296  programs.
  297         1. Under the Opportunity Scholarship Program, the parent of
  298  a student in a failing public school may request and receive an
  299  opportunity scholarship for the student to attend a private
  300  school in accordance with the provisions of s. 1002.38.
  301         1.2. Under the McKay Scholarships for Students with
  302  Disabilities Program, the parent of a public school student with
  303  a disability who is dissatisfied with the student’s progress may
  304  request and receive a McKay Scholarship for the student to
  305  attend a private school in accordance with the provisions of s.
  306  1002.39.
  307         2.3. Under the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, the
  308  parent of a student who qualifies for free or reduced-price
  309  school lunch may seek a scholarship from an eligible nonprofit
  310  scholarship-funding organization in accordance with the
  311  provisions of s. 1002.395.
  312         Section 4. This act shall take effect July 1, 2011.