Florida Senate - 2017 CS for SB 668 By the Committee on Education; and Senator Bean 581-02932-17 2017668c1 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to postsecondary distance education; 3 creating s. 1000.35, F.S.; authorizing this state to 4 participate in the State Authorization Reciprocity 5 Agreement (SARA) for delivery of postsecondary 6 distance education; providing definitions; 7 establishing the Postsecondary Reciprocal Distance 8 Education Coordinating Council within the Department 9 of Education; requiring the Commission for Independent 10 Education to provide administrative support for the 11 council; providing membership and duties of the 12 council; requiring the council to propose an annual 13 fee schedule and collect fees from Florida SARA 14 institutions; requiring the proposed fee schedule to 15 be submitted to the State Board of Education for 16 approval; providing for deposit of such fees into a 17 specified trust fund; authorizing the council to 18 revoke a Florida SARA institution’s participation for 19 noncompliance; authorizing such institution to 20 withdraw from participation in the SARA after 21 providing notice; exempting council decisions from the 22 Administrative Procedure Act; providing that 23 provisions relating to the jurisdiction of the 24 commission are not superseded; requiring the state 25 board to adopt rules; amending s. 1005.06, F.S.; 26 providing that the commission does not have 27 jurisdiction over certain non-Florida institutions 28 participating in the SARA; amending s. 1005.31, F.S.; 29 authorizing the solicitation of prospective students 30 for enrollment in certain postsecondary educational 31 institutions; providing a directive to the Division of 32 Law Revision and Information; providing an effective 33 date. 34 35 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 36 37 Section 1. Section 1000.35, Florida Statutes, is created to 38 read: 39 1000.35 State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement.— 40 (1) The purpose of this section is to authorize this 41 state’s participation in the State Authorization Reciprocity 42 Agreement (SARA) as established by the Southern Regional 43 Education Board (SREB) and the National Council for State 44 Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) relative to 45 postsecondary distance education as defined in the SARA. All 46 parties to the SARA must be willing to accept each other’s 47 authorization of accredited institutions to operate in their 48 state to offer distance educational services beyond state 49 boundaries. 50 (2) For purposes of this section, the term: 51 (a) “Commission” means the Commission for Independent 52 Education. 53 (b) “Complaint” means a formal assertion in writing that a 54 person, institution, state, agency, or other entity operating 55 under the SARA has violated the terms of the SARA or the laws, 56 standards, or regulations incorporated therein. 57 (c) “Council” means the Postsecondary Reciprocal Distance 58 Education Coordinating Council, which serves as the single 59 portal entity designated by the state to administer the SARA and 60 serves as the interstate point of contact for SARA-related 61 questions, complaints, and other matters related to the SARA. 62 (d) “Department” means the Department of Education. 63 (e) “Florida SARA institution” means a postsecondary 64 institution in this state approved by the council to participate 65 in the SARA. 66 (f) “Institution” means a public or private postsecondary 67 degree-granting college or university that is accredited by a 68 federally recognized accrediting body and that awards, at a 69 minimum, associate-level degrees requiring at least 2 years of 70 full-time equivalent college work. 71 (g) “Member state” means a state, territory, or district 72 within the United States that has been approved to participate 73 in the SARA. 74 (h) “Non-Florida SARA institution” means an institution 75 approved by a member state other than this state to participate 76 in the SARA. 77 (i) “SREB” means the Southern Regional Education Board. 78 (j) “State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement” or “SARA” 79 means the agreement that establishes reciprocity between member 80 states that accept other member states’ authorization of 81 accredited institutions to operate in their states to offer 82 distance educational services beyond state boundaries pursuant 83 to the terms and conditions set forth in the agreement. 84 (k) “State board” means the State Board of Education. 85 (3) The council is created within the department for the 86 purpose of administering the SARA. The council shall consist of 87 the Chancellor of the State University System, the Chancellor of 88 the Florida College System, the Chancellor of the Division of 89 Career and Adult Education, the executive director of the 90 commission, and the president of the Independent Colleges and 91 Universities of Florida. The commission shall provide 92 administrative support for the council. The council shall: 93 (a) Within 60 days after the effective date of this act, 94 apply for this state to participate as a member of the SARA 95 pursuant to the procedures established by the SREB; 96 (b) Serve as the single portal entity for administration of 97 the SARA; 98 (c) Review and approve applications from institutions in 99 this state to participate in the SARA and establish an appeals 100 process for institutions that are not approved to participate in 101 the SARA; 102 (d) Ensure compliance by Florida SARA institutions with the 103 terms and provisions of the SARA, including, but not limited to, 104 accreditation and institutional quality, consumer information 105 and protection, disclosure and reporting requirements, complaint 106 mechanisms, and financial responsibility; 107 (e) Comply with the terms and provisions of the SARA 108 relating to any member state, Florida SARA institution, or non 109 Florida SARA institution; 110 (f) Comply with the reporting requirements in the SARA and 111 post all such reports on the council’s website; 112 (g) Consistent with the complaint resolution processes in 113 the SARA, develop and administer a complaint resolution process 114 to resolve SARA-related complaints after all complaint processes 115 in place at a Florida SARA institution have been exhausted by 116 the complainant; 117 (h) Delegate any responsibilities, obligations, or 118 authorities necessary for the administration of this state’s 119 participation in the SARA to the commission’s staff; and 120 (i) Recommend rules necessary to administer this section 121 for adoption by the state board. 122 (4) The council shall propose an annual fee schedule and 123 collect fees from each Florida SARA institution. The fees shall 124 be commensurate with the costs incurred by the council and 125 commission to administer the SARA and shall be based on a 126 graduated scale of institutional enrollment. The council shall 127 propose an annual fee schedule to generate the amount of revenue 128 necessary for its operations. The proposed fee schedule shall be 129 submitted to the state board for approval. The department shall 130 include the approved fee schedule in its legislative budget 131 request which takes effect unless revised by the Legislature in 132 the General Appropriations Act. All fees collected pursuant to 133 this subsection shall be submitted through the department to the 134 Chief Financial Officer for deposit into a separate account 135 within the Institutional Assessment Trust Fund. Any fee 136 authorized by the council is nonrefundable unless paid in error. 137 (5) The council may revoke a Florida SARA institution’s 138 approval to participate in the SARA if the council determines 139 such institution is not in compliance with the terms and 140 provisions of the SARA. 141 (6) A Florida SARA institution may withdraw from 142 participation as a Florida SARA institution by submitting notice 143 of its intent to withdraw to the council, which shall become 144 effective at the beginning of the next academic term after 145 receipt of such notice. 146 (7) Decisions of the council are not subject to chapter 147 120. 148 (8) This section does not supersede the requirements in 149 chapter 1005 relating to postsecondary educational institutions 150 under the jurisdiction of the commission. 151 (9) The state board shall adopt rules to implement this 152 section. 153 Section 2. Paragraph (h) is added to subsection (1) of 154 section 1005.06, Florida Statutes, to read: 155 1005.06 Institutions not under the jurisdiction or purview 156 of the commission.— 157 (1) Except as otherwise provided in law, the following 158 institutions are not under the jurisdiction or purview of the 159 commission and are not required to obtain licensure: 160 (h) Any non-Florida institution that has been approved by a 161 member state to participate in the State Authorization 162 Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), as those terms are defined in s. 163 1000.35(2), if the degree programs that may be offered and the 164 activities that may be conducted by such institution in this 165 state are limited to the distance education degree programs and 166 activities provided in and consistent with the terms and 167 provisions of the SARA. 168 Section 3. Subsection (11) of section 1005.31, Florida 169 Statutes, is amended to read: 170 1005.31 Licensure of institutions.— 171 (11) The commission shall establish minimum standards for 172 the approval of agents. The commission may adopt rules to ensure 173 that licensed agents meet these standards and uphold the intent 174 of this chapter. An agent may not solicit prospective students 175 in this state for enrollment in any independent postsecondary 176 educational institution under the commission’s purview or in any 177 out-of-state independent postsecondary educational institution 178 unless the agent has received a license as prescribed by the 179 commission or solicits for a postsecondary educational 180 institution that is not under the jurisdiction of the commission 181 pursuant to s. 1005.06(1)(h). 182 Section 4. The Division of Law Revision and Information is 183 directed to replace the phrase “the effective date of this act” 184 wherever it occurs in this act with the date this act becomes a 185 law. 186 Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.