Florida Senate - 2017                                     SB 902
       By Senator Simmons
       9-00468B-17                                            2017902__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to the Gardiner Scholarship Program;
    3         amending s. 1002.385, F.S.; redefining the terms
    4         “disability” and “IEP”; revising program eligibility
    5         requirements; prohibiting a student who is enrolled in
    6         the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind from
    7         being eligible for the program; authorizing a parent
    8         to select certain additional specialized services;
    9         revising the date upon which certain private schools
   10         must submit a required report; specifying that certain
   11         actions of the private school are a basis for program
   12         ineligibility; revising funding calculation
   13         requirements; providing an appropriation; providing an
   14         effective date.
   16  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   18         Section 1. Paragraphs (d) and (h) of subsection (2) and
   19  paragraph (a) of subsection (3) of section 1002.385, Florida
   20  Statutes, are amended, paragraph (e) is added to subsection (4)
   21  of that section, and paragraph (c) of subsection (5) and
   22  subsections (8)and (13) of that section are amended, to read:
   23         1002.385 The Gardiner Scholarship.—
   24         (2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
   25         (d) “Disability” means, for a 3- or 4-year-old child or for
   26  a student in kindergarten to grade 12, autism spectrum disorder,
   27  as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
   28  Disorders, Fifth Edition, published by the American Psychiatric
   29  Association; cerebral palsy, as defined in s. 393.063(6); Down
   30  syndrome, as defined in s. 393.063(15); an intellectual
   31  disability, as defined in s. 393.063(24); Phelan-McDermid
   32  syndrome, as defined in s. 393.063(28); Prader-Willi syndrome,
   33  as defined in s. 393.063(29); spina bifida, as defined in s.
   34  393.063(40); being a high-risk child, as defined in s.
   35  393.063(23)(a); muscular dystrophy; and Williams syndrome; a
   36  rare disease or condition, as defined by the Orphan Drug Act of
   37  1983, Pub. L. No. 97-414; anaphylaxis; or identification as
   38  orthopedically impaired, deaf, visually impaired, hospital or
   39  homebound, dual sensory impaired, traumatic brain injured, or
   40  other health impaired, as defined by rules of the State Board of
   41  Education and evidenced by reports from local school districts.
   42         (h) “IEP” means individual education plan, regardless of
   43  whether the plan has been reviewed or revised within the last 12
   44  months.
   45         (3) PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY.—A parent of a student with a
   46  disability may request and receive from the state a Gardiner
   47  Scholarship for the purposes specified in subsection (5) if:
   48         (a) The student:
   49         1. Is a resident of this state;
   50         2. Is 3 or 4 years of age on or before September 1 of the
   51  year in which the student applies for program participation or
   52  is eligible to enroll in kindergarten through grade 12 in a
   53  public school in this state;
   54         3. Has a disability as defined in paragraph (2)(d) or is 5
   55  years of age or older and has previously been identified as a
   56  high-risk child, as defined in s. 393.063(23)(a); and
   57         4. Is the subject of an IEP written in accordance with
   58  rules of the State Board of Education or with the applicable
   59  rules of another state or has received a diagnosis of a
   60  disability from a physician who is licensed under chapter 458 or
   61  chapter 459, or a psychologist who is licensed under chapter
   62  490, or a physician who holds an active license issued by
   63  another state or territory of the United States, the District of
   64  Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
   65         (4) PROGRAM PROHIBITIONS.—A student is not eligible for the
   66  program if he or she is:
   67         (e) Enrolled in the Florida School for the Deaf and the
   68  Blind.
   69         (5) AUTHORIZED USES OF PROGRAM FUNDS.—Program funds must be
   70  used to meet the individual educational needs of an eligible
   71  student and may be spent for the following purposes:
   72         (c) Specialized services by approved providers that are
   73  selected by the parent. These specialized services may include,
   74  but are not limited to:
   75         1. Applied behavior analysis services as provided in ss.
   76  627.6686 and 641.31098.
   77         2. Services provided by speech-language pathologists as
   78  defined in s. 468.1125.
   79         3. Occupational therapy services as defined in s. 468.203.
   80         4. Services provided by physical therapists as defined in
   81  s. 486.021.
   82         5. Services provided by listening and spoken language
   83  specialists and an appropriate acoustical environment for a
   84  child who is deaf or hard of hearing and who has received an
   85  implant or assistive hearing device.
   86         6. Services provided by a therapist who is certified by the
   87  Certification Board for Music Therapists or who has credentials
   88  from the Art Therapy Credentials Board.
   89         7. Services provided at a center that is a member of the
   90  Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship
   91  International.
   93  A provider of any services receiving payments pursuant to this
   94  subsection may not share, refund, or rebate any moneys from the
   95  Gardiner Scholarship with the parent or participating student in
   96  any manner.
   98  private school may be sectarian or nonsectarian and shall:
   99         (a) Comply with all requirements for private schools
  100  participating in state school choice scholarship programs
  101  pursuant to s. 1002.421.
  102         (b) Provide to the organization, upon request, all
  103  documentation required for the student’s participation,
  104  including the private school’s and student’s fee schedules.
  105         (c) Be academically accountable to the parent for meeting
  106  the educational needs of the student by:
  107         1. At a minimum, annually providing to the parent a written
  108  explanation of the student’s progress.
  109         2. Annually administering or making provision for students
  110  participating in the program in grades 3 through 10 to take one
  111  of the nationally norm-referenced tests identified by the
  112  Department of Education or the statewide assessments pursuant to
  113  s. 1008.22. Students with disabilities for whom standardized
  114  testing is not appropriate are exempt from this requirement. A
  115  participating private school shall report a student’s scores to
  116  the parent.
  117         3. Cooperating with the scholarship student whose parent
  118  chooses to have the student participate in the statewide
  119  assessments pursuant to s. 1008.22 or, if a private school
  120  chooses to offer the statewide assessments, administering the
  121  assessments at the school.
  122         a. A participating private school may choose to offer and
  123  administer the statewide assessments to all students who attend
  124  the private school in grades 3 through 10.
  125         b. A participating private school shall submit a request in
  126  writing to the Department of Education by March 1 of each year
  127  in order to administer the statewide assessments in the
  128  subsequent school year.
  129         (d) Employ or contract with teachers who have regular and
  130  direct contact with each student receiving a scholarship under
  131  this section at the school’s physical location.
  132         (e) Annually contract with an independent certified public
  133  accountant to perform the agreed-upon procedures developed under
  134  s. 1002.395(6)(o) and produce a report of the results if the
  135  private school receives more than $250,000 in funds from
  136  scholarships awarded under this section in the 2014-2015 state
  137  fiscal year or a state fiscal year thereafter. A private school
  138  subject to this paragraph must submit the report by September
  139  15, 2015, and annually thereafter by August 15 to the
  140  organization that awarded the majority of the school’s
  141  scholarship funds. The agreed-upon procedures must be conducted
  142  in accordance with attestation standards established by the
  143  American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
  145  If The inability of a private school is unable to meet the
  146  requirements of this subsection or has in consecutive years had
  147  material exceptions listed in its agreed-upon procedures
  148  reports, there is constitutes a basis for the ineligibility of
  149  the private school to participate in the program as determined
  150  by the commissioner.
  151         (13) FUNDING AND PAYMENT.—
  152         (a)1. The maximum funding amount granted for an eligible
  153  student with a disability, pursuant to subsection (3), shall be
  154  equivalent to the base student allocation in the Florida
  155  Education Finance Program multiplied by the appropriate cost
  156  factor for the educational program that which would have been
  157  provided for the student in the district school to which he or
  158  she would have been assigned, multiplied by the district cost
  159  differential.
  160         2. In addition, an amount equivalent to a share of the
  161  guaranteed allocation for exceptional students in the Florida
  162  Education Finance Program shall be determined and added to the
  163  amount in subparagraph 1. The calculation shall be based on the
  164  methodology and the data used to calculate the guaranteed
  165  allocation for exceptional students for each district in chapter
  166  2000-166, Laws of Florida. Except as provided in subparagraph
  167  3., the calculation shall be based on the student’s grade, the
  168  matrix level of services, and the difference between the 2000
  169  2001 basic program and the appropriate level of services cost
  170  factor, multiplied by the 2000-2001 base student allocation and
  171  the 2000-2001 district cost differential for the sending
  172  district. The calculated amount must also include an amount
  173  equivalent to the per-student share of supplemental academic
  174  instruction funds, instructional materials funds, technology
  175  funds, and other categorical funds as provided in the General
  176  Appropriations Act.
  177         3. Except as otherwise provided in subsection (7), The
  178  calculation for a student all students participating in the
  179  program shall be based on the student’s matrix level of
  180  services. The funding for a student without a matrix of services
  181  shall be based on the matrix that assigns the student to support
  182  Level III of services. If a parent chooses to request and
  183  receive a matrix of services from the school district, when the
  184  school district completes the matrix, the amount of the payment
  185  shall be adjusted as needed.
  186         (b) The amount of the awarded funds shall be 90 percent of
  187  the calculated amount. One hundred percent of the funds
  188  appropriated for the program shall be released to the department
  189  at the beginning of the first quarter of each fiscal year.
  190         (c) Upon notification from the organization that a parent
  191  has filed a final verification document pursuant to paragraph
  192  (3)(b) or upon notification from the organization that a 3- or
  193  4-year-old child’s application has been approved for the
  194  program, the department shall release the student’s scholarship
  195  funds to the organization to be deposited into the student’s
  196  account.
  197         (d) For initial eligibility for the program, students
  198  determined eligible by the organization for a Gardiner
  199  Scholarship by:
  200         1. September 1 shall receive 100 percent of the total
  201  awarded funds.
  202         2. November 1 shall receive 75 percent of the total awarded
  203  funds.
  204         3. February 1 shall receive 50 percent of the total awarded
  205  funds.
  206         4. April 1 shall receive 25 percent of the total awarded
  207  funds.
  208         (e)A student who is 3 years of age or older after
  209  September 1 and who the organization has determined is eligible
  210  for a Gardiner Scholarship may receive a prorated scholarship
  211  consistent with paragraph (c).
  212         (f)(e) Accrued interest in the student’s account is in
  213  addition to, and not part of, the awarded funds. Program funds
  214  include both the awarded funds and accrued interest.
  215         (g)(f) The organization may develop a system for payment of
  216  benefits by funds transfer, including, but not limited to, debit
  217  cards, electronic payment cards, or any other means of payment
  218  that the department deems to be commercially viable or cost
  219  effective. A student’s scholarship award may not be reduced for
  220  debit card or electronic payment fees. Commodities or services
  221  related to the development of such a system shall be procured by
  222  competitive solicitation unless they are purchased from a state
  223  term contract pursuant to s. 287.056.
  224         (h)(g) In addition to funds appropriated for scholarship
  225  awards and subject to a separate, specific legislative
  226  appropriation, an organization may receive an amount equivalent
  227  to not more than 3 percent of the amount of each scholarship
  228  award from state funds for administrative expenses if the
  229  organization has operated as a nonprofit entity for at least the
  230  preceding 3 fiscal years and did not have any findings of
  231  material weakness or material noncompliance in its most recent
  232  audit under s. 1002.395(6)(m). Such administrative expenses must
  233  be reasonable and necessary for the organization’s management
  234  and distribution of scholarships under this section. Funds
  235  authorized under this paragraph may not be used for lobbying or
  236  political activity or expenses related to lobbying or political
  237  activity. An organization may not charge an application fee for
  238  a scholarship. Administrative expenses may not be deducted from
  239  funds appropriated for scholarship awards.
  240         (i)(h) Moneys received pursuant to this section do not
  241  constitute taxable income to the qualified student or parent of
  242  the qualified student.
  243         Section 2. For the 2017-2018 fiscal year, the sum of $200
  244  million in recurring funds from the General Revenue Fund is
  245  appropriated to the Department of Education for scholarship
  246  awards under the Gardiner Scholarship Program. In addition to
  247  the funds appropriated for the scholarship awards, the sum of $6
  248  million in recurring funds from the General Revenue Fund is
  249  appropriated to the Department of Education for each
  250  scholarship-funding organization’s reasonable and necessary
  251  administrative expenses to manage and distribute scholarship
  252  awards under the program; however, the amount paid to each
  253  scholarship-funding organization may not exceed 3 percent of the
  254  amount of each scholarship award.
  255         Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2017.