Florida Senate - 2019                                    SB 1224
       By Senator Farmer
       34-00658B-19                                          20191224__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to charter school employees; amending
    3         s. 1002.33, F.S.; requiring each charter school
    4         principal, governing board member, chief financial
    5         officer, or their equivalent, to meet certain
    6         certification requirements; amending s. 1012.32, F.S.;
    7         conforming a cross-reference; providing an effective
    8         date.
   10  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   12         Section 1. Present paragraphs (g), (h), and (i) of
   13  subsection (12) of section 1002.33, Florida Statutes, are
   14  redesignated as paragraphs (h), (i), and (j), respectively, a
   15  new paragraph (g) is added to subsection (12), and paragraph (a)
   16  of subsection (7) of that section is amended, to read:
   17         1002.33 Charter schools.—
   18         (7) CHARTER.—The terms and conditions for the operation of
   19  a charter school shall be set forth by the sponsor and the
   20  applicant in a written contractual agreement, called a charter.
   21  The sponsor and the governing board of the charter school shall
   22  use the standard charter contract pursuant to subsection (21),
   23  which shall incorporate the approved application and any addenda
   24  approved with the application. Any term or condition of a
   25  proposed charter contract that differs from the standard charter
   26  contract adopted by rule of the State Board of Education shall
   27  be presumed a limitation on charter school flexibility. The
   28  sponsor may not impose unreasonable rules or regulations that
   29  violate the intent of giving charter schools greater flexibility
   30  to meet educational goals. The charter shall be signed by the
   31  governing board of the charter school and the sponsor, following
   32  a public hearing to ensure community input.
   33         (a) The charter shall address and criteria for approval of
   34  the charter shall be based on:
   35         1. The school’s mission, the students to be served, and the
   36  ages and grades to be included.
   37         2. The focus of the curriculum, the instructional methods
   38  to be used, any distinctive instructional techniques to be
   39  employed, and identification and acquisition of appropriate
   40  technologies needed to improve educational and administrative
   41  performance which include a means for promoting safe, ethical,
   42  and appropriate uses of technology which comply with legal and
   43  professional standards.
   44         a. The charter shall ensure that reading is a primary focus
   45  of the curriculum and that resources are provided to identify
   46  and provide specialized instruction for students who are reading
   47  below grade level. The curriculum and instructional strategies
   48  for reading must be consistent with the Next Generation Sunshine
   49  State Standards and grounded in scientifically based reading
   50  research.
   51         b. In order to provide students with access to diverse
   52  instructional delivery models, to facilitate the integration of
   53  technology within traditional classroom instruction, and to
   54  provide students with the skills they need to compete in the
   55  21st century economy, the Legislature encourages instructional
   56  methods for blended learning courses consisting of both
   57  traditional classroom and online instructional techniques.
   58  Charter schools may implement blended learning courses which
   59  combine traditional classroom instruction and virtual
   60  instruction. Students in a blended learning course must be full
   61  time students of the charter school pursuant to s.
   62  1011.61(1)(a)1. Instructional personnel certified pursuant to s.
   63  1012.55 who provide virtual instruction for blended learning
   64  courses may be employees of the charter school or may be under
   65  contract to provide instructional services to charter school
   66  students. At a minimum, such instructional personnel must hold
   67  an active state or school district adjunct certification under
   68  s. 1012.57 for the subject area of the blended learning course.
   69  The funding and performance accountability requirements for
   70  blended learning courses are the same as those for traditional
   71  courses.
   72         3. The current incoming baseline standard of student
   73  academic achievement, the outcomes to be achieved, and the
   74  method of measurement that will be used. The criteria listed in
   75  this subparagraph shall include a detailed description of:
   76         a. How the baseline student academic achievement levels and
   77  prior rates of academic progress will be established.
   78         b. How these baseline rates will be compared to rates of
   79  academic progress achieved by these same students while
   80  attending the charter school.
   81         c. To the extent possible, how these rates of progress will
   82  be evaluated and compared with rates of progress of other
   83  closely comparable student populations.
   85  The district school board is required to provide academic
   86  student performance data to charter schools for each of their
   87  students coming from the district school system, as well as
   88  rates of academic progress of comparable student populations in
   89  the district school system.
   90         4. The methods used to identify the educational strengths
   91  and needs of students and how well educational goals and
   92  performance standards are met by students attending the charter
   93  school. The methods shall provide a means for the charter school
   94  to ensure accountability to its constituents by analyzing
   95  student performance data and by evaluating the effectiveness and
   96  efficiency of its major educational programs. Students in
   97  charter schools shall, at a minimum, participate in the
   98  statewide assessment program created under s. 1008.22.
   99         5. In secondary charter schools, a method for determining
  100  that a student has satisfied the requirements for graduation in
  101  s. 1002.3105(5), s. 1003.4281, or s. 1003.4282.
  102         6. A method for resolving conflicts between the governing
  103  board of the charter school and the sponsor.
  104         7. The admissions procedures and dismissal procedures,
  105  including the school’s code of student conduct. Admission or
  106  dismissal must not be based on a student’s academic performance.
  107         8. The ways by which the school will achieve a
  108  racial/ethnic balance reflective of the community it serves or
  109  within the racial/ethnic range of other public schools in the
  110  same school district.
  111         9. The financial and administrative management of the
  112  school, including a reasonable demonstration of the professional
  113  experience or competence of those individuals or organizations
  114  applying to operate the charter school or those hired or
  115  retained to perform such professional services and the
  116  description of clearly delineated responsibilities and the
  117  policies and practices needed to effectively manage the charter
  118  school. A description of internal audit procedures and
  119  establishment of controls to ensure that financial resources are
  120  properly managed must be included. Both public sector and
  121  private sector professional experience shall be equally valid in
  122  such a consideration.
  123         10. The asset and liability projections required in the
  124  application which are incorporated into the charter and shall be
  125  compared with information provided in the annual report of the
  126  charter school.
  127         11. A description of procedures that identify various risks
  128  and provide for a comprehensive approach to reduce the impact of
  129  losses; plans to ensure the safety and security of students and
  130  staff; plans to identify, minimize, and protect others from
  131  violent or disruptive student behavior; and the manner in which
  132  the school will be insured, including whether or not the school
  133  will be required to have liability insurance, and, if so, the
  134  terms and conditions thereof and the amounts of coverage.
  135         12. The term of the charter which shall provide for
  136  cancellation of the charter if insufficient progress has been
  137  made in attaining the student achievement objectives of the
  138  charter and if it is not likely that such objectives can be
  139  achieved before expiration of the charter. The initial term of a
  140  charter shall be for 5 years, excluding 2 planning years. In
  141  order to facilitate access to long-term financial resources for
  142  charter school construction, charter schools that are operated
  143  by a municipality or other public entity as provided by law are
  144  eligible for up to a 15-year charter, subject to approval by the
  145  district school board. A charter lab school is eligible for a
  146  charter for a term of up to 15 years. In addition, to facilitate
  147  access to long-term financial resources for charter school
  148  construction, charter schools that are operated by a private,
  149  not-for-profit, s. 501(c)(3) status corporation are eligible for
  150  up to a 15-year charter, subject to approval by the district
  151  school board. Such long-term charters remain subject to annual
  152  review and may be terminated during the term of the charter, but
  153  only according to the provisions set forth in subsection (8).
  154         13. The facilities to be used and their location. The
  155  sponsor may not require a charter school to have a certificate
  156  of occupancy or a temporary certificate of occupancy for such a
  157  facility earlier than 15 calendar days before the first day of
  158  school.
  159         14. The qualifications to be required of the teachers and
  160  the potential strategies used to recruit, hire, train, and
  161  retain qualified staff to achieve best value.
  162         15. The governance structure of the school, including the
  163  status of the charter school as a public or private employer as
  164  required in paragraph (12)(j)(12)(i).
  165         16. A timetable for implementing the charter which
  166  addresses the implementation of each element thereof and the
  167  date by which the charter shall be awarded in order to meet this
  168  timetable.
  169         17. In the case of an existing public school that is being
  170  converted to charter status, alternative arrangements for
  171  current students who choose not to attend the charter school and
  172  for current teachers who choose not to teach in the charter
  173  school after conversion in accordance with the existing
  174  collective bargaining agreement or district school board rule in
  175  the absence of a collective bargaining agreement. However,
  176  alternative arrangements shall not be required for current
  177  teachers who choose not to teach in a charter lab school, except
  178  as authorized by the employment policies of the state university
  179  which grants the charter to the lab school.
  180         18. Full disclosure of the identity of all relatives
  181  employed by the charter school who are related to the charter
  182  school owner, president, chairperson of the governing board of
  183  directors, superintendent, governing board member, principal,
  184  assistant principal, or any other person employed by the charter
  185  school who has equivalent decisionmaking authority. For the
  186  purpose of this subparagraph, the term “relative” means father,
  187  mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first
  188  cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in
  189  law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law,
  190  stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother,
  191  stepsister, half brother, or half sister.
  192         19. Implementation of the activities authorized under s.
  193  1002.331 by the charter school when it satisfies the eligibility
  194  requirements for a high-performing charter school. A high
  195  performing charter school shall notify its sponsor in writing by
  196  March 1 if it intends to increase enrollment or expand grade
  197  levels the following school year. The written notice shall
  198  specify the amount of the enrollment increase and the grade
  199  levels that will be added, as applicable.
  201         (g) Each charter school principal, governing board member,
  202  chief financial officer, or equivalent position must hold a
  203  valid certification issued by a third-party credentialing
  204  organization that is recognized under s. 402.40, at least 30
  205  days before the school opens or within 30 days of the first date
  206  of employment, whichever comes first. The credentialing
  207  organization must certify the individual’s core competence in
  208  the administration of a charter school, including, but not
  209  limited to, developing and adjusting business plans; accurate
  210  financial planning and good business practices, including
  211  accounting for costs and income; state and federal grant and
  212  student performance accountability requirements; identification
  213  of, and application for, state and federal funding sources;
  214  governance, including government in the sunshine, conflicts of
  215  interest, ethics, and financial responsibility. An individual
  216  certified under this paragraph meets the training requirements
  217  under subparagraph (h)3., paragraph (6)(f), and subparagraph
  218  (9)(j)4.
  219         Section 2. Paragraph (b) of subsection (2) of section
  220  1012.32, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  221         1012.32 Qualifications of personnel.—
  222         (2)
  223         (b) Instructional and noninstructional personnel who are
  224  hired or contracted to fill positions in any charter school and
  225  members of the governing board of any charter school, in
  226  compliance with s. 1002.33(12)(h) s. 1002.33(12)(g), must, upon
  227  employment, engagement of services, or appointment, undergo
  228  background screening as required under s. 1012.465 or s.
  229  1012.56, whichever is applicable, by filing with the district
  230  school board for the school district in which the charter school
  231  is located a complete set of fingerprints taken by an authorized
  232  law enforcement agency or an employee of the school or school
  233  district who is trained to take fingerprints.
  235  Fingerprints shall be submitted to the Department of Law
  236  Enforcement for statewide criminal and juvenile records checks
  237  and to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for federal criminal
  238  records checks. A person subject to this subsection who is found
  239  ineligible for employment under s. 1012.315, or otherwise found
  240  through background screening to have been convicted of any crime
  241  involving moral turpitude as defined by rule of the State Board
  242  of Education, shall not be employed, engaged to provide
  243  services, or serve in any position that requires direct contact
  244  with students. Probationary persons subject to this subsection
  245  terminated because of their criminal record have the right to
  246  appeal such decisions. The cost of the background screening may
  247  be borne by the district school board, the charter school, the
  248  employee, the contractor, or a person subject to this
  249  subsection. A district school board shall reimburse a charter
  250  school the cost of background screening if it does not notify
  251  the charter school of the eligibility of a governing board
  252  member or instructional or noninstructional personnel within the
  253  earlier of 14 days after receipt of the background screening
  254  results from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or 30
  255  days of submission of fingerprints by the governing board member
  256  or instructional or noninstructional personnel.
  257         Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2019.