Florida Senate - 2019 CS for CS for SB 1224
By the Committees on Governmental Oversight and Accountability;
and Education; and Senator Farmer
1 A bill to be entitled
2 An act relating to charter schools; creating s.
3 1001.241, F.S.; requiring the Department of Education
4 to approve credentialing entities for a specified
5 purpose; requiring credentialing entities to
6 establish, develop, and administer specified
7 requirements and processes; requiring credentialing
8 entities to establish a certification program;
9 providing requirements for the certification program;
10 providing that applicants who submit applications to a
11 credentialing entity are subject to a certain
12 background screening; providing for the ineligibility
13 of certain applicants; requiring the Department of Law
14 Enforcement to notify the credentialing entity of an
15 applicant’s background screening results; providing
16 that the results of fingerprinting and background
17 screening of applicants who meet certain requirements
18 are valid and such applicants are not required to be
19 subsequently fingerprinted or pass another background
20 screening; requiring credentialing entities to confirm
21 whether an applicant has previously been fingerprinted
22 and passed a background screening within a school
23 district; requiring credentialing entities to issue
24 certificates of compliance upon approval of a person’s
25 application; providing for termination of the
26 certification after a specified time period if the
27 certification is not renewed; authorizing
28 credentialing entities to suspend or revoke a
29 certificate of compliance under specified conditions;
30 requiring charter schools to remove a charter school
31 principal, charter school governing board member, or
32 charter school chief financial officer from his or her
33 position, as applicable, under specified conditions;
34 requiring charter schools to notify the credentialing
35 entity of such removal; providing that certain
36 decisions by a department-recognized credentialing
37 program are reviewable by the Department of Education;
38 providing that an aggrieved person may request an
39 administrative hearing within a specified timeframe
40 after receiving an adverse determination after
41 completion of an appeals process offered by the
42 credentialing program; amending s. 1002.33, F.S.;
43 deleting obsolete language; revising charter school
44 application deadline requirements; authorizing certain
45 charter school applicants to open charter schools
46 before a specified timeframe and after approval;
47 prohibiting specified individuals and entities from
48 submitting an application to open a charter school for
49 specified periods of time; defining the term
50 “relative” for the purpose of applying the
51 prohibition; requiring each charter school principal,
52 governing board member, chief financial officer, or
53 their equivalent, to meet certain certification
54 requirements; amending s. 1002.45, F.S.; authorizing
55 virtual charter schools to provide part-time virtual
56 instruction for certain students; providing that a
57 charter school may be an approved provider; providing
58 an effective date.
60 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
62 Section 1. Section 1001.241, Florida Statutes, is created
63 to read:
64 1001.241 Third-party credentialing entities.—
65 (1) The department shall approve one or more third-party
66 credentialing entities for the purposes of developing and
67 administering a credentialing program for charter school
68 principals, charter school governing board members, and charter
69 school chief financial officers. The approved credentialing
70 entity shall:
71 (a) Establish position core competencies, certification
72 requirements, testing instruments, and recertification
73 requirements for charter school principals, charter school
74 governing board members, and charter school chief financial
76 (b) Establish a process to administer the certification
77 application, award, and maintenance processes.
78 (c) Develop and administer:
79 1. A code of ethics and disciplinary process.
80 2. Biennial continuing education requirements and annual
81 certification renewal requirements.
82 3. An education provider program to approve training
83 entities that are qualified to provide precertification training
84 to applicants and continuing education opportunities to
85 certified persons.
86 (2) A credentialing entity shall establish a certification
87 program that:
88 (a) Is directly related to the core competencies.
89 (b) Establishes minimum requirements in each of the
90 following categories:
91 1. Training.
92 2. On-the-job work experience.
93 3. Supervision.
94 4. Testing.
95 5. Biennial continuing education.
96 (c) Requires adherence to a code of ethics and provides for
97 a disciplinary process that applies to certified persons.
98 (d) Approves qualified training entities that provide
99 precertification training to applicants and continuing education
100 to charter school principals, charter school governing board
101 members, and charter school chief financial officers. To avoid a
102 conflict of interest, a credentialing entity or its affiliate
103 may not deliver training to an applicant or continuing education
104 to a certificateholder.
105 (3) All applicants are subject to level 2 background
106 screening as provided under chapter 435. An applicant is
107 ineligible, and a credentialing entity shall deny the
108 application, if the applicant has been found guilty of, or has
109 entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to, regardless of
110 adjudication, any offense listed in s. 435.04(2) unless the
111 department has issued an exemption under s. 397.4872. In
112 accordance with s. 435.04, the Department of Law Enforcement
113 shall notify the credentialing entity of the applicant’s
114 eligibility based on the results of his or her background
115 screening. Once applicants are fingerprinted and pass the
116 appropriate background screening in any single school district,
117 the results of such fingerprinting and background screening
118 shall be valid and such applicants may not subsequently be
119 required to be fingerprinted or pass an appropriate background
120 screening. The credentialing entity shall confirm whether an
121 applicant has previously been fingerprinted and passed the
122 appropriate background screening within the school district.
123 (4) The credentialing entity shall issue a certificate of
124 compliance upon approval of a person’s application. The
125 certification shall automatically terminate 1 year after
126 issuance if not renewed.
127 (a) A credentialing entity may suspend or revoke the
128 certificate of compliance of a charter school principal, a
129 charter school governing board member, or a charter school chief
130 financial officer if the charter school principal, the charter
131 school governing board member, or the charter school chief
132 financial officer fails to adhere to the continuing education
134 (b) A credentialing entity shall revoke a certificate of
135 compliance of a charter school principal, charter school
136 governing board member, or charter school chief financial
137 officer if the charter school principal, charter school
138 governing board member, or charter school chief financial
139 officer provides false or misleading information to the
140 credentialing entity at any time.
141 (c) If a charter school principal, charter school governing
142 board member, or charter school chief financial officer is
143 arrested for or found guilty of, or enters a plea of guilty or
144 nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, any offense
145 listed in s. 435.04(2) while acting in that capacity, the
146 charter school shall immediately remove the person from that
147 position and shall notify the credentialing entity within 3
148 business days after such removal.
149 (5) Any decision by a department-recognized credentialing
150 program to deny certification or otherwise impose sanctions on
151 an individual who is certified is reviewable by the department.
152 The individual aggrieved may request an administrative hearing
153 conducted pursuant to ss. 120.569 and 120.57(1) within 30 days
154 after receiving an adverse determination after completing any
155 appeals process offered by the credentialing program.
156 Section 2. Present paragraphs (g), (h), and (i) of
157 subsection (12) of section 1002.33, Florida Statutes, are
158 redesignated as paragraphs (h), (i), and (j), respectively, and
159 a new paragraph (g) is added to that subsection, paragraph (g)
160 is added to subsection (8), and paragraph (b) of subsection (6)
161 and paragraph (a) of subsection (7) of that section are amended,
162 to read:
163 1002.33 Charter schools.—
164 (6) APPLICATION PROCESS AND REVIEW.—Charter school
165 applications are subject to the following requirements:
166 (b) A sponsor shall receive and review all applications for
167 a charter school using the evaluation instrument developed by
168 the Department of Education. A sponsor shall receive and
169 consider charter school applications received on or before
170 August 1 of each calendar year for charter schools to be opened
171 at the beginning of the school district’s next school year, or
172 to be opened at a time determined
agreed to by the applicant and
173 the sponsor. A sponsor may not refuse to receive a charter
174 school application submitted before August 1 and may receive an
175 application submitted later than August 1 if it chooses.
176 Beginning in 2018 and thereafter, A sponsor shall also receive
177 and consider charter school applications received on or before
178 February 1 of each calendar year for charter schools to be
179 opened 18 months later at the beginning of the school district’s
180 school year, or to be opened at a time determined by the
181 applicant. A sponsor may not refuse to receive a charter school
182 application submitted before February 1 and may receive an
183 application submitted later than February 1 if it chooses. A
184 sponsor may not charge an applicant for a charter any fee for
185 the processing or consideration of an application, and a sponsor
186 may not base its consideration or approval of a final
187 application upon the promise of future payment of any kind. If
188 an applicant is ready to do so, it may open a charter school
189 before the school district’s next school year after approval of
190 the charter school application submitted by either application
191 deadline. Before approving or denying any application, the
192 sponsor shall allow the applicant, upon receipt of written
193 notification, at least 7 calendar days to make technical or
194 nonsubstantive corrections and clarifications, including, but
195 not limited to, corrections of grammatical, typographical, and
196 like errors or missing signatures, if such errors are identified
197 by the sponsor as cause to deny the final application.
198 1. In order to facilitate an accurate budget projection
199 process, a sponsor shall be held harmless for FTE students who
200 are not included in the FTE projection due to approval of
201 charter school applications after the FTE projection deadline.
202 In a further effort to facilitate an accurate budget projection,
203 within 15 calendar days after receipt of a charter school
204 application, a sponsor shall report to the Department of
205 Education the name of the applicant entity, the proposed charter
206 school location, and its projected FTE.
207 2. In order to ensure fiscal responsibility, an application
208 for a charter school shall include a full accounting of expected
209 assets, a projection of expected sources and amounts of income,
210 including income derived from projected student enrollments and
211 from community support, and an expense projection that includes
212 full accounting of the costs of operation, including start-up
214 3.a. A sponsor shall by a majority vote approve or deny an
215 application no later than 90 calendar days after the application
216 is received, unless the sponsor and the applicant mutually agree
217 in writing to temporarily postpone the vote to a specific date,
218 at which time the sponsor shall by a majority vote approve or
219 deny the application. If the sponsor fails to act on the
220 application, an applicant may appeal to the State Board of
221 Education as provided in paragraph (c). If an application is
222 denied, the sponsor shall, within 10 calendar days after such
223 denial, articulate in writing the specific reasons, based upon
224 good cause, supporting its denial of the application and shall
225 provide the letter of denial and supporting documentation to the
226 applicant and to the Department of Education.
227 b. An application submitted by a high-performing charter
228 school identified pursuant to s. 1002.331 or a high-performing
229 charter school system identified pursuant to s. 1002.332 may be
230 denied by the sponsor only if the sponsor demonstrates by clear
231 and convincing evidence that:
232 (I) The application of a high-performing charter school
233 does not materially comply with the requirements in paragraph
234 (a) or, for a high-performing charter school system, the
235 application does not materially comply with s. 1002.332(2)(b);
236 (II) The charter school proposed in the application does
237 not materially comply with the requirements in paragraphs
239 (III) The proposed charter school’s educational program
240 does not substantially replicate that of the applicant or one of
241 the applicant’s high-performing charter schools;
242 (IV) The applicant has made a material misrepresentation or
243 false statement or concealed an essential or material fact
244 during the application process; or
245 (V) The proposed charter school’s educational program and
246 financial management practices do not materially comply with the
247 requirements of this section.
249 Material noncompliance is a failure to follow requirements or a
250 violation of prohibitions applicable to charter school
251 applications, which failure is quantitatively or qualitatively
252 significant either individually or when aggregated with other
253 noncompliance. An applicant is considered to be replicating a
254 high-performing charter school if the proposed school is
255 substantially similar to at least one of the applicant’s high
256 performing charter schools and the organization or individuals
257 involved in the establishment and operation of the proposed
258 school are significantly involved in the operation of replicated
260 c. If the sponsor denies an application submitted by a
261 high-performing charter school or a high-performing charter
262 school system, the sponsor must, within 10 calendar days after
263 such denial, state in writing the specific reasons, based upon
264 the criteria in sub-subparagraph b., supporting its denial of
265 the application and must provide the letter of denial and
266 supporting documentation to the applicant and to the Department
267 of Education. The applicant may appeal the sponsor’s denial of
268 the application in accordance with paragraph (c).
269 4. For budget projection purposes, the sponsor shall report
270 to the Department of Education the approval or denial of an
271 application within 10 calendar days after such approval or
272 denial. In the event of approval, the report to the Department
273 of Education shall include the final projected FTE for the
274 approved charter school.
275 5. Upon approval of an application, the initial startup
276 shall commence with the beginning of the public school calendar
277 for the district in which the charter is granted. A charter
278 school may defer the opening of the school’s operations for up
279 to 3 years to provide time for adequate facility planning. The
280 charter school must provide written notice of such intent to the
281 sponsor and the parents of enrolled students at least 30
282 calendar days before the first day of school.
283 (7) CHARTER.—The terms and conditions for the operation of
284 a charter school shall be set forth by the sponsor and the
285 applicant in a written contractual agreement, called a charter.
286 The sponsor and the governing board of the charter school shall
287 use the standard charter contract pursuant to subsection (21),
288 which shall incorporate the approved application and any addenda
289 approved with the application. Any term or condition of a
290 proposed charter contract that differs from the standard charter
291 contract adopted by rule of the State Board of Education shall
292 be presumed a limitation on charter school flexibility. The
293 sponsor may not impose unreasonable rules or regulations that
294 violate the intent of giving charter schools greater flexibility
295 to meet educational goals. The charter shall be signed by the
296 governing board of the charter school and the sponsor, following
297 a public hearing to ensure community input.
298 (a) The charter shall address and criteria for approval of
299 the charter shall be based on:
300 1. The school’s mission, the students to be served, and the
301 ages and grades to be included.
302 2. The focus of the curriculum, the instructional methods
303 to be used, any distinctive instructional techniques to be
304 employed, and identification and acquisition of appropriate
305 technologies needed to improve educational and administrative
306 performance which include a means for promoting safe, ethical,
307 and appropriate uses of technology which comply with legal and
308 professional standards.
309 a. The charter shall ensure that reading is a primary focus
310 of the curriculum and that resources are provided to identify
311 and provide specialized instruction for students who are reading
312 below grade level. The curriculum and instructional strategies
313 for reading must be consistent with the Next Generation Sunshine
314 State Standards and grounded in scientifically based reading
316 b. In order to provide students with access to diverse
317 instructional delivery models, to facilitate the integration of
318 technology within traditional classroom instruction, and to
319 provide students with the skills they need to compete in the
320 21st century economy, the Legislature encourages instructional
321 methods for blended learning courses consisting of both
322 traditional classroom and online instructional techniques.
323 Charter schools may implement blended learning courses which
324 combine traditional classroom instruction and virtual
325 instruction. Students in a blended learning course must be full
326 time students of the charter school pursuant to s.
327 1011.61(1)(a)1. Instructional personnel certified pursuant to s.
328 1012.55 who provide virtual instruction for blended learning
329 courses may be employees of the charter school or may be under
330 contract to provide instructional services to charter school
331 students. At a minimum, such instructional personnel must hold
332 an active state or school district adjunct certification under
333 s. 1012.57 for the subject area of the blended learning course.
334 The funding and performance accountability requirements for
335 blended learning courses are the same as those for traditional
337 3. The current incoming baseline standard of student
338 academic achievement, the outcomes to be achieved, and the
339 method of measurement that will be used. The criteria listed in
340 this subparagraph shall include a detailed description of:
341 a. How the baseline student academic achievement levels and
342 prior rates of academic progress will be established.
343 b. How these baseline rates will be compared to rates of
344 academic progress achieved by these same students while
345 attending the charter school.
346 c. To the extent possible, how these rates of progress will
347 be evaluated and compared with rates of progress of other
348 closely comparable student populations.
350 The district school board is required to provide academic
351 student performance data to charter schools for each of their
352 students coming from the district school system, as well as
353 rates of academic progress of comparable student populations in
354 the district school system.
355 4. The methods used to identify the educational strengths
356 and needs of students and how well educational goals and
357 performance standards are met by students attending the charter
358 school. The methods shall provide a means for the charter school
359 to ensure accountability to its constituents by analyzing
360 student performance data and by evaluating the effectiveness and
361 efficiency of its major educational programs. Students in
362 charter schools shall, at a minimum, participate in the
363 statewide assessment program created under s. 1008.22.
364 5. In secondary charter schools, a method for determining
365 that a student has satisfied the requirements for graduation in
366 s. 1002.3105(5), s. 1003.4281, or s. 1003.4282.
367 6. A method for resolving conflicts between the governing
368 board of the charter school and the sponsor.
369 7. The admissions procedures and dismissal procedures,
370 including the school’s code of student conduct. Admission or
371 dismissal must not be based on a student’s academic performance.
372 8. The ways by which the school will achieve a
373 racial/ethnic balance reflective of the community it serves or
374 within the racial/ethnic range of other public schools in the
375 same school district.
376 9. The financial and administrative management of the
377 school, including a reasonable demonstration of the professional
378 experience or competence of those individuals or organizations
379 applying to operate the charter school or those hired or
380 retained to perform such professional services and the
381 description of clearly delineated responsibilities and the
382 policies and practices needed to effectively manage the charter
383 school. A description of internal audit procedures and
384 establishment of controls to ensure that financial resources are
385 properly managed must be included. Both public sector and
386 private sector professional experience shall be equally valid in
387 such a consideration.
388 10. The asset and liability projections required in the
389 application which are incorporated into the charter and shall be
390 compared with information provided in the annual report of the
391 charter school.
392 11. A description of procedures that identify various risks
393 and provide for a comprehensive approach to reduce the impact of
394 losses; plans to ensure the safety and security of students and
395 staff; plans to identify, minimize, and protect others from
396 violent or disruptive student behavior; and the manner in which
397 the school will be insured, including whether or not the school
398 will be required to have liability insurance, and, if so, the
399 terms and conditions thereof and the amounts of coverage.
400 12. The term of the charter which shall provide for
401 cancellation of the charter if insufficient progress has been
402 made in attaining the student achievement objectives of the
403 charter and if it is not likely that such objectives can be
404 achieved before expiration of the charter. The initial term of a
405 charter shall be for 5 years, excluding 2 planning years. In
406 order to facilitate access to long-term financial resources for
407 charter school construction, charter schools that are operated
408 by a municipality or other public entity as provided by law are
409 eligible for up to a 15-year charter, subject to approval by the
410 district school board. A charter lab school is eligible for a
411 charter for a term of up to 15 years. In addition, to facilitate
412 access to long-term financial resources for charter school
413 construction, charter schools that are operated by a private,
414 not-for-profit, s. 501(c)(3) status corporation are eligible for
415 up to a 15-year charter, subject to approval by the district
416 school board. Such long-term charters remain subject to annual
417 review and may be terminated during the term of the charter, but
418 only according to the provisions set forth in subsection (8).
419 13. The facilities to be used and their location. The
420 sponsor may not require a charter school to have a certificate
421 of occupancy or a temporary certificate of occupancy for such a
422 facility earlier than 15 calendar days before the first day of
424 14. The qualifications to be required of the teachers and
425 the potential strategies used to recruit, hire, train, and
426 retain qualified staff to achieve best value.
427 15. The governance structure of the school, including the
428 status of the charter school as a public or private employer as
429 required in paragraph (12)(j) (12)(i).
430 16. A timetable for implementing the charter which
431 addresses the implementation of each element thereof and the
432 date by which the charter shall be awarded in order to meet this
434 17. In the case of an existing public school that is being
435 converted to charter status, alternative arrangements for
436 current students who choose not to attend the charter school and
437 for current teachers who choose not to teach in the charter
438 school after conversion in accordance with the existing
439 collective bargaining agreement or district school board rule in
440 the absence of a collective bargaining agreement. However,
441 alternative arrangements shall not be required for current
442 teachers who choose not to teach in a charter lab school, except
443 as authorized by the employment policies of the state university
444 which grants the charter to the lab school.
445 18. Full disclosure of the identity of all relatives
446 employed by the charter school who are related to the charter
447 school owner, president, chairperson of the governing board of
448 directors, superintendent, governing board member, principal,
449 assistant principal, or any other person employed by the charter
450 school who has equivalent decisionmaking authority. For the
451 purpose of this subparagraph, the term “relative” means father,
452 mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first
453 cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in
454 law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law,
455 stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother,
456 stepsister, half brother, or half sister.
457 19. Implementation of the activities authorized under s.
458 1002.331 by the charter school when it satisfies the eligibility
459 requirements for a high-performing charter school. A high
460 performing charter school shall notify its sponsor in writing by
461 March 1 if it intends to increase enrollment or expand grade
462 levels the following school year. The written notice shall
463 specify the amount of the enrollment increase and the grade
464 levels that will be added, as applicable.
465 (8) CAUSES FOR NONRENEWAL OR TERMINATION OF CHARTER.—
466 (g)1. If a charter is terminated or a charter school closes
467 before the end of a school year or within 3 years after
468 beginning operations and, after a specific finding by the school
469 district of material fraud, disregard of generally accepted
470 accounting principles, or of intentional malfeasance by an
471 applicant for the charter, the charter school owner, the charter
472 school president, charter school governing board members, and
473 the relatives of such owner, upon findings made by the school
474 district, the applicant for the charter, the charter school
475 owner, the charter school president, the charter school
476 governing board members, and the relatives of such owner,
477 president, or governing board member may not submit an
478 application to open a charter school in this state pursuant to
479 subsection (6) for a period of 5 years after the termination of
480 the charter or closure of the charter school. The applicant for
481 the charter, the charter school owner, the charter school
482 president, the charter school governing board members, and the
483 relatives of such owner, president, or governing board member,
484 may appeal to the charter appeals commission the school
485 district’s finding of material fraud, intentional malfeasance,
486 or disregard of generally accepted accounting principles.
487 2. If a charter school owner, a charter school president, a
488 member of a charter school governing board, a charter management
489 organization, or an education management organization is
490 convicted of a crime, including, but not limited to, material
491 fraud or serious financial theft offenses, misrepresentation,
492 fraud, or misappropriation related to the operation of a charter
493 school, that owner, president, or governing board member,
494 including any relatives of such individuals, or the charter
495 management organization or the education management
496 organization, may not submit an application to open a charter
497 school in this state pursuant to subsection (6) for a period of
498 10 years after such conviction.
500 For the purpose of this paragraph, the term “relative” has the
501 same meaning as specified in subparagraph (24)(a)2.
502 (12) EMPLOYEES OF CHARTER SCHOOLS.—
503 (g) Each charter school principal, governing board member,
504 chief financial officer, or equivalent position must hold a
505 valid certification issued by a third-party credentialing entity
506 that is recognized under s. 1001.241, at least 30 days before
507 the school opens or within 30 days of the first date of
508 employment, whichever comes first. The credentialing entity must
509 certify the individual’s core competence in the administration
510 of a charter school, including, but not limited to, developing
511 and adjusting business plans; accurate financial planning and
512 good business practices, including accounting for costs and
513 income; state and federal grant and student performance
514 accountability requirements; identification of, and application
515 for, state and federal funding sources; and governance,
516 including government in the sunshine, conflicts of interest,
517 ethics, and financial responsibility. An individual certified
518 under this paragraph meets the training requirements under
519 subparagraph (h)3., paragraph (6)(f), and subparagraph (9)(j)4.
520 Section 3. Paragraph (d) of subsection (1) of section
521 1002.45, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
522 1002.45 Virtual instruction programs.—
523 (1) PROGRAM.—
524 (d) A virtual charter school may provide part-time and
525 full-time virtual instruction for students in kindergarten
526 through grade 12 if the virtual charter school has a charter
527 approved pursuant to s. 1002.33 authorizing full-time virtual
528 instruction. A virtual charter school may:
529 1. Contract with the Florida Virtual School.
530 2. Contract with or be an approved provider under
531 subsection (2).
532 3. Enter into an agreement with a school district to allow
533 the participation of the virtual charter school’s students in
534 the school district’s virtual instruction program. The agreement
535 must indicate a process for reporting of student enrollment and
536 the transfer of funds required by paragraph (7)(e).
537 Section 4. This act shall take effect January 1, 2020.