September 18, 2020
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Senate Bill 1180

Senate Bill sb1180

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    Florida Senate - 2001                                  SB 1180

    By Senator Pruitt





    304-591D-01

  1                      A bill to be entitled

  2         An act relating to scholarships for students

  3         with disabilities; amending s. 229.05371, F.S.;

  4         creating the scholarship program for students

  5         with disabilities; providing for eligibility;

  6         establishing obligations of school districts;

  7         establishing criteria for private school

  8         eligibility; establishing obligations for

  9         program participants; providing for funding;

10         authorizing the State Board of Education to

11         adopt rules; providing an effective date.

12

13  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:

14

15         Section 1.  Section 229.05371, Florida Statutes, is

16  amended to read:

17         (Substantial rewording of section. See

18         s. 229.05371, F.S., for present text.)

19         229.05371  Scholarships to public or private school of

20  choice for students with disabilities.--

21         (1)  SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM.--There is established a

22  program, which is separate and distinct from the Opportunity

23  Scholarship Program, to provide scholarships to a public or

24  private school of choice for students with disabilities. A

25  student with a disability is one who has been determined

26  eligible for a special program and for whom an individual

27  education plan has been written in accordance with rules of

28  the Commissioner of Education or the State Board of Education.

29  Students with disabilities include students who are mentally

30  handicapped, speech and language impaired, deaf or hard of

31  hearing, visually impaired, dual sensory impaired, emotionally

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    Florida Senate - 2001                                  SB 1180
    304-591D-01




  1  handicapped, specific learning disabled, hospitalized or

  2  homebound, or autistic.

  3         (2)  SCHOLARSHIP ELIGIBILITY.--A public school

  4  student's parent or guardian may request and receive from the

  5  state a scholarship for the child to enroll in and attend a

  6  private school in accordance with this section if:

  7         (a)  By assigned school attendance area or by special

  8  assignment, the student has spent the prior school year in

  9  attendance at a public school in this state; and

10         (b)  The parent or guardian has obtained acceptance for

11  admission of the student to a private school that is eligible

12  for the program under subsection (4), and has notified the

13  school district of the request for a scholarship at least 60

14  days prior to the date of the first scholarship payment.

15

16  This section does not apply to a student who is enrolled in a

17  school operating for the purpose of providing educational

18  services to youth in Department of Juvenile Justice commitment

19  programs. For purposes of continuity of educational choice,

20  the scholarship shall remain in force until the student

21  returns to a public school or graduates from high school.

22  However, at any time, the student's parent or guardian may

23  remove the student from the private school and place the

24  student in a public school, as provided in paragraph (3)(d).

25         (3)  SCHOOL DISTRICT OBLIGATIONS.--

26         (a)  A school district shall timely notify the parent

27  or guardian of the student of all options available pursuant

28  to this section and offer that student's parent or guardian an

29  opportunity to enroll the student in another public school

30  within the district. The parent or guardian is not required to

31  accept this offer in lieu of requesting a scholarship to a

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    Florida Senate - 2001                                  SB 1180
    304-591D-01




  1  private school. However, if the parent chooses the public

  2  school option, the student may continue attending the public

  3  school chosen by the parent until the student graduates from

  4  high school. When a parent chooses the public school option,

  5  the school district will provide transportation to the public

  6  school selected by the parent.

  7         (b)  For a student with disabilities who does not have

  8  a matrix of services under s. 236.025, the school district

  9  must complete a matrix that assigns the student to one of the

10  levels of service as they existed prior to the 2000-2001

11  school year. The school district must complete the matrix of

12  services for any student who is participating in the

13  scholarship program for students with disabilities and must

14  notify the private school of the student's eligibility and the

15  amount of the scholarship within 30 days after receiving

16  notification by the student's parent of intent to participate

17  in the scholarship program.

18         (c)  If the parent chooses the private school option

19  and the student is accepted by the private school pending the

20  availability of a space for the student, the parent or

21  guardian of the student must notify the school district 60

22  days prior to entry in the private school in order to be

23  eligible for the scholarship when a space becomes available

24  for the student in the private school.

25         (d)  The parent or guardian of a student may choose, as

26  an alternative, to enroll the student in and transport the

27  student to a public school in an adjacent school district

28  which has available space, and that school district shall

29  accept the student and report the student for purposes of the

30  district's funding pursuant to the Florida Education Finance

31  Program.

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    Florida Senate - 2001                                  SB 1180
    304-591D-01




  1         (e)  For a student in the district who participates in

  2  the scholarship program for students with disabilities whose

  3  parent requests that the student take the statewide

  4  assessments under s. 229.57, the district shall provide

  5  locations and times to take all statewide assessments.

  6         (f)  A school district must notify the Department of

  7  Education within 10 days after it receives notification of a

  8  parent's intent to apply for a scholarship for a student with

  9  a disability.

10         (4)  PRIVATE SCHOOL ELIGIBILITY.--To be eligible to

11  participate in the scholarship program for students with

12  disabilities, a private school must be a Florida private

13  school, may be sectarian or nonsectarian, and must:

14         (a)  Demonstrate fiscal soundness by being in operation

15  for one school year or provide the Department of Education

16  with a statement by a certified public accountant confirming

17  that the private school desiring to participate is insured and

18  the owner or owners have sufficient capital or credit to

19  operate the school for the upcoming year serving the number of

20  students anticipated with expected revenues from tuition and

21  other sources that may be reasonably expected. In lieu of such

22  a statement, a surety bond or letter of credit for the amount

23  equal to the scholarship funds for any quarter may be filed

24  with the department.

25         (b)  Notify the Department of Education of its intent

26  to participate in the program under this section by May 1 of

27  the school year preceding the school year in which it intends

28  to participate. The notice must specify the grade levels and

29  services that the private school has available for students

30  with disabilities who are participating in the scholarship

31  program.

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    Florida Senate - 2001                                  SB 1180
    304-591D-01




  1         (c)  Comply with the antidiscrimination provisions of

  2  42 U.S.C. s. 2000d.

  3         (d)  Meet state and local health and safety laws and

  4  codes.

  5         (e)  Be academically accountable to the parent or

  6  guardian for meeting the educational needs of the student.

  7         (f)  Employ or contract with teachers who hold

  8  baccalaureate or higher degrees; or have at least 3 years of

  9  teaching experience in public or private schools; or have

10  special skills, knowledge, or expertise that qualifies them to

11  provide instruction in subjects taught.

12         (g)  Comply with all state laws relating to general

13  regulation of private schools.

14         (h)  Adhere to the tenets of its published disciplinary

15  procedures prior to the expulsion of a scholarship student.

16         (5)  OBLIGATION OF PROGRAM PARTICIPATION.--

17         (a)  A parent or guardian who applies for a scholarship

18  for a student with a disability is exercising his or her

19  parental option to place his or her child in a private school.

20  The parent or guardian must select the private school and

21  apply for admission for his or her child.

22         (b)  The parent or guardian must have requested the

23  scholarship at least 60 days prior to the date of the first

24  scholarship payment.

25         (c)  Any student participating in the scholarship

26  program for students with disabilities must remain in

27  attendance throughout the school year, unless excused by the

28  school for illness or other good cause, and must comply fully

29  with the school's code of conduct.

30         (d)  The parent or guardian of each student

31  participating in the scholarship program for students with

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    Florida Senate - 2001                                  SB 1180
    304-591D-01




  1  disabilities must comply fully with the private school's

  2  parental involvement requirements, unless excused by the

  3  school for illness or other good cause.

  4         (e)  If the parent or guardian requests that the

  5  student participating in the scholarship program for students

  6  with disabilities takes all statewide assessments required

  7  pursuant to s. 229.57, the parent or guardian is responsible

  8  for transporting the student to the assessment site designated

  9  by the school district.

10         (f)  Upon receipt of a scholarship warrant, the parent

11  or guardian to whom the warrant is made must restrictively

12  endorse the warrant to the private school for deposit into the

13  account of the private school.

14         (g)  A participant who fails to comply with this

15  subsection forfeits the scholarship.

16         (6)  SCHOLARSHIP FUNDING AND PAYMENT.--

17         (a)1.  The maximum scholarship granted for an eligible

18  student with disabilities shall be a calculated amount

19  equivalent to the base student allocation in the Florida

20  Education Finance Program multiplied by the appropriate cost

21  factor for the educational program that would have been

22  provided for the student in the district school to which he or

23  she was assigned, multiplied by the district cost

24  differential. If the General Appropriations Act does not

25  specify a program cost factor for the program to which a

26  student is assigned, based upon completion of a matrix of

27  services for that student, a program cost factor shall be

28  calculated using the following procedure. First, historical

29  cost factor ratios shall be calculated by dividing the Level

30  1, Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4 program cost factors by the

31  program cost factor for Level 5 for the most recent year for

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    Florida Senate - 2001                                  SB 1180
    304-591D-01




  1  which all five exceptional-child program cost factors were

  2  defined in the General Appropriations Act. Second, the

  3  historical cost factor ratio for the program to which a

  4  student is assigned and for which a scholarship entitlement is

  5  being calculated shall be multiplied by the Level 5 program

  6  cost factor defined in the General Appropriations Act for the

  7  school year for which the scholarship entitlement is being

  8  calculated. In addition, the calculated amount shall include

  9  the per-student share of all formula components and major

10  categorical program allocations that are included in the

11  calculation of the state share of school districts' total

12  potential funding entitlements. The amount of any assessment

13  fee required by the participating private school may be paid

14  from the total amount of the exceptional student scholarship

15  amount. If the participating private school requires partial

16  payment of tuition prior to the start of the academic year to

17  reserve space for students admitted to the school, that

18  partial payment may be paid by the Department of Education on

19  July 1 of the year in which the scholarship is awarded, up to

20  a maximum of $1,000, and deducted from subsequent scholarship

21  payments. The amount of the scholarship for students with

22  disabilities shall be the calculated amount or the amount of

23  the private school's tuition and fees, whichever is less. The

24  district shall report all students who are attending a private

25  school under this program. The students with disabilities

26  attending private schools on scholarships shall be reported

27  separately from other students reported for purposes of the

28  Florida Education Finance Program. The public or private

29  school that provides services to students with disabilities

30  shall receive the weighted funding for such services at the

31  appropriate funding level consistent with s. 236.025.

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    Florida Senate - 2001                                  SB 1180
    304-591D-01




  1         2.  Following notification on July 1, September 1,

  2  December 1, or February 1 of the number of participants, the

  3  Department of Education shall transfer the amount calculated

  4  under paragraph (b) from the district's total funding

  5  entitlement under the Florida Education Finance Program and

  6  from authorized categorical accounts to a separate account for

  7  the scholarship program for quarterly disbursement to the

  8  parents or guardians of participating students. When a student

  9  enters the scholarship program, the Department of Education

10  must receive all documentation required for the student's

11  participation at least 30 days before the first quarterly

12  payment is made for the student. The Department of Education

13  may not make any retroactive payments and may not prorate

14  payments.

15         (b)  Upon proper documentation reviewed and approved by

16  the Department of Education, the Comptroller shall make

17  scholarship payments in four equal amounts no later than

18  September 1, November 1, February 1, and April 1 of each

19  academic year in which the scholarship is in force. The

20  initial payment shall be made after Department of Education

21  verification of admission acceptance, and subsequent payments

22  shall be made upon verification of continued enrollment and

23  attendance at the private school. Payment must be by

24  individual warrant made payable to the student's parent or

25  guardian and mailed by the Department of Education to the

26  private school of the parent's or guardian's choice, and the

27  parent or guardian shall restrictively endorse the warrant to

28  the private school for deposit into the account of the private

29  school.

30

31

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    Florida Senate - 2001                                  SB 1180
    304-591D-01




  1         (7)  LIABILITY.--No liability shall arise on the part

  2  of the state based on any grant or use of a scholarship for

  3  students with disabilities.

  4         (8)  RULES.--The State Board of Education may adopt

  5  rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to administer this

  6  section. However, the inclusion of eligible private schools

  7  within options available to Florida public school students

  8  does not expand the regulatory authority of the state, its

  9  officers, or any school district to impose any additional

10  regulation of private schools beyond those reasonably

11  necessary to enforce requirements expressly set forth in this

12  section.

13         Section 2.  This act shall take effect upon becoming a

14  law.

15

16            *****************************************

17                          SENATE SUMMARY

18    Creates a program to provide scholarships for certain
      students with disabilities who choose to attend a
19    higher-performing public school or a private school.
      Provides eligibility requirements for a student to
20    receive a scholarship. Provides for the amount of the
      scholarship to equal the amount the student would have
21    received under the Florida Education Finance Program or
      the amount of the private school tuition, whichever is
22    less. Provides requirements for private schools that
      participate in the scholarship program. Requires that
23    funds be disbursed quarterly to the parent or guardian of
      a scholarship recipient. Authorizes the State Board of
24    Education to adopt rules to administer the program. (See
      bill for details.)
25

26

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29

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31

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