September 18, 2020
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Senate Bill 1180

Senate Bill sb1180c1

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    Florida Senate - 2001                           CS for SB 1180

    By the Committee on Education and Senator Pruitt





    304-1522-01

  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, physically

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    Florida Senate - 2001                           CS for SB 1180
    304-1522-01




  1  impaired, emotionally handicapped, specific learning disabled,

  2  hospitalized or homebound, or autistic.

  3         (2)  SCHOLARSHIP ELIGIBILITY.--Annually, prior to May

  4  1, the Department of Education must notify the parent of every

  5  public school student with a disability that his or her child

  6  may be eligible for a scholarship under this section. A public

  7  school student's parent or guardian may request and receive

  8  from the state a scholarship for the child to enroll in and

  9  attend a private school in accordance with this section if:

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

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

12  attendance at a public school in this state; and

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

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

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

16  school district in writing of the request for a scholarship at

17  least 60 days prior to the date of the first scholarship

18  payment. Prior year in attendance means that the student was

19  in attendance and reported by a school district for funding as

20  a student with a disability for the preceding October or

21  February Florida Education Finance Program surveys in

22  kindergarten through grade 12.

23

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

25  school operating for the purpose of providing educational

26  services to youth in Department of Juvenile Justice commitment

27  programs. For purposes of continuity of educational choice,

28  the scholarship shall remain in force until the student

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

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

31  remove the student from the private school and place the

                                  2

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    Florida Senate - 2001                           CS for SB 1180
    304-1522-01




  1  student in another participating private school or in a public

  2  school, as provided in subsection (3).

  3         (3)  SCHOOL DISTRICT OBLIGATIONS.--

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

  5  or guardian of the student of all options available pursuant

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

  7  opportunity to enroll the student in another public school

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

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

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

11  school option, the student may continue attending a public

12  school chosen by the parent until the student graduates from

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

14  the school district will provide transportation to the public

15  school selected by the parent.

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

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

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

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

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

21  services for any student who is participating in the

22  scholarship program for students with disabilities and must

23  notify the Department of Education of the student's matrix

24  level within 30 days after receiving notification by the

25  student's parent of intent to participate in the scholarship

26  program. The Department of Education will notify the private

27  school of the amount of the scholarship within 10 days after

28  receiving the school district's notification of the student's

29  matrix level.

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

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

                                  3

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    Florida Senate - 2001                           CS for SB 1180
    304-1522-01




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

  2  guardian of the student must notify the school district 60

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

  4  eligible for the scholarship when a space becomes available

  5  for the student in the private school.

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

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

  8  student to a public school in an adjacent school district

  9  which has available space, and that school district shall

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

11  district's funding pursuant to the Florida Education Finance

12  Program.

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

14  the scholarship program for students with disabilities whose

15  parent requests that the student take the statewide

16  assessments under s. 229.57, the district shall provide

17  locations and times to take all statewide assessments.

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

19  Education within 10 days after it receives notification of a

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

21  a disability.

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

23  participate in the scholarship program for students with

24  disabilities, a private school must be a Florida private

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

26         (a)  Demonstrate fiscal soundness by being in operation

27  for one school year or provide the Department of Education

28  with a statement by a certified public accountant confirming

29  that the private school desiring to participate is insured and

30  the owner or owners have sufficient capital or credit to

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

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    Florida Senate - 2001                           CS for SB 1180
    304-1522-01




  1  students anticipated with expected revenues from tuition and

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

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

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

  5  with the department.

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

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

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

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

10  services that the private school has available for students

11  with disabilities who are participating in the scholarship

12  program.

13         (c)  Comply with the antidiscrimination provisions of

14  42 U.S.C. s. 2000d.

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

16  codes.

17         (e)  Be academically accountable to the parent or

18  guardian for meeting the educational needs of the student.

19         (f)  Employ or contract with teachers who hold

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

21  teaching experience in public or private schools; or have

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

23  provide instruction in subjects taught.

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

25  regulation of private schools.

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

27  procedures prior to the expulsion of a scholarship student.

28         (5)  OBLIGATION OF PROGRAM PARTICIPATION.--

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

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

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

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    Florida Senate - 2001                           CS for SB 1180
    304-1522-01




  1  The parent or guardian must select the private school and

  2  apply for admission for his or her child.

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

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

  5  scholarship payment.

  6         (c)  Any student participating in the scholarship

  7  program for students with disabilities must remain in

  8  attendance throughout the school year, unless excused by the

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

10  with the school's code of conduct.

11         (d)  The parent or guardian of each student

12  participating in the scholarship program for students with

13  disabilities must comply fully with the private school's

14  parental involvement requirements, unless excused by the

15  school for illness or other good cause.

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

17  student participating in the scholarship program for students

18  with disabilities takes all statewide assessments required

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

20  for transporting the student to the assessment site designated

21  by the school district.

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

23  or guardian to whom the warrant is made must restrictively

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

25  account of the private school.

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

27  subsection forfeits the scholarship.

28         (6)  SCHOLARSHIP FUNDING AND PAYMENT.--

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

30  student with disabilities shall be a calculated amount

31  equivalent to the base student allocation in the Florida

                                  6

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    Florida Senate - 2001                           CS for SB 1180
    304-1522-01




  1  Education Finance Program multiplied by the appropriate cost

  2  factor for the educational program that would have been

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

  4  she was assigned, multiplied by the district cost

  5  differential. If the General Appropriations Act does not

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

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

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

  9  calculated using the following procedure. First, historical

10  cost factor ratios shall be calculated by dividing the Level

11  1, Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4 program cost factors by the

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

13  which all five exceptional-child program cost factors were

14  defined in the General Appropriations Act. Second, the

15  historical cost factor ratio for the program to which a

16  student is assigned and for which a scholarship entitlement is

17  being calculated shall be multiplied by the Level 5 program

18  cost factor defined in the General Appropriations Act for the

19  school year for which the scholarship entitlement is being

20  calculated. In addition, the calculated amount shall include

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

22  categorical program allocations that are included in the

23  calculation of the state share of school districts' total

24  potential funding entitlements. The amount of any assessment

25  fee required by the participating private school may be paid

26  from the total amount of the exceptional student scholarship

27  amount. If the participating private school requires partial

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

29  reserve space for students admitted to the school, that

30  partial payment may be paid by the Department of Education

31  prior to the first quarterly payment of the year in which the

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    Florida Senate - 2001                           CS for SB 1180
    304-1522-01




  1  scholarship is awarded, up to a maximum of $1,000, and

  2  deducted from subsequent scholarship payments. There is a

  3  limit of one reservation payment per student per year. The

  4  amount of the scholarship for students with disabilities shall

  5  be the calculated amount or the amount of the private school's

  6  tuition and fees, whichever is less. The district shall report

  7  all students who are attending a private school under this

  8  program. The students with disabilities attending private

  9  schools on scholarships shall be reported separately from

10  other students reported for purposes of the Florida Education

11  Finance Program.

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

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

14  Department of Education shall transfer the amount calculated

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

16  entitlement under the Florida Education Finance Program and

17  from authorized categorical accounts to a separate account for

18  the scholarship program for quarterly disbursement to the

19  parents or guardians of participating students. When a student

20  enters the scholarship program, the Department of Education

21  must receive all documentation required for the student's

22  participation, including the private school's and student's

23  fee schedules, at least 30 days before the first quarterly

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

25  may not make any retroactive payments and may not prorate

26  payments.

27         (b)  Upon proper documentation reviewed and approved by

28  the Department of Education, the Comptroller shall make

29  scholarship payments in four equal amounts no later than

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

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

                                  8

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    Florida Senate - 2001                           CS for SB 1180
    304-1522-01




  1  initial payment shall be made after Department of Education

  2  verification of admission acceptance, and subsequent payments

  3  shall be made upon verification of continued enrollment and

  4  attendance at the private school. Payment must be by

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

  6  guardian and mailed by the Department of Education to the

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

  8  parent or guardian shall restrictively endorse the warrant to

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

10  school.

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

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

13  students with disabilities.

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

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

16  section. However, the inclusion of eligible private schools

17  within options available to Florida public school students

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

19  officers, or any school district to impose any additional

20  regulation of private schools beyond those reasonably

21  necessary to enforce requirements expressly set forth in this

22  section.

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

24  law.

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    Florida Senate - 2001                           CS for SB 1180
    304-1522-01




  1          STATEMENT OF SUBSTANTIAL CHANGES CONTAINED IN
                       COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE FOR
  2                             SB 1180

  3

  4  The committee substitute differs from Senate Bill 1180 in the
    following ways:
  5
    1. Physically impaired students are included in the definition
  6  of students with disabilities.

  7  2. The Department must notify parents of students with
    disabilities that their child may be eligible for a
  8  scholarship.  The notice must be done annually prior to May 1.

  9  3. A scholarship student may transfer to another private
    school that is participating in the program.
10
    4. A payment to a private school to reserve a student's place
11  may be made by the DOE prior to the first quarterly
    scholarship payment, rather than on July 1.  Only one
12  reservation per student will be permitted each year.

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