September 18, 2020
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Senate Bill 1180

Senate Bill sb1180e1

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  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 John M. McKay Scholarships for

  5         Students with Disabilities Program; providing

  6         for eligibility; establishing obligations of

  7         school districts and the Department of

  8         Education; establishing criteria for private

  9         school eligibility; establishing obligations of

10         program participants; providing for funding and

11         payment; limiting liability of the state;

12         authorizing the State Board of Education to

13         adopt rules; providing an effective date.

14

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

16

17         Section 1.  Section 229.05371, Florida Statutes, is

18  amended to read:

19         (Substantial rewording of section. See

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

21         229.05371  The John M. McKay Scholarships for Students

22  with Disabilities Program.--There is established a program

23  that is separate and distinct from the Opportunity Scholarship

24  Program and is named the John M. McKay Scholarships for

25  Students with Disabilities Program, pursuant to this section.

26         (1)  THE JOHN M. MCKAY SCHOLARSHIPS FOR STUDENTS WITH

27  DISABILITIES PROGRAM.--The John M. McKay Scholarships for

28  Students with Disabilities Program is established to provide

29  the option to attend a public school other than the one to

30  which assigned, or to provide a scholarship to a private

31  school of choice, for students with disabilities for whom an


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    CS for CS for SB 1180                          First Engrossed



  1  individual education plan has been written in accordance with

  2  rules of the Commissioner of Education or the State Board of

  3  Education. Students with disabilities include K-12 students

  4  who are mentally handicapped, speech and language impaired,

  5  deaf or hard of hearing, visually impaired, dual sensory

  6  impaired, physically impaired, emotionally handicapped,

  7  specific learning disabled, hospitalized or homebound, or

  8  autistic.

  9         (2)  SCHOLARSHIP ELIGIBILITY.--The parent of a public

10  school student with a disability who is dissatisfied with the

11  student's progress may request and receive from the state a

12  John M. McKay Scholarship for the child to enroll in and

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

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

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

16  attendance at a Florida public school. Prior school year in

17  attendance means that the student was enrolled and reported by

18  a school district for funding during the preceding October and

19  February Florida Education Finance Program surveys in

20  kindergarten through grade 12; and

21         (b)  The parent has obtained acceptance for admission

22  of the student to a private school that is eligible for the

23  program under subsection (4) and has notified, in writing, the

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

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

26

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

28  school operating for the purpose of providing educational

29  services to youth in Department of Juvenile Justice commitment

30  programs. For purposes of continuity of educational choice,

31  the scholarship shall remain in force until the student


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    CS for CS for SB 1180                          First Engrossed



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

  2  However, at any time, the student's parent may remove the

  3  student from the private school and place the student in

  4  another private school that is eligible for the program under

  5  subsection (4) or in a public school as provided in subsection

  6  (3).

  7         (3)  SCHOOL DISTRICT AND DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

  8  OBLIGATIONS.--

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

10  of the student of all options available pursuant to this

11  section and offer that student's parent an opportunity to

12  enroll the student in another public school within the

13  district. The parent is not required to accept this offer in

14  lieu of requesting a John M. McKay Scholarship to a private

15  school. However, if the parent chooses the public school

16  option, the student may continue attending a public school

17  chosen by the parent until the student graduates from high

18  school. If the parent chooses a public school consistent with

19  the school board's choice plan under s. 228.057, the school

20  district will provide transportation to the public school

21  selected by the parent. The parent is responsible to provide

22  transportation to a public school chosen that is not

23  consistent with the school board's choice plan under s.

24  228.057.

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

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

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

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

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

30  services for any student who is participating in the John M.

31  McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program and


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    CS for CS for SB 1180                          First Engrossed



  1  must notify the Department of Education of the student's

  2  matrix level within 30 days after receiving notification by

  3  the student's parent of intent to participate in the

  4  scholarship program. The Department of Education shall notify

  5  the private school of the amount of the scholarship within 10

  6  days after receiving the school district's notification of the

  7  student's matrix level.

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

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

10  availability of a space for the student, the parent of the

11  student must notify the school district 60 days prior to the

12  first scholarship payment and before entering the private

13  school in order to be eligible for the scholarship when a

14  space becomes available for the student in the private school.

15         (d)  The parent of a student may choose, as an

16  alternative, to enroll the student in and transport the

17  student to a public school in an adjacent school district

18  which has available space and has a program with the services

19  agreed to in the student's individual education plan already

20  in place, and that school district shall accept the student

21  and report the student for purposes of the district's funding

22  pursuant to the Florida Education Finance Program.

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

24  the John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities

25  Program whose parent requests that the student take the

26  statewide assessments under s. 229.57, the district shall

27  provide locations and times to take all statewide assessments.

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

29  Education within 10 days after it receives notification of a

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

31  a disability.


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

  2  participate in the John M. McKay Scholarships for Students

  3  with Disabilities Program, a private school must be a Florida

  4  private school, may be sectarian or nonsectarian, and must:

  5         (a)  Demonstrate fiscal soundness by being in operation

  6  for 1 school year or provide the Department of Education with

  7  a statement by a certified public accountant confirming that

  8  the private school desiring to participate is insured and the

  9  owner or owners have sufficient capital or credit to operate

10  the school for the upcoming year serving the number of

11  students anticipated with expected revenues from tuition and

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

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

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

15  with the department.

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

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

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

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

20  services that the private school has available for students

21  with disabilities who are participating in the scholarship

22  program.

23         (c)  Comply with the antidiscrimination provisions of

24  42 U.S.C. s. 2000d.

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

26  codes.

27         (e)  Be academically accountable to the parent for

28  meeting the educational needs of the student.

29         (f)  Employ or contract with teachers who hold

30  baccalaureate or higher degrees, or have at least 3 years of

31  teaching experience in public or private schools, or have


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

  2  provide instruction in subjects taught.

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

  4  regulation of private schools.

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

  6  procedures prior to the expulsion of a scholarship student.

  7         (5)  OBLIGATION OF PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS.--

  8         (a)  A parent who applies for a John M. McKay

  9  Scholarship is exercising his or her parental option to place

10  his or her child in a private school. The parent must select

11  the private school and apply for the admission of his or her

12  child.

13         (b)  The parent must have requested the scholarship at

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

15  payment.

16         (c)  Any student participating in the scholarship

17  program must remain in attendance throughout the school year,

18  unless excused by the school for illness or other good cause,

19  and must comply fully with the school's code of conduct.

20         (d)  The parent of each student participating in the

21  scholarship program must comply fully with the private

22  school's parental involvement requirements, unless excused by

23  the school for illness or other good cause.

24         (e)  If the parent requests that the student

25  participating in the scholarship program take all statewide

26  assessments required pursuant to s. 229.57, the parent is

27  responsible for transporting the student to the assessment

28  site designated by the school district.

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

30  to whom the warrant is made must restrictively endorse the

31


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    CS for CS for SB 1180                          First Engrossed



  1  warrant to the private school for deposit into the account of

  2  the private school.

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

  4  subsection forfeits the scholarship.

  5         (6)  SCHOLARSHIP FUNDING AND PAYMENT.--

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

  7  student with disabilities shall be a calculated amount

  8  equivalent to the base student allocation in the Florida

  9  Education Finance Program multiplied by the appropriate cost

10  factor for the educational program that would have been

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

12  she was assigned, multiplied by the district cost

13  differential.

14         2.  In addition, a share of the guaranteed allocation

15  for exceptional students shall be determined and added to the

16  calculated amount. The calculation shall be based on the

17  methodology and the data used to calculate the guaranteed

18  allocation for exceptional students for each district in

19  chapter 2000-166, Laws of Florida. The calculation shall be

20  based on the student's grade, matrix level of services, and

21  the difference between the 2000-2001 basic program and the

22  appropriate level of services cost factor, multiplied by the

23  2000-2001 base student allocation and the 2000-2001 district

24  cost differential for the sending district. Also, the

25  calculated amount shall include the per-student share of

26  Supplemental Academic Instruction funds, instructional

27  materials funds, technology funds, and other categorical funds

28  as provided for such purposes in the General Appropriations

29  Act.

30         (b)  The amount of the John M. McKay Scholarship shall

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


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    CS for CS for SB 1180                          First Engrossed



  1  tuition and fees, whichever is less. The amount of any

  2  assessment fee required by the participating private school

  3  may be paid from the total amount of the scholarship.

  4         (c)  If the participating private school requires

  5  partial payment of tuition prior to the start of the academic

  6  year to reserve space for students admitted to the school,

  7  that partial payment may be paid by the Department of

  8  Education prior to the first quarterly payment of the year in

  9  which the John M. McKay Scholarship is awarded, up to a

10  maximum of $1,000, and deducted from subsequent scholarship

11  payments. If a student decides not to attend the participating

12  private school, the partial reservation payment must be

13  returned to the Department of Education by the participating

14  private school. There is a limit of one reservation payment

15  per student per year.

16         (d)  The school district shall report all students who

17  are attending a private school under this program. The

18  students with disabilities attending private schools on John

19  M. McKay Scholarships shall be reported separately from other

20  students reported for purposes of the Florida Education

21  Finance Program.

22         (e)  Following notification on July 1, September 1,

23  December 1, or February 1 of the number of program

24  participants, the Department of Education shall transfer, from

25  General Revenue funds only, the amount calculated under

26  paragraph (b) from the school district's total funding

27  entitlement under the Florida Education Finance Program and

28  from authorized categorical accounts to a separate account for

29  the scholarship program for quarterly disbursement to the

30  parents of participating students. When a student enters the

31  scholarship program, the Department of Education must receive


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  1  all documentation required for the student's participation,

  2  including the private school's and student's fee schedules, at

  3  least 30 days before the first quarterly scholarship payment

  4  is made for the student. The Department of Education may not

  5  make any retroactive payments.

  6         (f)  Upon proper documentation reviewed and approved by

  7  the Department of Education, the Comptroller shall make

  8  scholarship payments in four equal amounts no later than

  9  September 1, November 1, February 1, and April 15 of each

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

11  initial payment shall be made after Department of Education

12  verification of admission acceptance, and subsequent payments

13  shall be made upon verification of continued enrollment and

14  attendance at the private school. Payment must be by

15  individual warrant made payable to the student's parent and

16  mailed by the Department of Education to the private school of

17  the parent's choice, and the parent shall restrictively

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

19  account of the private school.

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

21  of the state based on the award or use of a John M. McKay

22  Scholarship.

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

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

25  section. However, the inclusion of eligible private schools

26  within options available to Florida public school students

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

28  officers, or any school district to impose any additional

29  regulation of private schools beyond those reasonably

30  necessary to enforce requirements expressly set forth in this

31  section.


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

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