(1) DEFINITION.—A “private school” is defined in s. 1002.01.
(2) ANNUAL PRIVATE SCHOOL SURVEY.—
(a) The Department of Education shall organize, maintain, and annually update a database of educational institutions within the state coming within the provisions of this section. There shall be included in the database of each institution the name, address, and telephone number of the institution; the type of institution; the names of administrative officers; the enrollment by grade or special group (e.g., career education and exceptional child education); the number of graduates; the number of instructional and administrative personnel; the number of days the school is in session; and such data as may be needed to meet the provisions of this section and s. 1003.23(2).
(b) For the purpose of organizing, maintaining, and updating this database, each private school shall annually execute and file a database survey form on a date designated by the Department of Education which shall include a notarized statement ascertaining that the owner of the private school has complied with the provisions of paragraph (c). For the purpose of this section, “owner” means any individual who is the chief administrative officer of a private school.
(c)1. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (h), each person who is an owner or who establishes, purchases, or otherwise becomes an owner of a private school shall, within 5 days of assuming ownership of a school, file with the Department of Law Enforcement a complete set of fingerprints for state processing and checking for criminal background. The fingerprints shall be taken by an authorized law enforcement officer or an employee of the school who is trained to take fingerprints. The costs of fingerprinting, criminal records checking, and processing shall be borne by the applicant or private school. The result of the criminal records checking by the Department of Law Enforcement shall be forwarded to the owner of the private school and shall be made available for public inspection in the private school office as soon as it is received.
2. It shall be unlawful for a person who has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude to own or operate a private school.
3. An owner of a private school may require school employees to file a complete set of fingerprints with the Department of Law Enforcement for processing and criminal records checking. Findings from such processing and checking shall be reported to the owner for use in employment decisions.
4. Owners or employees of private schools who have been fingerprinted pursuant to this paragraph, s. 1012.32, or s. 402.3055 shall not be required to be refingerprinted if they have not been unemployed or unassociated with a private school or child care facility for more than 90 days.
5. Persons holding a valid Florida teaching certificate who have been fingerprinted pursuant to s. 1012.35 shall not be required to comply with the provisions of this paragraph.
(d) The data inquiries to be included and answered in the survey required in paragraph (b) shall be limited to matters set forth in paragraph (a). The department shall furnish annually to each school sufficient copies of this form.
(e) To ensure completeness and accuracy of the database, each existing private educational institution falling within the provisions of this section shall notify the Department of Education of any change in the name of the institution, the address, or the chief administrative officer. Each new institution shall notify the department of its establishment.
(f) Annually, the department shall make accessible to the public data on private education in this state. Such data shall include that collected pursuant to paragraph (a) and from other sources.
(g) The failure of any institution to submit the annual database survey form and notarized statement of compliance with the provisions of paragraph (c), as required by this section, shall be judged a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, proper authorities of such institution shall be subject to a fine not exceeding $500. Submission of data for a nonexistent school or an institution providing no instruction or training, the purpose of which is to defraud the public, is unlawful and the person or persons responsible commit a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. Persons found to be in violation of subparagraph (c)2. commit a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(h) It is the intent of the Legislature not to regulate, control, approve, or accredit private educational institutions, but to create a database where current information may be obtained relative to the educational institutions in this state coming within the provisions of this section as a service to the public, to governmental agencies, and to other interested parties. It is not the intent of the Legislature to regulate, control, or monitor, expressly or implicitly, churches, their ministries, or religious instruction, freedoms, or rites. It is the intent of the Legislature that the annual submission of the database survey by a school shall not be used by that school to imply approval or accreditation by the Department of Education.
(3) RETENTION OF RECORDS.—
(a) As used in this subsection:
1. “Defunct private school” means any private school that has terminated the operation of an education or training program, or that has no students in attendance, or that has dissolved as a business entity.
2. “Student records” means those records, files, documents, and other materials that contain information directly related to students that are maintained by a private school or by a person acting for such institution and that are accessible to other professional personnel to facilitate the instruction, guidance, and educational progress of students. Information contained in student records shall be classified as follows:
a. Permanent information, which includes verified information of clear educational importance, containing the following: student’s full name and any known changes thereto due to marriage or adoption; authenticated birthdate, place of birth, race, and sex; last known address of student; names of student’s parents; name and location of last school attended; number of days present and absent; date enrolled; date withdrawn; courses taken and record of achievement; and date of graduation or program achievement.
b. Temporary information, which includes verified information subject to change, containing, but not limited to, the following: health information, standardized test scores, honors and activities, personal attributes, work experience, teacher and counselor comments, and special reports.
(b) All private schools that become defunct shall transfer all permanent information contained in student records to the district school superintendent of the public school district in which the private school was located; or, if the private school is a member of a private school system or association, such school may transfer such records to the principal office of such system or association, which shall constitute full compliance with this subsection. In the event that such private school system or association becomes defunct, it shall transfer all the permanent information contained in its files to the district school superintendent of the public school district in which the private school was located.
(c) All private schools that become defunct shall notify the Department of Education Office of Private Schools and Home Education Programs of the date of transfer of student records, the location of storage, the custodian of such records, and the number of records to be stored. The department shall act as a clearinghouse and maintain a registry of such transfers of student records.
(d) It is not the intent of the Legislature to limit or restrict the use or possession of any student records while a school is operational, but to facilitate access to academic records by former students seeking to continue their education or training after a private school has become defunct.
(4) ATTENDANCE RECORDS AND REPORTS.—All officials, teachers, and other employees in parochial, religious, denominational, and private schools shall keep and prepare records in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.23(2).
(5) SCHOOL-ENTRY HEALTH EXAMINATIONS.—The governing authority of each private school shall require students to present a certification of a school-entry health examination in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.22(1) and (2).
(6) IMMUNIZATIONS.—The governing authority of each private school shall:
(a) Require students to present a certification of immunization in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.22(3)-(11).
(b) Provide information on the importance of student health and available immunizations and vaccinations, including, but not limited to:
1. A recommended immunization schedule in accordance with United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.
2. Detailed information regarding the causes, symptoms, and transmission of meningococcal disease and the availability, effectiveness, known contraindications, and appropriate age for the administration of any required or recommended vaccine against meningococcal disease, in accordance with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
(7) ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS.—Attendance of a student at a private, parochial, religious, or denominational school satisfies the attendance requirements of ss. 1003.01(13) and 1003.21(1).
(8) ATHLETIC COMPETITION.—A private school may participate in athletic competition with a public high school in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.20(1).
(9) RECEIPT OF EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS.—The Department of Education may disseminate educational materials and sell copies for educational use to private schools pursuant to s. 1006.39.
(10) INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS.—District school boards may dispose of instructional materials when they become unserviceable or surplus or are no longer on state contract by giving them to a private school in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.41.
(11) DIAGNOSTIC AND RESOURCE CENTERS.—Diagnostic and resource centers may provide testing and evaluation services to private school students in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.03(3).
(12) EXCEPTIONAL EDUCATION SERVICES.—District school boards may provide instruction for an appropriate program of special instruction, facilities, and services for exceptional students through contractual arrangements with approved private schools in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.57.
(13) PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM.—An organization of private schools that has no fewer than 10 member schools in this state may develop a professional development system to be filed with the Department of Education in accordance with the provisions of s. 1012.98(6).
(14) BUS DRIVER TRAINING.—Private school bus drivers may participate in a district school board’s bus driver training program, if the district school board makes the program available pursuant to s. 1012.45(4).
(15) POOL PURCHASE OF SCHOOL BUSES.—
(a) Florida private schools that demonstrate a racially nondiscriminatory student admission policy may purchase school buses from the state pool purchase program as authorized in s. 1006.27(1), if the private school meets the following conditions:
1. Students in one or more grades, kindergarten through grade 12, are provided an education program by the school and the school has submitted the information required pursuant to this section and the most recent school survey required in subsection (2).
2. All conditions of the contracts for purchasing school buses between the Department of Education and the companies involved, including bus specifications, ordering deadlines, delivery period and procedures, and payment requirements, shall be met.
3. Purchase orders shall be made out to the appropriate company or companies involved and shall be accompanied by a certified check in the amount of 25 percent of the total cost of the bus or buses as a good faith deposit that the bus or buses will be purchased.
4. The remainder of the total cost shall be paid upon delivery of the bus or buses to the representative of the private school receiving the bus or buses, or shall be paid when the company informs the purchaser that the buses are ready for delivery if the purchaser has specified that buses are to be picked up at the company’s location. If the chassis and the body are purchased from different companies, the remainder of the chassis’ total cost shall be payable upon delivery of the chassis to the body manufacturer.
5. If the private school does not meet the obligation stated in subparagraph 4. within 30 calendar days after notice that the bus is ready for delivery or that the chassis has been delivered to the body manufacturer, the selling company may retain 15 percent of the amount being held by the company as a good faith deposit, and all obligations to the private school may be canceled. When the 15 percent is retained, the company shall return 10 percent of the good faith deposit to the nonpublic school within 15 days of cancellation of the companies’ objection.
(b) Any bus purchased under this section may not be sold, if still titled as a motor vehicle, within 5 calendar years of the date of the initial Florida title being issued, unless the following conditions are met:
1. The bus or buses may be sold only to a Florida public school district or Florida private school. Any such sale during the first 5 years shall be documented to the Department of Education within 15 days after the sale.
2. The bus or buses shall be advertised by the private school in one major newspaper located in each of the five regions of the state for 3 consecutive days and a copy of the advertisement and the name of each newspaper shall be sent to the Department of Education before the first day of advertising the bus or buses for sale.
3. The bus may not be sold at a profit. The bus shall be depreciated at a rate of 10 percent per calendar year, with the first year starting on the date of issue of the initial title in this state.
4. Notwithstanding any other provisions of law and rule regarding purchase of used school buses, the bus may be sold to a public school district if the conditions of subparagraph 3. are met.
5. Any public school district or private school purchasing a bus under the conditions of this subsection must accept the obligations of this subsection, and such shall be entered in the sales contract.
(c) Any private school, including the owner or corporation purchasing a bus or buses under the conditions of this section, that does not comply with all the conditions of this section shall not be eligible for future purchases of a school bus under this section.
(d) Any private school interested in purchasing a bus under this section shall notify, in writing, the Department of Education. The Department of Education shall send the school the appropriate forms, instructions, and price quotations.
(e) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, no school bus manufacturer, distributor, or dealer shall be required to violate any dealer contract or franchise agreement entered into before the effective date of this section regarding the sale of its buses.
(f) The State Board of Education may adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536 and 120.54 necessary to implement this section, maintain the integrity of the school bus pool purchase program, and ensure the best and lowest price for purchasing school buses by the public school districts.
History.—s. 107, ch. 2002-387; s. 33, ch. 2003-391; s. 36, ch. 2004-41; s. 80, ch. 2004-357; s. 2, ch. 2006-246.