(1) PROGRAM.— (a) For purposes of this section, the term: 1. “Approved provider” means a provider that is approved by the Department of Education under subsection (2), the Florida Virtual School, a franchise of the Florida Virtual School, or a 1community college. 2. “Virtual instruction program” means a program of instruction provided in an interactive learning environment created through technology in which students are separated from their teachers by time or space, or both, and in which a Florida-certified teacher under chapter 1012 is responsible for at least:
a. Fifty percent of the direct instruction to students in kindergarten through grade 5; or
b. Eighty percent of the direct instruction to students in grades 6 through 12.
(b) Beginning with the 2009-2010 school year, each school district shall provide eligible students within its boundaries the option of participating in a virtual instruction program. The purpose of the program is to make instruction available to students using online and distance learning technology in the nontraditional classroom. The program shall be:
1. Full-time for students enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12.
2. Full-time or part-time for students in grades 9 through 12 who are enrolled in dropout prevention and academic intervention programs under s. 1003.53, Department of Juvenile Justice education programs under s. 1003.52, core-curricula courses to meet class size requirements under s. 1003.03, or 1community colleges under this section. (c) To provide students with the option of participating in virtual instruction programs as required by paragraph (b), a school district may: 1. Contract with the Florida Virtual School or establish a franchise of the Florida Virtual School for the provision of a program under paragraph (b). Using this option is subject to the requirements of this section and s. 1011.61(1)(c)1.b.(III) and (IV).
2. Contract with an approved provider under subsection (2) for the provision of a full-time program under subparagraph (b)1. or a full-time or part-time program under subparagraph (b)2.
3. Enter into an agreement with another school district to allow the participation of its students in an approved virtual instruction program provided by the other school district. The agreement must indicate a process for the transfer of funds required by paragraph (7)(b).
Contracts under subparagraph 1. or subparagraph 2. may include multidistrict contractual arrangements that may be executed by a regional consortium for its member districts. A multidistrict contractual arrangement or an agreement under subparagraph 3. is not subject to s. 1001.42(4)(d) and does not require the participating school districts to be contiguous.
(d) A charter school may enter into a joint agreement with the school district in which it is located for the charter school’s students to participate in the school district’s virtual instruction program.
(2) PROVIDER QUALIFICATIONS.— (a) The department shall annually provide school districts with a list of providers approved to offer virtual instruction programs. To be approved by the department, a provider must document that it:
1. Is nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and operations;
2. Complies with the antidiscrimination provisions of s. 1000.05; 3. Locates an administrative office or offices in this state, requires its administrative staff to be state residents, requires all instructional staff to be Florida-certified teachers under chapter 1012, and conducts background screenings for all employees or contracted personnel, as required by s. 1012.32, using state and national criminal history records;
4. Possesses prior, successful experience offering online courses to elementary, middle, or high school students;
5. Is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement, the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement, the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Elementary Schools and Commission on Secondary Schools, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, or the Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation; and
6. If the provider is a 1community college, employs instructors who meet the certification requirements for instructional staff under chapter 1012.
(b) An approved provider shall retain its approved status for a period of 3 years after the date of the department’s approval under paragraph (a) as long as the provider continues to comply with all requirements of this section.
(3) SCHOOL DISTRICT VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS.—Each school district virtual instruction program under this section must: (a) Align virtual course curriculum and course content to the Sunshine State Standards under s. 1003.41.
(b) Offer instruction that is designed to enable a student to gain proficiency in each virtually delivered course of study.
(c) Provide each student enrolled in the program with all the necessary instructional materials.
(d) Provide, when appropriate, each full-time student enrolled in the program with:
1. All equipment necessary for participants in the school district virtual instruction program, including, but not limited to, a computer, computer monitor, and printer; and
2. Access to or reimbursement for all Internet services necessary for online delivery of instruction.
(e) Not require tuition or student registration fees.
(4) CONTRACT REQUIREMENTS.—Each contract with an approved provider must at minimum:
(a) Set forth a detailed curriculum plan that illustrates how students will be provided services to attain proficiency in the Sunshine State Standards.
(b) Provide a method for determining that a student has satisfied the requirements for graduation in s. 1003.428, s. 1003.429, or s. 1003.43 if the contract is for the provision of a full-time virtual instruction program to students in grades 9 through 12.
(c) Specify a method for resolving conflicts among the parties.
(d) Specify authorized reasons for termination of the contract.
(e) Require the approved provider to be responsible for all debts of the school district virtual instruction program if the contract is not renewed or is terminated.
(f) Require the approved provider to comply with all requirements of this section.
(5) STUDENT ELIGIBILITY.—A student may enroll in a virtual instruction program provided by the school district in which he or she resides if the student meets at least one of the following conditions:
(a) The student has spent the prior school year in attendance at a public school in this state and was enrolled and reported by a public school district for funding during the preceding October and February for purposes of the Florida Education Finance Program surveys.
(b) The student is a dependent child of a member of the United States Armed Forces who was transferred within the last 12 months to this state from another state or from a foreign country pursuant to the parent’s permanent change of station orders.
(c) The student was enrolled during the prior school year in a school district virtual instruction program under this section or a K-8 Virtual School Program under s. 1002.415.
(d) The student has a sibling who is currently enrolled in a school district virtual instruction program and that sibling was enrolled in such program at the end of the prior school year.
(6) STUDENT PARTICIPATION REQUIREMENTS.—Each student enrolled in a school district virtual instruction program must: (a) Comply with the compulsory attendance requirements of s. 1003.21. Student attendance must be verified by the school district.
(b) Take state assessment tests within the school district in which such student resides, which must provide the student with access to the district’s testing facilities.
(7) FUNDING.— (a) For purposes of a school district virtual instruction program, “full-time equivalent student” has the same meaning as provided in s. 1011.61(1)(c)1.b.(III) or (IV).
(b) The school district in which the student resides shall report full-time equivalent students for the school district virtual instruction program to the department in a manner prescribed by the department, and funding shall be provided through the Florida Education Finance Program. Funds received by the school district of residence for a student in a virtual instruction program provided by another school district under this section shall be transferred to the school district providing the virtual instruction program.
(c) A 1community college provider may not report students who are served in a school district virtual instruction program for funding under the 1Community College Program Fund. (8) ASSESSMENT AND ACCOUNTABILITY.— (a) Each approved provider contracted under this section must: 1. Participate in the statewide assessment program under s. 1008.22 and in the state’s education performance accountability system under s. 1008.31. 2. Receive a school grade under s. 1008.34 or a school improvement rating under s. 1008.341, as applicable. The school grade or school improvement rating received by each approved provider shall be based upon the aggregated assessment scores of all students served by the provider statewide. The department shall publish the school grade or school improvement rating received by each approved provider on its Internet website.
(b) The performance of part-time students in grades 9 through 12 shall not be included for purposes of school grades or school improvement ratings under subparagraph (a)2.; however, their performance shall be included for school grading or school improvement rating purposes by the nonvirtual school providing the student’s primary instruction.
(c) An approved provider that receives a school grade of “D” or “F” under s. 1008.34 or a school improvement rating of “Declining” under s. 1008.341 must file a school improvement plan with the department for consultation to determine the causes for low performance and to develop a plan for correction and improvement. (d) An approved provider’s contract must be terminated if the provider receives a school grade of “D” or “F” under s. 1008.34 or a school improvement rating of “Declining” under s. 1008.341 for 2 years during any consecutive 4-year period. A provider that has a contract terminated under this paragraph may not be an approved provider for a period of at least 1 year after the date upon which the contract was terminated and until the department determines that the provider is in compliance with subsection (2) and has corrected each cause of the provider’s low performance.
(9) EXCEPTIONS.—A provider of digital or online content or curriculum that is used to supplement the instruction of students who are not enrolled in a school district virtual instruction program under this section is not required to meet the requirements of this section.
(10) MARKETING.—Each school district shall provide information to parents and students about the parent’s and student’s right to participate in a school district virtual instruction program under this section and in courses offered by the Florida Virtual School under s. 1002.37.
(11) RULES.—The State Board of Education shall adopt rules necessary to administer this section, including rules that prescribe school district reporting requirements under subsection (7).