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S 945
Session 124 (2021-2022) 

S 0945  General Bill, By Hembree and Loftis
 A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION
 59-19-85 SO AS TO PROMOTE PUBLIC ACCESS TO SCHOOL BOARD MEETINGS BY REQUIRING
 SCHOOL BOARDS TO ADOPT AND IMPLEMENT POLICIES THAT PROVIDE LIVE ELECTRONIC
 TRANSMISSION OF SUCH MEETINGS, TO EXTEND APPLICABILITY OF THESE PROVISIONS TO
 THE GOVERNING BODIES OF CHARTER SCHOOLS AND SPECIAL SCHOOLS, TO PROVIDE
 FLEXIBILITY IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES, AND TO PROVIDE RELATED REQUIREMENTS OF
 THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION; AND TO PROVIDE THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT MUST
 BE IMPLEMENTED BEFORE JULY 1, 2023.
View full text 01/11/22 Senate Introduced and read first time 01/11/22 Senate Referred to Committee on Education (Senate Journal-page 18) 03/30/22 Senate Committee report: Favorable with amendment Education (Senate Journal-page 10) 03/31/22 Scrivener's error corrected 04/05/22 Senate Read second time (Senate Journal-page 30) 04/06/22 Committee Amendment Adopted (Senate Journal-page 30) 04/06/22 Senate Amended (Senate Journal-page 30) 04/06/22 Senate Read third time and sent to House (Senate Journal-page 30) 04/06/22 Senate Roll call Ayes-39 Nays-0 (Senate Journal-page 30) 04/07/22 House Introduced and read first time 04/07/22 House Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works 04/07/22 Scrivener's error corrected 05/04/22 House Committee report: Favorable with amendment Education and Public Works (House Journal-page 64) 05/10/22 House Requests for debate-Rep(s). King, Govan, Brawley, JL Johnson, Hosey, Clyburn, Henegan, Alexander, Hart, Garvin, Jefferson, Wetmore, KO Johnson, Rivers, Henderson-Myers, Gilliard, McKnight, Anderson, Ott, Cobb-Hunter, Morgan, Nutt, T Moore, Dillard, May, McCabe (House Journal-page 233) 05/11/22 House Amended (House Journal-page 207) 05/11/22 House Read second time (House Journal-page 207) 05/11/22 House Roll call Yeas-72 Nays-36 (House Journal-page 236) 05/12/22 House Read third time and returned to Senate with amendments (House Journal-page 109) 05/12/22 House Roll call Yeas-70 Nays-37 (House Journal-page 109)


S. 945

Indicates Matter Stricken

Indicates New Matter

AMENDED

May 11, 2022

S. 945

Introduced by Senators Hembree and Loftis

S. Printed 5/11/22--H.

Read the first time April 7, 2022.

            

STATEMENT OF ESTIMATED FISCAL IMPACT

Explanation of Fiscal Impact

State Expenditure

Section 1

This section of the amended bill requires each public school governing body, including the governing bodies of charter schools and special schools, to make necessary efforts to ensure the entirety of meetings of its regularly scheduled or special called meetings of its full governing body are accessible to the public and also available by means of livestream transmission. Lawful executive sessions are excluded from this provision. If a governing body cannot provide or restore livestream transmission during the meeting, it must make a clear audio and video recording of the meeting and place the recording on its website no more than two business days after the meeting.

The State Board of Education must adopt a model livestream meeting policy to comply with the provisions of the bill. The policy must include certain criteria, including penalties for policy violations or non-compliance. Penalties for policy violations or non-compliance may not exceed 1 percent of state funds to the district, charter school, or special school.

The governing body of each public school, charter school, and special school must adopt a local policy within three months after adoption of the policy by the State Board of Education. Local policies must include, at a minimum, the State Board of Education model policy. Any revisions to the State Board of Education's model policy or local policies must be adopted and incorporated in the same manner as the original requirements. A governing body may only adopt or revise its local policy or make changes at a regularly scheduled meeting, which must be successfully livestreamed. Further, a governing body may not adopt or follow a livestream policy that prevents in-person participation by the public, except as may be necessary for the orderly transaction of business. In the event that a governing body is unable to provide live electronic public access despite reasonable efforts, the State Board of Education may waive the requirement. However, the State Board of Education must establish a date that the governing body must have such access in place and operating. The provisions of the amended bill must be implemented for the 2022-23 school year.

State Department of Education. SCDE indicates that any expenses to adopt a model livestream meeting policy for school districts can be managed within existing appropriations. Therefore, this section of the amended bill will have no expenditure impact on the agency.

State Agency Schools. The state agency schools provided the following regarding the expenditure impact of this section of the amended bill:

•    The Governor's School for Agriculture at John de la Howe previously indicated that any expenses associated with livestreaming board meetings would be minimal and could be managed within existing appropriations. Additionally, the agency has space available for in-person participation by the public for meetings.

•    The School for the Deaf and Blind Mathematics previously indicated no expenditure impact since the agency currently has the capability to livestream meetings. Additionally, the agency currently holds in-person board meetings.

•    The Governor's School for Science and Mathematics previously indicated no expenditure impact since the agencies currently have the capability to livestream meetings. Additionally, the agency currently provides opportunities for the public to speak at board meetings.

•    The Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School previously indicated no expenditure impact since the agency has a plan in place to livestream meetings and to provide a video recording of meetings. There would also be no impact related to in-person meetings for the public.

•    The Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities previously indicated that this portion of the bill would increase the agency's expenses by $2,500 to upgrade its current audio equipment. Also, the agency has space available for in-person meetings.

Additionally, the expenditure impact of the bill could change depending upon the type of model policy adopted by the State Board of Education.

Section 2

This section requires each public school governing body, including the governing bodies of charter schools and the special schools, to adopt a local policy that must include, at a minimum, the State Board of Education's "Best Practices Model Policy for SBE Library Materials" and the "Reconsideration of Library Media Center Materials Form" that is in place as of March 30, 2022. Within thirty days after adoption of a local policy or revision, a governing body must submit a copy of the policy or revision to the State Superintendent of Education for State Board of Education approval.

State Agency Schools. The overall expenditure impact of this section on the state agency schools is pending, contingent upon responses from the School for the Deaf and Blind and the Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School. However, the Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities and the Governor's School for Agriculture at John de la Howe indicate that these sections will have no expenditure impact since they can adhere to the provisions within existing appropriations. The Governor's School for Science and Mathematics indicates the potential need to hire 1.0 FTE to manage the provisions of this section and the requirements of Sections 3 and 4.

Sections 3 and 4

These sections of the amended bill enact the South Carolina Transparency and Integrity in Education Act and provide requirements that local education agencies must follow in developing curriculum, providing access to information on that curriculum, and methods for reporting violations. Local education agency is defined as a local education agency, the sponsor of a public charter school, the Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities, the Governor's School for Agriculture at John de la Howe, the Governor's School for Science and Mathematics, the Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School, and the School for the Deaf and Blind.

These sections also require SCDE to create and make accessible model lesson plans for local education agencies to utilize in all grades and subject areas. Additionally, SCDE must create a complaint form that contains certain information for local education agencies to post on their website for use when an individual files a complaint alleging violations of the provisions of the amended bill.

These sections require each local education agency to provide specified information on its website announcing the rights of parents to review curriculum and other material, information regarding violations and complaints related to the provisions of this bill, the aforementioned complaint form, and instructions for filing an appeal of the local education agency to SCDE.

Additionally, these sections further require each local education agency to provide a report containing certain information to SCDE before July 1, 2022, and annually thereafter. SCDE must then provide a report summarizing this information to the General Assembly before July 1, 2022, and each year thereafter. Before the 2027-28 school year, each local education agency must compile and provide records of specified information that encompass the previous five school years in the above noted annual report. Before the 2022-23 school year, SCDE must create, and each local education agency must adopt, a policy for procedures used to report and investigate an alleged violation of this section of the amended bill.

These sections also outline the appeal process with the State Board of Education and allows SCDE to withhold up to 5 percent of a local education agency's funds appropriated as part of the State Aid to Classrooms if it is determined that the local education agency knowingly violated or failed to adhere to the corrective action plans pursuant to the provisions of the bill.

The State Superintendent of Education must make arrangements for a thirty-day public review of materials recommended by the instructional materials review panels before taking the recommendations to the State Board of Education. Public review sites must be geographically distributed around the state and must be advertised in the newspaper, on the website of SCDE, and on social media sites used by SCDE.

Further, these sections require schools to provide each parent who enrolls a child in the school a printed Pledge of Parental Expectations that must be developed by SCDE. Schools must encourage parents to sign the pledge and emphasize its importance during any orientation or open house events.

State Department of Education. SCDE previously indicated that the agency could manage the additional responsibilities to create the complaint form, to create the model lesson plans, to develop the Pledge of Parental Expectations, and for reporting requirements with existing staff and current appropriations. SCDE further indicated that these sections may result in an increase in the number of hearings from complaints that are brought before the State Board of Education. As a result, the board may need an additional hearing officer to assist with complaints. However, the expenditure impact of this portion of the amended bill is undetermined and will depend on the number of additional complaints that may be brought before the board. Therefore, the overall expenditure impact on SCDE is undetermined.

State Agency Schools. The overall expenditure impact on the state agency schools is undetermined. However, the Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities, the School for the Deaf and Blind, and the Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School previously indicated that these sections of the amended bill would have no expenditure impact since the agencies could adhere to the provisions of these sections within existing appropriations. The Governor's School for Science and Mathematics previously indicated that the expenditure impact of these sections is undetermined since it is unknown how many inquiries the agency may receive regarding curriculum. Further, the agency indicated that if it experiences a large volume of inquiries, the agency may need to hire 1.0 FTE to handle the workload. This FTE will also fulfill the responsibilities in Section 2 of the bill. Additionally, the Governor's School for Agriculture at John de la Howe previously indicated on similar legislation that any expenses could be managed within existing appropriations.

State Revenue

Section 1

This section of the amended bill requires each public school governing body, including the governing bodies of charter schools and special schools, to make necessary efforts to ensure its meetings are accessible to the public and also by means of livestream transmission. The State Board of Education must adopt a model livestream meeting policy to comply with the provisions of the bill. The policy must include certain criteria, including penalties for policy violations or non-compliance. Penalties for policy violations or non-compliance may not exceed 1 percent of state funds to the district, charter school, or special school with escalating tiers based on frequency, duration, and severity that the State Board of Education determines reasonable and necessary. Based on data in the Revenue Per Pupil Report by District from the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, 1 percent of projected state funds to districts ranges from approximately $43,500 to $5,080,400 for FY 2021-22.

The revenue impact on the special school districts for violations or non-compliance of the livestream meeting policy is undetermined as it is unknown how many districts will not comply with the provisions of the bill. Additionally, the amount of state funds to be withheld will vary by district.

Sections 3 and 4

As previously mentioned, these sections allow SCDE to withhold up to 5 percent of a local education agency's funds appropriated as part of the State Aid to Classrooms if it is determined that the local education agency knowingly violated or failed to adhere to the corrective action plans pursuant to the provisions of the bill. The revenue impact is undetermined as it is unknown if any of the special agency schools will not comply with the provisions of these sections.

Local Expenditure

Section 1

As noted above, this section of the amended bill requires each public school governing body, including the governing bodies of charter schools and special schools, to make necessary efforts to ensure its meetings are accessible to the public and through livestream transmission.

The overall expenditure impact of this amended bill on local districts is undetermined. However, SCDE previously surveyed the seventy-seven regular school districts and the two charter districts regarding any potential increase in expenditures to ensure meetings are accessible to the public by means of livestream transmission. SCDE received responses from forty-five districts. Of the responding districts, thirty indicated that this section of the bill would have no expenditure impact since they currently livestream board meetings. Two districts indicated that this section would increase expenses but could not quantify the cost. The remaining thirteen responding districts indicated expenses would increase by a range of $900 to $100,000 per district for equipment, onsite support, and overtime for staff for this section of the bill. Due to the varying responses from the responding districts and because the type of policy to be adopted by the State Board of Education is not yet available, the expenditure impact of this section of the amended bill on local school districts is undetermined.

Further, the South Carolina School Boards Association indicates that the portion of the bill that prohibits school boards from preventing in-person participation at school board meetings will have no expenditure impact on local school districts since all school boards currently offer in-person meetings for the public. The only time meetings have not been offered in-person was during the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, meetings were available to the public through livestream or Zoom.

Section 2

This section requires each public school governing body, including the governing bodies of charter schools and the special schools, to adopt a local policy that must include, at a minimum, the State Board of Education's "Best Practices Model Policy for SBE Library Materials" and the "Reconsideration of Library Media Center Materials Form" that is in place as of March 30, 2022. Within thirty days after adoption of a local policy or revision, a governing body must submit a copy of the policy or revision to the State Superintendent of Education for State Board of Education approval.

SCDE indicates that the school districts can manage the provisions of this section within their existing budgets. Therefore, this section is not expected to have an expenditure impact on local school districts.

Sections 3 and 4

As noted above, these sections enact the South Carolina Transparency and Integrity in Education Act and require each local education agency to post certain information on its website and to report specified information to SCDE.

SCDE previously surveyed the seventy-seven regular districts and the two charter districts regarding the expenditure impact of similar legislation and received responses from eleven districts. Five of the responding districts indicated no impact. The remaining six districts indicated that the legislation could increase expenses by a range of $65,000 to $385,900 per district for additional personnel and for training for teachers and administrators. The number of new personnel needed also ranged from one up to seven per district for education coordinators to create and post all curriculum materials, assistant superintendents to investigate complaints, and for administrative support to gather data for annual reporting requirements. Due to the limited number and the varying responses, the expenditure impact of these sections of the amended bill on local school districts is undetermined.

Additionally, these sections require schools to provide each parent a printed Pledge of Parental Expectations, encourage parents to sign the pledge, and emphasize the importance of the pledge during any orientation or open house events.

SCDE previously indicated on similar legislation that any expenses associated with printing the Pledge of Parental Expectations could be managed within the existing budgets of the school districts. Therefore, this portion of the amended bill is not expected to have an expenditure impact on local school districts.

In summary, the overall expenditure impact of this bill on local school districts is undetermined and will vary by district.

Local Revenue

Section 1

The revenue impact on local school districts for violations or non-compliance of the livestream meeting policy is undetermined as it will depend on how many districts do not comply with the provisions of the bill. Additionally, the amount of state funds to be withheld will vary by district. Based on data in the Revenue Per Pupil Report by District from the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, 1 percent of projected state funds to districts ranges from approximately $43,500 to $5,080,400 for FY 2021-22.

Sections 3 and 4

As previously mentioned, these sections of the amended bill allow SCDE to withhold up to 5 percent of a local education agency's funds appropriated as part of the State Aid to Classrooms if it is determined that the local education agency knowingly violated or failed to adhere to the corrective action plans pursuant to the provisions of the bill. This provision may impact local funds from State Aid to Classrooms. However, the impact will depend on the number of districts that violate the requirements of these sections of the amended bill.

Amended by Senate Education on March 30, 2022

State Expenditure

This amended bill requires each public school governing body, including the governing bodies of charter schools and special schools, to make necessary efforts to ensure the entirety of meetings of its regularly scheduled or special called meetings of its full governing body are accessible to the public and also available by means of livestream transmission. Lawful executive sessions are excluded from this provision. If a governing body cannot provide or restore livestream transmission during the meeting, it must make a clear audio and video recording of the meeting and place the recording on its website no more than two business days after the meeting.

The State Board of Education must adopt a model livestream meeting policy to comply with the provisions of the bill. The policy must include certain criteria, including penalties for policy violations or non-compliance. Penalties for policy violations or non-compliance may not exceed 1 percent of state funds to the district, charter school, or special school.

The governing body of each public school, charter school, and special school must adopt a local policy within three months after adoption of the policy by the State Board of Education. Local policies must include, at a minimum, the State Board of Education model policy. Any revisions to the State Board of Education's model policy or local policies must be adopted and incorporated in the same manner as the original requirements. A governing body may only adopt or revise its local policy or make changes at a regularly scheduled meeting, which must be successfully livestreamed. Further, a governing body may not adopt or follow a livestream policy that prevents in-person participation by the public, except as may be necessary for the orderly transaction of business. The provisions of the bill must be implemented before July 1, 2023.

State Department of Education. SCDE indicates that any expenses to adopt a model livestream meeting policy for school districts can be managed within existing appropriations. Therefore, the amended bill will have no expenditure impact on the agency.

State Agency Schools. The overall expenditure impact of this amended bill on the state agency schools is pending, contingent upon responses from the agencies regarding any potential increase in expenditures to ensure that their livestream policy does not prevent in-person participation by the public at meetings.

However, the state agency schools provided the following regarding the expenditure impact to ensure their meetings are accessible to the public by means of livestream transmission:

•    The Governor's School for Agriculture at John de la Howe previously indicated that any expenses associated with livestreaming board meetings would be minimal and could be managed within existing appropriations.

•    The School for the Deaf and Blind and the Governor's School for Science and Mathematics previously indicated that the bill would have no expenditure impact since the agencies currently have the capability to livestream meetings.

•    The Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School previously indicated that the bill would also have no expenditure impact since the agency has a plan in place to livestream meetings and to provide a video recording of meetings.

•    The Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities indicates that this portion of the bill will increase the agency's expenses by $2,500 to upgrade its current audio equipment.

Additionally, the expenditure impact of the bill could change depending upon the type of model policy adopted by the State Board of Education.

State Revenue

This amended bill requires each public school governing body, including the governing bodies of charter schools and special schools, to make necessary efforts to ensure its meetings are accessible to the public and also by means of livestream transmission. The State Board of Education must adopt a model livestream meeting policy to comply with the provisions of the bill. The policy must include certain criteria, including penalties for policy violations or non-compliance. Penalties for policy violations or non-compliance may not exceed 1 percent of state funds to the district, charter school, or special school with escalating tiers based on frequency, duration, and severity that the State Board of Education determines reasonable and necessary. Based on data in the Revenue Per Pupil Report by District from the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, 1 percent of projected state funds to districts ranges from approximately $43,500 to $5,080,400 for FY 2021-22.

The revenue impact on the special school districts for violations or non-compliance of the livestream meeting policy is undetermined as it is unknown how many districts will not comply with the provisions of the bill. Additionally, the amount of state funds to be withheld will vary by district.

Local Expenditure

As noted above, this amended bill requires each public school governing body, including the governing bodies of charter schools and special schools, to make necessary efforts to ensure its meetings are accessible to the public and through livestream transmission.

The overall expenditure impact of this bill on local districts is undetermined. However, SCDE previously surveyed the seventy-seven regular school districts and the two charter districts regarding any potential increase in expenditures to ensure meetings are accessible to the public by means of livestream transmission. SCDE received responses from forty-five districts. Of the responding districts, thirty indicated that this portion of the bill would have no expenditure impact since they currently livestream board meetings. Two districts indicated that this portion of the bill would increase expenses but could not quantify the cost. The remaining thirteen responding districts indicated expenses would increase by a range of $900 to $100,000 per district for equipment, onsite support, and overtime for staff for this portion of the bill. Due to the varying responses from the responding districts and the type of policy to be adopted by the State Board of Education being unknown, the expenditure impact of this portion of the amended bill on local school districts is undetermined.

Further, the South Carolina School Boards Association indicates that the portion of the bill that prohibits school boards from preventing in-person participation at school board meetings will have no expenditure impact on local school districts since all school boards currently offer in-person meetings for the public. The only time meetings have not been offered in-person was during the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, meetings were available to the public through livestream or Zoom.

Local Revenue

The revenue impact on local school districts for violations or non-compliance of the livestream meeting policy is undetermined as it will depend on how many districts do not comply with the provisions of the bill. Additionally, the amount of state funds to be withheld will vary by district. Based on data in the Revenue Per Pupil Report by District from the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, 1 percent of projected state funds to districts ranges from approximately $43,500 to $5,080,400 for FY 2021-22.

Introduced on January 11, 2022

State Expenditure

This bill requires each public school governing body, including the governing bodies of charter schools and special schools, to make necessary efforts to ensure its meetings are accessible to the public by means of livestream transmission. If a governing body cannot provide such livestream transmission, it must make a clear audio and video recording of the meeting and place the recording on its website no more than two business days after the meeting. The State Board of Education must adopt a model livestream meeting policy to comply with the provisions of the bill. The policy must include certain criteria, including penalties for policy violations or non-compliance. Penalties for policy violations or non-compliance may not exceed 1 percent of state funds to the district. The governing body of each public school, charter school, and special school must adopt a local policy within three months after adoption of the policy by the State Board of Education. Local policies must include, at a minimum, the State Board of Education model policy. Any revisions to the State Board of Education's model policy or local policies must be adopted and incorporated in the same manner as the original requirements. A governing body may only adopt its local policy or make changes at a regularly scheduled meeting. The provisions of the bill must be implemented before July 1, 2023.

State Department of Education. SCDE indicates that any expenses to adopt a model livestream meeting policy for school districts can be managed within existing appropriations. Therefore, the bill will have no expenditure impact on the agency.

State Agency Schools. This bill is not expected to have an expenditure impact on the state agency schools. The South Carolina Governor's School for Agriculture at John de la Howe indicates that any expenses associated with livestreaming board meetings will be minimal and can be managed within existing appropriations. The School for the Deaf and Blind indicates that the bill will have no expenditure impact since the agency currently has the capability to livestream meetings. The Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School also indicates that the bill will also have no expenditure impact since the agency has a plan in place to livestream meetings and to provide a video recording of meetings. Based upon these responses, we do not anticipate that the bill will have an expenditure impact on the Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities or the Governor's School for Science and Mathematics. However, the expenditure impact could change depending upon the type of model policy adopted by the State Board of Education. We will update this impact statement if the Governor's Schools' provide a response that alters this impact.

State Revenue

This bill requires each public school governing body, including the governing bodies of charter schools and special schools, to make necessary efforts to ensure its meetings are accessible to the public by means of livestream transmission. The State Board of Education must adopt a model livestream meeting policy to comply with the provisions of the bill. The policy must include certain criteria, including penalties for policy violations or non-compliance. Penalties for policy violations or non-compliance may not exceed 1 percent of state funds to the district with escalating tiers based on frequent, duration, and severity that the State Board of Education determines reasonable and necessary.

The revenue impact on the special school districts for violations or non-compliance of the livestream meeting policy is undetermined as it is unknown how many districts will not comply with the provisions of the bill. Additionally, the amount of state funds to be withheld will vary by district.

Local Expenditure

As noted above, this bill requires each public school governing body, including the governing bodies of charter schools and special schools, to make necessary efforts to ensure its meetings are accessible to the public through livestream transmission.

SCDE surveyed the seventy-seven regular school districts and the two charter districts and received responses from forty-five districts. Of the responding districts, thirty indicate that the bill will have no expenditure impact since they currently livestream board meetings. Two districts indicate that the bill would increase expenses but could not quantify the cost. The remaining thirteen responding districts indicate expenses would increase by a range of $900 to $100,000 per district for equipment, onsite support, and overtime for staff. Due to the varying responses from the responding districts and the type of policy to be adopted by the State Board of Education being unknown, the expenditure impact of this bill on local school districts is undetermined.

Local Revenue

The revenue impact on local school districts for violations or non-compliance of the livestream meeting policy is undetermined as it will depend on how many districts do not comply with the provisions of the bill. Additionally, the amount of state funds to be withheld will vary by district.

Frank A. Rainwater, Executive Director

Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office

A BILL

TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION 59-19-85 SO AS TO PROMOTE PUBLIC ACCESS TO SCHOOL BOARD MEETINGS BY REQUIRING SCHOOL BOARDS TO ADOPT AND IMPLEMENT POLICIES THAT PROVIDE LIVE ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION OF SUCH MEETINGS, TO EXTEND APPLICABILITY OF THESE PROVISIONS TO THE GOVERNING BODIES OF CHARTER SCHOOLS AND SPECIAL SCHOOLS, TO PROVIDE FLEXIBILITY IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES, AND TO PROVIDE RELATED REQUIREMENTS OF THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION; AND TO PROVIDE THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT MUST BE IMPLEMENTED BEFORE JULY 1, 2023.

Amend Title To Conform

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION    1.    Article 1, Chapter 19, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

"Section 59-19-85.    (A)    For the purpose of increasing public engagement in district business and making the decision-making process more visible and accessible to the community it serves, each public school governing body, including the governing bodies of charter schools and special schools, must make reasonable and necessary efforts to ensure the entirety of meetings of its regularly scheduled or special called meetings of its full governing body are open and accessible to the public and also available by means of live electronic access, such as livestream transmission, except during a lawful executive session.

(B)    Even if a governing body cannot provide such live electronic public access despite making reasonable and necessary efforts to restore livestream transmission during the meeting, it must make a clear audio and video recording of the meeting in its entirety available on its website as soon as practicable and in no event more than two business days after the meeting.

(C)    The State Board of Education shall adopt, and revise as necessary, a model livestream meeting policy suitable for governing bodies of public schools, including charter and special schools, to comply with provisions in this section. The policy must include, at a minimum:

(1)    resources, recommendations, and best practices facilitating requirements for all portions of streamed meetings to be visible and audible in real-time and subsequently posted on applicable websites within two business days of the meeting;

(2)    suggested approaches for developing and implementing livestreaming and expanding or improving existing livestream capacity;

(3)    publicizing availability of livestream meetings;

(4)    allowances for executive sessions;

(5)    penalties for policy violations or noncompliance not to exceed one percent of state funds to the district, charter school, or special school, with escalating tiers based on frequency, duration, and severity that the State Board of Education determines are reasonable and necessary to ensure the integrity of meeting governance; and

(6)    the process for allowing a governing body with evidence of limited or no broadband access to request approval from the State Board of Education for up to an additional twelve months to comply with provisions in this section.

(D)(1)    Each public school governing body, including the governing bodies of charter schools and special schools, shall adopt a local policy applicable to its meetings within three months after adoption of the model policy by the State Board of Education. A local policy must include, at a minimum, the State Board of Education model policy. In the event a governing body is unable to provide live electronic public access despite reasonable and necessary efforts, the board may waive the requirements of item (D); however, the board shall establish a date by which the governing body must have such access in place and operating.

(2)    If the State Board of Education adopts a revision to the model policy, then the governing body shall adopt and incorporate the revision into its local policy within three months after the adoption of the revision by the State Board of Education.

(3)    A governing body only may adopt or revise its local policy at a regularly scheduled meeting, which must be successfully livestreamed.

(4)    A governing body may not adopt or follow a livestream policy that prevents or impedes in-person participation by the public except as may be reasonable and necessary for the orderly transaction of its business.

(5)    Within thirty days after adoption of a local policy or revision to the policy, a governing body shall submit a copy of the policy or revision to the State Superintendent of Education for State Board of Education approval."

SECTION    2.    Article 1, Chapter 19, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

"Section 59-19-87.        (A)    Each public school governing body, including the governing bodies of charter schools and special schools, shall adopt a local policy that must include, at a minimum, the State Board of Education's 'Best Practices Model Policy for SBE Library Materials' and the 'Reconsideration of Library Media Center Materials Form' that is in place as of March 30, 2022.

(B)    If the State Board of Education adopts a revision to the documents listed in (A), the governing body shall adopt and incorporate the revision into its local policy within three months after the adoption of the revision by the State Board of Education.

(C)    Within thirty days after adoption of a local policy or revision to the policy, a governing body shall submit a copy of the policy or revision to the State Superintendent of Education for State Board of Education approval.

SECTION    3.    Chapter 29, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

"Article 5

Instructional Materials

Section 59-29-600.    (A)    It is the intent of the General Assembly that:

(1)    all students learn in a positive learning environment where they are made to feel welcomed, supported, and respected;

(2)    high school students graduate having learned critical thinking skills and being college ready and career ready;

(3)    teachers, faculty, and staff strive to provide the best educational opportunity possible to their students;

(4)    the State Department of Education, State Board of Education, and Education Oversight Committee regularly review, revise, and publish statewide academic standards that are fair, thorough, and respectful of teachers and students;

(5)    statewide academic standards, especially in social studies, remain well written to help ensure that complete histories of South Carolina and the United States are offered to students;

(6)    administrators, teachers, parents, students, and the local community share the responsibility for helping students obtain the best education possible;

(7)    ideological and viewpoint biases should not be presented as fact to students who receive instruction in public school;

(8)    parents and students are able to raise awareness and have their concerns about objectionable material heard and addressed whenever a topic is presented in a way that is biased toward one ideology;

(9)    administrators, teachers, and parents work to remove ideological biases from the pre-Kindergarten to grade twelve school setting; and

(10)    this State ultimately is seen as a model for comprehensive, fair, and factual instruction.

(B)    The General Assembly further states its intent that:

(1)    students:

(a)    treat teachers, aides, faculty, staff, volunteers, and their fellow students with respect, dignity, and kindness; and

(b)    strive to do their best as they grow and learn;

(2)    parents:

(a)    engage with their children's school to ensure that teachers and staff are supported; and

(b)    strive to make certain that students come to school prepared to learn and act in a way that leads to a positive school environment;

(3)    teachers:

(a)    strive to educate all students in a way that makes them feel welcomed, encouraged, and appreciated;

(b)    work closely with parents to ensure that students are given opportunities to grow and learn;

(4)    principals and other administrators provide support and guidance to teachers and students, and the observation, mentoring, and training of teachers is a constant and ongoing activity;

(5)    superintendents and district-level staff ensure that schools are given the assistance and resources needed to assist in teaching and learning for both students and teachers;

(6)    local school boards of trustees:

(a)    be vested in, and aware of, district and school operations;

(b)    function in an open and transparent manner to ensure that schools operate efficiently and effectively;

(c)    seek and value input from teachers; and

(d)    encourage greater parental engagement; and

(7)    communities:

(a)    support local schools; and

(b)    foster environments that support students, parents, teachers, faculty, and staff.

Section 59-29-610.    For purposes of this article:

(1)    'LEA' means a local educational agency, to include the sponsor of a public charter school pursuant to Section 59-40-40, and the:

(1)    Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities;

(2)    Governor's School for Agriculture at John de la Howe;

(3)    Special School of Science and Mathematics, also referred to as the Governor's School for Science and Mathematics;

(4)    Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School; and

(5)    South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind.

(2)    'Parent' means the biological parent, stepparent, legal custodian, or other person responsible for the welfare of a child in a parental capacity, excluding an individual whose parental relationship to the child has been legally terminated.

Section 59-29-620.    (A)    The following prohibited concepts may not be included or promoted in a course of instruction, curriculum, assignment, instructional program, instructional material (including primary or supplemental materials, whether in print, digital, or online), surveys or questionnaires, or professional educator development or training, nor may a student, employee, or volunteer be compelled to affirm, accept, adopt, or adhere to such prohibited concepts:

(1)    one race, sex, ethnicity, color, or national origin is inherently superior to another race, sex, ethnicity, color, or national origin;

(2)    an individual, by virtue of the race, sex, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin of the individual, inherently is privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously;

(3)    an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of the race, sex, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin of the individual;

(4)    the moral character of an individual is determined by the race, sex, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin of the individual;

(5)    an individual, by virtue of the race or sex of the individual, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, sex, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin;

(6)    meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic:

(a)    are racist, sexist, belong to the principles of one religion; or

(b)    were created by members of a particular race, sex, or religion to oppress members of another race, sex, ethnicity, color, national origin, or religion; and

(7)    fault, blame, or bias should be assigned to race, sex, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin, or to members of a race, sex, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin because of their race, sex, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin.

(B)    Library and media center material, both printed and electronically accessible, must be age appropriate and grade appropriate.

(C)    A student, administrator, teacher, staff member, other school or district employee, or volunteer may not be required to engage in any form of mandatory gender or sexual diversity training or counseling unless it is prescribed as part of a corrective action plan pursuant to Section 59-29-630(J).

(D)    Instruction or instructional materials which create a narrative that the United States was founded for the purpose of oppression, that the American Revolution was fought for the purpose of protecting oppression or that United States history is a story defined by oppression is hereby prohibited. Notwithstanding subsection (A), LEAs are not prohibited from including concepts as part of a course of instruction, in a curriculum or instructional program, or through the use of supplemental instructional materials if those concepts involve:

(1)    the history of an ethnic group, as described in the South Carolina State Standards and instructional materials adopted pursuant to the South Carolina Code of Regulations 43-70 (Textbook Adoption);

(2)    the impartial discussion of controversial aspects of history; or

(3)    the impartial instruction on the historical oppression of a particular group of people based on race, ethnicity, class, nationality, religion, or geographic region.

(E)    The department shall create and make accessible model lesson plans for LEAs to utilize in all grades and subject areas.

Section 59-29-630.    The department shall create a complaint form, which LEAs shall prominently post on their website, for use when an individual files a complaint alleging violations of Section 59-29-620. At a minimum, the department must ensure the complaint form includes:

(1)    the name and contact information of the complainant;

(2)    the name of the school in which the alleged violation took place;

(3)    a brief description of the prohibited concept at issue;

(4)    a brief statement on why the concept at issue is a prohibited concept;

(5)    the name of the individual alleged to have included or promoted the prohibited concept;

(6)    the name of the individual who may have knowledge of the allegations;

(7)    a list of documentation or materials supporting the complainant's allegations, including copies of such documentation where possible;

(8)    the approximate date on which the prohibited concept was included or promoted; and

(9)    the location, either physical or virtual, of the printed or electronically available material.

Section 59-29-640.    (A)(1)    Each LEA shall:

(a)    provide a statement on its website announcing the rights of parents to review curriculum and other material under the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment as contained in 20 U.S.C. Section 1232h;

(b)    provide annual notice of Section 59-29-620 to staff, students, and parents;

(c)    ensure compliance with Section 59-29-620 by investigating suspected violations and complaints alleging violations as provided in this article;

(d)    post the complaint form provided by the department pursuant to Section 59-29-630 for filing a complaint to allege a violation of Section 59-29-620 on the website of the LEA;

(e)    prohibit retaliation for filing a complaint or participating in an investigation;

(f)    obtain written consent from a parent prior to the participation of a minor student in the investigative process, including consent for the minor to be interviewed;

(g)    provide instructions for filing an appeal of the LEA determination with the department in a written determination to an eligible complainant; and

(h)    before July 1, 2022, and each year thereafter, provide a report to the department containing a summary of the:

(i)        number of complaints filed with a description of the nature of each complaint;

(ii)    number of complaints closed;

(iii)    number of complaints pending;

(iv)    number of resolution agreements successfully executed;

(v)    number of complaints substantiated; and

(vi)    number of complaints not substantiated.

(2)    Before the 2027-2028 School Year, an LEA shall compile and provide records of item (1)(a) through (f) that encompass the previous five school years in the annual report required in item (1)(h). The department shall provide a report summarizing the information of each district to the General Assembly before July 1, 2022, and each year thereafter.

(B)    Before the 2022-2023 School Year, the department shall create, and each LEA shall adopt, a policy for procedures used to report and investigate an alleged violation of Section 59-29-620 with the LEA, which must include:

(1)    instructions detailing how to file a complaint alleging a violation of Section 59-29-620 with the LEA;

(2)    a requirement that the complainant be:

(a)    a current student of the LEA in which the allegation arose;

(b)    the parent of a current student of the LEA in which the allegation arose; or

(c)    an employee of the LEA in which the allegation arose.

(3)    A timeline for the investigation of an LEA by the department, including when a:

(a)    complaint must be received;

(b)    response must be provided; and

(c)    decision must be rendered.

(C)    An LEA shall work collaboratively with parents, teachers, and other employees to resolve concerns and complaints. At any point after a complaint is filed but before the LEA has issued a final written determination, the parties may reach an early resolution of an allegation through a resolution agreement, which shall include any agreed upon terms of the early resolution. An LEA is not required to complete its investigation or issue a final written determination once it has entered a resolution agreement with the complainant.

(D)    The complainant or individual alleged to have violated Section 59-29-620 may file an appeal of the final written determination of an LEA with the State Board within fifteen calendar days after receiving the final written determination.

(E)    Within ten calendar days after the appeal is filed with the State Board, it shall send written notification acknowledging receipt to all parties involved.

(F)    The LEA may not take disciplinary or licensure action against an educator for a violation of Section 59-29-620 before the State Board sends a final written determination letter to all parties involved.

(G)    As part of an investigation, the State Board may:

(1)    request an investigative file from the LEA;

(2)    interview a complainant, the individual alleged to have included or promoted the prohibited concept, or another individual considered necessary by the State Board; and

(3)    request any new or additional relevant physical or electronic evidence from the LEA or any witness.

(H)    Within forty calendar days after receiving an appeal, the State Board shall determine whether:

(1)    allegations in the original complaint are substantiated; and

(2)    the LEA knowingly violated Section 59-29-620. An LEA must be deemed to have knowingly violated Section 59-29-620 if the LEA:

(a)    received a complaint alleging and became aware that a prohibited concept was included or promoted in a course of instruction, curriculum, instructional program, or supplemental instructional materials but failed to initiate an investigation or remedy a violation;

(b)    initiated an investigation but failed to make a timely determination about whether an allegation was substantiated; or

(c)    determined that the allegation was substantiated but failed to remedy the violation.

(I)    The State Board shall issue a written determination letter to the complainant, the individual alleged to have included or promoted the prohibited concept, and the LEA from which the allegation arose. This determination letter is subject to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. Section 1232g and any law of this State that relates to the privacy of student information.

(J)    Pending the issuance of a final order by the State Board in a proceeding pursuant to this section, no preliminary information gathered by the department concerning misconduct reasonably believed to constitute grounds for disciplinary action, including the name and certificate number of the certified educator, may be disclosed to any third party.

(K)    If the State Board determines that the LEA knowingly violated Section 59-29-620, the:

(1)    LEA shall enter into a corrective action plan that:

(a)    identifies specific acts or steps the LEA will take to resolve the noncompliance;

(b)    specifies deadlines for the completion of the required acts or steps; and

(c)    specifies dates for submission of reports and documentation to the State Board verifying implementation; and

(2)    State Board shall:

(a)    monitor the corrective action plan to ensure the LEA complies with the terms of the plan;

(b)    provide written notice to the LEA of any deficiencies in implementation and request immediate and appropriate action to address those deficiencies;

(c)    require additions to the corrective action plan to address the failure of the LEA to fully implement commitments in the original plan when necessary; and

(d)    conclude the monitoring of the corrective action plan when the State Board determines that the LEA fully has implemented the terms of the plan by providing written notification to the LEA.

(L)    If the State Board determines the LEA knowingly violated Section 59-29-620 or the LEA fails to adhere to the corrective action plans, the department may withhold up to five percent of a LEA's funds appropriated as part of the State Aid Classrooms.

Section 59-29-650.    (A)    Beginning with the 2022-2023 School Year and each school year thereafter, each LEA prominently shall post information regarding curriculum and instructional materials on the school district website. The information must indicate the materials used by school, grade or course, and subject matter, and must include:

(1)    a listing of the approved textbook for every course offered in the district;

(2)    a link to statewide academic standards;

(3)    relevant district policies concerning curriculum development and academic transparency; and

(4)    a process for which parents may review and contest instructional materials and library and media center materials being used.

(B)    At the start of each school year, an LEA shall communicate to parents how they may access the information and materials required in subsection (A).

(C)    A school shall ensure that every course offered provides students and parents with a course syllabus that includes:

(1)    an overview of instructional topics;

(2)    classroom expectations;

(3)    grading procedures;

(4)    primary textbooks and instructional materials;

(5)    teacher contact information;

(6)    information on accessing the course Learning Management System; and

(7)    the link to state standards, if available.

(D)    Course syllabi must be distributed to students and families within the first five days of class and should remain accessible to families online throughout the school year.

Section 59-29-660.    (A)    The State Superintendent of Education shall make arrangements for a thirty day public review of materials recommended by the instructional materials review panels before taking those recommendations to the State Board of Education. The public review sites must be geographically distributed around the State at as many state-supported colleges and universities or, if necessary, other designated sites that agree to host the reviews. Public review sites must be advertised in each congressional district in the newspaper with the largest circulation figures for that district, on the website of the department, and on social media sites used by the department.

(B)    The State Board shall hold a public hearing before adopting any textbook or instructional material for use in the schools of this State."

Section 59-29-670.    A school may not accept teaching materials or technology which contains an application, link, or other access to pornographic or other prohibited materials. A school district that receives such materials must receive disciplinary action as stated in the complaint process."

SECTION    4.    Section 59-28-180 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:

"Section 59-28-180.    (A)    Parent involvement influences student learning and academic performance; therefore, parents are expected to:

(1)    uphold high expectations for academic achievement;

(2)    expect and communicate expectations for success;

(3)    recognize that parental involvement in middle and high school is equally as critical as in elementary school;

(4)    ensure attendance and punctuality;

(5)    attend parent-teacher conferences;

(6)    monitor and check homework;

(7)    communicate with the school and teachers;

(8)    build partnerships with teachers to promote successful school experiences;

(9)    attend, when possible, school events;

(10)    model desirable behaviors;

(11)    use encouraging words;

(12)    stimulate thought and curiosity; and

(13)    show support for school expectations and efforts to increase student learning; and

(14)    be the primary source of their student's education in regard to learning morals, ethics, and civic responsibility.

(B)    During the annual school registration process or whenever a student is registered in a school, the school shall provide each parent who enrolls a child in the school a printed 'Pledge of Parental Expectations' that the State Department of Education shall develop, in which a parent may affirmatively commit to meeting the expectations outlined in subsection (A). The school shall encourage parents to sign the pledge and emphasize its importance during any orientation or open house events."

SECTION    5.    This act takes effect upon approval of the Governor and is applicable beginning with the 2022-2023 School Year.

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Legislative Services Agency
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