South Carolina Legislature


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H 3704
Session 110 (1993-1994)

H 3704 General Bill, By M.F. Jaskwhich, Allison, B.O. Baker, H.H. Clyborne, 
R.S. Corning, T.E. Huff, H.G. Hutson, Littlejohn, C.V. Marchbanks, Phillips, 
Robinson, E.C. Stoddard, C.H. Stone, Trotter, Vaughn, C.C. Wells and 
 A Bill to amend Title 59, Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, relating to
 education, by adding Chapter 68 so as to enact the South Carolina Parental
 Choice in Education Act which establishes three models which authorize a
 student to attend a school in his district other than the one to which he is
 assigned or in another district under certain restrictions, conditions, and
 limitations, to provide that these three models must be pilot tested over a
 three-year period, and to provide that further use of these three models after
 the three-year pilot testing period is not authorized without the
 authorization of the General Assembly by Act or Joint Resolution.

   03/11/93  House  Introduced and read first time HJ-14
   03/11/93  House  Referred to Committee on Education and Public
                     Works HJ-15



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

SECTION 1. The General Assembly finds that the students in South Carolina's schools and their parents will become more informed about and involved in the public educational system if students and their parents are provided greater freedom to determine the most effective school for meeting their individual educational needs. There is no "right" school for every student and permitting students to choose from among different schools with differing assets will increase the likelihood that some marginal students stay in school and that other, more motivated students find their full academic potential.

The General Assembly further finds that giving more options to parents and students with respect to where they attend school will increase the responsiveness and effectiveness of the state's schools since teachers, administrators, and school board members will have added incentive to satisfy the educational needs of the students who reside in the district.

The General Assembly finds that these benefits of enhanced quality and effectiveness in our schools justify permitting a student to apply for admission to a school in any district beyond the one in which he resides, provided that the transfer by this student would not adversely affect the desegregation of either district.

SECTION 2. Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:


South Carolina

Parental Choice in Education Act

Article I

General Provisions: Pilot Testing

Section 59-68-100. This chapter may be cited as the `South Carolina Parental Choice in Education Act'.

Section 59-68-110. As used in this chapter:

(1) `At-risk student' means a student who, based on certain criteria as specified in this chapter for assessing students, is considered to be a potential dropout from school.

(2) `Parent' means the natural or adoptive parent or legal guardian of a dependent child.

(3) `Participating school' means a public or private school located in the State that enters into an agreement with the State Department of Education in accordance with this chapter.

(4) `Private school' means a school that is not maintained with public funds, that charges tuition or fees for the services it provides, and that is in compliance with the laws of this State.

(5) `Public school' means a school operated by publicly elected or appointed school officials in which the program and activities are under the control of these officials and which is supported by public funds.

(6) `Resident school district' means a geographical area surrounding a public school from which students are assigned.

(7) `School' means a school that is authorized to provide elementary or secondary education, or both, under state law.

Section 59-68-130. In order to achieve the purpose of this chapter, the State Board of Education shall develop and the State Department of Education shall implement three parental choice in education model programs as provided for in Articles 3, 5, and 7 of this chapter. The State Department of Education, in conjunction with the local school districts affected, shall pilot test these three models for a three-year period in selected school districts beginning with school year 1993-94.

Section 59-68-140. The State Department of Education shall conduct an evaluation of the three model choice programs after a three-year pilot testing period. The evaluation shall report on efficiency of spending, comparing budgets with like districts without choice programs, student performance, and attitudes of parents, teachers, school administrators, and students. The evaluation shall also report on whether or not the certificate choice model contained in Article 3 of this chapter should be expanded from at-risk students to all students. The evaluation must be given to the House Education and Public Works Committee and the Senate Education Committee. The three parental choice models established in this chapter after the three-year pilot test period may not be used further without the authorization of the General Assembly by act or joint resolution.

Section 59-68-150. To assist parents and students in making educational choices permitted under this chapter, the State Department of Education must publish and make available a list of the participating schools and a Parent Information Center must be established in the department or in the Office of Accountability. This center shall collect comprehensive information on each school district in which pilot testing of these models is occurring and must provide and use this information in counseling and assisting parents in choosing the most appropriate school for their children.

Section 59-68-160. The State Board of Education shall promulgate regulations necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter.

Section 59-68-170. The provisions of this chapter are supplemental to other provisions and requirements of law relating to school attendance of pupils.

Article 3

Certificate for Public or

Private School Choice

Section 59-68-300. The first parental choice model is entitled `Certificate for Public or Private School Choice' and is a program in which the parent of each at-risk student receives from the district school board, on request, a certificate that may be used for educational services at a participating school selected by the child's parent in accordance with this article.

Section 59-68-310. (A) Each public school in a district shall become a participating school. The responsible officials for each private school in the district shall decide whether that school shall become a participating school.

(B) Subject to the provisions of subsection (C), a participating school shall admit at-risk children with certificates who apply, up to the limit of the school's capacity, after reserving places for children admitted in accordance with the school's regular admissions practices.

(C) (1) A participating school must be granted deregulation status and shall establish criteria for the admission of at-risk children with certificates consistent with the admissions criteria it regularly applies.

(2) In the case of a participating public school, the district school board shall establish criteria for the equitable allocation of places for at-risk children with certificates if there are insufficient places to serve all at-risk children requesting places.

Section 59-68-320. A participating school shall enter into an agreement with the State Department of Education. The agreement must provide that the participating school furnish an at-risk child an education equivalent to that provided to all other children in the school when an at-risk child tenders a certificate in accordance with this article, is accepted at the school and, if applicable, pays a supplementary tuition to satisfy any remainder of a participating school's tuition.

Section 59-68-330. A parent of an at-risk child with a certificate may use the certificate for educational services at a participating school only if the child is admitted to the participating school.

Section 59-68-340. The value of a certificate must be set at one hundred percent of the pupil expenditure supplied by the State based upon the Education Finance Act weighting, but no certificate may be redeemed for more than the amount of the tuition and fees regularly charged by the participating school providing the educational services.

Section 59-68-350. At-risk students should also have an equal opportunity of educational choices and therefore have the option under this choice model of using the certificate to attend private schools in the manner authorized by this article.

Section 59-68-360. A student in grades one through twelve who is considered an at-risk student pursuant to criteria established by the National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson University is an eligible at-risk student under this article.

Section 59-68-370. (A) A parent of an at-risk child with a certificate shall present the certificate to the participating school that the child attends. The participating school shall present the certificate for payment or redemption to the district school board.

(B) A participating public school shall receive funds equal to the full value of a certificate for each certificate presented by the respective participating public school in addition to its regular budget.

(C) A participating public school shall lose funds equal to the full value of a certificate for each resident school district at-risk student who transfers from the respective participating public school.

(D) A participating private school shall receive funds equal to a percentage of the full value of a certificate, in accordance with this subsection, for each certificate presented by the respective participating private school.

(E) For the first school year, beginning with the 1993-94 school year, a participating private school shall receive sixty percent of the value of a certificate as established in Section 59-68-340, for each certificate presented by the respective participating private school. Each subsequent school year, the percentages of the value of a certificate received by a participating private school increases ten percent until the percentage equals one hundred percent.

Section 59-68-380. (A) A participating school shall provide assurance to the district school board that it is in compliance with appropriate requirements prohibiting discrimination.

(B) A participating school shall publish or otherwise make available information regarding:

(1) participation in the certificate program;

(2) program of instruction;

(3) achievement data regarding students attending the school, which may be sated in the aggregate;

(4) incidence of drug abuse;

(5) school discipline and safety;

(6) other matters that may be specified in regulations.

Article 5

Nonresident Public School Choice

Section 59-68-500. The second parental choice model is entitled `nonresident public school choice' and is a public school choice program established to enable a pupil to attend a public school in a district in which the pupil does not reside, subject to the restrictions contained in this article.

Section 59-68-510. Before a pupil may attend a school in a nonresident district, the pupil's parent or guardian must submit an application to the nonresident district. This application must be postmarked not later than February first of the year in which the pupil would begin the fall semester at the nonresident district, except that for school year 1993-94, the application must be postmarked thirty days after the State Department of Education selects a particular district or districts in which this model is to be pilot-tested.

Section 59-68-520. A school board may, by resolution, determine that it will not admit any nonresident pupils to its schools pursuant to this article.

Section 59-68-530. The school board of a participating district shall adopt, by resolution, specific standards for acceptance and rejection of applications. Standards may include the capacity of a program, class, grade level, or school building. Nothing in this article requires a school district to add teachers or classrooms or in any way exceed the requirements and standards established by existing law. Standards may not include an applicant's previous academic achievement, athletic or other extracurricular ability, handicapping conditions, English proficiency level, or previous disciplinary proceedings.

Section 59-68-540. Within sixty days of the receipt of an application from a nonresident pupil seeking admission under the terms of this article, a participating district shall notify the parent or guardian and the resident district in writing as to whether the pupil's application has been accepted or rejected. If an application is rejected, the nonresident district shall state in the notification letter the reasons for rejection.

Section 59-68-550. The responsibility for transportation for a nonresident pupil must be borne by the pupil, except that the resident district may transport the student to the district boundary to a point agreeable to the parent or the nonresident district within either the resident or nonresident district and count that student in the resident district's enrollment for transportation funding purposes only. The nonresident district may provide transportation from the resident district's boundary or from a point agreeable with the parent or the resident district within either the resident or nonresident district to a school in the nonresident district and count that student in the nonresident district's enrollment for transportation funding purposes only.

Section 59-68-560. A nonresident district shall accept credits toward graduation that were awarded by another district.

Section 59-68-570. Except as otherwise provided in Section 59-68-520, for purposes of the Education Finance Act, the Educational Improvement Act, and other applicable provisions of law, the nonresident student must be counted as a part of the average daily enrollment of the district to which the student has transferred. All add-on weightings generated by the student must also be transferred to the district of attendance.

Section 59-68-580. The provisions of this article and all pupil choice options created in this article are subject to the following limitations:

(1) No student may transfer to a nonresident district where the percentage of enrollment for the student's race, plus or minus five percent, exceeds that percentage in his resident district.

(2) In any instance where the provisions of item (1) would result in a conflict with a desegregation court order, the terms of the order govern.

Section 59-68-590. A student who transfers to a nonresident district is not eligible for interscholastic athletic competition for one year from the date of the beginning of the transfer.

Article 7

Intradistrict Choice

Section 59-58-700. The third parental choice model is entitled `intradistrict choice' and is a program whereby an intradistrict choice plan is established in the particular districts under guidelines and conditions specified by the State Department of Education. The choice program may include magnet schools, alternative schools, or controlled choice plans, and must include postsecondary options. Opportunities for students to take college courses simultaneously for high school graduation and college degree credit must be available under the following conditions:

(1) prior written approval of the high school principal for the cross-registration must be obtained;

(2) the college must accept the student for admission to the courses; and

(3) the courses must be given by the college for degree credits.

Schools that comply with this standard shall not be penalized in receiving state appropriations.

Section 59-58-710. A participating school is not obligated to provide transportation for a child residing outside of the participating school's resident school district. However, the school may provide transportation as a service. Parents and students have the responsibility for transportation to the postsecondary institution.

Section 59-58-720. The local school board of trustees shall establish policies consistent with this article."

SECTION 3. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.


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