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H 4590
Session 112 (1997-1998) 

H 4590 General Bill, By Barfield, Allison, Barrett, Battle, Bauer, J.M. Baxley, 
Beck, G. Brown, T. Brown, A.W. Byrd, Carnell, Cato, Clyburn, J.L.M. Cromer, 
Dantzler, Davenport, Edge, Fleming, Gamble, Gourdine, Harris, Harvin, Haskins, 
Hawkins, Hinson, Inabinett, B.L. Jordan, Keegan, Kennedy, M.H. Kinon, Kirsh, 
Knotts, Koon, Law, Leach, Limehouse, Lloyd, Maddox, Martin, Mason, McGee, McKay, 
W. McLeod, McMahand, J.D. McMaster, Meacham, V.T. Mullen, Neilson, Phillips, 
Quinn, Rhoad, Rice, Riser, Robinson, Rodgers, Seithel, Sharpe, Simrill, 
D. Smith, F. Smith, J. Smith, Spearman, Stille, E.C. Stoddard, Tripp, Trotter, 
Walker, Whatley, Whipper, Wilder, Witherspoon, W.J. Young and Young-Brickell
 A BILL TO AMEND TITLE 59, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO
 EDUCATION, BY ADDING CHAPTER 28 SO AS TO ESTABLISH AN ALTERNATIVE PILOT SCHOOL
 PROGRAM FOR STUDENTS EXPELLED FROM THE SIXTH THROUGH TWELFTH GRADES TO PROVIDE
 THEM WITH AN OPPORTUNITY TO CONTINUE THEIR EDUCATION.

   02/05/98  House  Introduced and read first time HJ-5
   02/05/98  House  Referred to Committee on Education and Public
                     Works HJ-5



A BILL

TO AMEND TITLE 59, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO EDUCATION, BY ADDING CHAPTER 28 SO AS TO ESTABLISH AN ALTERNATIVE PILOT SCHOOL PROGRAM FOR STUDENTS EXPELLED FROM THE SIXTH THROUGH TWELFTH GRADES TO PROVIDE THEM WITH AN OPPORTUNITY TO CONTINUE THEIR EDUCATION.

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

SECTION 1. Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

"CHAPTER 28

Pilot Schools for Students Expelled

from Sixth Through Twelfth Grades

Section 59-28-10. This chapter is known and may be cited as the 'South Carolina Alternative Pilot Schools Act'.

Section 59-28-20. (A) The General Assembly finds and declares that:

(1) it is the goal of this State to provide educational opportunities to all students who choose to pursue such opportunities;

(2) to maintain discipline in the public schools, it is essential sometimes for the public schools to expel students;

(3) students who are expelled from public schools are much more likely than their former classmates to fail to obtain a high school education and to have early contacts with the criminal justice system;

(4) providing students in the sixth through twelfth grades who have been expelled with the opportunity to continue their education in a proper setting shall enhance the possibility that they will continue their education and become productive members of society;

(5) as students who are expelled from public schools no longer belong to any school district, it is appropriate for the State to devise programs to meet their needs.

(B) The General Assembly further finds that this chapter is enacted to:

(1) complement the present disciplinary systems in existence in this State;

(2) encourage diverse approaches to educating children who have been expelled;

(3) provide students who have been expelled with the opportunity to continue their education;

(4) determine the most effective means of addressing the educational, psychological, cultural, and other needs of those students who have been expelled; and

(5) provide resources for development of an extended day, year-round program for students who require more intense supervision and instruction.

Section 59-28-30. As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) 'At-risk student' means a student who is in the sixth through twelfth grades who is under seventeen years of age, and who has been the subject of at least one suspension in the past year.

(2) 'Expelled student' means a student who is in the sixth through twelfth grades who is under seventeen years of age, and who has been expelled from school for a period in excess of thirty days.

(3) 'Pilot school' means a school created pursuant to this chapter by a school district, combination of school districts, or a private entity operating pursuant to a contract with the state board.

(4) 'State board' means the State Board of Education.

Section 59-28-40. (A) The state board may provide for the establishment and operation of two full-time residential pilot schools pursuant to the following provisions:

(1) The state board shall consider placement of the pilot schools in geographic areas of the State that shall provide the easiest access to the maximum number of expelled and at-risk students eligible to attend the pilot schools.

(2) A pilot school is a public, nonsectarian, nonreligious, nonhome-based school.

(3) A pilot school is subject to all federal and state laws and constitutional provisions prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, gender, national origin, religion, or ancestry. Enrollment decisions must be made in a nondiscriminatory manner specified by the pilot school applicant in the pilot school application.

(B) The two pilot schools shall each have a minimum of sixty students, two-thirds of which must be expelled students and one-third of which must be at-risk students. The schools shall make available full-time residential facilities for all expelled students who, in the determination of the pilot school, and State Board of Education in consultation with parents or guardians, may benefit from an environment different from those conditions that may have contributed to the student's expulsion.

(C) A pilot school shall operate on a year-round basis and offer services for an extended period of more than eight hours during each educational day. All pilot schools shall be operated in a boot camp like environment with no frills being permitted such as television, stereos, CD players, or other similar amenities to encourage the students to value and appreciate the regular school system when they return to it.

(D) A pilot school must be accountable to the state board for purposes of ensuring compliance with applicable laws and contract provisions.

(E) The pilot school may require a parent or legal guardian and the student to enter into a mutual responsibility agreement according to the terms of which a parent, legal guardian, or student provides services to the pilot school or agrees to make a financial contribution to the pilot school.

(F) A pilot school must be funded by the State in the manner the General Assembly shall provide.

(G) Pursuant to contract, a pilot school may operate free from specified school district policies, state laws, state regulations, and contract requirements otherwise applicable to schools located in the school district where the pilot school is located. Upon request of the pilot school, the state board may release the pilot school from any school district policies, state laws, state regulations, or contract requirements.

(H)(1) A pilot school must be responsible for its own operation including, but not limited to, preparation of a budget, compilation of any data required by this chapter, contracting for services, and personnel matters.

(2) A pilot school may negotiate and contract with a school district, the governing body of a state college or university, or any third party for the use of a school building and grounds, the operation and maintenance thereof, and the provision of any service, activity, or undertaking that the pilot school is required to perform in order to carry out the education program described in its contract. A pilot school may contract with the State for the use of any available state facility in order to carry out its education program. Any services for which a pilot school contracts with the state board or any school district must be provided to the pilot school at cost.

Section 59-28-50. (A) The state board shall promulgate regulations for the applications to be submitted for the right to operate a pilot school that includes:

(1) a description of the applicant, it's experience in providing educational, counseling, social, and other necessary services to expelled and other students, and, in the case of nonprofit organizations, its balance sheets and operating statements for the previous three years;

(2) information regarding the educational background, experience, and qualifications of personnel who will serve on the board of directors and operate the school;

(3) the mission statement of the proposed pilot school;

(4) the goals, objectives, and performance standards to be achieved by the pilot school;

(5) a description of the standards upon which the pilot school will select and admit expelled and at-risk students and determine when an expelled student must be admitted as a residential student;

(6) a description of the pilot school's educational program, student performance standards, curriculum, and student conduct code;

(7) a description of the pilot school's plan for evaluating student performance, the types of assessments that must be used to measure student progress toward achievement of the performance standards, the time line for achievement of such standards, and the procedures for taking corrective action in the event that student performance at the pilot school falls below the standards;

(8) evidence that the proposed pilot school is economically sound, a proposed budget for the term of the contract, and a description of the manner in which an annual audit of the financial and administrative operations of the pilot school is to be conducted;

(9) a description of the governance and operation of the pilot school, including the nature and extent of parental, professional educator, social services, and community involvement;

(10) an explanation of the relationship that exists between the proposed pilot school and its employees;

(11) a description of how the pilot school plans to meet the residential needs of its students and, if the pilot school plans to provide transportation for students, a plan for addressing their transportation needs;

(12) a description of how the school shall assist students in adapting to a public school or other appropriate learning or work environment upon the student's departure from the pilot school;

(13) a description of how the pilot school shall involve parents in order to enhance students' performance in the pilot school, including the use of any mutual responsibility contracts;

(14) a description of the pilot school's plan to sponsor periodic meetings, conferences, or training seminars to provide information concerning expelled or at-risk students to personnel in the school districts that represent the geographic area in which the pilot school is located;

(15) identification of the entity that shall evaluate the pilot school;

(16) a description of how the pilot school plans to foster an awareness of cultural needs; and

(17) any other information considered necessary by the state board.

(B) If accepted, the application shall serve as the basis of a contract between the state board and the applicant.

Section 59-28-60. (A) The state board shall appoint a selection committee to review applications for each of the pilot schools established pursuant to this chapter and to make recommendations to the state board as to whether a pilot school should be established in an area and which applicants should be selected. The state board shall appoint, as members of or advisors to the committee, members from the county Department of Social Services from each county in which a pilot school is to be established. The committee also may include persons from local school districts, local law enforcement agencies, local probation departments, community-based organizations, parent groups, and any other interested private citizens.

(B) Applications must be filed with the state board by the first of July of the previous year to be eligible for the award of contracts for operation during a particular school year. This deadline does not apply for the first year such schools are established, which deadline instead must be set by the state board. If the state board finds the pilot school application is incomplete, it shall request the necessary information from the applicant.

(C) After giving reasonable public notice, the state board may hold community meetings in the area where each pilot school is to be located.

(D) The state board shall select applicants for contracts for operation of pilot schools in a public hearing, upon reasonable public notice.

Section 59-28-70. (A) The state board shall enter into negotiations for a contract to operate a pilot school with each applicant it has selected. The contract must be for three years' duration, commencing upon the date of its execution, and shall set forth the terms under which the pilot school shall operate. The contract may be renewed for an additional period of up to three years. The contract shall incorporate the pertinent provisions from the application and shall provide for termination for cause. The contract shall reflect all agreements regarding the release of the pilot school from state board policies and state laws.

(B) The state board's decisions regarding the award and contents of a contract must be final and may not be reviewable by appeal, certiorari, mandamus, injunction, or otherwise.

Section 59-28-80. (A) A pilot school renewal application must be submitted to the state board no later than six months before the expiration of the original contract and shall contain:

(1) a report on the progress of the pilot school in achieving the goals, objectives, student performance standards, content standards, and other terms of the initial approved pilot school application;

(2) a financial statement in a format determined by the state board that discloses the costs of administration, instruction, and other spending categories for the pilot school for each of the years of the contract. Such a statement must be understandable to the general public and should allow comparison of such costs to other schools or other comparable organizations;

(3) a report on the population of the pilot school that discloses the following:

(a) the ethnic, racial, and gender composition of the school and the ages of the students who have attended the school since its inception;

(b) disciplinary records of the students, including the dates, reasons, and background for each disciplinary incident;

(c) records of student contacts with the juvenile or criminal justice systems;

(d) data on the dropout or graduation rates of the students;

(e) information on the attendance of the students; and

(f) information on the success of the school in educating expelled students.

(B) A pilot school may be closed or a renewal application may be denied by the state board if the state board determines that the pilot school:

(1) committed a material violation of any of the conditions, standards, or procedures set forth in the application;

(2) failed to meet or make reasonable progress toward achievement of the content standards or pupil performance standards identified in the pilot application;

(3) failed to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management; or

(4) violated any provision of law from which the pilot school was not specifically exempted.

(C) A decision by the state board to close a pilot school or not to renew a pilot school application is subject to review pursuant to the provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act.

Section 59-28-90. (A) If an employee of a local school district makes a written request for a leave to be employed at a pilot school, the school district shall grant the leave for up to three years as requested by the employee. The school district may require that the request for leave or extension of leave be made by the date under state law for the return of teachers' contracts. Employees may return to employment with the local school district at its option with the same teaching or administrative contract status as when they left, but without assurance as to the school or supplemental position to which they may be assigned.

(B) During a leave, the employee may continue to accrue benefits and credits in the South Carolina Retirement System by paying the employee contributions based upon the annual salary of the employee, and the pilot school shall pay the employer contribution. The South Carolina Retirement System may impose reasonable requirements to administer this section.

Section 59-28-100. (A) The state board shall evaluate the pilot schools based upon the progress of the pilot schools in achieving the goals, objectives, student performance standards, content standards, and other terms of the initial approved pilot application as well as relevant information about the cost and fiscal management of the pilot schools.

(B) The state board shall prepare an annual report on the progress and efficiency of the pilot schools to be presented to the General Assembly no later than three years after the effective date of this chapter, and on the first day of January of each year thereafter. The state board may require pilot schools to submit data on an appropriate periodic basis for the purpose of preparing the annual report.

Section 59-28-110. (A) Expelled students and any at-risk students otherwise eligible to attend sixth through twelfth grades may voluntarily apply to any pilot school. No student must be compelled to attend a pilot school. Each pilot school shall devise its own application and admission procedures. An application shall include:

(1) the name, address, gender, race, ethnicity, and age of the student;

(2) if the student was expelled, the reasons for the expulsion, the date of the expulsion, and the disciplinary record of the student;

(3) a statement why the student is applying to be a full-time residential student;

(4) a statement from the student explaining why he or she would benefit from the pilot school program;

(5) academic records for the prior three years, including classes taken, grades, or evaluations received, grade point average, results of any diagnostic testing, and results of standardized tests;

(6) the student's and parent's, guardian's, or legal custodian's consent to submit to drug testing if required by the pilot school;

(7) information about the extracurricular activities, sports, hobbies, or out-of-school employment of the student before expulsion; and

(8) any other application information required by the pilot school to which the student is applying.

(B) Each student is eligible to apply to the pilot school serving the county where the student resides. A student also may apply to any other pilot school that has not filled all of its sixty student slots.

(C) Students admitted to a pilot school may continue to be enrolled at the pilot school after the expiration of any period of expulsion from their original schools. Students of pilot schools who were not originally enrolled as expelled students may continue to be enrolled pursuant to the policies and regulations adopted by the pilot school.

Section 59-28-120. A pilot school may discipline, suspend, and expel students based upon a reasonable belief that a student is using drugs; a pilot school may require a student to submit to drug testing after providing notice to the student's parent, guardian, or legal custodian.

Section 59-28-130. Within five days of expelling a student, the school district that expelled the student shall:

(1) notify the student and the student's parent, guardian, or legal custodian of the student's opportunity to apply to a pilot school;

(2) provide the student's parent, guardian, or legal custodian with a copy of the student's academic and disciplinary records; and

(3) notify the appropriate pilot school of the student's expulsion.

Section 59-28-140. A pilot school shall contract with one or more universities to monitor and track the progress of students in the pilot school.

Section 59-28-150. (A) The State Department of Education may pursue additional sources of funding for the financing of pilot schools, including, but not limited to, grants, donations, and contributions from public or private sources.

(B) A pilot school may have access to any public or private funding sources available for vocational training."

SECTION 2. The pilot schools authorized by the provisions of Chapter 28 of Title 59 of the 1976 Code, as contained in Section 1 of this act, shall be established beginning with the 1999-2000 school year contingent upon sufficient funding being provided by the General Assembly.

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

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