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TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION 59-63-550 SO AS TO PROVIDE FOR OPEN ENROLLMENT FOR STUDENTS WITHOUT CHARGING TUITION EXCEPT IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF OPEN ENROLLMENT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Article 5, Chapter 63, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
"Section 59-63-550. (A) As used in this section, 'open enrollment' means a public education delivery system that allows school districts to make student school assignments using parents' indicated preferential school choice as a significant factor.
(B) Each district school board shall implement an open enrollment program without charging tuition. Tuition may be charged to nonresident pupils only when the tuition is authorized pursuant to Section 59-63-45 or Section 59-63-480. The open enrollment program must be offered in addition to the existing choice programs such as magnet schools, alternative schools, special programs, advanced placement, and dual enrollment.
(C) Each district school board shall develop policies for open enrollment that describe the implementation of subsection (B). The open enrollment program must be limited to the capacity of a program, grade level, and school building. Discrimination based on race, gender, religious affiliation, or disability is prohibited.
(D) School districts shall adhere to federal desegregation requirements. An open enrollment plan that conflicts with federal desegregation orders must not be implemented.
(E) Each school district shall develop a plan that includes, but is not limited to:
(1) application procedures required to participate in the open enrollment program;
(2) a process that allows parents to declare school preferences;
(3) a process that encourages placement of siblings within the same school;
(4) a lottery procedure used by the school district to determine student assignment when applications exceed capacity;
(5) an appeals process for hardship cases;
(6) procedures to maintain socioeconomic, demographic, and racial balance;
(7) a strategy to provide information designed to assist parents in making informed choices.
(F) If a student transfers from one school to another school within the school district as a result of open enrollment, notwithstanding another provision of law, the school district is not required to provide transportation services to the student.
(G) School districts having only one primary, elementary, middle, junior high, or high school must establish choice programs within their district such as school-within-a-school programs, magnet programs, alternative school programs, special programs, advanced placement, and dual enrollment. The districts also are encouraged to work with adjacent districts to establish additional choice options.
(H) Each district school board annually shall report the number of students applying for and attending the various types of public schools of choice in the district, including schools such as magnet schools and public charter schools, according to rules adopted by the State Board of Education."
SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
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