Florida Senate - 2017 SB 902
By Senator Simmons
1 A bill to be entitled
2 An act relating to the Gardiner Scholarship Program;
3 amending s. 1002.385, F.S.; redefining the terms
4 “disability” and “IEP”; revising program eligibility
5 requirements; prohibiting a student who is enrolled in
6 the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind from
7 being eligible for the program; authorizing a parent
8 to select certain additional specialized services;
9 revising the date upon which certain private schools
10 must submit a required report; specifying that certain
11 actions of the private school are a basis for program
12 ineligibility; revising funding calculation
13 requirements; providing an appropriation; providing an
14 effective date.
16 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
18 Section 1. Paragraphs (d) and (h) of subsection (2) and
19 paragraph (a) of subsection (3) of section 1002.385, Florida
20 Statutes, are amended, paragraph (e) is added to subsection (4)
21 of that section, and paragraph (c) of subsection (5) and
22 subsections (8)and (13) of that section are amended, to read:
23 1002.385 The Gardiner Scholarship.—
24 (2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
25 (d) “Disability” means, for a 3- or 4-year-old child or for
26 a student in kindergarten to grade 12, autism spectrum disorder,
27 as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
28 Disorders, Fifth Edition, published by the American Psychiatric
29 Association; cerebral palsy, as defined in s. 393.063(6); Down
30 syndrome, as defined in s. 393.063(15); an intellectual
31 disability, as defined in s. 393.063(24); Phelan-McDermid
32 syndrome, as defined in s. 393.063(28); Prader-Willi syndrome,
33 as defined in s. 393.063(29); spina bifida, as defined in s.
34 393.063(40); being a high-risk child, as defined in s.
35 393.063(23)(a); muscular dystrophy;
and Williams syndrome; a
36 rare disease or condition, as defined by the Orphan Drug Act of
37 1983, Pub. L. No. 97-414; anaphylaxis; or identification as
38 orthopedically impaired, deaf, visually impaired, hospital or
39 homebound, dual sensory impaired, traumatic brain injured, or
40 other health impaired, as defined by rules of the State Board of
41 Education and evidenced by reports from local school districts.
42 (h) “IEP” means individual education plan, regardless of
43 whether the plan has been reviewed or revised within the last 12
45 (3) PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY.—A parent of a student with a
46 disability may request and receive from the state a Gardiner
47 Scholarship for the purposes specified in subsection (5) if:
48 (a) The student:
49 1. Is a resident of this state;
50 2. Is 3 or 4 years of age on or before September 1 of the
51 year in which the student applies for program participation or
52 is eligible to enroll in kindergarten through grade 12 in a
53 public school in this state;
54 3. Has a disability as defined in paragraph (2)(d) or is 5
55 years of age or older and has previously been identified as a
56 high-risk child, as defined in s. 393.063(23)(a); and
57 4. Is the subject of an IEP written in accordance with
58 rules of the State Board of Education or with the applicable
59 rules of another state or has received a diagnosis of a
60 disability from a physician who is licensed under chapter 458 or
61 chapter 459, or a psychologist who is licensed under chapter
62 490, or a physician who holds an active license issued by
63 another state or territory of the United States, the District of
64 Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
65 (4) PROGRAM PROHIBITIONS.—A student is not eligible for the
66 program if he or she is:
67 (e) Enrolled in the Florida School for the Deaf and the
69 (5) AUTHORIZED USES OF PROGRAM FUNDS.—Program funds must be
70 used to meet the individual educational needs of an eligible
71 student and may be spent for the following purposes:
72 (c) Specialized services by approved providers that are
73 selected by the parent. These specialized services may include,
74 but are not limited to:
75 1. Applied behavior analysis services as provided in ss.
76 627.6686 and 641.31098.
77 2. Services provided by speech-language pathologists as
78 defined in s. 468.1125.
79 3. Occupational therapy services as defined in s. 468.203.
80 4. Services provided by physical therapists as defined in
81 s. 486.021.
82 5. Services provided by listening and spoken language
83 specialists and an appropriate acoustical environment for a
84 child who is deaf or hard of hearing and who has received an
85 implant or assistive hearing device.
86 6. Services provided by a therapist who is certified by the
87 Certification Board for Music Therapists or who has credentials
88 from the Art Therapy Credentials Board.
89 7. Services provided at a center that is a member of the
90 Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship
93 A provider of any services receiving payments pursuant to this
94 subsection may not share, refund, or rebate any moneys from the
95 Gardiner Scholarship with the parent or participating student in
96 any manner.
97 (8) PRIVATE SCHOOL ELIGIBILITY AND OBLIGATIONS.—An eligible
98 private school may be sectarian or nonsectarian and shall:
99 (a) Comply with all requirements for private schools
100 participating in state school choice scholarship programs
101 pursuant to s. 1002.421.
102 (b) Provide to the organization, upon request, all
103 documentation required for the student’s participation,
104 including the private school’s and student’s fee schedules.
105 (c) Be academically accountable to the parent for meeting
106 the educational needs of the student by:
107 1. At a minimum, annually providing to the parent a written
108 explanation of the student’s progress.
109 2. Annually administering or making provision for students
110 participating in the program in grades 3 through 10 to take one
111 of the nationally norm-referenced tests identified by the
112 Department of Education or the statewide assessments pursuant to
113 s. 1008.22. Students with disabilities for whom standardized
114 testing is not appropriate are exempt from this requirement. A
115 participating private school shall report a student’s scores to
116 the parent.
117 3. Cooperating with the scholarship student whose parent
118 chooses to have the student participate in the statewide
119 assessments pursuant to s. 1008.22 or, if a private school
120 chooses to offer the statewide assessments, administering the
121 assessments at the school.
122 a. A participating private school may choose to offer and
123 administer the statewide assessments to all students who attend
124 the private school in grades 3 through 10.
125 b. A participating private school shall submit a request in
126 writing to the Department of Education by March 1 of each year
127 in order to administer the statewide assessments in the
128 subsequent school year.
129 (d) Employ or contract with teachers who have regular and
130 direct contact with each student receiving a scholarship under
131 this section at the school’s physical location.
132 (e) Annually contract with an independent certified public
133 accountant to perform the agreed-upon procedures developed under
134 s. 1002.395(6)(o) and produce a report of the results if the
135 private school receives more than $250,000 in funds from
136 scholarships awarded under this section in the 2014-2015 state
137 fiscal year or a state fiscal year thereafter. A private school
138 subject to this paragraph must submit the report by September
139 15, 2015, and annually thereafter by August 15 to the
140 organization that awarded the majority of the school’s
141 scholarship funds. The agreed-upon procedures must be conducted
142 in accordance with attestation standards established by the
143 American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
145 If The inability of a private school is unable to meet the
146 requirements of this subsection or has in consecutive years had
147 material exceptions listed in its agreed-upon procedures
148 reports, there is constitutes a basis for the ineligibility of
149 the private school to participate in the program as determined
150 by the commissioner.
151 (13) FUNDING AND PAYMENT.—
152 (a)1. The maximum funding amount granted for an eligible
153 student with a disability, pursuant to subsection (3), shall be
154 equivalent to the base student allocation in the Florida
155 Education Finance Program multiplied by the appropriate cost
156 factor for the educational program that which would have been
157 provided for the student in the district school to which he or
158 she would have been assigned, multiplied by the district cost
160 2. In addition, an amount equivalent to a share of the
161 guaranteed allocation for exceptional students in the Florida
162 Education Finance Program shall be determined and added to the
163 amount in subparagraph 1. The calculation shall be based on the
164 methodology and the data used to calculate the guaranteed
165 allocation for exceptional students for each district in chapter
166 2000-166, Laws of Florida. Except as provided in subparagraph
167 3., the calculation shall be based on the student’s grade, the
168 matrix level of services, and the difference between the 2000
169 2001 basic program and the appropriate level of services cost
170 factor, multiplied by the 2000-2001 base student allocation and
171 the 2000-2001 district cost differential for the sending
172 district. The calculated amount must also include an amount
173 equivalent to the per-student share of supplemental academic
174 instruction funds, instructional materials funds, technology
175 funds, and other categorical funds as provided in the General
176 Appropriations Act.
177 3. Except as otherwise provided in subsection (7), The
178 calculation for a student all students participating in the
179 program shall be based on the student’s matrix level of
180 services. The funding for a student without a matrix of services
181 shall be based on the matrix that assigns the student to support
182 Level III of services. If a parent chooses to request and
183 receive a matrix of services from the school district, when the
184 school district completes the matrix, the amount of the payment
185 shall be adjusted as needed.
186 (b) The amount of the awarded funds shall be 90 percent of
187 the calculated amount. One hundred percent of the funds
188 appropriated for the program shall be released to the department
189 at the beginning of the first quarter of each fiscal year.
190 (c) Upon notification from the organization that a parent
191 has filed a final verification document pursuant to paragraph
192 (3)(b) or upon notification from the organization that a 3- or
193 4-year-old child’s application has been approved for the
194 program, the department shall release the student’s scholarship
195 funds to the organization to be deposited into the student’s
197 (d) For initial eligibility for the program, students
198 determined eligible by the organization for a Gardiner
199 Scholarship by:
200 1. September 1 shall receive 100 percent of the total
201 awarded funds.
202 2. November 1 shall receive 75 percent of the total awarded
204 3. February 1 shall receive 50 percent of the total awarded
206 4. April 1 shall receive 25 percent of the total awarded
208 (e) A student who is 3 years of age or older after
209 September 1 and who the organization has determined is eligible
210 for a Gardiner Scholarship may receive a prorated scholarship
211 consistent with paragraph (c).
212 (f) (e) Accrued interest in the student’s account is in
213 addition to, and not part of, the awarded funds. Program funds
214 include both the awarded funds and accrued interest.
215 (g) (f) The organization may develop a system for payment of
216 benefits by funds transfer, including, but not limited to, debit
217 cards, electronic payment cards, or any other means of payment
218 that the department deems to be commercially viable or cost
219 effective. A student’s scholarship award may not be reduced for
220 debit card or electronic payment fees. Commodities or services
221 related to the development of such a system shall be procured by
222 competitive solicitation unless they are purchased from a state
223 term contract pursuant to s. 287.056.
224 (h) (g) In addition to funds appropriated for scholarship
225 awards and subject to a separate, specific legislative
226 appropriation, an organization may receive an amount equivalent
227 to not more than 3 percent of the amount of each scholarship
228 award from state funds for administrative expenses if the
229 organization has operated as a nonprofit entity for at least the
230 preceding 3 fiscal years and did not have any findings of
231 material weakness or material noncompliance in its most recent
232 audit under s. 1002.395(6)(m). Such administrative expenses must
233 be reasonable and necessary for the organization’s management
234 and distribution of scholarships under this section. Funds
235 authorized under this paragraph may not be used for lobbying or
236 political activity or expenses related to lobbying or political
237 activity. An organization may not charge an application fee for
238 a scholarship. Administrative expenses may not be deducted from
239 funds appropriated for scholarship awards.
240 (i) (h) Moneys received pursuant to this section do not
241 constitute taxable income to the qualified student or parent of
242 the qualified student.
243 Section 2. For the 2017-2018 fiscal year, the sum of $200
244 million in recurring funds from the General Revenue Fund is
245 appropriated to the Department of Education for scholarship
246 awards under the Gardiner Scholarship Program. In addition to
247 the funds appropriated for the scholarship awards, the sum of $6
248 million in recurring funds from the General Revenue Fund is
249 appropriated to the Department of Education for each
250 scholarship-funding organization’s reasonable and necessary
251 administrative expenses to manage and distribute scholarship
252 awards under the program; however, the amount paid to each
253 scholarship-funding organization may not exceed 3 percent of the
254 amount of each scholarship award.
255 Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2017.