(1)(a) For purposes of providing exceptional student instruction under this section: 1. A school district shall use the following terms to describe the instructional setting for a student with a disability, 6 through 21 years of age, who is not educated in a setting accessible to all children who are together at all times:
a. “Exceptional student education center” or “special day school” means a separate public school to which nondisabled peers do not have access.
b. “Other separate environment” means a separate private school, residential facility, or hospital or homebound program.
c. “Regular class” means a class in which a student spends 80 percent or more of the school week with nondisabled peers.
d. “Resource room” means a classroom in which a student spends between 40 percent to 80 percent of the school week with nondisabled peers.
e. “Separate class” means a class in which a student spends less than 40 percent of the school week with nondisabled peers.
2. A school district shall use the term “inclusion” to mean that a student is receiving education in a general education regular class setting, reflecting natural proportions and age-appropriate heterogeneous groups in core academic and elective or special areas within the school community; a student with a disability is a valued member of the classroom and school community; the teachers and administrators support universal education and have knowledge and support available to enable them to effectively teach all children; and a student is provided access to technical assistance in best practices, instructional methods, and supports tailored to the student’s needs based on current research.
(b) Each district school board shall provide for an appropriate program of special instruction, facilities, and services for exceptional students as prescribed by the State Board of Education as acceptable, including provisions that:
1. The district school board provide the necessary professional services for diagnosis and evaluation of exceptional students.
2. The district school board provide the special instruction, classes, and services, either within the district school system, in cooperation with other district school systems, or through contractual arrangements with approved private schools or community facilities that meet standards established by the commissioner.
3. The district school board annually provide information describing the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind and all other programs and methods of instruction available to the parent of a sensory-impaired student.
4. The district school board, once every 3 years, submit to the department its proposed procedures for the provision of special instruction and services for exceptional students.
(c) A student may not be given special instruction or services as an exceptional student until after he or she has been properly evaluated and found eligible as an exceptional student in the manner prescribed by rules of the State Board of Education. The parent of an exceptional student evaluated and found eligible or ineligible shall be notified of each such evaluation and determination. Such notice shall contain a statement informing the parent that he or she is entitled to a due process hearing on the identification, evaluation, and eligibility determination, or lack thereof. Such hearings are exempt from ss. 120.569, 120.57, and 286.011, except to the extent that the State Board of Education adopts rules establishing other procedures. Any records created as a result of such hearings are confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1). The hearing must be conducted by an administrative law judge from the Division of Administrative Hearings pursuant to a contract between the Department of Education and the Division of Administrative Hearings. The decision of the administrative law judge is final, except that any party aggrieved by the finding and decision rendered by the administrative law judge has the right to bring a civil action in the state circuit court. In such an action, the court shall receive the records of the administrative hearing and shall hear additional evidence at the request of either party. In the alternative, in hearings conducted on behalf of a student who is identified as gifted, any party aggrieved by the finding and decision rendered by the administrative law judge has the right to request a review of the administrative law judge’s order by the district court of appeal as provided in s. 120.68.
(d) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, during the pendency of any proceeding conducted pursuant to this section, unless the district school board and the parents otherwise agree, the student shall remain in his or her then-current educational assignment or, if applying for initial admission to a public school, shall be assigned, with the consent of the parents, in the public school program until all such proceedings have been completed.
(e) In providing for the education of exceptional students, the district school superintendent, principals, and teachers shall utilize the regular school facilities and adapt them to the needs of exceptional students to the maximum extent appropriate. To the extent appropriate, students with disabilities, including those students in public or private institutions or other facilities, shall be educated with students who are not disabled. Segregation of exceptional students shall occur only if the nature or severity of the exceptionality is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.
(f) Once every 3 years, each school district and school shall complete a Best Practices in Inclusive Education (BPIE) assessment with a Florida Inclusion Network facilitator and include the results of the BPIE assessment and all planned short-term and long-term improvement efforts in the school district’s exceptional student education policies and procedures. BPIE is an internal assessment process designed to facilitate the analysis, implementation, and improvement of inclusive educational practices at the district and school team levels.
(g) In addition to the services agreed to in a student’s individual educational plan, the district school superintendent shall fully inform the parent of a student having a physical or developmental disability of all available services that are appropriate for the student’s disability. The superintendent shall provide the student’s parent with a summary of the student’s rights.
(h) School personnel may consider any unique circumstances on a case-by-case basis when determining whether a change in placement is appropriate for a student who has a disability and violates a district school board’s code of student conduct. School personnel may remove and place such student in an interim alternative educational setting for not more than 45 school days, without regard to whether the behavior is determined to be a manifestation of the student’s disability, if the student:
1. Carries a weapon to or possesses a weapon at school, on school premises, or at a school function under the jurisdiction of the school district;
2. Knowingly possesses or uses illegal drugs, or sells or solicits the sale of a controlled substance, while at school, on school premises, or at a school function under the jurisdiction of the school district; or
3. Has inflicted serious bodily injury upon another person while at school, on school premises, or at a school function under the jurisdiction of the school district.
(i) For purposes of paragraph (h), the term: 1. “Controlled substance” means a drug or other substance identified under Schedule I, Schedule II, Schedule III, Schedule IV, or Schedule V of the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. s. 812(c) and s. 893.02(4).
2. “Weapon” means a device, instrument, material, or substance, animate or inanimate, which is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury; however, this definition does not include a pocketknife having a blade that is less than 21/2 inches in length.
(j) The district school board shall provide each parent with information regarding the amount that the school district receives from the state appropriation for each of the five exceptional student education support levels for a full-time student. The school district shall provide this information at the initial meeting of a student’s individual education plan team.
(2)(a) An exceptional student with a disability who resides in a residential facility and receives special instruction or services is considered a resident of the state in which the student’s parent is a resident. The cost of such instruction, facilities, and services for a nonresident student with a disability shall be provided by the placing authority in the student’s state of residence, such as a public school entity, other placing authority, or parent. A nonresident student with a disability may not be reported by any school district for FTE funding in the Florida Education Finance Program.
(b) The Department of Education shall provide to each school district a statement of the specific limitations of the district’s financial obligation for exceptional students with disabilities under federal and state law. The department shall also provide to each school district technical assistance as necessary for developing a local plan to impose on a student’s home state the fiscal responsibility for educating a nonresident exceptional student with a disability.
(c) The Department of Education shall develop a process by which a school district must, before providing services to an exceptional student with a disability who resides in a residential facility in this state, review the residency of the student. The residential facility, not the district, is responsible for billing and collecting from a nonresidential student’s home state payment for the student’s educational and related services.
(d) The Department of Education shall formulate an interagency agreement or other mechanism for billing and collecting from a nonresidential student’s home state payment for the student’s educational and related services.
(e) This subsection applies to any nonresident student with a disability who resides in a residential facility and who receives instruction as an exceptional student with a disability in any type of residential facility in this state, including, but not limited to, a public school, a private school, a group home facility as defined in s. 393.063, an intensive residential treatment program for children and adolescents as defined in s. 395.002, a facility as defined in s. 394.455, an intermediate care facility for the developmentally disabled or ICF/DD as defined in s. 393.063 or s. 400.960, or a community residential home as defined in s. 419.001. (3)(a) For purposes of this subsection and subsection (4), the term:
1. “Agency” means the Department of Children and Family Services or its contracted lead agency, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, and the Agency for Health Care Administration.
2. “Exceptional student” means an exceptional student, as defined in s. 1003.01, who has a disability.
3. “Receiving school district” means the district in which a private residential care facility is located.
4. “Placement” means the funding or arrangement of funding by an agency for all or a part of the cost for an exceptional student to reside in a private residential care facility and the placement crosses school district lines.
(b) Within 10 business days after an exceptional student is placed in a private residential care facility by an agency, the agency or private residential care facility licensed by the agency, as appropriate, shall provide written notification of the placement to the school district where the student is currently counted for funding purposes under s. 1011.62 and the receiving school district. The exceptional student shall be enrolled in school and receive a free and appropriate public education, special education, and related services while the notice and procedures regarding payment are pending. This paragraph applies when the placement is for the primary purpose of addressing residential or other noneducational needs and the placement crosses school district lines. (c) Within 10 business days after receiving the notification, the receiving school district must review the student’s individual educational plan (IEP) to determine if the student’s IEP can be implemented by the receiving school district or by a provider or facility under contract with the receiving school district. The receiving school district shall:
1. Provide educational instruction to the student;
2. Contract with another provider or facility to provide the educational instruction;
3. Contract with the private residential care facility in which the student resides to provide the educational instruction; or
4. Decline to provide or contract for educational instruction.
If the receiving school district declines to provide or contract for the educational instruction, the school district in which the legal residence of the student is located shall provide or contract for the educational instruction to the student. The school district that provides educational instruction or contracts to provide educational instruction shall report the student for funding purposes pursuant to s. 1011.62.
(d)1. The Department of Education, in consultation with the agencies and school districts, shall develop procedures for written notification to school districts regarding the placement of an exceptional student in a residential care facility. The procedures must:
a. Provide for written notification of a placement that crosses school district lines; and
b. Identify the entity responsible for the notification for each facility that is operated, licensed, or regulated by an agency.
2. The State Board of Education shall adopt the procedures by rule pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54, and the agencies shall implement the procedures.
The requirements of paragraphs (c) and (d) do not apply to written agreements among school districts which specify each school district’s responsibility for providing and paying for educational services to an exceptional student in a residential care facility. However, each agreement must require a school district to review the student’s IEP within 10 business days after receiving the notification required under paragraph (b).