Florida Senate - 2011                                     SB 260
       By Senator Ring
       32-00246-11                                            2011260__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to nonpublic postsecondary educational
    3         institutions; amending s. 1005.02, F.S.; defining the
    4         term “academic degree”; amending s. 1005.31, F.S.;
    5         requiring that a licensed independent postsecondary
    6         educational institution notify the Commission for
    7         Independent Education of changes in its accreditation
    8         status; providing penalties for failure to provide the
    9         notice; revising criteria concerning the standards by
   10         which the commission evaluates institutions for
   11         licensure; requiring that institutions become
   12         accredited within a specified period after licensure;
   13         requiring a licensed institution that is not
   14         accredited to include certain information on the
   15         institution’s website; restricting the recognition of
   16         academic degrees conferred by that institution;
   17         requiring that the institution notify the Department
   18         of Education and the Office of the Attorney General of
   19         its progress in obtaining accreditation; requiring
   20         that institutions maintain records and provide the
   21         commission with information concerning nationally
   22         recognized standards used to grant credit for a
   23         student’s prior work or life experience; requiring
   24         compliance with laws concerning the reporting of crime
   25         statistics; requiring that such reports be made
   26         available to the public; requiring that the commission
   27         maintain a list on its website concerning the
   28         accreditation of institutions licensed by the
   29         commission; requiring that the Department of Education
   30         and Office of the Attorney General maintain a link to
   31         the commission’s list on their respective websites;
   32         amending s. 1005.38, F.S.; requiring that the
   33         commission revoke the license or authorization of an
   34         institution that does not meet requirements concerning
   35         accreditation; amending s. 744.1083, F.S.; conforming
   36         a cross-reference; providing an effective date.
   38  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   40         Section 1. Present subsections (1) through (16) of section
   41  1005.02, Florida Statutes, are redesignated as subsections (2)
   42  through (17), respectively, and a new subsection (1) is added to
   43  that section, to read:
   44         1005.02 Definitions.—As used in this chapter, the term:
   45         (1) “Academic degree” means a degree titled as an
   46  associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree.
   47         Section 2. Subsections (1) and (2) of section 1005.31,
   48  Florida Statutes, are amended, and subsection (16) is added to
   49  that section, to read:
   50         1005.31 Licensure of institutions.—
   51         (1)(a) Each college or school operating within this state
   52  must obtain licensure from the commission unless the institution
   53  is not under the commission’s purview or jurisdiction as
   54  provided in s. 1005.06.
   55         (b) After licensure, each licensee is solely responsible
   56  for notifying the commission in writing of:
   57         1. Any change in the licensee’s accreditation status.
   58         2. The licensee’s current mailing address and the location
   59  of the institution. A licensee’s failure to notify the
   60  commission of a change of address constitutes a violation of
   61  this paragraph, and the licensee may be disciplined by the
   62  commission. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, service
   63  by regular mail to a licensee’s last known address of record
   64  with the commission is constitutes adequate and sufficient
   65  notice to the licensee for any official communication to the
   66  licensee by the commission.
   67         (c) A licensee may be disciplined by the commission for
   68  failing to provide the notice required in paragraph (b).
   69         (2) The commission shall develop minimum standards by which
   70  to evaluate institutions for licensure. These standards must:
   71         (a) Address include at least the institution’s name,
   72  financial stability, purpose, administrative organization,
   73  admissions and recruitment, educational programs and curricula,
   74  retention, completion, career placement, faculty, learning
   75  resources, student personnel services, physical plant and
   76  facilities, publications, and disclosure statements about the
   77  status of the institution with respect to professional
   78  certification and licensure.
   79         (b) Require that an institution offering an academic degree
   80  secure accreditation within 5 years after the date it is first
   81  licensed under this section, except that if an institution is
   82  licensed on July 1, 2011, that institution must obtain
   83  accreditation by July 2, 2016. An institution that is licensed
   84  but not accredited shall promptly seek and actively pursue
   85  accreditation.
   86         1. During the period in which an institution is licensed
   87  but not accredited, the institution shall disclose that
   88  information on its website in a statement in a typeface that is
   89  large enough to be easily readable. The statement may include
   90  additional information such as accreditation is being sought;
   91  however, the institution may not include a statement on its
   92  website that the institution is licensed unless the statement
   93  also specifies that the institution is not accredited.
   94         2. The academic degrees conferred by an institution before
   95  it secures accreditation may be recognized by other
   96  postsecondary educational institutions in this state only if the
   97  institution secures accreditation within the required period.
   98         3. The institution must notify the Department of Education
   99  and Office of the Attorney General in writing concerning the
  100  status of its progress in the accreditation process. The notice
  101  must be provided monthly until accreditation is secured.
  102         (c) Require that an institution use nationally recognized
  103  standards in determining whether to grant a student credit for
  104  previous work or life experience. Each institution shall provide
  105  to the commission an annual report that specifies the credits
  106  granted for such experience and documents any nationally
  107  recognized standards used in granting the credits.
  108         (d) Require compliance with state and federal laws that
  109  require annual reporting of crime statistics. Each institution
  110  shall make the report available to the public.
  112  The commission may adopt rules to ensure that institutions
  113  licensed under this section meet these standards in ways that
  114  are appropriate to achieve the stated intent of this chapter,
  115  including provisions for nontraditional or distance education
  116  programs and delivery.
  117         (16) The commission shall maintain on its website a current
  118  list of the institutions that are licensed under this section
  119  and that hold accreditation. The list must specify the
  120  accrediting entity and whether such entity is recognized by the
  121  United States Department of Education as a reliable authority as
  122  to the quality of postsecondary education within the meaning of
  123  the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. The Department of
  124  Education and the Office of the Attorney General shall maintain
  125  a link to the commission’s list on their respective websites.
  126         Section 3. Subsection (1) of section 1005.38, Florida
  127  Statutes, is amended, to read:
  128         1005.38 Actions against a licensee and other penalties.—
  129         (1) The commission may deny, place on probation, or revoke
  130  any provisional license, annual license, license by means of
  131  accreditation, agent’s license, or other authorization required
  132  by this chapter. The commission shall revoke the license or
  133  other required authorization of an institution that fails to
  134  become or remain accredited as required under s. 1005.31(2). The
  135  commission shall adopt rules for taking these actions. The
  136  commission may impose an administrative fine of not more than
  137  $5,000 if an institution is on probation for a period under
  138  conditions that require oversight by the commission or its
  139  staff. The fine shall be deposited into the Institutional
  140  Assessment Trust Fund.
  141         Section 4. Subsection (10) of section 744.1083, Florida
  142  Statutes, is amended to read:
  143         744.1083 Professional guardian registration.—
  144         (10) A state college or university or an independent
  145  college or university that is located and chartered in Florida,
  146  that is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern
  147  Association of Colleges and Schools or the Accrediting Council
  148  for Independent Colleges and Schools, and that confers degrees
  149  as defined in s. 1005.02(7) may, but is not required to,
  150  register as a professional guardian under this section. If a
  151  state college or university or independent college or university
  152  elects to register as a professional guardian under this
  153  subsection, the requirements of subsections (3) and (4) do not
  154  apply and the registration must include only the name, address,
  155  and employer identification number of the registrant.
  156         Section 5. This act shall take effect July 1, 2011.