Florida Senate - 2017                      CS for CS for SB 1314
       By the Committees on Appropriations; and Education; and Senators
       Grimsley and Mayfield
       576-04740-17                                          20171314c2
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to educational options; amending s.
    3         1002.395, F.S.; specifying the Department of
    4         Education’s duty to approve or deny an application for
    5         the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program within a
    6         specified time; specifying the department’s duties
    7         regarding the carryforward tax credit; requiring an
    8         eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization to
    9         allow certain dependent children to apply for a
   10         scholarship at any time; revising parent and student
   11         responsibilities for program participation; specifying
   12         that certain actions of a private school are a basis
   13         for program ineligibility; authorizing the Learning
   14         Systems Institute to receive compensation for research
   15         under certain circumstances; revising the calculation
   16         of a scholarship award; increasing the limit of a
   17         scholarship award for certain students; revising
   18         payment method options; amending s. 1002.41, F.S.;
   19         prohibiting a district school board from requiring any
   20         additional information or verification from a home
   21         education program parent under certain circumstances;
   22         prohibiting a school district from taking certain
   23         actions against a home education program student’s
   24         parent unless such action is required for a school
   25         district program or service; amending s. 1003.21,
   26         F.S.; prohibiting a district school superintendent
   27         from requiring certain evidence relating to a child’s
   28         age from children enrolled in specified schools and
   29         programs; providing an effective date.
   31  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   33         Section 1. Paragraph (b) of subsection (5) of section
   34  1002.395, Florida Statutes, is amended, present paragraph (f) of
   35  that subsection is redesignated as paragraph (g) and a new
   36  paragraph (f) is added to that subsection, and paragraph (h) of
   37  subsection (6), paragraph (f) of subsection (7), subsection (8),
   38  paragraph (j) of subsection (9), and paragraphs (a) and (b) of
   39  subsection (12) of that section are amended, to read:
   40         1002.395 Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program.—
   42         (b) A taxpayer may submit an application to the department
   43  for a tax credit or credits under one or more of s. 211.0251, s.
   44  212.1831, s. 220.1875, s. 561.1211, or s. 624.51055.
   45         1. The taxpayer shall specify in the application each tax
   46  for which the taxpayer requests a credit and the applicable
   47  taxable year for a credit under s. 220.1875 or s. 624.51055 or
   48  the applicable state fiscal year for a credit under s. 211.0251,
   49  s. 212.1831, or s. 561.1211. The department shall approve tax
   50  credits on a first-come, first-served basis and must obtain the
   51  division’s approval before approving a tax credit under s.
   52  561.1211.
   53         2. Within 10 days after approving or denying an
   54  application, the department shall provide a copy of its approval
   55  or denial letter to the eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding
   56  organization specified by the taxpayer in the application.
   57         (f) Within 10 days after approving or denying an
   58  application for a carryforward tax credit under paragraph (c),
   59  the conveyance, transfer, or assignment of a tax credit under
   60  paragraph (d), or the rescindment of a tax credit under
   61  paragraph (e), the department shall provide a copy of its
   62  approval or denial letter to the eligible nonprofit scholarship
   63  funding organization specified by the taxpayer in the
   64  application. The department shall also include the eligible
   65  nonprofit scholarship-funding organization specified by the
   66  taxpayer in the application on all letters or correspondence of
   67  acknowledgment for tax credits under s. 212.1831.
   69  ORGANIZATIONS.—An eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding
   70  organization:
   71         (h) Must allow a student in foster care, or out-of-home
   72  care, or who is a dependent child of a parent or guardian who is
   73  a member of the United States Armed Forces, to apply for a
   74  scholarship at any time.
   76  Information and documentation provided to the Department of
   77  Education and the Auditor General relating to the identity of a
   78  taxpayer that provides an eligible contribution under this
   79  section shall remain confidential at all times in accordance
   80  with s. 213.053.
   83         (f) Upon receipt of a scholarship warrant from the eligible
   84  nonprofit scholarship-funding organization, the parent to whom
   85  the warrant is made must restrictively endorse the warrant to
   86  the private school for deposit into the account of the private
   87  school. If payments are made by funds transfer, the parent must
   88  approve each payment before the scholarship funds may be
   89  deposited. The parent may not designate any entity or individual
   90  associated with the participating private school as the parent’s
   91  attorney in fact to endorse a scholarship warrant or approve a
   92  funds transfer. A participant who fails to comply with this
   93  paragraph forfeits the scholarship.
   95  private school may be sectarian or nonsectarian and must:
   96         (a) Comply with all requirements for private schools
   97  participating in state school choice scholarship programs
   98  pursuant to s. 1002.421.
   99         (b) Provide to the eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding
  100  organization, upon request, all documentation required for the
  101  student’s participation, including the private school’s and
  102  student’s fee schedules.
  103         (c) Be academically accountable to the parent for meeting
  104  the educational needs of the student by:
  105         1. At a minimum, annually providing to the parent a written
  106  explanation of the student’s progress.
  107         2. Annually administering or making provision for students
  108  participating in the scholarship program in grades 3 through 10
  109  to take one of the nationally norm-referenced tests identified
  110  by the Department of Education or the statewide assessments
  111  pursuant to s. 1008.22. Students with disabilities for whom
  112  standardized testing is not appropriate are exempt from this
  113  requirement. A participating private school must report a
  114  student’s scores to the parent. A participating private school
  115  must annually report by August 15 the scores of all
  116  participating students to the Learning System Institute
  117  described in paragraph (9)(j).
  118         3. Cooperating with the scholarship student whose parent
  119  chooses to have the student participate in the statewide
  120  assessments pursuant to s. 1008.22 or, if a private school
  121  chooses to offer the statewide assessments, administering the
  122  assessments at the school.
  123         a. A participating private school may choose to offer and
  124  administer the statewide assessments to all students who attend
  125  the private school in grades 3 through 10.
  126         b. A participating private school must submit a request in
  127  writing to the Department of Education by March 1 of each year
  128  in order to administer the statewide assessments in the
  129  subsequent school year.
  130         (d) Employ or contract with teachers who have regular and
  131  direct contact with each student receiving a scholarship under
  132  this section at the school’s physical location.
  133         (e) Annually contract with an independent certified public
  134  accountant to perform the agreed-upon procedures developed under
  135  paragraph (6)(o) and produce a report of the results if the
  136  private school receives more than $250,000 in funds from
  137  scholarships awarded under this section in the 2010-2011 state
  138  fiscal year or a state fiscal year thereafter. A private school
  139  subject to this paragraph must annually submit the report by
  140  September 15, 2011, and annually thereafter to the scholarship
  141  funding organization that awarded the majority of the school’s
  142  scholarship funds. The agreed-upon procedures must be conducted
  143  in accordance with attestation standards established by the
  144  American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
  146  If The inability of a private school is unable to meet the
  147  requirements of this subsection or has consecutive years of
  148  material exceptions listed in the report required under
  149  paragraph (e), the commissioner may determine that shall
  150  constitute a basis for the ineligibility of the private school
  151  is ineligible to participate in the scholarship program as
  152  determined by the Department of Education.
  153         (9) DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OBLIGATIONS.—The Department of
  154  Education shall:
  155         (j) Issue a project grant award to the Learning System
  156  Institute at the Florida State University, to which
  157  participating private schools must report the scores of
  158  participating students on the nationally norm-referenced tests
  159  or the statewide assessments administered by the private school
  160  in grades 3 through 10. The project term is 2 years, and the
  161  amount of the project is up to $500,000 per year. The Learning
  162  Systems Institute may be compensated for additional research as
  163  determined through the project grant award process. The project
  164  grant award must be reissued in 2-year intervals in accordance
  165  with this paragraph.
  166         1. The Learning System Institute must annually report to
  167  the Department of Education on the student performance of
  168  participating students and any additional research included in
  169  the project grant award issued by the Department of Education:
  170         a. On a statewide basis. The report shall also include, to
  171  the extent possible, a comparison of scholarship students’
  172  performance to the statewide student performance of public
  173  school students with socioeconomic backgrounds similar to those
  174  of students participating in the scholarship program. To
  175  minimize costs and reduce time required for the Learning System
  176  Institute’s analysis and evaluation, the Department of Education
  177  shall coordinate with the Learning System Institute to provide
  178  data to the Learning System Institute in order to conduct
  179  analyses of matched students from public school assessment data
  180  and calculate control group student performance using an agreed
  181  upon methodology with the Learning System Institute; and
  182         b. On an individual school basis. The annual report must
  183  include student performance for each participating private
  184  school in which at least 51 percent of the total enrolled
  185  students in the private school participated in the Florida Tax
  186  Credit Scholarship Program in the prior school year. The report
  187  shall be according to each participating private school, and for
  188  participating students, in which there are at least 30
  189  participating students who have scores for tests administered.
  190  If the Learning System Institute determines that the 30
  191  participating-student cell size may be reduced without
  192  disclosing personally identifiable information, as described in
  193  34 C.F.R. s. 99.12, of a participating student, the Learning
  194  System Institute may reduce the participating-student cell size,
  195  but the cell size must not be reduced to less than 10
  196  participating students. The department shall provide each
  197  private school’s prior school year’s student enrollment
  198  information to the Learning System Institute no later than June
  199  15 of each year, or as requested by the Learning System
  200  Institute.
  201         2. The sharing and reporting of student performance data
  202  under this paragraph must be in accordance with requirements of
  203  ss. 1002.22 and 1002.221 and 20 U.S.C. s. 1232g, the Family
  204  Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and the applicable rules and
  205  regulations issued pursuant thereto, and shall be for the sole
  206  purpose of research and creating the annual report required by
  207  subparagraph 1. All parties must preserve the confidentiality of
  208  such information as required by law. The annual report must not
  209  disaggregate data to a level that will identify individual
  210  participating schools, except as required under sub-subparagraph
  211  1.b., or disclose the academic level of individual students.
  212         3. The annual report required by subparagraph 1. shall be
  213  published by the Department of Education on its website.
  215         (a) Except as provided in subparagraph 2., the amount of a
  216  scholarship provided to any student for any single school year
  217  by an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization from
  218  eligible contributions shall be for total costs authorized under
  219  paragraph (6)(d), not to exceed annual limits, which shall be
  220  determined as follows:
  221         1.a. For a scholarship awarded to a student enrolled in an
  222  eligible private school, the limit shall be determined as a
  223  percentage by multiplying the unweighted FTE funding amount in
  224  that state fiscal year by the percentage used to determine the
  225  limit in the prior state fiscal year. However, in each state
  226  fiscal year that the tax credit cap amount increases pursuant to
  227  paragraph (5)(a), the prior year percentage shall be increased
  228  by 4 percentage points and the increased percentage shall be
  229  used to determine the limit for that state fiscal year. If the
  230  percentage so calculated reaches 80 percent in a state fiscal
  231  year, no further increase in the percentage is allowed and the
  232  limit shall be 80 percent of the unweighted FTE funding amount
  233  for that state fiscal year and thereafter. Beginning in the
  234  2016-2017 state fiscal year, the amount of a scholarship awarded
  235  to a student enrolled in an eligible private school shall be
  236  equal to 82 percent of the unweighted FTE funding amount for
  237  that state fiscal year and thereafter as follows:
  238         (I) Eighty-eight percent for a student enrolled in
  239  kindergarten through grade 5.
  240         (II) Ninety-two percent for a student enrolled in grade 6,
  241  grade 7, or grade 8.
  242         (III) Ninety-six percent for a student enrolled in grades 9
  243  through 12.
  244         b. For a scholarship awarded to a student enrolled in a
  245  Florida public school that is located outside the district in
  246  which the student resides or in a lab school as defined in s.
  247  1002.32, the limit shall be $750 $500.
  248         2. The annual limit for a scholarship under sub
  249  subparagraph 1.a. shall be reduced by:
  250         a. Twenty-five percent if the student’s household income
  251  level is equal to or greater than 200 percent, but less than 215
  252  percent, of the federal poverty level.
  253         b. Fifty percent if the student’s household income level is
  254  equal to or greater than 215 percent, but equal to or less than
  255  230 percent, of the federal poverty level.
  256         3. For the 2016-2017 state fiscal year and thereafter, the
  257  annual limit for a scholarship under sub-subparagraph 1.a. shall
  258  be reduced by:
  259         a. Twelve percent if the student’s household income level
  260  is greater than or equal to 200 percent, but less than 215
  261  percent, of the federal poverty level.
  262         b. Twenty-six percent if the student’s household income
  263  level is greater than or equal to 215 percent, but less than 230
  264  percent, of the federal poverty level.
  265         c. Forty percent if the student’s household income level is
  266  greater than or equal to 230 percent, but less than 245 percent,
  267  of the federal poverty level.
  268         d. Fifty percent if the student’s household income level is
  269  greater than or equal to 245 percent, but less than or equal to
  270  260 percent, of the federal poverty level.
  271         (b) Payment of the scholarship by the eligible nonprofit
  272  scholarship-funding organization shall be by individual warrant
  273  made payable to the student’s parent or by funds transfer,
  274  including, but not limited to, debit card, electronic payment
  275  card, or any other means of payment that the department deems to
  276  be commercially viable or cost-effective. A student’s
  277  scholarship award may not be reduced for debit card or
  278  electronic payment fees. If the payment is made by warrant
  279  parent chooses that his or her child attend an eligible private
  280  school, the warrant must be delivered by the eligible nonprofit
  281  scholarship-funding organization to the private school of the
  282  parent’s choice, and the parent shall restrictively endorse the
  283  warrant to the private school. An eligible nonprofit
  284  scholarship-funding organization shall ensure that the parent to
  285  whom the warrant is made restrictively endorsed the warrant to
  286  the private school for deposit into the account of the private
  287  school or that the parent has approved a funds transfer before
  288  any scholarship funds are deposited.
  289         Section 2. Paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of section
  290  1002.41, Florida Statutes, is amended, and subsection (11) is
  291  added to that section, to read:
  292         1002.41 Home education programs.—
  293         (1) A “home education program” is defined in s. 1002.01.
  294  The parent is not required to hold a valid regular Florida
  295  teaching certificate.
  296         (a)1. The parent shall notify the district school
  297  superintendent of the county in which the parent resides of her
  298  or his intent to establish and maintain a home education
  299  program. The notice shall be in writing, signed by the parent,
  300  and shall include the full legal names, addresses, and
  301  birthdates of all children who shall be enrolled as students in
  302  the home education program. The notice shall be filed in the
  303  district school superintendent’s office within 30 days of the
  304  establishment of the home education program. A written notice of
  305  termination of the home education program shall be filed in the
  306  district school superintendent’s office within 30 days after
  307  said termination.
  308         2. The school district may not require the parent to
  309  provide additional information or verification unless the
  310  student chooses to participate in a school district program or
  311  service.
  312         (11) A school district may not further regulate, exercise
  313  control over, or require documentation from parents of home
  314  education program students beyond the requirements of this
  315  section unless the regulation, control, or documentation is
  316  necessary for participation in a school district program or
  317  service.
  318         Section 3. Subsection (4) of section 1003.21, Florida
  319  Statutes, is amended to read:
  320         1003.21 School attendance.—
  321         (4) Before admitting a child to kindergarten, the principal
  322  shall require evidence that the child has attained the age at
  323  which he or she should be admitted in accordance with the
  324  provisions of subparagraph (1)(a)2. The district school
  325  superintendent may require evidence of the age of any child whom
  326  he or she believes to be within the limits of compulsory
  327  attendance as provided for by law; however, he or she may not
  328  require evidence from children meeting regular attendance
  329  requirements by attending a school or program listed in s.
  330  1003.01(13)(b)-(e). If the first prescribed evidence is not
  331  available, the next evidence obtainable in the order set forth
  332  below shall be accepted:
  333         (a) A duly attested transcript of the child’s birth record
  334  filed according to law with a public officer charged with the
  335  duty of recording births;
  336         (b) A duly attested transcript of a certificate of baptism
  337  showing the date of birth and place of baptism of the child,
  338  accompanied by an affidavit sworn to by the parent;
  339         (c) An insurance policy on the child’s life that has been
  340  in force for at least 2 years;
  341         (d) A bona fide contemporary religious record of the
  342  child’s birth accompanied by an affidavit sworn to by the
  343  parent;
  344         (e) A passport or certificate of arrival in the United
  345  States showing the age of the child;
  346         (f) A transcript of record of age shown in the child’s
  347  school record of at least 4 years prior to application, stating
  348  date of birth; or
  349         (g) If none of these evidences can be produced, an
  350  affidavit of age sworn to by the parent, accompanied by a
  351  certificate of age signed by a public health officer or by a
  352  public school physician, or, if these are not available in the
  353  county, by a licensed practicing physician designated by the
  354  district school board, which states that the health officer or
  355  physician has examined the child and believes that the age as
  356  stated in the affidavit is substantially correct. Children and
  357  youths who are experiencing homelessness and children who are
  358  known to the department, as defined in s. 39.0016, shall be
  359  given temporary exemption from this section for 30 school days.
  360         Section 4. This act shall take effect July 1, 2017.