1997 Regular Session
To: Education; Appropriations
By: Representative Clark
House Bill 23
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 37-13-92, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE EACH SCHOOL DISTRICT TO MAINTAIN AND OPERATE AN ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL PROGRAM WITHIN THE DISTRICT BEGINNING WITH THE 1997-1998 SCHOOL YEAR, AND TO REQUIRE FACILITIES HOUSING SUCH PROGRAMS TO COMPLY WITH THE SAME STANDARDS APPLICABLE TO OTHER SCHOOL FACILITIES IN THE DISTRICT; TO AMEND SECTION 37-19-22, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT SCHOOL DISTRICTS FAILING TO OPERATE AN ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL PROGRAM SHALL NOT BE ENTITLED TO AN ADDITIONAL ALLOTMENT UNDER THE MINIMUM PROGRAM FOR THE ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL PROGRAM; TO REQUIRE SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO OPERATE AN ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL PROGRAM AS A CONDITION FOR LEVEL III, IV OR V ACCREDITATION; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 37-13-92, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-13-92. (1) Beginning with the school year 1997-1998, the school board of each school district shall establish, maintain and operate, in connection with the regular programs of the school district, an alternative school program for, but not limited to, the following categories of compulsory-school-age students:
(a) Any compulsory-school-age child who has been suspended or expelled from school, except for any student expelled for possession of a weapon or other felonious conduct;
(b) Any compulsory-school-age child referred to the alternative school based upon a documented need for placement in the alternative school program by the parent, legal guardian or custodian of the child due to disciplinary problems; and
(c) Any compulsory-school-age child referred to the alternative school program by the dispositive order of a chancellor or youth court judge, with the consent of the superintendent of the child's school district.
(2) The principal or program administrator of that alternative school program shall require verification from the appropriate guidance counselor of any * * * child referred to the alternative school program regarding the suitability of that child for attendance at the alternative school program. Before a student may be removed to the alternative school education program, the superintendent of the student's school district must determine that the written and distributed disciplinary policy of the local district is being followed. The policy shall include standards for:
(a) The removal of a student to an alternative education program that will include a process of educational review to develop the student's individual instruction plan and the evaluation at regular intervals of the student's educational progress. The process shall include classroom teachers and/or other appropriate professional personnel, as defined in the district policy, to ensure a continuing educational program for the removed student;
(b) The duration of alternative placement; and
(c) The notification of parents or guardians, and their appropriate inclusion in the removal and evaluation process, as defined in the district policy. Nothing in this paragraph should be defined in a manner to circumvent the principal's or the superintendent's authority to remove a student to alternative education.
(3) The local school board or the superintendent shall provide for the continuing education of a student who has been removed to an alternative school program.
(4) A school district may provide a program of general educational development (GED) preparatory instruction in the alternative school program. However, any GED preparation program offered in an alternative school program must satisfy the minimum guidelines established for such programs by the State Board of Education.
(5) The facilities housing a school district's alternative school program shall be subject to all state and federal laws, State Board of Education rules or regulations, and school district policies, rules or regulations which are applicable to all other school buildings and facilities in that school district regarding fire safety codes, health standards, nutrition and food service requirements and student dress codes. Each alternative school program operated under the authority of this section shall meet all appropriate accreditation requirements of the State Department of Education.
(6) The alternative school program shall be held within each school district. * * * Transportation for students attending the alternative school program shall be the responsibility of the * * * school district. The expense of establishing, maintaining and operating the alternative school program may be paid from funds contributed or otherwise made available to the school district for such purpose or from local district maintenance funds. Any school district failing to maintain and operate an alternative school program shall not be entitled to receive the allotment under the Minimum Education Program provided for in Section 37-19-22.
(7) The State Board of Education shall promulgate minimum guidelines for alternative school programs. The minimum guidelines shall require, at a minimum, the formulation of an individual instruction plan for each student referred to the alternative school program and, upon a determination that it is in a student's best interest for that student to receive general educational development (GED) preparatory instruction, that the local school board assign the student to a GED preparatory program designed for the specific purpose of preparing students to successfully write the GED test and earn a certificate equivalent to the high school diploma. The minimum guidelines for alternative school programs shall also require the following components:
(a) Clear guidelines and procedures for placement of students into alternative education programs which at a minimum shall prescribe due process procedures for disciplinary and general educational development (GED) placement;
(b) Clear and consistent goals for students and parents;
(c) Curricula addressing cultural and learning style differences;
(d) Direct supervision of all activities on a closed campus;
(e) Full-day attendance with a rigorous workload and minimal time off;
(f) Selection of program from options provided by the local school district, Division of Youth Services or the youth court * * *;
(g) Continual monitoring and evaluation and formalized passage from one step or program to another;
(h) A motivated and culturally diverse staff;
(i) Counseling for parents and students;
(j) Administrative and community support for the program; and
(k) Clear procedures for annual alternative school program review and evaluation.
(8) On request of a school district, the State Department of Education shall provide the district informational material on developing an alternative school program that takes into consideration size, wealth and existing facilities in determining a program best suited to a district.
(9) Any compulsory-school-age child who becomes involved in any criminal or violent behavior shall be removed from such alternative school program and, if probable cause exists, a case shall be referred to the youth court.
* * *
SECTION 2. Section 37-19-22, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-19-22. (1) In addition to other funds allowed under the Minimum Education Program, each school district shall receive a grant for the support of the alternative school program established under Section 37-13-92, in accordance with the following: Three-fourths of one percent (.75%) of the school district's average daily attendance or twelve (12) pupils, whichever is greater, multiplied by the average expenditure of public monies per pupil in the State of Mississippi, as determined by the State Board of Education. The number of students generated by the above formula shall not also be counted in determining the teacher unit allotment but shall be counted in determining the average daily attendance of the school districts in which those students are enrolled. Any school district failing to maintain and operate an alternative school program shall not be entitled to the additional allotment provided for in this subsection.
(2) An alternative school advisory board may be created within each school district. * * * The advisory board shall meet no less than two (2) times during each school year to study the alternative school program and to make recommendations for improvements to the superintendent of the local school board * * * and the State Superintendent of Education. The alternative school advisory board shall consist of the following members: one (1) school administrator to be appointed by the local school board; * * * one (1) school board member and one (1) parent to be appointed by the superintendent of the school district; * * * one (1) classroom teacher to be appointed by the classroom teachers in the school district; * * * one (1) individual to be appointed by the local youth court judge, or if there is no such court, the chancery court judge; and one (1) law enforcement officer to be appointed by the local sheriff. The initial members of the advisory board shall serve as follows: One-third (1/3) of the members shall serve two (2) years; one-third (1/3) of the members shall serve three (3) years; and one-third (1/3) of the members shall serve four (4) years, to be designated by the appointing authority at the time of appointment. Thereafter, the term of each member shall be for a period of four (4) years.
An alternative school advisory board shall have no governing authority over the alternative school program, and not in any manner shall an advisory board's authority supersede the authority of the school district. * * *
SECTION 3. The following provision shall be codified as a separate code section in Chapter 17, Title 37, Mississippi Code of 1972:
In addition to any other accreditation requirements established by statute or by the State Board of Education, beginning with the 1997-1998 school year, the State Board of Education, acting through the Commission on School Accreditation, shall require each school district to maintain and operate an alternative school program pursuant to Section 37-13-92 as a minimum requirement for Level III, IV or V accreditation.
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.