1997 Regular Session
By: Representative Manning
House Bill 414
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 37-13-92, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO PROVIDE GENERAL EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (GED) PREPARATORY INSTRUCTION AND TO ADMINISTER GED TESTS IN THE ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL PROGRAMS AND TO DELETE THE REPEALER ON THE ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL PROGRAMS; TO AMEND SECTIONS 37-35-3 AND 37-35-5, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY THERETO; TO AMEND SECTION 37-35-9, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CLARIFY THAT THE AUTHORITY OF SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO ADMINISTER GED PROGRAMS IN ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL PROGRAMS IS IN ADDITION TO THE AUTHORITY OF THE STATE BOARD FOR COMMUNITY AND JUNIOR COLLEGES TO ADMINISTER GED PROGRAMS; 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 1993-1994, the school boards of all school districts shall establish, maintain and operate, in connection with the regular programs of said 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 such alternative school based upon a documented need for placement in the alternative school program by the parent, legal guardian or custodian of such child due to disciplinary problems; and
(c) Any compulsory-school-age child referred to such 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 any such alternative school program shall require verification from the appropriate guidance counselor of any such child referred to the alternative school program regarding the suitability of such child for attendance at the alternative school program. Before a student may be removed to an 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, in its discretion, may provide a program of general educational development (GED) preparatory instruction designed for the specific purpose of preparing students sixteen (16) years of age and older in the alternative school program to successfully write the GED test and earn a certificate of equivalency which is equivalent to the high school diploma. However, any GED preparation program offered in an alternative school program must be administered in compliance with the rules and regulations established for such programs under Sections 37-35-1 through 37-35-11 and by the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges. The school district may administer the General Educational Development (GED) Testing Program under the policies and guidelines of the GED Testing Service of the American Council on Education in the alternative school program or may authorize the test to be administered through the community/junior college district in which the alternative school is situated.
(5) Any * * * 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 may be held within a school district or may be operated by two (2) or more adjacent school districts, pursuant to a contract approved by the State Board of Education. When two (2) or more school districts contract to operate an alternative school program, the school board of a district designated to be the lead district shall serve as the governing board of the alternative school program. Transportation for students attending the alternative school program shall be the responsibility of the local school district. The expense of establishing, maintaining and operating such 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.
(7) The State Board of Education shall promulgate minimum guidelines for alternative school programs. The * * * 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 established under subsection (4) of this section. The minimum guidelines for alternative school programs also shall * * * 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 matters 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, including transfer to a community-based alternative school;
(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 37-35-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-35-3. The board of trustees of any school district, including any community/junior college, may establish and maintain classes for adults, including general educational development classes for students sixteen (16) years of age and older in an alternative school program, under the regulations authorized in this chapter. The property and facilities of the public school districts may be used for this purpose where such use does not conflict with uses already established.
The trustees of any school district desiring to establish such program may request the taxing authority of the district to levy additional ad valorem taxes for the support of this program. The board of supervisors, in the case of a county school district, a special municipal separate school district, or a community/junior college district, and the governing authority of any municipality, in the case of a municipal separate school district, is * * * authorized, in its discretion, to levy a tax not exceeding one (1) mill upon all the taxable property of the district for the support of this program. The tax shall be in addition to all other taxes authorized by law to be levied. In addition to the funds realized from any such levy, the board of trustees of any school district is authorized to use any surplus funds that it may have or that may be made available to it from local sources to supplement this program.
SECTION 3. Section 37-35-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-35-5. For the purpose of supporting the adult education program authorized in this chapter, the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges is authorized to accept for and on behalf of the State of Mississippi, federal funds made available to the state for the purpose of adult education. Such funds shall be used by the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges for the administration of the program and to supplement the local funds made available by any school district, provided such program is conducted under the rules and regulations established by the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges. All programs of adult basic education administered by the State Department of Education on July 1, 1992, shall be continued with at least the same level of funding, until July 1, 1995, provided that such programs are financially and programmatically sound and meet the requirements of federal rules and regulations. Nothing in Sections 37-35-1 through 37-35-11 shall be interpreted in a manner to prevent or interfere with the independent operation or administration of adult education under the Department of Human Services, including but not limited to those programs administered by the Governor's Office of Literacy and Workplace Enhancement, or of any general educational development preparatory instruction and testing administered by a school district in an alternative school program.
SECTION 4. Section 37-35-9, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-35-9. The State Board for Community and Junior Colleges is authorized to develop and establish general educational development preparatory classes in secondary schools and community/junior colleges and to provide financial assistance from the state for the specific purpose of preparing persons sixteen (16) years of age and older, not enrolled in school or required to be enrolled in school by the Compulsory School Attendance Law (Section 37-13-91) to successfully write the general educational development test and earn a certificate of equivalency which is equivalent to the high school diploma.
The State Board for Community and Junior Colleges is authorized to administer the General Educational Development (GED) Testing Program under the policies and guidelines of the GED Testing Service of the American Council on Education.
This program shall be administered by the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges through the secondary schools and community/junior colleges as the local needs indicate and are practical.
Full and general supervision over the program by the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges shall insure that duplication of effort by secondary schools and community/junior colleges will be eliminated; however, nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a school district from implementing a program of general educational development (GED) preparatory instruction and testing in an alternative school program.
Adult students for general educational development preparatory classes may be accepted by schools and junior colleges from any area of the state provided students are bona fide residents of Mississippi.
Instructors, counselors and supervisors utilized in the teaching of general educational development preparatory classes shall be licensed in the appropriate area as required by the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges.
SECTION 5. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.