1998 Regular Session
By: Representative Frierson
House Bill 850
AN ACT TO PROVIDE THAT THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION SHALL REQUIRE SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO ENFORCE THE DISTRICT'S DISCIPLINE PLAN AND CODE OF STUDENT CONDUCT AS A CONDITION FOR ACCREDITATION; TO ESTABLISH THE PROCEDURE FOR COMPLAINTS TO BE FILED AGAINST SCHOOL DISTRICT EMPLOYEES FOR FAILURE TO ENFORCE THE DISCIPLINE PLAN IN GOOD FAITH; TO AUTHORIZE HEARINGS TO BE HELD ON COMPLAINTS THAT ARE NOT FRIVOLOUS; TO AUTHORIZE THE SUSPENSION OF AN EMPLOYEE'S LICENSE UPON A DETERMINATION OF MISCONDUCT; TO PROVIDE THAT AN AGGRIEVED INDIVIDUAL MAY APPEAL THE DECISION TO SUSPEND HIS LICENSE; TO AMEND SECTION 37-11-29, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE THE REVOCATION OF THE PROFESSIONAL LICENSE OF ANY SUPERINTENDENT, PRINCIPAL OR LICENSED EMPLOYEE FAILING TO REPORT UNLAWFUL ACTIVITY ON SCHOOL PROPERTY; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) For the purposes of this section, the terms "superintendent," "principal" and "licensed employee" shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to those terms in Section 37-9-1.
(2) As a condition for accreditation under the performance-based accreditation system established in Section 37-17-6, the State Board of Education shall require each school district to enforce the provisions of the school district's official discipline plan and code of student conduct, in addition to any other statutes, rules and regulations pertaining to student conduct and discipline. For those schools failing to meet accreditation standards under this subsection, the State Board of Education shall establish a program of development which shall include recommendations for corrective action and shall provide notice to the schools and sufficient time and aid to enable those schools to attempt to meet the minimum accreditation standards.
(3) (a) Any person may file a complaint with the local school board alleging that a school superintendent, principal or licensed employee has failed to act in good faith or has engaged in a continual pattern of gross negligence in the enforcement of the school district's official discipline plan, code of student conduct or any other statute, rule or regulation pertaining to student conduct and discipline. Within thirty (30) days of receipt of the complaint, the school board shall investigate the allegations and determine whether or not a hearing on the matter shall be held. If it is determined that the complaint is frivolous or without merit, the complaint shall be dismissed without a hearing.
(b) Upon the determination that a hearing shall be held on a complaint, the school board shall set a date, time and place for the hearing, which shall be not sooner than five (5) days nor later than thirty (30) days from the date of the determination. The procedure for the hearing shall be as prescribed for hearings before the board or hearing officer in Section 37-9-111.
(c) If the school board determines, based upon the matters presented before it, that the school superintendent, principal or licensed employee has failed to act in good faith or engaged in a continual pattern of gross negligence in the enforcement of the school district's official discipline plan, code of student conduct or any other statute, rule or regulation pertaining to student conduct and discipline, the school board shall recommend to the Commission on Teacher and Administrator Education, Certification and Licensure and Development that the person's professional license be suspended for a period not to exceed one (1) year.
(4) Any person aggrieved by the determination to suspend his license under this section may appeal the decision on the charges to the chancery court of the county in which the school district is located.
SECTION 2. Section 37-11-29, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-11-29. (1) Any principal, teacher or other school employee who has knowledge of any unlawful activity which occurred on educational property or during a school related activity or which may have occurred shall report such activity to the superintendent of the school district or his designee who shall notify the appropriate law enforcement officials as required by this section. In the event of an emergency or if the superintendent or his designee is unavailable, any principal may make a report required under this subsection.
(2) Whenever any * * * enrolled student in any school or educational institution in this state supported in whole or in part by public funds or * * * in any private school or educational institution is arrested for, and lawfully charged with, the commission of any crime and convicted upon the charge for which he was arrested, or convicted of any crime charged against him after his arrest and before trial, the office or law enforcement department of which the arresting officer is a member, and the justice court judge and any circuit judge or court before whom such student is tried upon the charge or charges, shall make or cause to be made a report thereof to the superintendent or the president or chancellor, as the case may be, of the school district or other educational institution in which such student is enrolled.
If the charge upon which such student was arrested, or any other charges preferred against him are dismissed or nol prossed, or if upon trial he is either convicted or acquitted of such charge or charges, same shall be reported to the respective superintendent or president, or chancellor, as the case may be. A copy of the report shall be sent to the Secretary of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning of the State of Mississippi, at Jackson, Mississippi.
The report shall be made within one (1) week after the arrest of such student and within one (1) week after any charge placed against him is dismissed or nol prossed, and within one (1) week after he shall have pled guilty, been convicted, or have been acquitted by trial upon any charge placed against him. This section shall not apply to ordinary traffic violations involving a penalty of less than Fifty Dollars ($50.00) and costs.
(3) When the superintendent or his designee has a reasonable belief that an act has occurred on educational property or during a school related activity involving any of the offenses set forth in subsection (6) of this section, the superintendent or his designee shall immediately report the act to the appropriate local law enforcement agency. For purposes of this subsection, "school property" shall include any public school building, bus, public school campus, grounds, recreational area or athletic field in the charge of the superintendent. The State Board of Education shall prescribe a form for making reports required under this subsection. Any superintendent or his designee who fails to make a report required by this section shall be subject to the penalties provided in Section 37-11-15 and in subsection (5) of this section.
(4) The law enforcement authority shall immediately dispatch an officer to the educational institution and with probable cause the officer is authorized to make an arrest if necessary as provided in Section 99-3-7.
(5) (a) Any superintendent, principal, teacher or other school personnel participating in the making of a required report pursuant to this section or participating in any judicial proceeding resulting therefrom shall be presumed to be acting in good faith. Any person reporting in good faith shall be immune from any civil liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed.
(b) The Commission on Teacher and Administrator Education, Certification and Licensure and Development shall suspend the professional license of any superintendent, principal or other licensed school employee who fails to make a report as required under this section.
(6) For purposes of this section, "unlawful activity" means any of the following:
(a) Possession or use of a deadly weapon, as defined in Section 97-37-1;
(b) Possession, sale or use of any controlled substance;
(c) Aggravated assault, as defined in Section 97-3-7;
(d) Simple assault, as defined in Section 97-3-7, upon any school employee;
(e) Rape, as defined under Mississippi law;
(f) Sexual battery, as defined under Mississippi law;
(g) Murder, as defined under Mississippi law;
(h) Kidnapping, as defined under Mississippi law; or
(i) Fondling, touching, handling, etc., a child for lustful purposes, as defined in Section 97-5-23.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1998.