2000 Regular Session
By: Representatives Lott, Davis, Fillingane, Pierce, Roberson, Shows
House Bill 1102
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTIONS 37-7-301 AND 37-9-71, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CLARIFY THE AUTHORITY OF SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS, PRINCIPALS AND SCHOOL BOARDS TO SUSPEND OR EXPEL PUPILS FOR CONDUCT THAT RENDERS A PUPIL'S PRESENCE IN THE CLASSROOM DETRIMENTAL TO THE SCHOOL'S EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT OR THE BEST INTEREST OF A CLASS AS A WHOLE; TO AMEND SECTION 37-13-92, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE THE REFERRAL OF SUCH PUPILS TO AN ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL PROGRAM; TO REQUIRE A DUE PROCESS COMMITTEE TO BE APPOINTED FOR EACH PUBLIC SCHOOL; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 37-7-301, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-7-301. The school boards of all school districts shall have the following powers, authority and duties in addition to all others imposed or granted by law, to wit:
(a) To organize and operate the schools of the district and to make such division between the high school grades and elementary grades as, in their judgment, will serve the best interests of the school;
(b) To introduce public school music, art, manual training and other special subjects into either the elementary or high school grades, as the board shall deem proper;
(c) To be the custodians of real and personal school property and to manage, control and care for same, both during the school term and during vacation;
(d) To have responsibility for the erection, repairing and equipping of school facilities and the making of necessary school improvements;
(e) To suspend or to expel a pupil for misconduct in the school or on school property, as defined in Section 37-11-29, on the road to and from school, or at any school-related activity or event, or for conduct occurring on property other than school property or other than at a school-related activity or event when such conduct by a pupil, in the determination of the school principal and the due process committee of the school, renders that pupil's presence in the classroom a disruption to the educational environment of the school or a detriment to the best interest and welfare of the pupils and teacher of such class as a whole, and to delegate such authority to the appropriate officials of the school district;
(f) To visit schools in the district, in their discretion, in a body for the purpose of determining what can be done for the improvement of the school in a general way;
(g) To support, within reasonable limits, the superintendent, * * * principal and teachers where necessary for the proper discipline of the school;
(h) To exclude from the schools students with what appears to be infectious or contagious diseases; * * * however, such student may be allowed to return to school upon presenting a certificate from a public health officer, duly licensed physician or nurse practitioner that the student is free from such disease;
(i) To require those vaccinations specified by the State Health Officer as provided in Section 41-23-37;
(j) To see that all necessary utilities and services are provided in the schools at all times when same are needed;
(k) To authorize the use of the school buildings and grounds for the holding of public meetings and gatherings of the people under such regulations as may be prescribed by said board;
(l) To prescribe and enforce rules and regulations not inconsistent with law or with the regulations of the State Board of Education for their own government and for the government of the schools, and to transact their business at regular and special meetings called and held in the manner provided by law;
(m) To maintain and operate all of the schools under their control for such length of time during the year as may be required;
(n) To enforce in the schools the courses of study and the use of the textbooks prescribed by the proper authorities;
(o) To make orders directed to the superintendent of schools or administrative superintendent for the issuance of pay certificates for lawful purposes on any available funds of the district and to have full control of the receipt, distribution, allotment and disbursement of all funds provided for the support and operation of the schools of such school district whether such funds be derived from state appropriations, local ad valorem tax collections, or otherwise;
(p) To select all school district personnel in the manner provided by law, and to provide for such employee fringe benefit programs, including accident reimbursement plans, as may be deemed necessary and appropriate by the board;
(q) To provide athletic programs and other school activities and to regulate the establishment and operation of such programs and activities;
(r) To join, in their discretion, any association of school boards and other public school-related organizations, and to pay from local funds other than minimum foundation funds, any membership dues;
(s) To expend local school activity funds, or other available school district funds, other than minimum education program funds, for the purposes prescribed under this paragraph. "Activity funds" shall mean all funds received by school officials in all school districts paid or collected to participate in any school activity, such activity being part of the school program and partially financed with public funds or supplemented by public funds. The term "activity funds" shall not include any funds raised and/or expended by any organization unless commingled in a bank account with existing activity funds, regardless of whether the funds were raised by school employees or received by school employees during school hours or using school facilities, and regardless of whether a school employee exercises influence over the expenditure or disposition of such funds. Organizations shall not be required to make any payment to any school for the use of any school facility if, in the discretion of the local school governing board, the organization's function shall be deemed to be beneficial to the official or extracurricular programs of the school. For the purposes of this provision, the term "organization" shall not include any organization subject to the control of the local school governing board. Activity funds may only be expended for any necessary expenses or travel costs, including advances, incurred by students and their chaperons in attending any in-state or out-of-state school-related programs, conventions or seminars and/or any commodities, equipment, travel expenses, purchased services or school supplies which the local school governing board, in its discretion, shall deem beneficial to the official or extracurricular programs of the district, including items which may subsequently become the personal property of individuals, including yearbooks, athletic apparel, book covers and trophies. Activity funds may be used to pay travel expenses of school district personnel. The local school governing board shall be authorized and empowered to promulgate rules and regulations specifically designating for what purposes school activity funds may be expended. The local school governing board shall provide (a) that such school activity funds shall be maintained and expended by the principal of the school generating the funds in individual bank accounts, or (b) that such school activity funds shall be maintained and expended by the superintendent of schools in a central depository approved by the board. The local school governing board shall provide that such school activity funds be audited as part of the annual audit required in Section 37-9-18. The State Auditor shall prescribe a uniform system of accounting and financial reporting for all school activity fund transactions;
(t) To contract, on a shared savings, lease or lease-purchase basis, for energy efficiency services and/or equipment as provided for in Section 31-7-14, not to exceed ten (10) years;
(u) To maintain accounts and issue pay certificates on school food service bank accounts;
(v) (i) To lease a school building from an individual, partnership, nonprofit corporation or a private for-profit corporation for the use of such school district, and to expend funds therefor as may be available from any non-minimum program sources. The school board of the school district desiring to lease a school building shall declare by resolution that a need exists for a school building and that the school district cannot provide the necessary funds to pay the cost or its proportionate share of the cost of a school building required to meet the present needs. The resolution so adopted by the school board shall be published once each week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper having a general circulation in the school district involved, with the first publication thereof to be made not less than thirty (30) days prior to the date upon which the school board is to act on the question of leasing a school building. If no petition requesting an election is filed prior to such meeting as hereinafter provided, then the school board may, by resolution spread upon its minutes, proceed to lease a school building. If at any time prior to said meeting a petition signed by not less than twenty percent (20%) or fifteen hundred (1500), whichever is less, of the qualified electors of the school district involved shall be filed with the school board requesting that an election be called on the question, then the school board shall, not later than the next regular meeting, adopt a resolution calling an election to be held within such school district upon the question of authorizing the school board to lease a school building. Such election shall be called and held, and notice thereof shall be given, in the same manner for elections upon the questions of the issuance of the bonds of school districts, and the results thereof shall be certified to the school board. If at least three-fifths (3/5) of the qualified electors of the school district who voted in such election shall vote in favor of the leasing of a school building, then the school board shall proceed to lease a school building. The term of the lease contract shall not exceed twenty (20) years, and the total cost of such lease shall be either the amount of the lowest and best bid accepted by the school board after advertisement for bids or an amount not to exceed the current fair market value of the lease as determined by the averaging of at least two (2) appraisals by members of the American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers or the Society of Real Estate Appraisers. The term "school building" as used in this item (v) shall be construed to mean any building or buildings used for classroom purposes in connection with the operation of schools and shall include the site therefor, necessary support facilities, and the equipment thereof and appurtenances thereto such as heating facilities, water supply, sewage disposal, landscaping, walks, drives and playgrounds. The term "lease" as used in this item (v)(i) may include a lease/purchase contract;
(ii) If two (2) or more school districts propose to enter into a lease contract jointly, then joint meetings of the school boards having control may be held but no action taken shall be binding on any such school district unless the question of leasing a school building is approved in each participating school district under the procedure hereinabove set forth in item (v)(i). All of the provisions of item (v)(i) regarding the term and amount of the lease contract shall apply to the school boards of school districts acting jointly. Any lease contract executed by two (2) or more school districts as joint lessees shall set out the amount of the aggregate lease rental to be paid by each, which may be agreed upon, but there shall be no right of occupancy by any lessee unless the aggregate rental is paid as stipulated in the lease contract. All rights of joint lessees under the lease contract shall be in proportion to the amount of lease rental paid by each;
(w) To employ all noninstructional and noncertificated employees and fix the duties and compensation of such personnel deemed necessary pursuant to the recommendation of the superintendent of schools or the administrative superintendent;
(x) To employ and fix the duties and compensation of such legal counsel as deemed necessary;
(y) Subject to rules and regulations of the State Board of Education, to purchase, own and operate trucks, vans and other motor vehicles, which shall bear the proper identification required by law;
(z) To expend funds for the payment of substitute teachers and to adopt reasonable regulations for the employment and compensation of such substitute teachers;
(aa) To acquire in its own name by purchase all real property which shall be necessary and desirable in connection with the construction, renovation or improvement of any public school building or structure. If the board shall be unable to agree with the owner of any such real property in connection with any such project, the board shall have the power and authority to acquire any such real property by condemnation proceedings pursuant to Section 11-27-1 et seq., and for such purpose, the right of eminent domain is hereby conferred upon and vested in said board. * * * The local school board is authorized to grant an easement for ingress and egress over sixteenth section land or lieu land in exchange for a similar easement upon adjoining land where the exchange of easements affords substantial benefit to the sixteenth section land; * * * however, the exchange must be based upon values as determined by a competent appraiser, with any differential in value to be adjusted by cash payment. Any easement rights granted over sixteenth section land under such authority shall terminate when the easement ceases to be used for its stated purpose. No sixteenth section or lieu land which is subject to an existing lease shall be burdened by any such easement except by consent of the lessee or unless the school district shall acquire the unexpired leasehold interest affected by the easement;
(bb) To charge reasonable fees related to the educational programs of the district, in the manner prescribed in Section 37-7-335;
(cc) Subject to rules and regulations of the State Board of Education, to purchase relocatable classrooms for the use of such school district, in the manner prescribed in Section 37-1-13;
(dd) Enter into contracts or agreements with other school districts, political subdivisions or governmental entities to carry out one or more of the powers or duties of the school board, or to allow more efficient utilization of limited resources for providing services to the public;
(ee) To provide for in-service training for employees of the district. Until June 30, 1994, the school boards may designate two (2) days of the minimum school term, as defined in Section 37-19-1, for employee in-service training for implementation of the new statewide testing system as developed by the State Board of Education. Such designation shall be subject to approval by the State Board of Education pursuant to uniform rules and regulations;
(ff) * * * As part of their duties to prescribe the use of textbooks, to provide, in the board's discretion, that parents and legal guardians shall be responsible for the textbooks and for the compensation to the school district for any books which are not returned to the proper schools upon the withdrawal of their dependent child. If a textbook is lost or not returned by any student who drops out of the public school district, the parent or legal guardian shall also compensate the school district for the fair market value of the textbooks;
(gg) To conduct fund-raising activities on behalf of the school district that the local school board, in its discretion, deems appropriate or beneficial to the official or extracurricular programs of the district; provided that:
(i) Any proceeds of the fund-raising activities shall be treated as "activity funds" and shall be accounted for as are other activity funds under this section; and
(ii) Fund-raising activities conducted or authorized by the board for the sale of school pictures, the rental of caps and gowns or the sale of graduation invitations for which the school board receives a commission, rebate or fee shall contain a disclosure statement advising that a portion of the proceeds of the sales or rentals shall be contributed to the student activity fund;
(hh) To allow individual lessons for music, art and other curriculum-related activities for academic credit or nonacademic credit during school hours and using school equipment and facilities, subject to uniform rules and regulations adopted by the school board;
(ii) To charge reasonable fees for participating in an extracurricular activity for academic or nonacademic credit for necessary and required equipment such as safety equipment, band instruments and uniforms;
(jj) To conduct or participate in any fund-raising activities on behalf of or in connection with a tax-exempt charitable organization;
(kk) To exercise such powers as may be reasonably necessary to carry out the provisions of this section; and
(ll) To expend funds for the services of nonprofit arts organizations or other such nonprofit organizations who provide performances or other services for the students of the school district.
SECTION 2. Section 37-9-71, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-9-71. The superintendent of schools and the principal of a school shall have the power to suspend or change the placement of a pupil for good cause, including misconduct in the school or on school property, as defined in Section 37-11-29, on the road to and from school, or at any school-related activity or event, or for conduct occurring on property other than school property or other than at a school-related activity or event when such conduct by a pupil, in the determination of the school principal and the due process committee of the school, renders that pupil's presence in the classroom a disruption to the educational environment of the school or a detriment to the best interest and welfare of the pupils and teacher of such class as a whole, or for any reason for which such pupil might be suspended, dismissed or expelled by the school board under state or federal law or any rule, regulation or policy of the local school district. However, such action of the superintendent or principal and the due process committee shall be subject to review by and the approval or disapproval of the school board. If the parent, guardian or other person having custody of any child shall feel aggrieved by the suspension, change of placement or dismissal of that child, then such parent, guardian or other person shall have the right to a due process hearing. The parent or guardian of the child shall be advised of this right to a hearing by the appropriate superintendent or principal and the proper form shall be provided for requesting such a hearing.
SECTION 3. 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 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 for more than ten (10) days 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; * * *
(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; and
(d) Any compulsory-school-age child whose presence in the classroom, in the determination of the school principal and the due process committee of the school, is a disruption to the educational environment of the school or a detriment to the best interest and welfare of the students and teacher of such class as a whole.
(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 in the alternative school program. 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 such 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 such 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 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, 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.
(10) The State Board of Education, in its discretion, may exempt not more than four (4) school district alternative school programs in the state from any compulsory standard of accreditation for a period of three (3) years. During this period, the State Department of Education shall conduct a study of all alternative school programs in the state, and on or before January 1, 2000, shall develop and promulgate accreditation standards for all alternative school programs, including any recommendations for necessary legislation relating to such alternative school programs.
SECTION 4. A due process committee consisting of students, parents, teachers and a representative of the local juvenile court system shall be appointed for each public school. The committee shall be culturally diverse and must reflect the demographics of the school's student body. The committee shall assist the school principal in addressing disciplinary matters in the school. The due process committee shall be under the leadership of an administrator in the school district; however, any administrator involved with a specific incident may not participate in the work of the committee relating to that particular incident.
SECTION 5. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2000.