2003 Regular Session
To: Education; Appropriations
By: Representative Frierson, Brown, Clarke, Eads, Holloway, Lott, Mayo, Myers, Warren, Whittington
AN ACT TO REQUIRE THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO PERFORM A COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW OF REQUIRED SCHOOL DISTRICT REPORTS CONCERNING STUDENT TRANSACTIONS IN ORDER TO DEVELOP CONCISE AND UPDATED DEFINITIONS OF THE VARIOUS TYPES OF STUDENT TRANSACTIONS; TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT TO PROVIDE TRAINING TO SCHOOL DISTRICT PERSONNEL WHO REPORT ON STUDENT TRANSACTIONS; TO AMEND SECTION 37-37-3, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO DIRECT THE STATE AUDITOR TO CREATE A UNIT WITHIN THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF AUDIT FOR THE PURPOSE OF ENSURING THE ACCURACY AND TIMELINESS OF REPORTS IN REGARD TO ALL STUDENT TRANSACTIONS; TO AMEND SECTION 37-37-8, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE EXAMINERS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AUDIT TO REVIEW ALL REPORTS OF STUDENT TRANSACTIONS MADE BY SCHOOL DISTRICTS; TO PROVIDE THAT REVIEWS SHALL BE CONDUCTED WITH ADVANCE NOTICE UNLESS THE STATE AUDITOR DETERMINES THAT UNANNOUNCED AUDITS ARE NECESSARY; TO AMEND SECTION 37-37-9, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE THE STATE AUDITOR TO PREPARE A REPORT SETTING FORTH THE AUDIT RESULTS UPON THE COMPLETION OF EACH REVIEW; TO REQUIRE THE AUDITOR TO PROVIDE AN ANNUAL REPORT SUMMARIZING THE RESULTS OF THE REVIEWS TO THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND TO THE EDUCATION COMMITTEES OF THE MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATURE; TO AMEND SECTION 37-37-11, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT REVIEWS OF EACH SCHOOL DISTRICT SHALL BE CONDUCTED AT LEAST ONCE DURING EVERY FIVE-YEAR PERIOD; TO AMEND SECTION 37-37-13, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION SHALL INCLUDE REPORTING STANDARDS FOR DISTRICTS WITHIN THE ACCREDITATION STANDARDS; TO REPEAL SECTIONS 37-37-15 THROUGH 37-37-19, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH PROVIDE CERTAIN REQUIREMENTS REGARDING REDUCTION OF CERTAIN FUNDS TO SCHOOL DISTRICTS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The State Department of Education shall:
(a) Perform a comprehensive review of the reports that school districts are required to make to the department concerning student transactions, including, but not limited to, graduation and dropout rates, in order to develop concise and updated definitions of the various types of student transactions; and
(b) Provide intensive training, which shall be developed by the department, to school district personnel who report on student transactions to the department concerning the reporting of those student transactions.
SECTION 2. Section 37-37-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-37-3. The State Auditor shall create a unit within the State Department of Audit for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy and timeliness of reports generated by school districts of this state regarding all student transactions. There shall be a director of this office at not less than a Bureau Director I classification or its equivalent as prescribed by the State Personnel Board.
In addition to all auditors and other employees now or hereafter provided by law, the State Auditor may appoint and employ examiners in the Department of Audit. The examiners shall * * * make such audits as may be necessary to determine the correctness and accuracy of all reports made to the State Department of Education * * * by any school district or school official concerning the number of educable students in any school district, the number of students enrolled in any school district, the number of students in average daily attendance in any school district, and the number of students being transported or entitled to transportation to any of the public schools of this state.
SECTION 3. Section 37-37-8, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-37-8. In carrying out the duties and powers prescribed by Sections 37-37-3 and 37-37-7, the examiners shall review and examine all reports made by school districts, including, but not limited to, reports regarding student enrollment, attendance, transportation, absenteeism, exits and graduation rates. Special emphasis shall be devoted to reported dropout numbers, the reasons therefor, graduation rates, general educational development (GED) referrals, GED program participants, alternative education and special education student enrollments. Reviews also may include fixed assets and other administrative functions as determined by the State Auditor. Examiners, in reviewing absentees, shall review the timeliness and accuracy of reports of school districts to school attendance officers as required under Section 37-13-91(6).
Reviews shall be conducted with advance notice, except that unannounced audits may be made upon the determination of the State Auditor when they are necessary due to complaints or other valid concerns. Examiners shall make every effort to work with school districts in scheduling regular reviews in consideration of instructional activities such as statewide student testing days.
The State Department of Education and the school districts shall cooperate fully with examiners in providing any related information requested in order to fulfill the duties required under this section.
SECTION 4. Section 37-37-9, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-37-9. Upon completion of each review, the State Auditor shall prepare a * * * report setting forth the audit results and findings * * *, specifically noting all exceptions or violations of any existing law. Copies thereof shall be furnished to the State Department of Education * * * and each school district reviewed. The original copy shall be retained in the Office of the State Auditor as a permanent record thereof and shall be subject to public inspection.
The State Auditor shall complete a comprehensive annual report summarizing results of the reviews each year and provide the report to the State Department of Education and to the Education Committees of the Mississippi House of Representatives and Senate.
SECTION 5. Section 37-37-11, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-37-11. Reviews shall be conducted so that each school district in the state, including any agricultural high schools, are reviewed at least once every five-year period.
SECTION 6. Section 37-37-13, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-37-13. The State Board of Education shall include reporting standards for school districts as part of the standards for accreditation of school districts. These standards shall include penalties within the accreditation system for adverse findings resulting from any reviews conducted under this chapter or through any reviews the State Department of Education may make.
SECTION 7. Section 37-37-15, Mississippi Code of 1972, which provides that reduced daily attendance figures of students shall be relative to the cost of the minimum education program, the salary of the superintendent and the allocation of state funds for administration, is repealed.
SECTION 8. Section 37-37-17, Mississippi Code of 1972, which provides for the duty of school districts upon reduction of allocations under the minimum education program, is repealed.
SECTION 9. Section 37-37-19, Mississippi Code of 1972, which provides for a reduction in earned credits against the State Public School Building Fund for schools who report numbers of students in attendance above actual attendance to the State Department of Education, is repealed.
SECTION 10. Section 1 of this act shall be codified in Title 37, Chapter 37, Mississippi Code of 1972.
SECTION 11. Section 1 of this act shall take effect and be in force from and after the date of passage of this act, and all other sections of this act shall take effect and be in force from and after January 1, 2004.