2005 Regular Session
By: Representative Jennings
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 37-9-17, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT WHEN A PRIVATE FIRM IS UNDER CONTRACT WITH A LOCAL PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT TO PROVIDE SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS TO TEACH DURING THE TEMPORARY ABSENCE OF THE REGULARLY EMPLOYED SCHOOL TEACHER, THEN THE PRIVATE FIRM SHALL REQUEST LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT TO SUBMIT THE SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS' FINGERPRINT CARDS FOR A CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORD; TO AMEND SECTION 97-3-82, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE DEFINITIONS OF "OBTAIN" AND "PROPERTY" AND TO ENACT A DEFINITION FOR "PUBLIC OFFICIAL," TO INCLUDE EXTORTION TO OBTAIN A REWARD, FAVOR OR ADVANTAGE IN THE OFFENSE AND TO REVISE PENALTIES; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 37-9-17, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-9-17. (1) On or before April 1 of each year, the principal of each school shall recommend to the superintendent of the local school district the licensed employees or noninstructional employees to be employed for the school involved except those licensed employees or noninstructional employees who have been previously employed and who have a contract valid for the ensuing scholastic year. If such recommendations meet with the approval of the superintendent, the superintendent shall recommend the employment of such licensed employees or noninstructional employees to the local school board, and, unless good reason to the contrary exists, the board shall elect the employees so recommended. If, for any reason, the local school board shall decline to elect any employee so recommended, additional recommendations for the places to be filled shall be made by the principal to the superintendent and then by the superintendent to the local school board as provided above. The school board of any local school district shall be authorized to designate a personnel supervisor or another principal employed by the school district to recommend to the superintendent licensed employees or noninstructional employees; however, this authorization shall be restricted to no more than two (2) positions for each employment period for each school in the local school district. Any noninstructional employee employed upon the recommendation of a personnel supervisor or another principal employed by the local school district must have been employed by the local school district at the time the superintendent was elected or appointed to office; a noninstructional employee employed under this authorization may not be paid compensation in excess of the statewide average compensation for such noninstructional position with comparable experience, as established by the State Department of Education. The school board of any local school district shall be authorized to designate a personnel supervisor or another principal employed by the school district to accept the recommendations of principals or their designees for licensed employees or noninstructional employees and to transmit approved recommendations to the local school board; however, this authorization shall be restricted to no more than two (2) positions for each employment period for each school in the local school district.
When the licensed employees have been elected as provided in the preceding paragraph, the superintendent of the district shall enter into a contract with such persons in the manner provided in this chapter.
If, at the commencement of the scholastic year, any licensed employee shall present to the superintendent a license of a higher grade than that specified in such individual's contract, such individual may, if funds are available from adequate education program funds of the district, or from district funds, be paid from such funds the amount to which such higher grade license would have entitled the individual, had the license been held at the time the contract was executed.
(2) Superintendents/directors of schools under the purview of the State Board of Education, the superintendent of the local school district and any private firm under contract with the local public school district to provide substitute teachers to teach during the absence of a regularly employed schoolteacher shall require, through the appropriate governmental authority, that current criminal records background checks and current child abuse registry checks are obtained, and that such criminal record information and registry checks are on file for any new hires applying for employment as a licensed or nonlicensed employee at a school and not previously employed in such school under the purview of the State Board of Education or at such local school district prior to July 1, 2000. In order to determine the applicant's suitability for employment, the applicant shall be fingerprinted. If no disqualifying record is identified at the state level, the fingerprints shall be forwarded by the Department of Public Safety to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a national criminal history record check. The fee for such fingerprinting and criminal history record check shall be paid by the applicant, not to exceed Fifty Dollars ($50.00); however, the State Board of Education, the school board of the local school district or a private firm under contract with a local school district to provide substitute teachers to teach during the temporary absence of the regularly employed schoolteacher, in its discretion, may elect to pay the fee for the fingerprinting and criminal history record check on behalf of any applicant. Under no circumstances shall a member of the State Board of Education, superintendent/director of schools under the purview of the State Board of Education, local school district superintendent, local school board member or any individual other than the subject of the criminal history record checks disseminate information received through any such checks except insofar as required to fulfill the purposes of this section. Any nonpublic school which is accredited or approved by the State Board of Education may avail itself of the procedures provided for herein and shall be responsible for the same fee charged in the case of local public schools of this state. * * * The determination * * * whether the applicant has a disqualifying crime, as set forth in subsection (3) of this section, shall be made by the appropriate governmental authority, and the appropriate governmental authority shall notify the private firm * * * whether a disqualifying crime exists. * * *
(3) If such fingerprinting or criminal record checks disclose a felony conviction, guilty plea or plea of nolo contendere to a felony of possession or sale of drugs, murder, manslaughter, armed robbery, rape, sexual battery, sex offense listed in Section 45-33-23(g), child abuse, arson, grand larceny, burglary, gratification of lust or aggravated assault which has not been reversed on appeal or for which a pardon has not been granted, the new hire shall not be eligible to be employed at such school. Any employment contract for a new hire executed by the superintendent of the local school district or any employment of a new hire by a superintendent/director of a new school under the purview of the State Board of Education or by a private firm shall be voidable if the new hire receives a disqualifying criminal record check. However, the State Board of Education or the school board may, in its discretion, allow any applicant aggrieved by the employment decision under this section to appear before the respective board, or before a hearing officer designated for such purpose, to show mitigating circumstances which may exist and allow the new hire to be employed at the school. The State Board of Education or local school board may grant waivers for such mitigating circumstances, which shall include, but not be limited to: (a) age at which the crime was committed; (b) circumstances surrounding the crime; (c) length of time since the conviction and criminal history since the conviction; (d) work history; (e) current employment and character references; (f) other evidence demonstrating the ability of the person to perform the employment responsibilities competently and that the person does not pose a threat to the health or safety of the children at the school.
(4) No local school district, local school district employee, member of the State Board of Education or employee of a school under the purview of the State Board of Education shall be held liable in any employment discrimination suit in which an allegation of discrimination is made regarding an employment decision authorized under this Section 37-9-17.
SECTION 2. Section 97-3-82, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
97-3-82. (1) For the purposes of this section the following words and phrases shall have the meanings ascribed herein, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
(a) "Obtain" means: (i) in relation to property, to bring about a transfer or purported transfer of a legal interest in, or physical possession of, the property, whether to the obtainer or another; or (ii) in relation to labor or service, or any reward, favor, or advantage of any kind, to secure performance thereof; or attempt to do (i) or (ii).
(b) "Property" means anything of value, including, but not limited to, real estate, tangible and intangible personal property, contract rights, choses-in-action, reputation of a person and other interests in or claims to wealth, admission or transportation tickets, captured or domestic animals, food and drink, electric or other power.
(c) "Property of another" includes property in which any person other than the actor has an interest which the actor is not privileged to infringe, regardless of the fact that the actor also has an interest in the property and regardless of the fact that the other person might be precluded from civil recovery because the property was used in an unlawful transaction or was subject to forfeiture as contraband. Property in possession of the actor shall not be deemed property of another who has only a security interest therein, even if legal title is in the creditor pursuant to a conditional sales contract or other security agreement.
(d) "Public official" means any person elected or appointed to any office, position or employment whereby the person is paid a fee or salary by the State of Mississippi or any political subdivision thereof or any agency or subdivision of the government of the United States, regardless of the source or sources of the funds for the payment.
(2) A person is guilty of extortion if he purposely obtains or attempts to obtain property * * * of another or any reward, favor, or advantage of any kind by threatening to inflict bodily injury on any person or by committing or threatening to commit any other criminal offense, violation of civil statute, or the public or private revelation of information not previously in the public domain for the purpose of humiliating or embarrassing the other person, without regard to whether the revelation otherwise constitutes a violation of a specific statute.
(3) (a) Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this subsection, any person, whether a public official or not, who commits the offense of extortion of property or things of value of another under the value of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed six (6) months.
(b) Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this subsection, any person, whether a public official or not, who commits the offense of extortion of property or things of value of another of the value of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or more shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by commitment to the custody of the Department of Corrections for a term not to exceed fifteen (15) years.
(c) Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this subsection, any person, whether a public official or not, who commits the offense of extortion in order to obtain any intangible reward, favor or advantage to which no monetary value is normally given shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by commitment to the custody of the Department of Corrections for a term not to exceed fifteen (15) years.
(d) Any public official acting in his official capacity or under color of his office who commits the offense of extortion in order to obtain any intangible reward, favor or advantage to which no monetary value is normally given, or who commits the offense of extortion of tangible property, regardless of the value of the property, shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by commitment to the custody of the Department of Corrections for a term not less than two (2) nor more than twenty (20) years.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2005.