2007 Regular Session
By: Representative Gunn
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 37-17-12, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO EXEMPT SCHOOL DISTRICTS MEETING LEVEL 4 OR 5 ACCREDITATION STANDARDS FROM PERFORMING CERTAIN DUTIES STATUTORILY IMPOSED ON SCHOOL DISTRICTS; TO AMEND SECTION 37-1-3, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION TO DEVELOP A GRANT PROGRAM EXCLUSIVELY FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS MEETING LEVEL 4 OR 5 ACCREDITATION STANDARDS TO RECEIVE FUNDS FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF INNOVATIVE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS; TO AMEND SECTIONS 37-3-2, 37-11-53, 37-13-10, 37-13-41, 37-13-89, 37-43-31 AND 37-151-23, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY TO THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 37-17-12, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-17-12. (1) Except as otherwise provided by law, a school district meeting Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards, as defined by the State Board of Education, is exempt from certain statutes applicable to public schools and school districts and the rules, regulations, policies and procedures of the State Board of Education. A school district accredited at Level 4 or 5 and the licensedemployees of that district are exempt from the following requirements:
(a) Reporting student grades to the State Department of Education;
(b) Having the school district's official discipline plan and code of student conduct legally audited on an annual basis, as required under Section 37-11-53;
(c) Submitting reports regarding the type and amount of work done in each grade of their respective school to the superintendent of the school districts, as required in Section 37-13-41;
(d) Participating in the process of selecting textbooks by the State Board of Education, as prescribed in Section 37-43-31;
(e) Completing surveys from the State Department of Education;
(f) Fulfilling continuing education unit requirements for teacher license renewal, as prescribed in Section 37-3-2; and
(g) Submitting a report to the State Board of Education regarding the Reading Sufficiency Program of Instruction established under Section 37-13-10.
(2) Except as otherwise provided by law, a school district meeting Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards may provide for the following:
(a) The option of whether or not to have a school attendance officer, as required in Section 37-13-89; and
(b) Certain incentives for eligible teachers, such as forgiveness of state student educational loans, housing assistance and moving expenses in the same manner as provided for in the Critical Needs Teacher Shortage Act.
(3) (a) * * * Principals and administrators with career level certifications at schools with Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards shall be exempted from the provisions pursuant to Section 37-3-4, subject to approval of the local superintendent.
(b) * * * School districts meeting Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards, as defined by the State Board of Education, shall be exempted from the provisions pursuant to Sections 37-3-46, 37-3-49(2), 37-7-337, 37-17-8 and 37-21-7(4).
(4) The State Department of Education shall develop a policy to determine reevaluation of exemption status.
(5) The State Department of Education is directed to provide a report of all exempted process standards and nonexempted process standards to the Office of the Governor, the Chairs of the House and Senate Education Committees, and the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents by December 1, 2007.
(6) A school district meeting Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards may qualify for any state or federal grant program regardless of student demographics.
SECTION 2. Section 37-1-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-1-3. (1) The State Board of Education shall adopt rules and regulations and set standards and policies for the organization, operation, management, planning, budgeting and programs of the State Department of Education.
(a) The board is directed to identify all functions of the department that contribute to or comprise a part of the state system of educational accountability and to establish and maintain within the department the necessary organizational structure, policies and procedures for effectively coordinating such functions. Such policies and procedures shall clearly fix and delineate responsibilities for various aspects of the system and for overall coordination of the total system and its effective management.
(b) The board shall establish and maintain a system-wide plan of performance, policy and directions of public education not otherwise provided for.
(c) The board shall effectively use the personnel and resources of the department to enhance technical assistance to school districts in instruction and management therein.
(d) The board shall establish and maintain a central budget policy.
(e) The board shall establish and maintain within the State Department of Education a central management capacity under the direction of the State Superintendent of Public Education.
(f) The board, with recommendations from the superintendent, shall design and maintain a five-year plan and program for educational improvement that shall set forth objectives for system performance and development and be the basis for budget requests and legislative initiatives.
(g) The board shall develop a grant program exclusively for school districts meeting Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards, as defined by the board, to receive funds for the implementation of innovative educational programs.
(2) (a) The State Board of Education shall adopt and maintain a curriculum and a course of study to be used in the public schools that is designed to prepare the state's children and youth to be productive, informed, creative citizens, workers and leaders, and it shall regulate all matters arising in the practical administration of the school system not otherwise provided for.
(b) * * * The State Board of Education shall develop personal living and finances objectives that focus on money management skills for individuals and families for appropriate, existing courses at the secondary level. The objectives must require the teaching of those skills necessary to handle personal business and finances and must include instruction in the following:
(i) Opening a bank account and assessing the quality of a bank's services;
(ii) Balancing a checkbook;
(iii) Managing debt, including retail and credit card debt;
(iv) Completing a loan application;
(v) The implications of an inheritance;
(vi) The basics of personal insurance policies;
(vii) Consumer rights and responsibilities;
(viii) Dealing with salesmen and merchants;
(ix) Computing state and federal income taxes;
(x) Local tax assessments;
(xi) Computing interest rates by various mechanisms;
(xii) Understanding simple contracts; and
(xiii) Contesting an incorrect billing statement.
(3) The State Board of Education shall have authority to expend any available federal funds, or any other funds expressly designated, to pay training, educational expenses, salary incentives and salary supplements to licensed teachers employed in local school districts or schools administered by the State Board of Education. Such incentive payments shall not be considered part of a school district's local supplement as defined in Section 37-151-5(o), nor shall the incentives be considered part of the local supplement paid to an individual teacher for the purposes of Section 37-19-7(1). MAEP funds or any other state funds shall not be used to provide such incentives unless specifically authorized by law.
(4) The State Board of Education shall through its actions seek to implement the policies set forth in Section 37-1-2.
SECTION 3. Section 37-3-2, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-3-2. (1) There is established within the State Department of Education the Commission on Teacher and Administrator Education, Certification and Licensure and Development. It shall be the purpose and duty of the commission to make recommendations to the State Board of Education regarding standards for the certification and licensure and continuing professional development of those who teach or perform tasks of an educational nature in the public schools of Mississippi.
(2) The commission shall be composed of fifteen (15) qualified members. The membership of the commission shall be composed of the following members to be appointed, three (3) from each congressional district: four (4) classroom teachers; three (3) school administrators; one (1) representative of schools of education of institutions of higher learning located within the state to be recommended by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning; one (1) representative from the schools of education of independent institutions of higher learning to be recommended by the Board of the Mississippi Association of Independent Colleges; one (1) representative from public community and junior colleges located within the state to be recommended by the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges; one (1) local school board member; and four (4) lay persons. All appointments shall be made by the State Board of Education after consultation with the State Superintendent of Public Education. The first appointments by the State Board of Education shall be made as follows: five (5) members shall be appointed for a term of one (1) year; five (5) members shall be appointed for a term of two (2) years; and five (5) members shall be appointed for a term of three (3) years. Thereafter, all members shall be appointed for a term of four (4) years.
(3) The State Board of Education when making appointments shall designate a chairman. The commission shall meet at least once every two (2) months or more often if needed. Members of the commission shall be compensated at a rate of per diem as authorized by Section 25-3-69 and be reimbursed for actual and necessary expenses as authorized by Section 25-3-41.
(4) An appropriate staff member of the State Department of Education shall be designated and assigned by the State Superintendent of Public Education to serve as executive secretary and coordinator for the commission. No less than two (2) other appropriate staff members of the State Department of Education shall be designated and assigned by the State Superintendent of Public Education to serve on the staff of the commission.
(5) It shall be the duty of the commission to:
(a) Set standards and criteria, subject to the approval of the State Board of Education, for all educator preparation programs in the state;
(b) Recommend to the State Board of Education each year approval or disapproval of each educator preparation program in the state;
(c) Establish, subject to the approval of the State Board of Education, standards for initial teacher certification and licensure in all fields;
(d) Establish, subject to the approval of the State Board of Education, standards for the renewal of teacher licenses in all fields;
(e) Review and evaluate objective measures of teacher performance, such as test scores, which may form part of the licensure process, and to make recommendations for their use;
(f) Review all existing requirements for certification and licensure;
(g) Consult with groups whose work may be affected by the commission's decisions;
(h) Prepare reports from time to time on current practices and issues in the general area of teacher education and certification and licensure;
(i) Hold hearings concerning standards for teachers' and administrators' education and certification and licensure with approval of the State Board of Education;
(j) Hire expert consultants with approval of the State Board of Education;
(k) Set up ad hoc committees to advise on specific areas; and
(l) Perform such other functions as may fall within their general charge and which may be delegated to them by the State Board of Education.
(6) (a) Standard License - Approved Program Route. An educator entering the school system of Mississippi for the first time and meeting all requirements as established by the State Board of Education shall be granted a standard five-year license. Persons who possess two (2) years of classroom experience as an assistant teacher or who have taught for one (1) year in an accredited public or private school shall be allowed to fulfill student teaching requirements under the supervision of a qualified participating teacher approved by an accredited college of education. The local school district in which the assistant teacher is employed shall compensate such assistant teachers at the required salary level during the period of time such individual is completing student teaching requirements. Applicants for a standard license shall submit to the department:
(i) An application on a department form;
(ii) An official transcript of completion of a teacher education programapproved by the department or a nationally accredited program, subject to the following: Licensure to teach in Mississippi prekindergarten through kindergarten classrooms shall require completion of a teacher education program or a bachelor of science degree with child development emphasis from a program accredited by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) or by the National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC) or by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Licensure to teach in Mississippi kindergarten, for those applicants who have completed a teacher education program, and in Grade 1 through Grade 4 shall require the completion of an interdisciplinary program of studies. Licenses for Grades 4 through 8 shall require the completion of an interdisciplinary program of studies with two (2) or more areas of concentration. Licensure to teach in Mississippi Grades 7 through 12 shall require a major in an academic field other than education, or a combination of disciplines other than education. Students preparing to teach a subject shall complete a major in the respective subject discipline. All applicants for standard licensure shall demonstrate that such person's college preparation in those fields was in accordance with the standards set forth by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) or the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) or, for those applicants who have a bachelor of science degree with child development emphasis, the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS);
(iii) A copy of test scores evidencing satisfactory completion of nationally administered examinations of achievement, such as the Educational Testing Service's teacher testing examinations; and
(iv) Any other document required by the State Board of Education.
(b) Standard License - Nontraditional Teaching Route. Beginning January 1, 2004, an individual who has a passing score on the Praxis I Basic Skills and Praxis II Specialty Area Test in the requested area of endorsement may apply for the Teach Mississippi Institute (TMI) program to teach students in Grades 7 through 12 if the individual meets the requirements of this paragraph (b). The State Board of Education shall adopt rules requiring that teacher preparation institutions which provide the Teach Mississippi Institute (TMI) program for the preparation of nontraditional teachers shall meet the standards and comply with the provisions of this paragraph.
(i) The Teach Mississippi Institute (TMI) shall include an intensive eight-week, nine-semester-hour summer program or a curriculum of study in which the student matriculates in the fall or spring semester, which shall include, but not be limited to, instruction in education, effective teaching strategies, classroom management, state curriculum requirements, planning and instruction, instructional methods and pedagogy, using test results to improve instruction, and a one (1) semester three-hour supervised internship to be completed while the teacher is employed as a full-time teacher intern in a local school district. The TMI shall be implemented on a pilot program basis, with courses to be offered at up to four (4) locations in the state, with one (1) TMI site to be located in each of the three (3) Mississippi Supreme Court districts.
(ii) The school sponsoring the teacher intern shall enter into a written agreement with the institution providing the Teach Mississippi Institute (TMI) program, under terms and conditions as agreed upon by the contracting parties, providing that the school district shall provide teacher interns seeking a nontraditional provisional teaching license with a one-year classroom teaching experience. The teacher intern shall successfully complete the one (1) semester three-hour intensive internship in the school district during the semester immediately following successful completion of the TMI and prior to the end of the one-year classroom teaching experience.
(iii) Upon completion of the nine-semester-hour TMI or the fall or spring semester option, the individual shall submit his transcript to the commission for provisional licensure of the intern teacher, and the intern teacher shall be issued a provisional teaching license by the commission, which will allow the individual to legally serve as a teacher while the person completes a nontraditional teacher preparation internship program.
(iv) During the semester of internship in the school district, the teacher preparation institution shall monitor the performance of the intern teacher. The school district that employs the provisional teacher shall supervise the provisional teacher during the teacher's intern year of employment under a nontraditional provisional license, and shall, in consultation with the teacher intern's mentor at the school district of employment, submit to the commission a comprehensive evaluation of the teacher's performance sixty (60) days prior to the expiration of the nontraditional provisional license. If the comprehensive evaluation establishes that the provisional teacher intern's performance fails to meet the standards of the approved nontraditional teacher preparation internship program, the individual shall not be approved for a standard license.
(v) An individual issued a provisional teaching license under this nontraditional route shall successfully complete, at a minimum, a one-year beginning teacher mentoring and induction program administered by the employing school district with the assistance of the State Department of Education.
(vi) Upon successful completion of the TMI and the internship provisional license period, applicants for a Standard License - Nontraditional Route shall submit to the commission a transcript of successful completion of the twelve (12) semester hours required in the internship program, and the employing school district shall submit to the commission a recommendation for standard licensure of the intern. If the school district recommends licensure, the applicant shall be issued a Standard License - Nontraditional Route which shall be valid for a five-year period and be renewable.
(vii) At the discretion of the teacher preparation institution, the individual shall be allowed to credit the twelve (12) semester hours earned in the nontraditional teacher internship program toward the graduate hours required for a Master of Arts in Teacher (MAT) Degree.
(viii) The local school district in which the nontraditional teacher intern or provisional licensee is employed shall compensate such teacher interns at Step 1 of the required salary level during the period of time such individual is completing teacher internship requirements and shall compensate such Standard License - Nontraditional Route teachers at Step 3 of the required salary level when they complete license requirements.
Implementation of the TMI program provided for under this paragraph (b) shall be contingent upon the availability of funds appropriated specifically for such purpose by the Legislature. Such implementation of the TMI program may not be deemed to prohibit the State Board of Education from developing and implementing additional alternative route teacher licensure programs, as deemed appropriate by the board. The emergency certification program in effect prior to July 1, 2002, shall remain in effect.
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A Standard License - Approved Program Routeshall be issued for a five-year period, and may be renewed. Recognizing teaching as a profession, a hiring preference shall be granted to persons holding a Standard License - Approved Program Route or Standard License - Nontraditional Teaching Route over persons holding any other license.
(c) Special License - Expert Citizen. In order to allow a school district to offer specialized or technical courses, the State Department of Education, in accordance with rules and regulations established by the State Board of Education, may grant a one-year expert citizen-teacher license to local business or other professional personnel to teach in a public school or nonpublic school accredited or approved by the state. Such person may begin teaching upon his employment by the local school board and licensure by the Mississippi Department of Education. The board shall adopt rules and regulations to administer the expert citizen-teacher license. A Special License - Expert Citizen may be renewed in accordance with the established rules and regulations of the State Department of Education.
(d) Special License - Nonrenewable. The State Board of Education is authorized to establish rules and regulations to allow those educators not meeting requirements in subsection (6)(a), (b) or (c) to be licensed for a period of not more than three (3) years, except by special approval of the State Board of Education.
(e) Nonlicensed Teaching Personnel. A nonlicensed person may teach for a maximum of three (3) periods per teaching day in a public school or a nonpublic school accredited/approved by the state. Such person shall submit to the department a transcript or record of his education and experience which substantiates his preparation for the subject to be taught and shall meet other qualifications specified by the commission and approved by the State Board of Education. In no case shall any local school board hire nonlicensed personnel as authorized under this paragraph in excess of five percent (5%) of the total number of licensed personnel in any single school.
(f) Special License - Transitional Bilingual Education. Beginning July 1, 2003, the commission shall grant special licenses to teachers of transitional bilingual education who possess such qualifications as are prescribed in this section. Teachers of transitional bilingual education shall be compensated by local school boards at not less than one (1) step on the regular salary schedule applicable to permanent teachers licensed under this section. The commission shall grant special licenses to teachers of transitional bilingual education who present the commission with satisfactory evidence that they (i) possess a speaking and reading ability in a language, other than English, in which bilingual education is offered and communicative skills in English; (ii) are in good health and sound moral character; (iii) possess a bachelor's degree or an associate's degree in teacher education from an accredited institution of higher education; (iv) meet such requirements as to courses of study, semester hours therein, experience and training as may be required by the commission; and (v) are legally present in the United States and possess legal authorization for employment. A teacher of transitional bilingual education serving under a special license shall be under an exemption from standard licensure if he achieves the requisite qualifications therefor. Two (2) years of service by a teacher of transitional bilingual education under such an exemption shall be credited to the teacher in acquiring a Standard Educator License. Nothing in this paragraph shall be deemed to prohibit a local school board from employing a teacher licensed in an appropriate field as approved by the State Department of Education to teach in a program in transitional bilingual education.
(g) In the event any school district meets Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards, the State Board of Education, in its discretion, may exempt such school district from any restrictions inparagraph (e) relating to the employment of nonlicensed teaching personnel.
(h) Highly Qualified Teachers. Beginning July 1, 2006, any teacher from any state meeting the federal definition of highly qualified, as described in the No Child Left Behind Act, must be granted a standard five-year license by the State Department of Education.
(7) Administrator License. The State Board of Education is authorized to establish rules and regulations and to administer the licensure process of the school administrators in the State of Mississippi. There will be four (4) categories of administrator licensure with exceptions only through special approval of the State Board of Education.
(a) Administrator License - Nonpracticing. Those educators holding administrative endorsement but having no administrative experience or not serving in an administrative position on January 15, 1997.
(b) Administrator License - Entry Level. Those educators holding administrative endorsement and having met the department's qualifications to be eligible for employment in a Mississippi school district. Administrator License - Entry Level shall be issued for a five-year period and shall be nonrenewable.
(c) Standard Administrator License - Career Level. An administrator who has met all the requirements of the department for standard administrator licensure.
(d) Administrator License - Nontraditional Route. The board may establish a nontraditional route for licensing administrative personnel. Such nontraditional route for administrative licensure shall be available for persons holding, but not limited to, a master of business administration degree, a master of public administration degree, a master of public planning and policy degree or a doctor of jurisprudence degree from an accredited college or university, with five (5) years of administrative or supervisory experience. Successful completion of the requirements of alternate route licensure for administrators shall qualify the person for a standard administrator license.
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* * * Individuals seeking school administrator licensure under paragraph (b), (c) or (d) shall successfully complete a training program and an assessment process prescribed by the State Board of Education. * * * All applicants for school administrator licensure shall meet all requirements prescribed by the department under paragraph (b), (c) or (d), and the cost of the assessment process required shall be paid by the applicant.
(8) Reciprocity. (a) The department shall grant a standard license to any individual who possesses a valid standard license from another state.
(b) The department shall grant a nonrenewable special license to any individual who possesses a credential which is less than a standard license or certification from another state. Such special license shall be valid for the current school year plus one (1) additional school year to expire on June 30 of the second year, not to exceed a total period of twenty-four (24) months, during which time the applicant shall be required to complete the requirements for a standard license in Mississippi.
(9) Renewal and Reinstatement of Licenses. (a) The State Board of Education is authorized to establish rules and regulations for the renewal and reinstatement of educator and administrator licenses. Effective May 15, 1997, the valid standard license held by an educator shall be extended five (5) years beyond the expiration date of the license in order to afford the educator adequate time to fulfill new renewal requirements established pursuant to this subsection. An educator completing a master of education, educational specialist or doctor of education degree in May 1997 for the purpose of upgrading the educator's license to a higher class shall be given this extension of five (5) years plus five (5) additional years for completion of a higher degree.
(b) A licensed teacher who is employed in a school accredited at Level 4 or 5 by the State Board of Education is exempt from any continuing education requirements that may be established as a condition for renewal of the teacher's license.
(10) All controversies involving the issuance, revocation, suspension or any change whatsoever in the licensure of an educator required to hold a license shall be initially heard in a hearing de novo, by the commission or by a subcommittee established by the commission and composed of commission members for the purpose of holding hearings. Any complaint seeking the denial of issuance, revocation or suspension of a license shall be by sworn affidavit filed with the Commission of Teacher and Administrator Education, Certification and Licensure and Development. The decision thereon by the commission or its subcommittee shall be final, unless the aggrieved party shall appeal to the State Board of Education, within ten (10) days, of the decision of the committee or its subcommittee. An appeal to the State Board of Education shall be on the record previously made before the commission or its subcommittee unless otherwise provided by rules and regulations adopted by the board. The State Board of Education in its authority may reverse, or remand with instructions, the decision of the committee or its subcommittee. The decision of the State Board of Education shall be final.
(11) The State Board of Education, acting through the commission, may deny an application for any teacher or administrator license for one or more of the following:
(a) Lack of qualifications which are prescribed by law or regulations adopted by the State Board of Education;
(b) The applicant has a physical, emotional or mental disability that renders the applicant unfit to perform the duties authorized by the license, as certified by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist;
(c) The applicant is actively addicted to or actively dependent on alcohol or other habit-forming drugs or is a habitual user of narcotics, barbiturates, amphetamines, hallucinogens or other drugs having similar effect, at the time of application for a license;
(d) Revocation of an applicant's certificate or license by another state;
(e) Fraud or deceit committed by the applicant in securing or attempting to secure such certification and license;
(f) Failing or refusing to furnish reasonable evidence of identification;
(g) The applicant has been convicted, has pled guilty or entered a plea of nolo contendere to a felony, as defined by federal or state law; or
(h) The applicant has been convicted, has pled guilty or entered a plea of nolo contendere to a sex offense as defined by federal or state law.
(12) The State Board of Education, acting on the recommendation of the commission, may revoke or suspend any teacher or administrator license for specified periods of time for one or more of the following:
(a) Breach of contract or abandonment of employment may result in the suspension of the license for one (1) school year as provided in Section 37-9-57;
(b) Obtaining a license by fraudulent means shall result in immediate suspension and continued suspension for one (1) year after correction is made;
(c) Suspension or revocation of a certificate or license by another stateshall result in immediate suspension or revocation and shall continue until records in the prior state have been cleared;
(d) The license holder has been convicted, has pled guilty or entered a plea of nolo contendere to a felony, as defined by federal or state law;
(e) The license holder has been convicted, has pled guilty or entered a plea of nolo contendere to a sex offense, as defined by federal or state law; or
(f) The license holder knowingly and willfully committing any of the acts affecting validity of mandatory uniform test results as provided in Section 37-16-4(1).
(13) (a) Dismissal or suspension of a licensed employee by a local school board pursuant to Section 37-9-59 may result in the suspension or revocation of a license for a length of time which shall be determined by the commission and based upon the severity of the offense.
(b) Any offense committed or attempted in any other state shall result in the same penalty as if committed or attempted in this state.
(c) A person may voluntarily surrender a license. The surrender of such license may result in the commission recommending any of the above penalties without the necessity of a hearing. However, any such license which has voluntarily been surrendered by a licensed employee may only be reinstated by a majority vote of all members of the commission present at the meeting called for such purpose.
(14) A person whose license has been suspended on any grounds except criminal grounds may petition for reinstatement of the license after one (1) year from the date of suspension, or after one-half (1/2) of the suspended time has lapsed, whichever is greater. A license suspended or revoked on the criminal grounds may be reinstated upon petition to the commission filed after expiration of the sentence and parole or probationary period imposed upon conviction. A revoked, suspended or surrendered license may be reinstated upon satisfactory showing of evidence of rehabilitation. The commission shall require all who petition for reinstatement to furnish evidence satisfactory to the commission of good character, good mental, emotional and physical health and such other evidence as the commission may deem necessary to establish the petitioner's rehabilitation and fitness to perform the duties authorized by the license.
(15) Reporting procedures and hearing procedures for dealing with infractions under this section shall be promulgated by the commission, subject to the approval of the State Board of Education. The revocation or suspension of a license shall be effected at the time indicated on the notice of suspension or revocation. The commission shall immediately notify the superintendent of the school district or school board where the teacher or administrator is employed of any disciplinary action and also notify the teacher or administrator of such revocation or suspension and shall maintain records of action taken. The State Board of Education may reverse or remand with instructions any decision of the commission regarding a petition for reinstatement of a license, and any such decision of the State Board of Education shall be final.
(16) An appeal from the action of the State Board of Education in denying an application, revoking or suspending a license or otherwise disciplining any person under the provisions of this section shall be filed in the Chancery Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County on the record made, including a verbatim transcript of the testimony at the hearing. The appeal shall be filed within thirty (30) days after notification of the action of the board is mailed or served and the proceedings in chancery court shall be conducted as other matters coming before the court. The appeal shall be perfected upon filing notice of the appeal and by the prepayment of all costs, including the cost of preparation of the record of the proceedings by the State Board of Education, and the filing of a bond in the sum of Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00) conditioned that if the action of the board be affirmed by the chancery court, the applicant or license holder shall pay the costs of the appeal and the action of the chancery court.
(17) All such programs, rules, regulations, standards and criteria recommended or authorized by the commission shall become effective upon approval by the State Board of Education as designated by appropriate orders entered upon the minutes thereof.
(18) The granting of a license shall not be deemed a property right nor a guarantee of employment in any public school district. A license is a privilegeindicating minimal eligibility for teaching in the public schools of Mississippi. This section shall in no way alter or abridge the authority of local school districts to require greater qualifications or standards of performance as a prerequisite of initial or continued employment in such districts.
(19) In addition to the reasons specified in subsections (12) and (13) of this section, the board shall be authorized to suspend the license of any licensee for being out of compliance with an order for support, as defined in Section 93-11-153. The procedure for suspension of a license for being out of compliance with an order for support, and the procedure for the reissuance or reinstatement of a license suspended for that purpose, and the payment of any fees for the reissuance or reinstatement of a license suspended for that purpose, shall be governed by Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163, as the case may be. Actions taken by the board in suspending a license when required by Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163 are not actions from which an appeal may be taken under this section. Any appeal of a license suspension that is required by Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163 shall be taken in accordance with the appeal procedure specified in Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163, as the case may be, rather than the procedure specified in this section. If there is any conflict between any provision of Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163 and any provision of this chapter, the provisions of Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163, as the case may be, shall control.
SECTION 4. Section 37-11-53, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-11-53. (1) A copy of the school district's discipline plan shall be distributed to each student enrolled in the district, and the parents, guardian or custodian of such student shall sign a statement verifying that they have been given notice of the discipline policies of their respective school district. The school board, except in those school districts accredited at Level 4 or 5 by the State Board of Education, shall have its official discipline plan and code of student conduct legally audited on an annual basis to insure that its policies and procedures are currently in compliance with applicable statutes, case law and state and federal constitutional provisions. * * * This section, Section 37-11-55 and Section 37-11-18.1 shall be fully incorporated into the school district's discipline plan and code of student conduct.
(2) All discipline plans of school districts shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
(a) A parent, guardian or custodian of a compulsory-school-age child enrolled in a public school district shall be responsible financially for his or her minor child's destructive acts against school property or persons;
(b) A parent, guardian or custodian of a compulsory-school-age child enrolled in a public school district may be requested to appear at school by the school attendance officer or an appropriate school official for a conference regarding acts of the child specified in paragraph (a) of this subsection, or for any other discipline conference regarding the acts of the child;
(c) Any parent, guardian or custodian of a compulsory-school-age child enrolled in a school district who refuses or willfully fails to attend such discipline conference specified in paragraph (b) of this section may be summoned by proper notification by the superintendent of schools or the school attendance officer and be required to attend such discipline conference; and
(d) A parent, guardian or custodian of a compulsory-school-age child enrolled in a public school district shall be responsible for any criminal fines brought against such student for unlawful activity occurring on school grounds or buses.
(3) Any parent, guardian or custodian of a compulsory-school-age child who (a) fails to attend a discipline conference to which such parent, guardian or custodian has been summoned under the provisions of this section, or (b) refuses or willfully fails to perform any other duties imposed upon him or her under the provisions of this section, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not to exceed Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00).
(4) Any public school district shall be entitled to recover damages in an amount not to exceed Twenty Thousand Dollars ($20,000.00), plus necessary court costs, from the parents of any minor under the age of eighteen (18) years and over the age of six (6) years, who maliciously and willfully damages or destroys property belonging to such school district. However, this section shall not apply to parents whose parental control of such child has been removed by court order or decree. The action authorized in this section shall be in addition to all other actions which the school district is entitled to maintain and nothing in this section shall preclude recovery in a greater amount from the minor or from a person, including the parents, for damages to which such minor or other person would otherwise be liable.
(5) A school district's discipline plan may provide that as an alternative to suspension, a student may remain in school by having the parent, guardian or custodian, with the consent of the student's teacher or teachers, attend class with the student for a period of time specifically agreed upon by the reporting teacher and school principal. If the parent, guardian or custodian does not agree to attend class with the student or fails to attend class with the student, the student shall be suspended in accordance with the code of student conduct and discipline policies of the school district.
SECTION 5. Section 37-13-10, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-13-10. (1) The State Board of Education shall develop and implement a Reading Sufficiency Program of Instruction * * * designed to enable each student to acquire the appropriate grade level of reading skills. In order to implement the Reading Sufficiency Program of Instruction, each local school board, except in those school districts meeting Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards, as defined by the State Board of Education, shall develop a reading sufficiency plan for its school district which may include the following components:
(a) Sufficient additional in-school instructional time for the development of reading and comprehension skills of the student;
(b) Readiness intervention programs, such as kindergarten programs, extended school day or school year programs, and program initiatives to reduce class size;
(c) Utilization of research-based teaching methodologies or strategies for providing direct instruction in phonics, vocabulary and comprehension development, including systematic, intensive, explicit phonics, using decodable vocabulary-controlled texts (texts in which ninety-five percent (95%) of the words are decodable), as is determined appropriate by the State Board of Education; and
(d) Professional development for assistant teachers, teachers and administrators to assist students in implementing the Reading Sufficiency Program.
(2) Pursuant to appropriation by the Legislature specifically for such purpose, the State Department of Education shall provide in-service training, computer software and certified reading instructor personnel for training local school district certificated personnel to assist students in implementing the Reading Sufficiency Program required under this section.
(3) The State Board of Education, * * * annually on January 1 of each * * * year, shall develop a report on the implementation of the Reading Sufficiency Program in each school district as required under this section, which shall include an assessment of the acquisition of reading skills by each student for the appropriate grade level in which the student is enrolled.
SECTION 6. Section 37-13-41, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-13-41. Except in school districts meeting Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards, as defined by the State Board of Education, all principals and/or superintendents of public schools of Mississippi shall report to their * * * superintendent of education upon forms prepared and sent to the * * * superintendent of education by the director of the division of instruction, giving the type and amount of work done in each grade of their respective school, with other information that may be desired by the director. The * * * superintendents of education shall compile this information on forms sent out by the director. This shall be made in duplicate, one (1) copy to be sent to the director, and the other filed as other public records are filed in the * * * superintendents' offices. This report shall be made to the director by the * * * superintendents of education not later than the first of June each year.
SECTION 7. Section 37-13-89, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-13-89. (1) In each school district within the state, except in school districts meeting Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards, as defined by the State Board of Education, there shall be employed the number of school attendance officers determined by the Office of Compulsory School Attendance Enforcement to be necessary to adequately enforce the provisions of the Mississippi Compulsory School Attendance Law; however, this number shall not exceed one hundred fifty-three (153) school attendance officers at any time. * * * All school attendance officers employed pursuant to this section shall be employees of the State Department of Education. * * * The first twelve (12) months of employment for each school attendance officer shall be the probationary period of state service.
(2) (a) The State Department of Education shall obtain current criminal records background checks and current child abuse registry checks on all persons applying for the position of school attendance officer * * *. The criminal records information and registry checks must be kept on file for any new hires. In order to determine an applicant's suitability for employment as a school attendance officer, the applicant must be fingerprinted. If no disqualifying record is identified at the state level, the Department of Public Safety shall forward the fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for a national criminal history record check. The applicant shall pay the fee, not to exceed Fifty Dollars ($50.00), for the fingerprinting and criminal records background check; however, the State Department of Education, in its discretion, may pay the fee for the fingerprinting and criminal records background check on behalf of any applicant. Under no circumstances may a member of the State Board of Education, employee of the State Department of Education or any person other than the subject of the criminal records background check disseminate information received through any such checks except insofar as required to fulfill the purposes of this subsection.
(b) If the fingerprinting or criminal records check discloses 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 applicant is not eligible to be employed as a school attendance officer. Any employment of an applicant pending the results of the fingerprinting and criminal records check is voidable if the new hire receives a disqualifying criminal records check. However, the State Board of Education, in its discretion, may allow an applicant aggrieved by an employment decision under this subsection to appear before the board, or before a hearing officer designated for that purpose, to show mitigating circumstances that may exist and allow the new hire to be employed as a school attendance officer. The State Board of Education may grant waivers for mitigating circumstances, which may include, but are not necessarily limited to: (i) age at which the crime was committed; (ii) circumstances surrounding the crime; (iii) length of time since the conviction and criminal history since the conviction; (iv) work history; (v) current employment and character references; and (vi) other evidence demonstrating the ability of the person to perform the responsibilities of a school attendance officer competently and that the person does not pose a threat to the health or safety of children.
(c) A member of the State Board of Education or employee of the State Department of Education may not be held liable in any employment discrimination suit in which an allegation of discrimination is made regarding an employment decision authorized under this section.
(3) Each school attendance officer shall possess a college degree with a major in a behavioral science or a related field or shall have no less than three (3) years combined actual experience as a school teacher, school administrator, law enforcement officer possessing such degree, and/or social worker; however, these requirements shall not apply to persons employed as school attendance officers before January 1, 1987. School attendance officers also shall satisfy any additional requirements that may be established by the State Personnel Board for the position of school attendance officer.
(4) It shall be the duty of each school attendance officer to:
(a) Cooperate with any public agency to locate and identify all compulsory-school-age children who are not attending school;
(b) Cooperate with all courts of competent jurisdiction;
(c) Investigate all cases of nonattendance and unlawful absences by compulsory-school-age children not enrolled in a nonpublic school;
(d) Provide appropriate counseling to encourage all school-age children to attend school until they have completed high school;
(e) Attempt to secure the provision of social or welfare services that may be required to enable any child to attend school;
(f) Contact the home or place of residence of a compulsory-school-age child and any other place in which the officer is likely to find any compulsory-school-age child when the child is absent from school during school hours without a valid written excuse from school officials, and when the child is found, the officer shall notify the parents and school officials as to where the child was physically located;
(g) Contact promptly the home of each compulsory-school-age child in the school district within the officer's jurisdiction who is not enrolled in school or is not in attendance at public school and is without a valid written excuse from school officials; if no valid reason is found for the nonenrollment or absence from the school, the school attendance officer shall give written notice to the parent, guardian or custodian of the requirement for the child's enrollment or attendance;
(h) Collect and maintain information concerning absenteeism, dropouts and other attendance-related problems, as may be required by law or the Office of Compulsory School Attendance Enforcement; and
(i) Perform all other duties relating to compulsory school attendance established by the State Department of Education or district school attendance supervisor, or both.
(5) While engaged in the performance of his duties, each school attendance officer shall carry on his person a badge identifying him as a school attendance officer under the Office of Compulsory School Attendance Enforcement of the State Department of Education and an identification card designed by the State Superintendent of Public Education and issued by the school attendance officer supervisor. Neither the badge nor the identification card shall bear the name of any elected public official.
(6) The State Personnel Board shall develop a salary scale for school attendance officers as part of the variable compensation plan. The various pay ranges of the salary scale shall be based upon factors including, but not limited to, education, professional certification and licensure, and number of years of experience. School attendance officers shall be paid in accordance with this salary scale. The minimum salaries under the scale shall be no less than the following:
(a) For school attendance officers holding a bachelor's degree or any other attendance officer who does not hold such a degree, the annual salary shall be based on years of experience as a school attendance officer or related field of service or employment, no less than as follows:
Years of Experience Salary
0 - 4 years $19,650.00
5 - 8 years 21,550.00
9 - 12 years 23,070.00
13 - 16 years 24,590.00
Over 17 years 26,110.00
(b) For school attendance officers holding a license as a social worker, the annual salary shall be based on years of experience as a school attendance officer or related field of service or employment, no less than as follows:
Years of Experience Salary
0 - 4 years $20,650.00
5 - 8 years 22,950.00
9 - 12 years 24,790.00
13 - 16 years 26,630.00
17 - 20 years 28,470.00
Over 21 years 30,310.00
(c) For school attendance officers holding a master's degree in a behavioral science or a related field, the annual salary shall be based on years of experience as a school attendance officer or related field of service or employment, no less than as follows:
Years of Experience Salary
0 - 4 years $21,450.00
5 - 8 years 24,000.00
9 - 12 years 26,040.00
13 - 16 years 28,080.00
17 - 20 years 30,120.00
Over 21 years 32,160.00
(7) (a) Each school attendance officer employed by a district attorney on June 30, 1998, who became an employee of the State Department of Education on July 1, 1998, shall be awarded credit for personal leave and major medical leave for his continuous service as a school attendance officer under the district attorney, and if applicable, the youth or family court or a state agency. The credit for personal leave shall be in an amount equal to one-third (1/3) of the maximum personal leave the school attendance officer could have accumulated had he been credited with such leave under Section 25-3-93 during his employment with the district attorney, and if applicable, the youth or family court or a state agency. The credit for major medical leave shall be in an amount equal to one-half (1/2) of the maximum major medical leave the school attendance officer could have accumulated had he been credited with such leave under Section 25-3-95 during his employment with the district attorney, and if applicable, the youth or family court or a state agency. However, if a district attorney who employed a school attendance officer on June 30, 1998, certifies, in writing, to the State Department of Education that the school attendance officer had accumulated, pursuant to a personal leave policy or major medical leave policy lawfully adopted by the district attorney, a number of days of unused personal leave or major medical leave, or both, which is greater than the number of days to which the school attendance officer is entitled under this paragraph, the State Department of Education shall authorize the school attendance officer to retain the actual unused personal leave or major medical leave, or both, certified by the district attorney, subject to the maximum amount of personal leave and major medical leave the school attendance officer could have accumulated had he been credited with such leave under Sections 25-3-93 and 25-3-95.
(b) For the purpose of determining the accrual rate for personal leave under Section 25-3-93 and major medical leave under Section 25-3-95, the State Department of Education shall give consideration to all continuous service rendered by a school attendance officer before July 1, 1998, in addition to the service rendered by the school attendance officer as an employee of the department.
(c) In order for a school attendance officer to be awarded credit for personal leave and major medical leave or to retain the actual unused personal leave and major medical leave accumulated by him before July 1, 1998, the district attorney who employed the school attendance officer must certify, in writing, to the State Department of Education the hire date of the school attendance officer. For each school attendance officer employed by the youth or family court or a state agency before being designated an employee of the district attorney who has not had a break in continuous service, the hire date shall be the date that the school attendance officer was hired by the youth or family court or state agency. The department shall prescribe the date by which the certification must be received by the department and shall provide written notice to all district attorneys of the certification requirement and the date by which the certification must be received.
(8) (a) School attendance officers shall maintain regular office hours on a year-round basis; however, during the school term, on those days that teachers in all of the school districts served by a school attendance officer are not required to report to work, the school attendance officer also shall not be required to report to work. (For purposes of this subsection, a school district's school term is that period of time identified as the school term in contracts entered into by the district with licensed personnel.) A school attendance officer shall be required to report to work on any day recognized as an official state holiday if teachers in any school district served by that school attendance officer are required to report to work on that day, regardless of the school attendance officer's status as an employee of the State Department of Education, and compensatory leave may not be awarded to the school attendance officer for working during that day. However, a school attendance officer may be allowed by the school attendance officer's supervisor to use earned leave on such days.
(b) The State Department of Education annually shall designate a period of two (2) consecutive weeks in the summer between school years during which school attendance officers shall not be required to report to work. A school attendance officer who elects to work at any time during that period may not be awarded compensatory leave for such work and may not opt to be absent from work at any time other than during the two (2) weeks designated by the department unless the school attendance officer uses personal leave or major medical leave accrued under Section 25-3-93 or 25-3-95 for such absence.
(9) The State Department of Education shall provide all continuing education and training courses that school attendance officers are required to complete under state law or rules and regulations of the department.
SECTION 8. Section 37-43-31, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-43-31. (1) The State Board of Education shall adopt and furnish textbooks only for use in those courses set up in the state course of study as recommended by the State Accreditation Commission and adopted by such board, or courses established by acts of the Legislature. In all subjects the board, in its discretion, may adopt textbooks and/or series from those recommended by the textbook rating committees. The board may adopt a plan which permits the local school districts to choose the book or books to be requisitioned from those adopted, provided:
(a) That, when a book is furnished by the state, it shall remain in use during the period of its adoption;
(b) That the average per pupil cost of textbooks so furnished any unit shall not exceed that allowed for all other units in the state;
(c) That nothing herein provided shall be construed as giving any school the authority to discard or replace usable copies of textbooks now being furnished by the state;
(d) That the State Department of Education is authorized to disburse the annual textbook appropriation directly to the public school districts in accordance with Section 37-43-31(1)(b). The textbooks procured through this chapter, as well as textbooks which are on hand on June 30, 1994, which were previously purchased through the provisions of this statute, shall become the property of the public school district which purchased them, unless the State Department of Education authorizes the transfer of unneeded textbooks to another location in accordance with rules and regulations promulgated by the State Board of Education;
(e) That textbooks which are on loan to other than public schools as referenced in Section 37-43-1, shall remain the property of the State of Mississippi. All requisitions for textbooks from these schools shall be submitted to the State Department to be processed and subsequently shipped to the requesting school. No funds shall be disbursed directly from the State Department of Education to the schools in this category for the purpose of procuring textbooks; and
(f) That funds made available through this chapter may be used to purchase any state-adopted or non-adopted textbook from any state depository, directly from the publisher, or in accordance with the provisions of Sections 37-43-21(5) and 37-43-31(3). For purchases made directly from the publisher, the public school district, or the State Department of Education when purchasing for other than public schools, shall not pay a higher price for a textbook than that listed on the current state-adopted list.
(2) Whenever any book under contract is displaced by a new adoption, the board may continue to require the schools to use the recently purchased books from any previous adoption; however, such period of use shall not exceed four (4) years.
(3) If five (5) or more school boards petition the State Board of Education to add a book, or a series of books, to the approved list of state adoptions in a given subject area, then the State Superintendent of Public Education shall have sixty (60) days to show cause to the State Board of Education why the books in question should or should not be purchased with state funds. If the petition is not acted upon within the sixty-day period, the petition shall be deemed to be approved. Once a textbook has been approved through the petition process, any public school district or eligible other school may procure the said textbook utilizing funds appropriated through this chapter.
(4) If new and innovative textbooks that would improve a particular course of study become available between adoption cycles, a school board may petition the State Board of Education for permission to purchase these books out of sequence to be paid for with state textbook funds.
(5) The State Board of Education shall not allow previously rejected textbooks to be used if such textbooks were rejected for any of the following reasons:
(a) Obscene, lewd, sexist or vulgar material;
(b) Advocating prejudicial behavior or actions; or
(c) Encouraging acts determined to be anti-social or derogatory to any race, sex or religion.
(6) All books or series of books adopted under the petition procedures of this act shall be purchased under the provisions for bidding, pricing and distribution as prescribed in Section 37-43-23.
(7) Petition procedure books or series of books adopted under this section shall be considered only until the date of the next regular adoption series in the applicable subject area. Petition procedure books shall be submitted for formal adoption at the next applicable regular textbook adoption as prescribed under the provisions of Chapter 43, Title 37, Mississippi Code of 1972; otherwise, such books adopted under the petition procedures which do not receive formal adoption approval as recommended by the textbook rating committee shall be dropped from the state textbook petition adoption list. * * * However, this provision shall in no way prohibit a school district from using other funds, federal or local, for the purchase of such books.
(8) A school district meeting Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards, as defined by the State Board of Education, is not required to participate in the textbook selection process set forth in this section.
SECTION 9. Section 37-151-23, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-151-23. There is * * * created in the State Treasury a special fund to be designated the "State Public School Education Technology Fund." Any unexpended balance in the fund at the end of the fiscal year shall carry over into the subsequent fiscal year and shall not lapse into the State General Fund. School districts shall be required to submit a plan for the use of such funds for education technology to the State Board of Education. The State Board of Education, consistent with policies adopted pursuant to recommendations of the council, shall allocate funds provided from appropriation by the Legislature into the State Public School Education Technology Fund, to school districts based on the approved education technology plan, which demonstrates need consistent with the district's existing technology, for the purchase or lease of education technology for the schools. A school district meeting Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards, as defined by the State Board of Education, may be awarded grants regardless of the student demographics within the district. The State Board of Education may apply the funds to matching grants from federal or private sources to generate additional funds for the purchase or lease of education technology for the schools.
SECTION 10. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.