2013 Regular Session
By: Representative Gunn
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 37-13-91, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO EXCLUDE FROM THE DEFINITION OF THE TERM "SCHOOL DAY," AS USED UNDER THE COMPULSORY SCHOOL ATTENDANCE LAW, DAYS ON WHICH STATEWIDE TESTS ARE ADMINISTERED AND DAYS THAT ARE LESS THAN THE REQUIRED MINIMUM NUMBER OF HOURS; TO INCREASE THE AGE OF COMPULSORY SCHOOL ATTENDANCE TO EIGHTEEN AND TO INCLUDE UNDER THE DEFINITION OF "COMPULSORY-SCHOOL-AGE CHILD" CERTAIN STUDENTS WHO TURN EIGHTEEN BUT HAVE NOT YET GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL; TO PROVIDE THAT A COMPULSORY-SCHOOL-AGE CHILD WHO IS ABSENT MORE THAN 33% OF A SCHOOL DAY MUST BE CONSIDERED ABSENT THE ENTIRE DAY; TO REQUIRE SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENTS TO PERSONALLY REPORT UNLAWFUL ABSENCES TO SCHOOL ATTENDANCE OFFICERS; TO AMEND SECTION 37-151-5, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE DEFINITION OF THE TERMS "MINIMUM SCHOOL TERM" AND "AVERAGE DAILY ATTENDANCE" AS SUCH TERMS ARE USED FOR DETERMINING ALLOCATIONS TO SCHOOL DISTRICTS UNDER THE ADEQUATE EDUCATION PROGRAM; TO AMEND SECTION 37-151-105, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION TO SUBMIT REGULATIONS PROMULGATED FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE ADEQUATE EDUCATION PROGRAM TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES ACT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 37-13-91, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-13-91. (1) This section shall be referred to as the "Mississippi Compulsory School Attendance Law."
(2) The following terms as used in this section are defined as follows:
(a) "Parent" means the father or mother to whom a child has been born, or the father or mother by whom a child has been legally adopted.
(b) "Guardian" means a guardian of the person of a child, other than a parent, who is legally appointed by a court of competent jurisdiction.
(c) "Custodian" means any person having the present care or custody of a child, other than a parent or guardian of the child.
(d) "School day" means not less than five (5) and not more than eight (8) hours of actual teaching in which both teachers and pupils are in regular attendance for scheduled schoolwork. The term "school day" does not include any day on which schools are required to administer tests under the uniform statewide testing program or any partial day that is less than the minimum number of hours of teaching required under this paragraph and Section 37-13-67.
(e) "School" means any public school in this state or any nonpublic school in this state which is in session each school year for at least one hundred eighty (180) school days, as defined in paragraph (d) of this subsection, except that the "nonpublic" school term shall be the number of days that each school shall require for promotion from grade to grade.
(f) "Compulsory-school-age child" means a child who:
(i) Has attained or will attain the age of six (6) years on or before September 1 of the calendar year;
(ii) * * *
Has not attained the age of * * *
years on or before September 1 of the calendar year and has not graduated
from high school; and
(iii) If the child's eighteenth birthday occurs during the school year, has not completed the school year during which the child attains the age of eighteen (18) years.
The term "compulsory-school-age" child shall include any child who has attained or will attain the age of five (5) years on or before September 1 and has enrolled in a full-day public school kindergarten program. Provided, however, that the parent or guardian of any child enrolled in a full-day public school kindergarten program shall be allowed to disenroll the child from the program on a one-time basis, and such child shall not be deemed a compulsory-school-age child until the child attains the age of six (6) years.
(g) "School attendance officer" means a person employed by the State Department of Education pursuant to Section 37-13-89.
(h) "Appropriate school official" means the superintendent of the school district, or his designee, or, in the case of a nonpublic school, the principal or the headmaster.
(i) "Nonpublic school" means an institution for the teaching of children, consisting of a physical plant, whether owned or leased, including a home, instructional staff members and students, and which is in session each school year. This definition shall include, but not be limited to, private, church, parochial and home instruction programs.
(3) A parent, guardian or custodian of a compulsory-school-age child in this state shall cause the child to enroll in and attend a public school or legitimate nonpublic school for the period of time that the child is of compulsory school age, except under the following circumstances:
(a) When a compulsory-school-age child is physically, mentally or emotionally incapable of attending school as determined by the appropriate school official based upon sufficient medical documentation.
(b) When a compulsory-school-age child is enrolled in and pursuing a course of special education, remedial education or education for handicapped or physically or mentally disadvantaged children.
(c) When a compulsory-school-age child is being educated in a legitimate home instruction program.
The parent, guardian or custodian of a compulsory-school-age child described in this subsection, or the parent, guardian or custodian of a compulsory-school-age child attending any nonpublic school, or the appropriate school official for any or all children attending a nonpublic school shall complete a "certificate of enrollment" in order to facilitate the administration of this section.
The form of the certificate of enrollment shall be prepared by the Office of Compulsory School Attendance Enforcement of the State Department of Education and shall be designed to obtain the following information only:
(i) The name, address, telephone number and date of birth of the compulsory-school-age child;
(ii) The name, address and telephone number of the parent, guardian or custodian of the compulsory-school-age child;
(iii) A simple description of the type of education the compulsory-school-age child is receiving and, if the child is enrolled in a nonpublic school, the name and address of the school; and
(iv) The signature of the parent, guardian or custodian of the compulsory-school-age child or, for any or all compulsory-school-age child or children attending a nonpublic school, the signature of the appropriate school official and the date signed.
The certificate of enrollment shall be returned to the school attendance officer where the child resides on or before September 15 of each year. Any parent, guardian or custodian found by the school attendance officer to be in noncompliance with this section shall comply, after written notice of the noncompliance by the school attendance officer, with this subsection within ten (10) days after the notice or be in violation of this section. However, in the event the child has been enrolled in a public school within fifteen (15) calendar days after the first day of the school year as required in subsection (6), the parent or custodian may, at a later date, enroll the child in a legitimate nonpublic school or legitimate home instruction program and send the certificate of enrollment to the school attendance officer and be in compliance with this subsection.
For the purposes of this subsection, a legitimate nonpublic school or legitimate home instruction program shall be those not operated or instituted for the purpose of avoiding or circumventing the compulsory attendance law.
(4) An "unlawful absence" is an absence for an entire school day or during part of a school day by a compulsory-school-age child, which absence is not due to a valid excuse for temporary nonattendance. For purposes of reporting absenteeism under subsection (6) of this section, if a compulsory-school-age child has an absence that is more than thirty-three percent (33%) of a school day, as fixed by the school board for the school at which the compulsory-school-age child is enrolled, the child must be considered absent the entire school day. Days missed from school due to disciplinary suspension shall not be considered an "excused" absence under this section. This subsection shall not apply to children enrolled in a nonpublic school.
Each of the following shall constitute a valid excuse for temporary nonattendance of a compulsory-school-age child enrolled in a public school, provided satisfactory evidence of the excuse is provided to the superintendent of the school district, or his designee:
(a) An absence is excused when the absence results from the compulsory-school-age child's attendance at an authorized school activity with the prior approval of the superintendent of the school district, or his designee. These activities may include field trips, athletic contests, student conventions, musical festivals and any similar activity.
(b) An absence is excused when the absence results from illness or injury which prevents the compulsory-school-age child from being physically able to attend school.
(c) An absence is excused when isolation of a compulsory-school-age child is ordered by the county health officer, by the State Board of Health or appropriate school official.
(d) An absence is excused when it results from the death or serious illness of a member of the immediate family of a compulsory-school-age child. The immediate family members of a compulsory-school-age child shall include children, spouse, grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters, including stepbrothers and stepsisters.
(e) An absence is excused when it results from a medical or dental appointment of a compulsory-school-age child.
(f) An absence is excused when it results from the attendance of a compulsory-school-age child at the proceedings of a court or an administrative tribunal if the child is a party to the action or under subpoena as a witness.
(g) An absence may be excused if the religion to which the compulsory-school-age child or the child's parents adheres, requires or suggests the observance of a religious event. The approval of the absence is within the discretion of the superintendent of the school district, or his designee, but approval should be granted unless the religion's observance is of such duration as to interfere with the education of the child.
(h) An absence may be excused when it is demonstrated to the satisfaction of the superintendent of the school district, or his designee, that the purpose of the absence is to take advantage of a valid educational opportunity such as travel, including vacations or other family travel. Approval of the absence must be gained from the superintendent of the school district, or his designee, before the absence, but the approval shall not be unreasonably withheld.
(i) An absence may be excused when it is demonstrated to the satisfaction of the superintendent of the school district, or his designee, that conditions are sufficient to warrant the compulsory-school-age child's nonattendance. However, no absences shall be excused by the school district superintendent, or his designee, when any student suspensions or expulsions circumvent the intent and spirit of the compulsory attendance law.
(5) Any parent, guardian or custodian of a compulsory-school-age child subject to this section who refuses or willfully fails to perform any of the duties imposed upon him or her under this section or who intentionally falsifies any information required to be contained in a certificate of enrollment, shall be guilty of contributing to the neglect of a child and, upon conviction, shall be punished in accordance with Section 97-5-39.
Upon prosecution of a parent, guardian or custodian of a compulsory-school-age child for violation of this section, the presentation of evidence by the prosecutor that shows that the child has not been enrolled in school within eighteen (18) calendar days after the first day of the school year of the public school which the child is eligible to attend, or that the child has accumulated twelve (12) unlawful absences during the school year at the public school in which the child has been enrolled, shall establish a prima facie case that the child's parent, guardian or custodian is responsible for the absences and has refused or willfully failed to perform the duties imposed upon him or her under this section. However, no proceedings under this section shall be brought against a parent, guardian or custodian of a compulsory-school-age child unless the school attendance officer has contacted promptly the home of the child and has provided written notice to the parent, guardian or custodian of the requirement for the child's enrollment or attendance.
(6) If a compulsory-school-age
child has not been enrolled in a school within fifteen (15) calendar days after
the first day of the school year of the school which the child is eligible to
attend or the child has accumulated five (5) unlawful absences during the
school year of the public school in which the child is enrolled, the school
district superintendent * * *
or his designeeshall report, within two (2) school days or
within five (5) calendar days, whichever is less, the absences to the school
attendance officer. The State Department of Education shall prescribe a
uniform method for schools to utilize in reporting the unlawful absences to the
school attendance officer. The superintendent * * * also shall report any
student suspensions or student expulsions to the school attendance officer when
(7) When a school attendance officer has made all attempts to secure enrollment and/or attendance of a compulsory-school-age child and is unable to effect the enrollment and/or attendance, the attendance officer shall file a petition with the youth court under Section 43-21-451 or shall file a petition in a court of competent jurisdiction as it pertains to parent or child. Sheriffs, deputy sheriffs and municipal law enforcement officers shall be fully authorized to investigate all cases of nonattendance and unlawful absences by compulsory-school-age children, and shall be authorized to file a petition with the youth court under Section 43-21-451 or file a petition or information in the court of competent jurisdiction as it pertains to parent or child for violation of this section. The youth court shall expedite a hearing to make an appropriate adjudication and a disposition to ensure compliance with the Compulsory School Attendance Law, and may order the child to enroll or re-enroll in school. The superintendent of the school district to which the child is ordered may assign, in his discretion, the child to the alternative school program of the school established pursuant to Section 37-13-92.
(8) The State Board of Education shall adopt rules and regulations for the purpose of reprimanding any school superintendents who fail to timely report unexcused absences under the provisions of this section.
(9) Notwithstanding any provision or implication herein to the contrary, it is not the intention of this section to impair the primary right and the obligation of the parent or parents, or person or persons in loco parentis to a child, to choose the proper education and training for such child, and nothing in this section shall ever be construed to grant, by implication or otherwise, to the State of Mississippi, any of its officers, agencies or subdivisions any right or authority to control, manage, supervise or make any suggestion as to the control, management or supervision of any private or parochial school or institution for the education or training of children, of any kind whatsoever that is not a public school according to the laws of this state; and this section shall never be construed so as to grant, by implication or otherwise, any right or authority to any state agency or other entity to control, manage, supervise, provide for or affect the operation, management, program, curriculum, admissions policy or discipline of any such school or home instruction program.
SECTION 2. Section 37-151-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-151-5. As used in Sections 37-151-5 and 37-151-7:
(a) "Adequate program" or "adequate education program" or "Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP)" shall mean the program to establish adequate current operation funding levels necessary for the programs of such school district to meet at least a successful Level III rating of the accreditation system as established by the State Board of Education using current statistically relevant state assessment data.
(b) "Educational programs or elements of programs not included in the adequate education program calculations, but which may be included in appropriations and transfers to school districts" shall mean:
(i) "Capital outlay" shall mean those funds used for the constructing, improving, equipping, renovating or major repairing of school buildings or other school facilities, or the cost of acquisition of land whereon to construct or establish such school facilities.
(ii) "Pilot programs" shall mean programs of a pilot or experimental nature usually designed for special purposes and for a specified period of time other than those included in the adequate education program.
(iii) "Adult education" shall mean public education dealing primarily with students above eighteen (18) years of age not enrolled as full-time public school students and not classified as students of technical schools, colleges or universities of the state.
(iv) "Food service programs" shall mean those programs dealing directly with the nutritional welfare of the student, such as the school lunch and school breakfast programs.
(c) "Base student" shall mean that student classification that represents the most economically educated pupil in a school system meeting the definition of successful, as determined by the State Board of Education.
(d) "Base student cost" shall mean the funding level necessary for providing an adequate education program for one (1) base student, subject to any minimum amounts prescribed in Section 37-151-7(1).
(e) "Add-on program costs" shall mean those items which are included in the adequate education program appropriations and are outside of the program calculations:
(i) "Transportation" shall mean transportation to and from public schools for the students of Mississippi's public schools provided for under law and funded from state funds.
(ii) "Vocational or technical education program" shall mean a secondary vocational or technical program approved by the State Department of Education and provided for from state funds.
(iii) "Special education program" shall mean a program for exceptional children as defined and authorized by Sections 37-23-1 through 37-23-9, and approved by the State Department of Education and provided from state funds.
(iv) "Gifted education program" shall mean those programs for the instruction of intellectually or academically gifted children as defined and provided for in Section 37-23-175 et seq.
(v) "Alternative school program" shall mean those programs for certain compulsory-school-age students as defined and provided for in Sections 37-13-92 and 37-19-22.
(vi) "Extended school year programs" shall mean those programs authorized by law which extend beyond the normal school year.
(vii) "University-based programs" shall mean those university-based programs for handicapped children as defined and provided for in Section 37-23-131 et seq.
(viii) "Bus driver training" programs shall mean those driver training programs as provided for in Section 37-41-1.
(f) "Teacher" shall include any employee of a local school who is required by law to obtain a teacher's license from the State Board of Education and who is assigned to an instructional area of work as defined by the State Department of Education.
(g) "Principal" shall mean the head of an attendance center or division thereof.
(h) "Superintendent" shall mean the head of a school district.
(i) "School district" shall mean any type of school district in the State of Mississippi, and shall include agricultural high schools.
school term" shall mean a term of at least one hundred eighty (180) days
of school in which both teachers and pupils are in regular attendance for
scheduled classroom instruction for not less than * * *
sixty-seven percent (67%)
of the * * * school
day, as defined under Section 37-13-91 and fixed by the local school board
for each school in the school district. It is the intent of the
Legislature that any tax levies generated to produce additional local funds
required by any school district to operate school terms in excess of one
hundred seventy-five (175) days shall not be construed to constitute a new
program for the purposes of exemption from the limitation on tax revenues as
allowed under Sections 27-39-321 and 37-57-107 for new programs mandated by the
(k) The term "transportation density" shall mean the number of transported children in average daily attendance per square mile of area served in a school district, as determined by the State Department of Education.
(l) The term "transported children" shall mean children being transported to school who live within legal limits for transportation and who are otherwise qualified for being transported to school at public expense as fixed by Mississippi state law.
(m) The term "year of teaching experience" shall mean nine (9) months of actual teaching in the public or private schools. In no case shall more than one (1) year of teaching experience be given for all services in one (1) calendar or school year. In determining a teacher's experience, no deduction shall be made because of the temporary absence of the teacher because of illness or other good cause, and the teacher shall be given credit therefor. Beginning with the 2003-2004 school year, the State Board of Education shall fix a number of days, not to exceed forty-five (45) consecutive school days, during which a teacher may not be under contract of employment during any school year and still be considered to have been in full-time employment for a regular scholastic term. If a teacher exceeds the number of days established by the State Board of Education that a teacher may not be under contract but may still be employed, that teacher shall not be credited with a year of teaching experience. In determining the experience of school librarians, each complete year of continuous, full-time employment as a professional librarian in a public library in this or some other state shall be considered a year of teaching experience. If a full-time school administrator returns to actual teaching in the public schools, the term "year of teaching experience" shall include the period of time he or she served as a school administrator. In determining the salaries of teachers who have experience in any branch of the military, the term "year of teaching experience" shall include each complete year of actual classroom instruction while serving in the military. In determining the experience of speech-language pathologists and audiologists, each complete year of continuous full-time post master's degree employment in an educational setting in this or some other state shall be considered a year of teaching experience. Provided, however, that school districts are authorized, in their discretion, to negotiate the salary levels applicable to certificated employees employed after July 1, 2009, who are receiving retirement benefits from the retirement system of another state, and the annual experience increment provided in Section 37-19-7 shall not be applicable to any such retired certificated employee.
(n) The term
"average daily attendance" shall be the figure which results when the
total aggregate full-day attendance during the period or months counted
is divided by the number of days during the period or months counted upon which
both teachers and pupils are in regular attendance for scheduled classroom
instruction, less the average daily attendance for self-contained
special education classes * * *
and,. For purposes of determining and reporting
attendance, a pupil must be present for at least sixty-seven percent (67%) of a
school day, as defined under Section 37-13-91 and fixed by the local school
board for each school in the school district, in order to be considered in full-day
attendance. Prior to full implementation of the adequate education program
the department shall deduct the average daily attendance for the alternative
school program provided for in Section 37-19-22.
(o) The term "local supplement" shall mean the amount paid to an individual teacher over and above the adequate education program salary schedule for regular teaching duties.
(p) The term "aggregate amount of support from ad valorem taxation" shall mean the amounts produced by the district's total tax levies for operations.
(q) The term "adequate education program funds" shall mean all funds, both state and local, constituting the requirements for meeting the cost of the adequate program as provided for in Section 37-151-7.
(r) "Department" shall mean the State Department of Education.
(s) "Commission" shall mean the Mississippi Commission on School Accreditation created under Section 37-17-3.
(t) The term "successful school district" shall mean a Level III school district as designated by the State Board of Education using current statistically relevant state assessment data.
(u) "Dual enrollment-dual credit programs" shall mean programs for potential or recent high school student dropouts to dually enroll in their home high school and a local community college in a dual credit program consisting of high school completion coursework and a credential, certificate or degree program at the community college, as provided in Section 37-15-38(19).
SECTION 3. Section 37-151-105, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-151-105. The State Board of Education shall have the authority to make such regulations not inconsistent with law which it deems necessary for the administration of this chapter. Any regulations promulgated under this section must be submitted by the board to the Secretary of State in compliance with the Administrative Procedures Act. The State Board of Education, if it deems such practice necessary, may use reports of the first six (6) months of school for the purpose of determining average daily attendance and the number of pupils transported for that year.
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2013.