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H.B. 115

             1     

CARSON SMITH SPECIAL NEEDS

             2     
SCHOLARSHIPS

             3     
2004 GENERAL SESSION

             4     
STATE OF UTAH

             5     
Sponsor: J. Morgan Philpot

             6     
             7      LONG TITLE
             8      General Description:
             9          This bill creates a program to award scholarships to students with disabilities who
             10      attend a private school.
             11      Highlighted Provisions:
             12          This bill:
             13          .    specifies criteria for qualifying for a scholarship;
             14          .    specifies criteria for private schools to enroll scholarship students;
             15          .    specifies the amount, timing, and form of scholarship payments;
             16          .    requires the State Board of Education to make rules;
             17          .    gives the State Board of Education enforcement authority; and
             18          .    requires the Legislature to annually appropriate money from the General Fund for
             19      scholarship payments.
             20      Monies Appropriated in this Bill:
             21          None
             22      Other Special Clauses:
             23          None
             24      Utah Code Sections Affected:
             25      AMENDS:
             26          53A-3-410, as last amended by Chapter 377, Laws of Utah 1999
             27      ENACTS:


             28          53A-1a-701, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             29          53A-1a-702, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             30          53A-1a-703, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             31          53A-1a-704, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             32          53A-1a-705, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             33          53A-1a-706, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             34          53A-1a-707, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             35          53A-1a-708, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             36          53A-1a-709, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             37     
             38      Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
             39          Section 1. Section 53A-1a-701 is enacted to read:
             40     
Part 7. Carson Smith Scholarships for Students with Special Needs Act

             41          53A-1a-701. Title.
             42          This part is known as the "Carson Smith Scholarships for Students with Special Needs
             43      Act."
             44          Section 2. Section 53A-1a-702 is enacted to read:
             45          53A-1a-702. Findings and purpose.
             46          (1) The Legislature finds that:
             47          (a) students with disabilities have special needs which must be satisfied to allow them
             48      to learn and maximize their capabilities;
             49          (b) those needs may include teachers trained in special teaching methods, small class
             50      sizes, and special materials, equipment, and classroom environments;
             51          (c) parents of students with disabilities should be able to select the school, whether
             52      public or private, that best meets the needs of the student; and
             53          (d) the cost of education in a private school, especially for a student with a disability, is
             54      burdensome or unaffordable for many parents.
             55          (2) The purpose of this part is to provide financial assistance to parents of students
             56      with disabilities to allow them to enroll their student in a private school, if the parent
             57      determines that the student's needs are best met by the private school.
             58          Section 3. Section 53A-1a-703 is enacted to read:


             59          53A-1a-703. Definitions.
             60          As used in this part:
             61          (1) "Assessment team" means a team consisting of:
             62          (a) the student's parent;
             63          (b) the student's classroom teacher;
             64          (c) special education personnel from the student's resident school district; and
             65          (d) if available, special education personnel from the private school at which the
             66      student is enrolled.
             67          (2) "Board" means the State Board of Education.
             68          (3) "Eligible private school" means a private school that meets the requirements of
             69      Section 53A-1a-705 .
             70          (4) "IEP" means a written statement for a student with a disability that is developed,
             71      reviewed, and revised in accordance with board rules and the Individuals with Disabilities
             72      Education Act, 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1400 et. seq.
             73          (5) "Scholarship student" means a student who receives a scholarship under this part.
             74          (6) "Value of the weighted pupil unit" means the amount specified in Section
             75      53A-17a-103 that is multiplied by the number of weighted pupil units to yield the funding level
             76      for the basic state-supported school program.
             77          Section 4. Section 53A-1a-704 is enacted to read:
             78          53A-1a-704. Scholarship program created -- Qualifications.
             79          (1) The Carson Smith Scholarship Program is created to award scholarships to students
             80      with disabilities to attend a private school.
             81          (2) To qualify for a scholarship:
             82          (a) the student's custodial parent or legal guardian shall reside within Utah;
             83          (b) the student shall have one of more of the following disabilities:
             84          (i) mental retardation;
             85          (ii) a hearing impairment;
             86          (iii) a speech or language impairment;
             87          (iv) a visual impairment;
             88          (v) a serious emotional disturbance;
             89          (vi) an orthopedic impairment;


             90          (vii) autism;
             91          (viii) traumatic brain injury;
             92          (ix) other health impairment; or
             93          (x) specific learning disabilities; and
             94          (c) except as provided in Subsection (3), the student shall:
             95          (i) be enrolled in a Utah public school in the school year prior to the school year the
             96      student will be enrolled in a private school;
             97          (ii) have an IEP; and
             98          (iii) have obtained acceptance for admission to an eligible private school, as a student
             99      in any grade from kindergarten through grade 12.
             100          (3) The board shall provide, by rule, for a waiver from the requirements of Subsections
             101      (2)(c)(i) and (ii) in the following circumstances:
             102          (a) the student is enrolled or has obtained acceptance for admission to an eligible
             103      private school, as a student in any grade from kindergarten through grade 12;
             104          (b) the private school specializes in serving students with disabilities; and
             105          (c) an assessment team is able to readily determine with reasonable certainty:
             106          (i) that the student has a disability listed in Subsection (2)(b) and would qualify for
             107      special education services, if enrolled in a public school; and
             108          (ii) for the purpose of establishing the scholarship amount, the appropriate level of
             109      special education services which should be provided to the student.
             110          (4) (a) To receive a scholarship:
             111          (i) the parent of a student meeting the qualifications of Subsection (2) shall submit an
             112      application for the scholarship to the school district within which the student is enrolled at least
             113      60 days before the date of the first scholarship payment; and
             114          (ii) the parent of a student seeking a waiver pursuant to Subsection (3) shall submit an
             115      application for the scholarship to the student's resident school district at least 60 days before
             116      the date of the first scholarship payment.
             117          (b) The board may provide, by rule, for a waiver of the 60-day application deadline.
             118          (5) The scholarship application form shall include a statement disclosing to applicants
             119      that a private school may or may not provide the same special education services that are
             120      provided in a public school.


             121          (6) (a) A scholarship shall remain in force for three years.
             122          (b) A scholarship may be extended for an additional three years, if:
             123          (i) the student is evaluated by an assessment team; and
             124          (ii) the assessment team determines that the student is disabled and would qualify for
             125      special education services, if enrolled in a public school.
             126          (c) The assessment team shall determine the appropriate level of special education
             127      services which should be provided to the student for the purpose of setting the scholarship
             128      amount.
             129          (d) A scholarship may be extended for successive three-year periods as provided in
             130      Subsections (6)(b) and (6)(c) until the student graduates from high school.
             131          (7) A student's parent, at any time, may remove the student from a private school and
             132      place the student in another eligible private school and retain the scholarship.
             133          Section 5. Section 53A-1a-705 is enacted to read:
             134          53A-1a-705. Eligible private schools.
             135          (1) To be eligible to enroll a scholarship student, a private school may be a sectarian or
             136      nonsectarian school and shall:
             137          (a) have a physical location in Utah where the scholarship students attend classes and
             138      have direct contact with the school's teachers;
             139          (b) demonstrate fiscal soundness in accordance with Subsection (4);
             140          (c) comply with the antidiscrimination provisions of 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000d;
             141          (d) meet state and local health and safety laws and codes;
             142          (e) disclose to the parent of each prospective student, before the student is enrolled, the
             143      special education services that will be provided to the student;
             144          (f) (i) administer an annual assessment of each scholarship student's academic
             145      progress; and
             146          (ii) report the results of the assessment to the student's parents;
             147          (g) (i) employ or contract with teachers who:
             148          (A) hold baccalaureate or higher degrees;
             149          (B) have at least three years of teaching experience in public or private schools; or
             150          (C) have special skills, knowledge, or expertise that qualifies them to provide
             151      instruction in the subjects taught; and


             152          (ii) provide to parents the relevant credentials of the teachers who will be teaching their
             153      students; and
             154          (h) adhere to the tenets of its published disciplinary procedures prior to the expulsion
             155      of a scholarship student.
             156          (2) A home school is not eligible to enroll scholarship students.
             157          (3) (a) Except as provided in Subsection (3)(b), a private school intending to enroll
             158      scholarship students shall submit an application to the board by May 1 of the school year
             159      preceding the school year in which it intends to enroll scholarship students.
             160          (b) A private school intending to enroll scholarship students in the 2004-05 school year
             161      shall submit an application by June 15, 2004.
             162          (4) To initially demonstrate financial soundness, the board may require a private school
             163      to obtain an audit and opinion letter from an independent certified public accountant showing
             164      that the school is insured and has sufficient funds to maintain operations for the full school
             165      year.
             166          (5) The board shall:
             167          (a) approve a private school's application to enroll scholarship students, if the private
             168      school meets the eligibility requirements of this section; and
             169          (b) make available to the public a list of the eligible private schools.
             170          Section 6. Section 53A-1a-706 is enacted to read:
             171          53A-1a-706. Scholarship payments.
             172          (1) (a) Scholarships shall be awarded by the board subject to the availability of money
             173      appropriated by the Legislature for that purpose.
             174          (b) The Legislature shall annually appropriate money to the board from the General
             175      Fund to make scholarship payments.
             176          (c) If monies are not available to pay for all scholarships requested, the scholarships
             177      shall be allocated in accordance with board rules, with preference given to students who
             178      received scholarships in the previous school year.
             179          (2) Full-year scholarships shall be awarded in the following amounts:
             180          (a) for a student who received an average of 180 minutes per day or more of special
             181      education services in a public school before transferring to a private school, an amount not to
             182      exceed the lesser of:


             183          (i) the value of the weighted pupil unit multiplied by 2.5; or
             184          (ii) the private school tuition and fees; and
             185          (b) for a student who received an average of less than 180 minutes per day of special
             186      education services in a public school before transferring to a private school, an amount not to
             187      exceed the lesser of:
             188          (i) the value of the weighted pupil unit multiplied by 1.73; or
             189          (ii) the private school tuition and fees.
             190          (3) The scholarship amount for a student enrolled in a half-day kindergarten program
             191      shall be the amount specified in Subsection (2)(a) or (2)(b) multiplied by .55.
             192          (4) (a) The scholarship amount for a student who receives a waiver under Subsection
             193      53A-1a-704 (3) shall be based upon the assessment team's determination of the appropriate
             194      level of special education services to be provided to the student.
             195          (b) (i) If the student requires an average of 180 minutes per day or more of special
             196      education services, a full-year scholarship shall be equal to the amount specified in Subsection
             197      (2)(a).
             198          (ii) If the student requires less than an average of 180 minutes per day of special
             199      education services, a full-year scholarship shall be equal to the amount specified in Subsection
             200      (2)(b).
             201          (iii) If the student is enrolled in a half-day kindergarten program, the scholarship is
             202      equal to the amount specified in Subsection (3).
             203          (5) (a) Except as provided in Subsection (5)(b), upon review and receipt of the
             204      documentation required by the board to verify a student's admission to, or continuing
             205      enrollment and attendance at, a private school, the board shall make scholarship payments in
             206      four equal amounts no later than September 1, November 1, February 1, and April 15 of each
             207      school year in which a scholarship is in force.
             208          (b) In accordance with board rule, the board may make a scholarship payment before
             209      the first quarterly payment of the school year, if a private school requires partial payment of
             210      tuition before the start of the school year to reserve space for a student admitted to the school.
             211          (6) Before scholarship payments are made, the board shall cross-check enrollment lists
             212      of scholarship students, school districts, and youth in custody to ensure that scholarship
             213      payments are not erroneously made.


             214          (7) (a) Scholarship payments shall be made by the board by individual warrant made
             215      payable to the student's parent and mailed by the board to the private school. The parent shall
             216      restrictively endorse the warrant to the private school for deposit into the account of the private
             217      school.
             218          (b) A person, on behalf of a private school, may not accept a power of attorney from a
             219      parent to sign a warrant referred to in Subsection (7)(a), and a parent of a scholarship student
             220      may not give a power of attorney designating a person, on behalf of a private school, as the
             221      parent's attorney-in-fact.
             222          Section 7. Section 53A-1a-707 is enacted to read:
             223          53A-1a-707. Board to make rules.
             224          The board shall make rules for the administration of the scholarship program.
             225          Section 8. Section 53A-1a-708 is enacted to read:
             226          53A-1a-708. Enforcement and penalties.
             227          (1) (a) The board may require private schools to submit signed affidavits assuring the
             228      private school will comply with the requirements of this part and board rules made under this
             229      part.
             230          (b) If a school fails to submit a signed affidavit after having an opportunity to provide
             231      explanations and request delays, the board may:
             232          (i) deny the private school permission to enroll scholarship students; and
             233          (ii) interrupt disbursement of or withhold scholarship payments.
             234          (2) The board may:
             235          (a) investigate complaints about a private school's or parent's failure to comply with
             236      this part or board rules made under this part; and
             237          (b) convene administrative hearings for a violation of this part or board rules.
             238          (3) Upon a finding that a private school or parent failed to comply with this part or
             239      board rules made under this part, the board may:
             240          (a) deny a private school permission to enroll scholarship students;
             241          (b) interrupt disbursement of or withhold scholarship payments; or
             242          (c) issue an order for repayment of scholarship payments fraudulently obtained.
             243          Section 9. Section 53A-1a-709 is enacted to read:
             244          53A-1a-709. Limitation on regulation of private schools.


             245          Nothing in this part grants additional authority to any state agency or school district to
             246      regulate private schools except as expressly set forth in this part.
             247          Section 10. Section 53A-3-410 is amended to read:
             248           53A-3-410. Criminal background checks on school personnel -- Notice -- Payment
             249      of cost -- Request for review.
             250          (1) A school district superintendent or the superintendent's designee:
             251          (a) shall require a potential employee or a volunteer who will be given significant
             252      unsupervised access to a student in connection with the volunteer's assignment to submit to a
             253      criminal background check as a condition for employment or appointment; and
             254          (b) where reasonable cause exists, may require an existing employee or volunteer to
             255      submit to a criminal background check.
             256          (2) The chief administrative officer of a private school may require, and the chief
             257      administrative officer of the private school that enrolls scholarship students under Chapter 1a,
             258      Part 7, Carson Smith Scholarships for Students with Special Needs Act, shall require:
             259          (a) a potential employee or volunteer to submit to a criminal background check as a
             260      condition for employment or appointment; and
             261          (b) where reasonable cause exists, an existing employee or volunteer to submit to a
             262      criminal background check.
             263          (3) The applicant, volunteer, or employee shall receive written notice that the
             264      background check has been requested.
             265          (4) (a) (i) Fingerprints of the individual shall be taken, and the Criminal Investigations
             266      and Technical Services Division of the Department of Public Safety, established in Section
             267      53-10-103 , shall release the individual's full record of criminal convictions to the administrator
             268      requesting the information.
             269          (ii) The division shall maintain a separate file of fingerprints submitted under
             270      Subsection (4)(a)(i) and notify the State Office of Education when a new entry is made against
             271      a person whose fingerprints are held in the file regarding:
             272          (A) any matters involving an alleged sexual offense;
             273          (B) any matters involving an alleged felony or class A misdemeanor drug offense; or
             274          (C) any matters involving an alleged offense against the person under Title 76, Chapter
             275      5, Offenses Against the Person.


             276          (iii) The cost of maintaining the separate file shall be paid by the State Office of
             277      Education from fees charged to those submitting fingerprints.
             278          (b) Information received by the division from entities other than agencies or political
             279      subdivisions of the state may not be released to a private school unless the release is
             280      permissible under applicable laws or regulations of the entity providing the information.
             281          (5) The superintendent, local school board, or their counterparts at a private school
             282      shall consider only those convictions which are job-related for the employee, applicant, or
             283      volunteer.
             284          (6) (a) The district or private school shall pay the cost of the background check except
             285      as otherwise provided in Subsection (6)(b), and the monies collected shall be credited to the
             286      Criminal Investigations and Technical Services Division to offset its expenses.
             287          (b) The district or private school may require an applicant to pay the costs of a
             288      background check as a condition for consideration for employment or appointment, if:
             289          (i) the applicant:
             290          (A) has passed an initial review;
             291          (B) is one of a pool of no more than five candidates for a position; and
             292          (C) except as may be otherwise provided by state board rule for an applicant who
             293      submitted to a background check while completing a higher education program at a Utah
             294      institution of higher education, has not been the subject of a criminal background check of
             295      similar scope during the preceding two years that was requested by a potential employer or the
             296      State Board of Education; and
             297          (ii) a copy of the background check is provided to the district or school considering
             298      employment or appointment of the applicant.
             299          (7) The Criminal Investigations and Technical Services Division shall, upon request,
             300      seek additional information from regional or national criminal data files in responding to
             301      inquiries under this section.
             302          (8) (a) A private school seeking information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation
             303      or other national criminal data file which the private school may not access directly shall
             304      submit its request to the Teacher Certification Section of the State Board of Education, together
             305      with the required fee and the school's criminal data-related criteria for limiting or rejecting
             306      employment.


             307          (b) The section shall submit the request and, upon receiving the requested information,
             308      shall determine whether the subject of the inquiry is entitled to employment under the school's
             309      criteria.
             310          (c) The section shall disclose its determination to the school but may not disclose the
             311      data in the national criminal data file.
             312          (9) (a) The applicant, volunteer, or employee shall have opportunity to respond to any
             313      information received as a result of the background check.
             314          (b) A private school applicant, volunteer, or employee who wishes to respond shall:
             315          (i) submit a request to the school; and
             316          (ii) give a written statement to the Teacher Certification Office authorizing the office to
             317      release the background check information to a hearing officer selected by the individual and the
             318      school.
             319          (c) The individual and the school shall equally share any costs incurred under
             320      Subsection (9)(b).
             321          (d) A public agency shall resolve any request for review by an applicant, volunteer, or
             322      employee seeking employment or employed by the agency through normal administrative
             323      procedures established by the agency.
             324          (10) If a person is denied employment or is dismissed from employment because of
             325      information obtained through a criminal background check, the person shall receive written
             326      notice of the reasons for denial or dismissal and have an opportunity to respond to the reasons
             327      under the procedures set forth in Subsection (9).
             328          (11) Information obtained under this part is confidential and may only be disclosed as
             329      provided in this section.




Legislative Review Note
    as of 1-22-04 2:27 PM


A limited legal review of this legislation raises no obvious constitutional or statutory concerns.

Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel


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