Florida Senate - 2021 SB 1300

By Senator Diaz

36-01198-21 20211300__
1 A bill to be entitled
2 An act relating to charter schools; amending s.
3 1002.33, F.S.; revising requirements for the annual
4 reports that charter school sponsors are required to
5 submit to the Department of Education; requiring the
6 Charter School Commission, formerly the Charter School
7 Appeal Commission, to recommend denial of a charter
8 school application if the school does not propose a
9 certain reading curriculum; revising the manner in
10 which charter school applications may be reviewed;
11 authorizing an applicant to submit an application to a
12 sponsor or to the commission; requiring an applicant
13 that submits an application to the commission to also
14 provide a copy of the application to the sponsor
15 within a certain timeframe; specifying the entities
16 from which the commission may receive and consider
17 applications; requiring the commission to approve or
18 deny an application within a certain timeframe;
19 requiring the commission to articulate in writing
20 specific reasons for a recommendation for denial;
21 authorizing a sponsor to provide input to the
22 commission within a certain timeframe after receiving
23 a copy of the final application submitted to the
24 commission; requiring the commission to consider such
25 input in reviewing the application; providing that
26 sponsors may appeal such recommendations to the State
27 Board of Education; revising the process for the
28 review of appeals; requiring the Commissioner of
29 Education to review appeals and make recommendations
30 to the state board within a certain timeframe;
31 providing the process for such review; requiring
32 action by the state board on the recommendation within
33 a specified timeframe; requiring sponsors to implement
34 the decision of the state board; authorizing
35 applicants to appeal certain recommendations by the
36 commission or the commission’s failure to act on an
37 application within a certain timeframe; providing the
38 process for the review and disposition of such
39 appeals; requiring the commissioner to report a
40 recommendation on the appeal to the state board within
41 a certain timeframe; authorizing the commissioner to
42 reject an appeal submission for failure to comply with
43 procedural rules; conforming provisions to changes
44 made by the act; prohibiting specified individuals and
45 entities from submitting an application to open a
46 charter school for specified periods of time;
47 providing an exception; defining the term “relative”
48 for the purpose of applying the prohibition; providing
49 an effective date.
51 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
53 Section 1. Paragraph (b) of subsection (5) and subsection
54 (6) of section 1002.33, Florida Statutes, are amended, and
55 paragraph (r) is added to subsection (9) of that section, to
56 read:
57 1002.33 Charter schools.—
59 (b) Sponsor duties.—
60 1.a. The sponsor shall monitor and review the charter
61 school in its progress toward the goals established in the
62 charter.
63 b. The sponsor shall monitor the revenues and expenditures
64 of the charter school and perform the duties provided in s.
65 1002.345.
66 c. The sponsor may approve a charter for a charter school
67 before the applicant has identified space, equipment, or
68 personnel, if the applicant indicates approval is necessary for
69 it to raise working funds.
70 d. The sponsor shall not apply its policies to a charter
71 school unless mutually agreed to by both the sponsor and the
72 charter school. If the sponsor subsequently amends any agreed
73 upon sponsor policy, the version of the policy in effect at the
74 time of the execution of the charter, or any subsequent
75 modification thereof, shall remain in effect and the sponsor may
76 not hold the charter school responsible for any provision of a
77 newly revised policy until the revised policy is mutually agreed
78 upon.
79 e. The sponsor shall ensure that the charter is innovative
80 and consistent with the state education goals established by s.
81 1000.03(5).
82 f. The sponsor shall ensure that the charter school
83 participates in the state’s education accountability system. If
84 a charter school falls short of performance measures included in
85 the approved charter, the sponsor shall report such shortcomings
86 to the Department of Education.
87 g. The sponsor shall not be liable for civil damages under
88 state law for personal injury, property damage, or death
89 resulting from an act or omission of an officer, employee,
90 agent, or governing body of the charter school.
91 h. The sponsor shall not be liable for civil damages under
92 state law for any employment actions taken by an officer,
93 employee, agent, or governing body of the charter school.
94 i. The sponsor’s duties to monitor the charter school shall
95 not constitute the basis for a private cause of action.
96 j. The sponsor shall not impose additional reporting
97 requirements on a charter school without providing reasonable
98 and specific justification in writing to the charter school.
99 k. The sponsor shall submit an annual report to the
100 Department of Education in a web-based format to be determined
101 by the department.
102 (I) The report shall include the following information for
103 applications reviewed by the sponsor and by the Charter School
104 Commission established under subparagraph (6)(e)1.:
105 (A) The number of draft applications received on or before
106 May 1 and each applicant’s contact information.
107 (B) The number of final applications received on or before
108 August 1 and each applicant’s contact information.
109 (C) The date each application was approved, denied, or
110 withdrawn.
111 (D) The date each final contract was executed.
112 (II) Beginning August 31, 2013, and each year thereafter,
113 the sponsor shall submit to the department the information for
114 the applications submitted the previous year.
115 (III) The department shall compile an annual report, by
116 district, and post the report on its website by November 1 of
117 each year.
118 2. Immunity for the sponsor of a charter school under
119 subparagraph 1. applies only with respect to acts or omissions
120 not under the sponsor’s direct authority as described in this
121 section.
122 3. This paragraph does not waive a district school board’s
123 sovereign immunity.
124 4. A Florida College System institution may work with the
125 school district or school districts in its designated service
126 area to develop charter schools that offer secondary education.
127 These charter schools must include an option for students to
128 receive an associate degree upon high school graduation. If a
129 Florida College System institution operates an approved teacher
130 preparation program under s. 1004.04 or s. 1004.85, the
131 institution may operate no more than one charter school that
132 serves students in kindergarten through grade 12. In
133 kindergarten through grade 8, the charter school shall implement
134 innovative blended learning instructional models in which, for a
135 given course, a student learns in part through online delivery
136 of content and instruction with some element of student control
137 over time, place, path, or pace and in part at a supervised
138 brick-and-mortar location away from home. A student in a blended
139 learning course must be a full-time student of the charter
140 school and receive the online instruction in a classroom setting
141 at the charter school. District school boards shall cooperate
142 with and assist the Florida College System institution on the
143 charter application. Florida College System institution
144 applications for charter schools are not subject to the time
145 deadlines outlined in subsection (6) and may be approved by the
146 district school board at any time during the year. Florida
147 College System institutions may not report FTE for any students
148 who receive FTE funding through the Florida Education Finance
149 Program.
150 5. A school district may enter into nonexclusive interlocal
151 agreements with federal and state agencies, counties,
152 municipalities, and other governmental entities that operate
153 within the geographical borders of the school district to act on
154 behalf of such governmental entities in the inspection,
155 issuance, and other necessary activities for all necessary
156 permits, licenses, and other permissions that a charter school
157 needs in order for development, construction, or operation. A
158 charter school may use, but may not be required to use, a school
159 district for these services. The interlocal agreement must
160 include, but need not be limited to, the identification of fees
161 that charter schools will be charged for such services. The fees
162 must consist of the governmental entity’s fees plus a fee for
163 the school district to recover no more than actual costs for
164 providing such services. These services and fees are not
165 included within the services to be provided pursuant to
166 subsection (20).
168 applications are subject to the following requirements:
169 (a) A person or entity seeking to open a charter school
170 shall prepare and submit an application on the standard
171 application form prepared by the Department of Education which:
172 1. Demonstrates how the school will use the guiding
173 principles and meet the statutorily defined purpose of a charter
174 school.
175 2. Provides a detailed curriculum plan that illustrates how
176 students will be provided services to attain the Sunshine State
177 Standards.
178 3. Contains goals and objectives for improving student
179 learning and measuring that improvement. These goals and
180 objectives must indicate how much academic improvement students
181 are expected to show each year, how success will be evaluated,
182 and the specific results to be attained through instruction.
183 4. Describes the reading curriculum and differentiated
184 strategies that will be used for students reading at grade level
185 or higher and a separate curriculum and strategies for students
186 who are reading below grade level. A sponsor shall deny, or the
187 commission shall recommend denial of, an application if the
188 school does not propose a reading curriculum that is consistent
189 with effective teaching strategies that are grounded in
190 scientifically based reading research.
191 5. Contains an annual financial plan for each year
192 requested by the charter for operation of the school for up to 5
193 years. This plan must contain anticipated fund balances based on
194 revenue projections, a spending plan based on projected revenues
195 and expenses, and a description of controls that will safeguard
196 finances and projected enrollment trends.
197 6. Discloses the name of each applicant, governing board
198 member, and all proposed education services providers; the name
199 and sponsor of any charter school operated by each applicant,
200 each governing board member, and each proposed education
201 services provider that has closed and the reasons for the
202 closure; and the academic and financial history of such charter
203 schools, which the sponsor or the commission, as applicable,
204 shall consider in making a final determination on deciding
205 whether to approve or deny the application.
206 7. Contains additional information that the a sponsor or
207 the commission may require, which must shall be attached as an
208 addendum to the charter school application described in this
209 paragraph.
210 8. For the establishment of a virtual charter school,
211 documents that the applicant has contracted with a provider of
212 virtual instruction services pursuant to s. 1002.45(1)(d).
213 (b) An applicant may submit an application to a sponsor or
214 to the commission pursuant to subparagraph 1. The A sponsor or
215 the commission, as applicable, shall receive and review all
216 applications for a charter school using the evaluation
217 instrument developed by the Department of Education. An
218 applicant that submits an application to the commission must
219 also provide a copy of the application to the sponsor within 3
220 days after its submission to the commission A sponsor shall
221 receive and consider charter school applications received on or
222 before August 1 of each calendar year for charter schools to be
223 opened at the beginning of the school district’s next school
224 year, or to be opened at a time agreed to by the applicant and
225 the sponsor. A sponsor may not refuse to receive a charter
226 school application submitted before August 1 and may receive an
227 application submitted later than August 1 if it chooses.
228 Beginning in 2018 and thereafter, A sponsor or the commission,
229 as applicable, shall receive and consider charter school
230 applications received on or before February 1 of each calendar
231 year for charter schools to be opened 18 months later at the
232 beginning of the school district’s school year, or to be opened
233 at a time determined by the applicant. A sponsor and the
234 commission may not refuse to receive a charter school
235 application submitted before February 1 and may receive an
236 application submitted later than February 1 if the sponsor or
237 the commission it chooses. A sponsor and the commission may not
238 charge an applicant for a charter any fee for the processing or
239 consideration of an application, and a sponsor and the
240 commission may not base their its consideration or approval of a
241 final application upon the promise of future payment of any
242 kind. Before approving or denying any application, the sponsor
243 or the commission, as applicable, shall allow the applicant,
244 upon receipt of written notification, at least 7 calendar days
245 to make technical or nonsubstantive corrections and
246 clarifications, including, but not limited to, corrections of
247 grammatical, typographical, and like errors or missing
248 signatures, if such errors are identified by the sponsor or the
249 commission as cause to deny the final application.
250 1. The commission may receive and consider applications
251 from:
252 a. A high-performing charter school pursuant to s.
253 1002.331.
254 b. A high-performing charter school system pursuant to s.
255 1002.332.
256 c. A hope operator pursuant to s. 1002.333.
257 2.1. In order to facilitate an accurate budget projection
258 process, a sponsor shall be held harmless for FTE students who
259 are not included in the FTE projection due to approval of
260 charter school applications after the FTE projection deadline.
261 In a further effort to facilitate an accurate budget projection,
262 within 15 calendar days after receipt of a charter school
263 application, a sponsor shall report to the Department of
264 Education the name of the applicant entity, the proposed charter
265 school location, and its projected FTE.
266 3.2. In order to ensure fiscal responsibility, an
267 application for a charter school shall include a full accounting
268 of expected assets, a projection of expected sources and amounts
269 of income, including income derived from projected student
270 enrollments and from community support, and an expense
271 projection that includes full accounting of the costs of
272 operation, including start-up costs.
273 4.a.3.a. A sponsor shall by a majority vote approve or
274 deny, or the commission shall by majority vote recommend to
275 approve or deny, an application no later than 90 calendar days
276 after the application is received, unless the sponsor or the
277 commission and the applicant mutually agree in writing to
278 temporarily postpone the vote to a specific date, at which time
279 the sponsor shall by a majority vote approve or deny, or the
280 commission shall by a majority vote recommend to approve or
281 deny, the application. If the sponsor or the commission fails to
282 act on the application, an applicant may appeal to the State
283 Board of Education as provided in paragraph (c). If an
284 application is denied or recomme