See other bills
under the
same topic
PRIOR PRINTER'S NOS. 569, 1949, 2658
PRINTER'S NO. 2696
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE BILL
No.
530
Session of
2015
INTRODUCED BY REESE, CAUSER, DIAMOND, GROVE, KRIEGER, MILLARD,
O'NEILL, SAYLOR, DUNBAR, MOUL, CUTLER, BAKER AND GABLER,
FEBRUARY 18, 2015
AMENDMENTS TO SENATE AMENDMENTS, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
DECEMBER 22, 2015
AN ACT
Amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), entitled "An
act relating to the public school system, including certain
provisions applicable as well to private and parochial
schools; amending, revising, consolidating and changing the
laws relating thereto," in preliminary provisions, further
providing for criminal history of employees and prospective
employees and conviction of certain offenses and for Keystone
exams; providing for powers and duties of the Secretary of
Education; in duties and powers of boards of school
directors, providing for publication of policies; providing
for powers and duties of the Secretary of Education;
providing for school watch, and for State opportunity
schools; in grounds and buildings, providing for posting of
information and further providing for limitations on approval
of public school building projects; and establishing the
Public School Building Construction and Reconstruction
Advisory Committee; in professional employees; further
providing for payment of salaries in cases of sickness,
injury or death; in certification of teachers, further
providing for granting provisional college certificates and
providing for provisional vocational education; in pupils and
attendance, further providing for education and training of
exceptional children; and for cost of tuition and maintenance
of certain expectational EXCEPTIONAL children in approved
institutions; in school health services, further providing
for definitions; providing for education of school employees
in diabetes care and management, for diabetes care in
schools, for possession and use of diabetes medication and
monitoring equipment, for liability, for coordinating,
supervising or educating not considered delegation and for
diabetes care in nonpublic schools; in terms and courses of
study, further providing for agreements with institutions of
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higher education; in education support services and
educational assistance programs, providing for supplemental
online mathematics support; in opportunities for educational
excellence, further providing for definitions, for
responsibilities of school entities and for concurrent
enrollment agreements; in charter schools, extensively
revising and adding charter school provisions; in vocational
education, further providing for vocational education
equipment grants; in community colleges, further providing
for election or appointment and term and organization of
board of trustees, financial program and payment
reimbursement; in disruptive student programs, further
providing for applications; in private alternative education
institutions for disruptive students, further providing for
contracts with private alternative education institutions;
providing for rural regional college for underserved
counties; in funding for public libraries, providing for
State aid for fiscal year 2015-2016; in reimbursements by
Commonwealth and between school districts, providing for
student-weighted basic education funding, for transition to
student-weighted basic education funding for 2014-2015 school
year and for career and technical education career
preparation; further providing for payments to intermediate
units, for special education payments to school districts and
for extraordinary special education program expenses;
repealing provisions relating to special education funding
for eligible students with disabilities in Cost Category 3;
further providing for assistance to school districts declared
to be in financial recovery status or identified for
financial watch status; providing for reimbursement for
school districts not submitting required documentation, for
public school building lease and debt service reimbursements
for fiscal year 2015-2016 and for ready-to-learn block
grants; providing for school district debt refinancing bonds;
in the State Board of Education, further providing for powers
and duties of the board; and repealing provisions of The
Fiscal Code relating to rural regional college for
underserved counties.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Section 111(b), (c.1) and (j)(2) of the act of
March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code
of 1949, amended or added July 9, 2008 (P.L.846, No.61) and June
30, 2012 (P.L.684, No.82), are amended and the section is
amended by adding subsections to read:
Section 111. Criminal History of Employes and Prospective
Employes; Conviction of Certain Offenses.--
* * *
(b) Administrators of public and private schools,
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intermediate units and area vocational-technical schools shall
require prospective employes to submit with their employment
application, pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. Ch.91 (relating to criminal
history record information), a report of criminal history record
information from the Pennsylvania State Police or a statement
from the Pennsylvania State Police that the State Police central
repository contains no such information relating to that person.
Such report of criminal history record information shall be no
more than [one (1) year] five (5) years old. An applicant may
submit a copy of the required information with the application
for employment. Administrators shall maintain a copy of the
required information. Administrators shall require contractors
to produce a report of criminal history record information for
each prospective employe of such contractor prior to employment.
A copy of the report of criminal history record information from
the Pennsylvania State Police shall be made available to the
applicant in a manner prescribed by the Department of Education.
(c.1) Beginning April 1, 2007, administrators shall maintain
on file with the application for employment a copy of the
Federal criminal history record in a manner prescribed by the
Department of Education. At a minimum, the Department of
Education shall prescribe a method for applicants to submit a
set of fingerprints to be transmitted to the Federal Bureau of
Investigation for Federal criminal history record information
pursuant to the applicable Federal law. The Federal criminal
history record information report shall be no more than [one (1)
year] five (5) years old. Administrators shall maintain a copy
of the required information and shall require each applicant to
secure a Federal criminal history record information report that
may not be more than [one (1) year] five (5) years old at the
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time of employment. A copy of the Federal criminal history
record information report shall be made available to the
applicant in a manner prescribed by the Department of Education.
* * *
(c.3) In accordance with 23 Pa.C.S. § 6344.4 (relating to
certification compliance), administrators shall require the
persons subject to this section to obtain the reports described
in subsections (b) and (c.1) and under 23 Pa.C.S. § 6344(b)(2)
(relating to employees having contact with children; adoptive
and foster parents) on a renewed basis every sixty (60) months.
Any person subject to this section who has previously not been
required to obtain the reports required by subsections (b) and
(c.1) and under 23 Pa.C.S. § 6344(b)(2) on account of service
prior to April 1, 2007, shall be required to obtain such reports
no later than December 31, 2015. The administrator shall review
the reports and determine if the reports disclose information
that may require further action. The administrator shall
maintain a copy of the required reports.
(c.4) To the extent permitted by 23 Pa.C.S. § 6344.3(f)
(relating to continued employment or participation in program,
activity or service), an administrator may accept the reports
identified in 23 Pa.C.S. § 6344(b)(1) and (3) obtained for
employment or volunteer requirements pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. §
6344 in satisfaction of the requirements of subsections (b) and
(c.1), provided the reports are not more than sixty (60) months
old and the applicant provides the administrator with the report
described in subsection (j)(1) indicating that the individual
has not been disqualified from employment pursuant to subsection
(e) or (f.1). The applicant shall also provide an attestation
that the applicant has not been disqualified for employment
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under 23 Pa.C.S. § 6344(c)(1). The administrator shall review
the reports and determine if the reports disclose information
that may require further action and shall maintain a copy of the
required reports.
* * *
(j) * * *
(2) All current and prospective employes of a public or
private school, intermediate unit or area vocational-technical
school shall complete the form described in clause (1),
indicating whether or not they have been arrested for or
convicted of an offense enumerated under subsections (e) and
(f.1), provided that any current employe who completed the form
on or before December 27, 2011, in compliance with clauses (1)
and (2) on that date and who has not been arrested for or
convicted of an offense enumerated under subsections (e) and
(f.1) shall not be required to complete an additional form under
this subsection every sixty (60) months as required in
subsection (c.3).
* * *
Section 2. Section 121 of the act, added June 30, 2012
(P.L.684, No.82), is amended to read:
Section 121. Keystone Exams.--(a) Subject to annual
appropriation, not later than the 2020-2021 school year, the
Department of Education shall develop and implement Keystone
Exams in the following subjects: algebra I, literature, biology,
English composition, algebra II, geometry, United States
history, chemistry, civics and government and world history. The
State Board of Education shall promulgate regulations, subject
to the act of June 25, 1982 (P.L.633, No.181), known as the
"Regulatory Review Act," necessary to implement this section.
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(b) In addition to any requirements on the State Board of
Education under the "Regulatory Review Act", on the same date
that pursuant to the "Regulatory Review Act" the State Board of
Education submits a proposed regulation for or related to the
implementation of Keystone Exams under this section to the
Legislative Reference Bureau for publication of notice of
proposed rulemaking in the Pennsylvania Bulletin as required by
the act of July 31, 1968 (P.L.769, No.240), referred to as the
Commonwealth Documents Law, and thereafter on the same date it
submits the text of the final-form regulation to the Independent
Regulatory Review Commission, it shall submit to the chairman
and minority chairman of the Education Committee of the Senate
and the chairman and minority chairman of the Education
Committee of the House of Representatives a detailed fiscal
impact statement that the proposed or final-form regulation will
have on the Commonwealth, the communities, the school districts
and, if applicable, private and private religious schools. The
detailed fiscal impact statement shall include a comprehensive
fiscal note of all direct and indirect costs whether incurred in
preparation of the proposed or final-form regulation or which
will be required as a result of the promulgation of the
regulation to its best dollar estimate. The State Board of
Education may include narrative statements to accompany its best
dollar estimate, but may not do so in lieu of detailed best
estimated dollar amounts.
(c) The following shall apply:
(1) Notwithstanding section 2604-B(b)(2)(v), 22 Pa. Code §
4.24 (relating to high school graduation requirements), 4.51
(relating to State assessment system) or 4.51c (relating to
project-based assessment) or any statute or regulation to the
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contrary, the use of the Keystone Exam as a graduation
requirement or as a benchmark for the need for participation in
a project-based assessment shall be delayed until the 2018-2019
school year.
(2) The Department of Education shall investigate and
develop alternatives in addition to the use of the Keystone
Exams as a requirement for graduation and shall, within six (6)
months of the effective date of this paragraph, issue a report
of the Department of Education's findings and recommendations,
including proposed legislation, to the chairman and minority
chairman of the Education Committee of the Senate and the
chairman and minority chairman of the Education Committee of the
House of Representatives. The report shall, at a minimum,
contain a detailed plan and timeline within which the Department
of Education shall accomplish all of the following:
(i) Implement alternative methods for students to
demonstrate proficiency for graduation in addition to the
Keystone Exams, project-based assessment and other alternative
assessments provided for in 22 Pa. Code § 4.24.
(ii) Improve and expedite the evaluation of project-based
assessments.
(iii) Ensure that no student is prohibited from
participation in vocational-technical education or elective
courses or programs as a result of supplemental instruction
required in 22 Pa. Code §§ 4.24(k) and 4.51b(f) (relating to
Keystone Exams).
Section 3. The act is amended by adding sections to read:
Section 124. Powers and Duties of the Secretary of
Education.--(a) On behalf of the Commonwealth, the Secretary of
Education shall have the authority and duty to enter into and
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administer membership in a regional compact and an interstate
reciprocity agreement for the provision of postsecondary
distance education by the following:
(1) Institutions of higher education to students in other
states, territories and districts party to such agreement.
(2) Postsecondary institutions in other states, territories
or districts that are a party to such agreement to students in
this Commonwealth.
(b) The Department of Education may charge administrative
fees to institutions of higher education that choose to
participate in the agreement, not to exceed the department's
costs to implement and administer the agreement. The department
may promulgate final-omitted regulations pursuant to the act of
June 25, 1982 (P.L.633, No.181), known as the "Regulatory Review
Act," necessary to implement this subsection, provided that such
final-omitted regulations shall expire on June 30, 2018. After
June 30, 2018, any revisions to the administrative fees charged
under this subsection shall be made through regulations
promulgated under the Regulatory Review Act.
(c) The Postsecondary Distance Education Interstate
Reciprocity Agreement Restricted Receipts Account is established
as a special restricted receipts account within the General Fund
of the State Treasury, from which the department may draw moneys
for the purpose of agreement expenses, the costs of
administering and implementing the agreement and all other costs
associated with the activities of the department related to
implementation of this section. This account shall consist of
all administrative fees deposited under subsection (b) and State
funds appropriated for use under this section. The restricted
receipts account shall be subject to audit by the Auditor
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General.
(d) For purposes of this section, "institution of higher
education" shall have the meaning given in section 118 and
Article XIX-B.
Section 510.2. Publication of Policies.--Beginning with the
2016-2017 school year, the board of school directors of a school
district shall post on its publicly accessible Internet website
the following policies to the extent such policies are required
to be adopted by the school district under Federal or State law:
(1) The following relating to students:
(i) Admission of beginners.
(ii) Attendance, excusals and truancy.
(iii) Withdrawal from school.
(iv) Student discipline.
(v) Suspension and expulsion of students.
(vi) Searches.
(vii) Audio interception on school buses or school vehicles
for disciplinary or security purposes.
(viii) Retention, maintenance and access to student records.
(ix) Use of personal electronic devices.
(x) Dress and grooming.
(xi) Student complaint process.
(xii) Parent appeal of a school district's placement of
twins or multiple birth siblings.
(xiii) Participation by home school students in school
district extracurricular activities.
(2) The following relating to educational programs:
(i) Curriculum review by parents and students.
(ii) Promotion and retention.
(iii) Graduation requirements.
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(3) The following relating to student health:
(i) Communicable diseases and immunization.
(ii) Health examinations and screenings.
(iii) Student use of medications.
(iv) The school district's wellness policy.
(4) The following relating to school property:
(i) Use of school property and facilities.
(ii) School visitation policies.
(iii) Integrated pest management plan.
(5) The following relating to community:
(i) Public participation in school board meetings.
(ii) Public attendance at school events.
(iii) Parental involvement policy for parents and guardians
of students participating pursuant to section 1118 of the
Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (Public Law 89-
10, 20 U.S.C § 6318).
(iv) Public access to and use of school district buildings,
facilities and grounds.
(v) Public complaint process.
Section 4. The act is amended by adding articles to read:
ARTICLE VI-B
SCHOOL WATCH
Section 601-B. Scope.
This article relates to Public School Web Accountability and
Transparency (SchoolWATCH).
Section 602-B. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this article
shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Administrative staff." Employees of a public school entity
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that include, but are not limited to, superintendents, assistant
superintendents, deputy superintendents, principals, assistant
principals, supervisors, managers, directors and coordinators.
"Area vocational-technical school." As defined in section
1841.
"Average daily membership." As defined in section 2501.
"Charter school." As defined in section 1703-A.
"Charter school entity." A charter school, cyber charter
school or regional charter school as defined in section 1703-A.
"Cyber charter school." As defined in section 1703-A.
"Department." The Department of Education of the
Commonwealth.
"Facilities acquisition and construction expenditures."
Expenditures related to the purchase or improvement of land,
buildings, service systems and built-in equipment.
"General fund balance." The balance in a public school
entity's general fund, which shall not include nonspendable and
restricted fund balances.
"Instructional expenditures." Expenditures related to all
those activities dealing directly with the interaction between
teachers and students and related costs, which can be directly
attributed to a program of instruction.
"Market value/personal income aid ratio." As defined in
sections 1703-A and 2501.
"Noninstructional expenditures." Expenditures related to
activities concerned with providing noninstructional services to
students, staff or the community.
"Other financing uses." Current debt service expenditures
and other expenses such as the refunding of debt and transfers
of money from one fund to another.
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"Public school entity." Any of the following:
(1) An area vocational-technical school.
(2) A school district.
(3) A charter school entity.
"Regional charter school." As defined in section 1703-A.
"School district." As defined in section 102.
"School performance profile." A comprehensive overview of
student academic performance in a public school entity compiled
annually by the department.
"Support services expenditures." Expenditures related to
those services that provide administrative support, technical
support, including, but not limited to, guidance and health, and
logistical support to facilitate and enhance instruction.
Section 603-B. Financial information to be posted.
(a) Information.--Beginning May 31, 2016, and by May 31 each
year thereafter, the department shall post all of the following
for each public school entity on its publicly accessible
Internet website, to the extent the information is available to
the department:
(1) The following financial information for the public
school entity for the most recent fiscal year for which the
public school entity reported such information to the
department:
(i) Total expenditures in the following categories:
(A) Instructional.
(B) Support services.
(C) Noninstructional.
(D) Facilities acquisition and construction.
(E) Other financing uses.
(ii) The public school entity's per-student
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expenditures, on each of the following bases:
(A) Based on the public school entity's
instructional expenditures.
(B) Based on the public school entity's total
expenditures.
(iii) The public school entity's per-student charter
school tuition rates in each of the following categories:
(A) For regular education students.
(B) For special education students.
(iv) The public school entity's average daily
membership.
(v) The public school entity's market value/personal
income aid ratio.
(vi) The average teacher salary in the public school
entity.
(vii) Total revenues from the following sources:
(A) Federal.
(B) State.
(C) Local.
(D) Other.
(viii) The public school entity's general fund
balance.
(2) A link to the most recent of each of the following
reports filed by the public school entity with the
department:
(i) Summaries of financial report data.
(ii) Nonadministrative staff compensation report.
(iii) Administrative staff compensation report.
(3) A link to the public school entity's publicly
accessible Internet website, where available.
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(4) A statement instructing the public to contact the
public school entity for access to any union contract.
(b) Posting.--In posting financial information as required
under this section, the department shall:
(1) Post and compile annually all information as a "View
Fiscal Information" icon located on a School Performance
Profile for each public school entity.
(2) Post all information in a location and manner that
is easily accessible to the public.
(3) Include all definitions and other explanatory
references that may be necessary to assist Internet website
users in understanding the posted information.
(4) Use existing databases and electronic reporting
systems to the extent possible.
(5) Provide for an electronic feature that will allow
the public to compare financial information for a minimum of
four public school entities.
(6) Beginning with information pertaining to the 2012-
2013 fiscal year, post the information required under
subsection (a)(1) for at least the most recent three fiscal
years for which such information is available to the
department, including a trend graph displaying the change in
the amount reported each year from the amount reported in the
previous year.
(c) Limitation.--The department's posting of financial
information under this section shall not be construed to:
(1) Require a public school entity to provide the
department with any additional information, data or reports
that the public school entity is not already required to
provide to the department as of the effective date of this
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act.
(2) Require any public school entity to provide the
department with additional information beyond the information
required to be provided to the department by any other public
school entity.
ARTICLE VI-C
STATE OPPORTUNITY SCHOOLS
Section 601-C. Scope.
This article relates to the transfer of underperforming
schools to the Department of Education.
Section 602-C. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this article
shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Commission." The School Reform Commission established under
section 696.
"Department." The Department of Education of the
Commonwealth.
"Diagnostic audit." A comprehensive review of a school's
organizational structure, school management, operations,
academics, use of data and climate completed to identify the
weaknesses and strengths of the school and areas for growth and
improvement within the school.
"Education management service provider." A for-profit or
nonprofit management organization, nonprofit charter management
organization, school design provider, business manager or any
other partner entity with which a school district contracts to
provide educational design, business services, comprehensive
management or personnel functions. The term does not include a
charter school foundation.
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"Eligible school." A school within a school district
designated by the school district under its performance metric
as an intervention school.
"Intervention school." A school designated in the lowest
performance tier of a school district's performance metric.
"Performance metric." The system created and utilized by a
school district to measure a school's academic performance.
"Persistently low-achieving school." An eligible school
designated by the secretary under section 603-C.
"School district." A school district of the first class.
"School improvement process." A school improvement plan
developed and implemented by the secretary.
"Secretary." The Secretary of Education of the Commonwealth.
Section 603-C. Persistently low-achieving schools.
(a) Designation.--
(1) Within 30 days of the effective date of this section
and by September 30 of each succeeding year, the secretary
shall identify eligible schools and designate persistently
low-achieving schools.
(2) The secretary shall have discretion to designate
persistently low-achieving schools from the list of eligible
schools created by the performance metrics.
(3) The secretary shall notify persistently low-
achieving schools and the school district of their
designation in writing within 30 days of their designation.
(4) The secretary shall designate five schools per year
as persistently low achieving.
(b) Limitations.--The secretary shall not identify a school
as persistently low achieving if the school:
(1) Has been converted to a charter school or
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renaissance model within the past three years.
(2) Initially opened within the past three years.
(3) Exclusively serves a historically underserved
population, including, but not limited to, returning truants,
homeless students, students with disabilities or adjudicated
minors.
(4) Has a college matriculation rate that meets or
exceeds the local school district average.
(5) Is a charter school whose academic performance as
measured by the most recent Pennsylvania School Performance
Profile exceeds the average Pennsylvania School Performance
Profile for schools in the authorizing school district.
(c) Designation.--Once designated, a persistently low-
achieving school shall enter the school improvement process as
set forth in section 604-C.
Section 604-C. School improvement process.
(a) Diagnostic audit.--During the first academic year in
which a school has been designated a persistently low-achieving
school, a diagnostic audit of the school shall be completed no
later than June 30. The audit shall be provided by the
department.
(b) Department action.--Upon completion of the diagnostic
audit, the department shall take one or more of the following
actions:
(1) Contract with an education management service
provider to operate the persistently low-achieving school and
guarantee admission to students who were enrolled in the
school in the prior school year.
(2) Convert the persistently low-achieving school to a
charter school and guarantee admission to students who were
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enrolled in the school in the prior school year.
(3) Close the persistently low-achieving school and
facilitate the transfer of students to higher performing
schools.
(4) Authorize a new charter school and, notwithstanding
the provisions of Article XVII-A, guarantee admission
preference to any students who reside in the area being
served by the persistently low-achieving school. The
department shall adopt criteria for the authorization of
charter schools that is consistent with the criteria set
forth by the National Association of Charter School
Authorizers.
(5) Replace the principal and at least 50% of the
professional staff at the persistently low-achieving school.
(6) Operate under one of the powers enumerated under
section 606-C.
Section 605-C. Powers and duties of department.
(a) General rule.--Except as otherwise specifically provided
in this article, the department shall have the powers and duties
of a school district under this act.
(b) Charter schools.--The authority of the department to
authorize the grant of a charter to an applicant for a charter
school and the authority to convert a charter school shall be
limited as set forth in this section.
(c) Criteria for conversion.--Notwithstanding the provisions
of Article XVII-A, the department may convert a school under its
jurisdiction to a charter school.
(d) Limitations.--For the school year 2017-2018, and each
school year thereafter, the department shall take one or more of
the actions under section 604-C(b) in persistently low-achieving
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schools. For the school year 2017-2018, and each school year
thereafter, the department shall take action under section 604-
C(b)(2) or (4) in at least two of the persistently low-achieving
schools. Notwithstanding section 604-C(b), the number of schools
under the jurisdiction of the department may not exceed 15 at
any one time.
(e) Charter schools.--Notwithstanding any provision of law
to the contrary, in accordance with section 1720-A, the
department may revoke or opt not to renew a charter school
within its jurisdiction provided the department continues to
meet the requirements of section 605-C(d). The nonrenewal or
revocation may not be appealed to the State Charter School
Appeal Board. Any appeal of the nonrenewal or revocation shall
be to Commonwealth Court.
(f) Authority to operate.--The department may directly
operate a school or contract with individuals or education
management service providers to manage the day-to-day operations
of a persistently low-achieving school, including, but not
limited to, providing direct services to students.
(g) Intermediate unit services.--The department may require
an intermediate unit to provide school support or student
support services for a school transferred from the intermediate
unit's jurisdiction, including, but not limited to, student
transportation, school food service, alternative schools and
special education services, in compliance with laws and
regulations governing such services. The department shall
reimburse actual costs incurred by the intermediate unit in
providing the services from funds received under section 610-C.
(h) Procurement.--Notwithstanding any law to the contrary,
the department has the same authority and autonomy afforded to a
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school district under State law regarding the procurement of
property, goods and services, including, but not limited to,
personal, professional, consulting and social services.
(i) Waiver.--Any entity the department contracts with to
operate or manage a school under the jurisdiction of the
department may apply to the secretary for a waiver of any
regulation or statutory provision that inhibits the ability of
the school to increase student achievement. The secretary may
waive any regulation or statutory provision that inhibits the
ability of the school to increase student achievement.
Notwithstanding this subsection, the secretary may not waive
rules related to the following:
(1) Federal and State civil rights.
(2) Federal, State and local health and safety.
(3) Federal and State public records.
(4) Possession of weapons on school grounds.
(5) Background checks and fingerprints of personnel.
(6) Federal and State special education requirements.
(7) Student due process.
(8) Parental rights.
(9) Federal and State student assessment and
accountability.
(10) Open meetings.
(j) Funding.--The department may seek, manage and expend
Federal money and grants and other funding with the same
authority as a school district.
(k) Taxing power.--The department has no authority to levy
any tax.
Section 606-C. Department-operated persistently low-achieving
schools.
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(a) Powers of department.--In addition to the powers granted
by law to school districts, and notwithstanding any other law to
the contrary, the department shall have the following powers as
to persistently low-achieving schools operated by the
department:
(1) To enter into agreements with persons or education
management service providers to operate the school. A school
operated under this paragraph shall be funded in accordance
with the terms of the agreement.
(2) To employ professional and senior management
employees who do not hold State certification if the
department has approved the qualifications of the person at a
salary established by the department.
(3) To enter into agreements with persons or education
management service providers providing educational or other
services to the school. Services provided under this
paragraph shall be funded in accordance with the terms of the
agreement.
(4) Notwithstanding any other provision of this article,
to close or reconstitute a school, including the
reassignment, suspension or dismissal of professional
employees.
(5) To appoint managers, administrators or education
management service providers to oversee the operations of the
school.
(6) To delegate to a person, including an employee of
the school district or an education management service
provider, powers it deems necessary to carry out the purposes
of this article, subject to the supervision and direction of
the department.
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Section 607-C. Transfer to department.
(a) General rule.--The department may transfer an eligible
school to its jurisdiction after providing notice to the
transferring district or transferring charter school.
(b) Objection by school district.--The school district of
the eligible school subject to transfer may object to a transfer
based on the criteria set forth in section 603-C(b). An
objection and reasons for the objection must be filed with the
department within 30 days of the notice in subsection (a).
(c) Objection by charter school.--If the eligible school
subject to transfer is a charter school, the charter school may
object to the transfer based on the criteria set forth in
section 603-C(b). An objection and reasons for the objection
must be filed with the department within 30 days of the notice
in subsection (a).
(d) Public hearing.--Within 30 days of receipt of an
objection by a school district or charter school, the department
shall hold a public hearing on the objection and shall receive
public testimony during the hearing.
(e) Decision by department.--Within 60 days of the public
hearing, the department shall make a final decision in
accordance with the criteria set forth in section 603-C(b).
(f) Appeal.--Within 60 days of the final decision under
subsection (e), an objecting party under this section shall have
a right of appeal to Commonwealth Court.
(g) Decision final.--If no objection under this section is
filed within the required period, the decision to transfer under
this section shall be final.
Section 608-C. Transfer from department.
(a) Length of transfer.--A persistently low-achieving school
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shall remain under the jurisdiction of the department for a
minimum of three years.
(b) Return to jurisdiction of school district.--After the
minimum time set forth in subsection (a), the department may
transfer a persistently low-achieving school to the jurisdiction
of its school district of origin if, for two consecutive years,
the school does not meet the criteria necessary to be deemed a
persistently low-achieving school.
(c) Charter schools.--Upon approval of the secretary, a
charter school under the jurisdiction of the department may
retain the department as its authorizer under Article XVII-A.
Section 609-C. Evaluation.
For the BEGINNING WITH school year 2020-2021 AND EACH SCHOOL
YEAR THEREAFTER , an eligible school may not be transferred to
the jurisdiction of the department unless the department:
(1) demonstrates, in a report and based on criteria
established by the secretary, that eligible schools within the
jurisdiction of the department for at least three years have
outperformed eligible schools not transferred to the department
in the 2017-2018 school year; and
(2) submits the report to the chairman and minority chairman
of the Education Committee of the Senate, the chairman and
minority chairman of the Education Committee of the House of
Representatives and the Governor.
Section 610-C. Payments and funding.
(a) Tuition.--Tuition may not be charged for a resident or
nonresident student attending a persistently low-achieving
school.
(b) Funding.--Funding shall be provided as follows:
(1) For nonspecial education students, the department
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shall receive for each student enrolled no less than the
budgeted total expenditure per average daily membership of
the prior school year, as defined in section 2501(20), minus
the budgeted expenditures of the district of residence for
nonpublic school programs; adult education programs;
community/junior college programs; student transportation
services; special education programs; facilities acquisition,
construction and improvement services; and other financing
uses, including debt service and fund transfers as provided
in the Manual of Accounting and Related Financial Procedures
for Pennsylvania School Systems established by the
department. This amount shall be paid by the district of
residence of each student.
(2) For special education students, the department shall
receive for each student enrolled the same funding as for
each nonspecial education student as provided in paragraph
(1), plus an additional amount determined by dividing the
district of residence's total special education expenditure
by the product of multiplying the combined percentage of
section 2509.5(k) times the district of residence's total
average daily membership for the prior school year. This
amount shall be paid by the district of residence of each
student.
(3) The department may request the intermediate unit in
which the persistently low-achieving school is located to
provide services to assist the department to address the
specific needs of exceptional students. The intermediate unit
shall assist the department and bill the department for the
services. The intermediate unit may not charge the department
more for any service than it charges the constituent
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districts of the intermediate unit.
(4) Payments shall be made to the department in 12 equal
monthly payments, by the fifth day of each month, within the
operating school year. A student enrolled in a persistently
low-achieving school shall be included in the average daily
membership of the student's district of residence for the
purpose of providing basic education funding payments and
special education funding under Article XXV. If a school
district fails to make a payment to the department as
prescribed in this paragraph, the secretary shall deduct the
estimated amount, as documented by the department, from any
and all State payments made to the district after receipt of
documentation from the department.
(5) Within 30 days after the secretary makes the
deduction described in paragraph (4), a school district may
notify the secretary that the deduction made from State
payments to the district under this subsection is inaccurate.
The secretary shall provide the school district with an
opportunity to be heard concerning:
(i) whether the department documented that its
students were enrolled with the department;
(ii) the period of time during which each student
was enrolled;
(iii) the school district of residence of each
student; and
(iv) whether the amounts deducted from the school
district were accurate.
(c) Donations.--The department may accept donations of
money, property or securities from any source for the benefit of
the persistently low-achieving schools. A donation shall, in
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good faith, be disbursed in accordance with the conditions of
the donation.
(d) Appropriations.--The General Assembly shall appropriate
funds as it deems necessary to pay the costs for the
implementation and administration of this article.
Section 611-C. Facilities.
Subject to a lease or license at no more than fair market
rates, the department shall have the right to use any school
building and all facilities and property otherwise part of the
persistently low-achieving school and recognized as part of the
facilities or assets of the school prior to its transfer to the
department and shall have access to additional facilities as
were typically available to the school, its students, faculty
and staff prior to its transfer to the department. Extensive
repairs to buildings or facilities considered capital expenses
shall be the responsibility of the transferring school district
and not the department. Any fixtures, improvements or tangible
assets added to a school building or facility by the department
shall remain at the school building or facility upon the school
being returned to the jurisdiction of the transferring school
district.
Section 612-C. Employees.
(a) Direct operation by department.--An employee hired to
work in a department school directly operated by the department
shall be deemed an employee of the department, and the employees
shall be under the exclusive control of the department. The
provisions of Article VI of the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.177,
No.175), known as The Administrative Code of 1929, and the
classification and compensation plans of the Commonwealth do not
apply to department employees under this article. The department
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shall develop written procedures for employment and management
of personnel as well as the development of compensation and
benefit plans. Within the limits of the budget, staffing needs
of any persistently low-achieving school shall be exclusively
determined by the department.
(b) Employee transfers.--The department, or an entity under
contract to operate a persistently low-achieving school, may
determine whether an employee who is assigned to a school prior
to the school's transfer to the department may opt to continue
as an employee of the department or the operating entity. If an
employee is not provided the option, the employee shall be
retained as an employee of the transferring school district. If
an employee accepts the option, the employee may, at the
discretion of the transferring school district, return to the
employ of the school district, if the department or operating
entity later determines not to continue employment.
(c) Certification.--At least 75% of the professional staff
members of a persistently low-achieving school shall hold
appropriate State certification.
(d) Collective bargaining.--Employees of a persistently low-
achieving school may organize under the act of July 23, 1970
(P.L.563, No.195), known as the Public Employe Relations Act.
The department shall be considered an employer for the purposes
of Article XI-A. Upon formation of one or more collective
bargaining units at the school, the department shall bargain
with the employees based on the provisions of this article,
Article XI-A and the Public Employe Relations Act. Collective
bargaining units at a persistently low-achieving school shall be
separate from any collective bargaining unit of the transferring
school district.
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(e) Retirement.--All employees of the department shall be
enrolled in the Public School Employees' Retirement System in
the same manner as set forth in 24 Pa.C.S. § 8301(a) (relating
to mandatory and optional membership) unless the department
provides for a federally qualified retirement plan. The
Commonwealth shall make contributions on behalf of the
department employees enrolled in the Public School Employees'
Retirement System. The department shall be considered a school
district for purposes of this article and shall make payments by
employers to the Public School Employees' Retirement System and
payments on account of Social Security as established under 24
Pa.C.S. Pt. IV (relating to retirement for school employees).
The market value/income aid ratio used in calculating payments
as prescribed in this subsection shall be the market
value/income aid ratio for the school district from which the
school is transferred to the department. Except as otherwise
provided, employees of the department shall make regular member
contributions as required for active members under 24 Pa.C.S.
Pt. IV. If the employees of the department participate in
another retirement plan, then those employees shall have no
concurrent claim on the benefits provided to public school
employees under 24 Pa.C.S. Pt. IV. For purposes of this
subsection, the department shall be deemed to be a public school
as defined in 24 Pa.C.S. § 8102 (relating to definitions).
(f) Health care benefits.--Every employee of the department
shall be provided the same or comparable health care benefits as
the employee would be provided if he were an employee of the
transferring district.
(g) Sick leave.--Any employee of a public school who is
given and accepts the offer of employment with the department
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shall retain any accumulated sick leave in the position with the
department.
(h) Leave of absence.--A public school employee of a school
entity may request a leave of absence for up to five years in
order to work for the department at a persistently low-achieving
school. Approval of a leave of absence shall not be unreasonably
withheld.
(i) Tenure.--A temporary professional employee on leave from
a school district may accrue tenure in the transferring school
system at the discretion of the transferring school district in
the same manner as the employee would under Article XI if the
employee had continued to be employed by the school district. A
professional employee on leave from a school district shall
retain tenure rights, as defined in Article XI, in the school
entity from which the employee transferred. No temporary
professional employee or professional employee shall have tenure
rights as against the department. A temporary professional
employee and professional employee shall continue to accrue
seniority in the school district from which the employee
transferred if the employee returns to the school district upon
termination of the leave.
(j) Service requirements for certificates.--Professional
employees who hold a first level teaching or administrative
certificate may, at their option, have the time completed in
satisfactory service in the department applied to the length of
service requirements for the next level of certification.
(k) Return to school district.--A temporary professional
employee or professional employee who leaves the employ of the
department shall have the right to return to a comparable
position for which the person is properly certified in the
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school district which granted the leave of absence. In the case
where a teacher has been dismissed by the department, the
department shall provide to the school district which granted
the leave of absence the following information:
(1) The reason for the dismissal at the time it
occurred.
(2) A list of any witnesses who were relied upon by the
department in moving for dismissal.
(3) A description of and access to any physical evidence
used by the department in moving for dismissal.
(4) A copy of any record developed at any dismissal
proceeding conducted by the department. The record of any
hearing may be admissible in a hearing before the school
district which granted the leave of absence.
(l) Authority of commission.--Nothing in this section shall
affect the authority of the commission to initiate proceedings
under Article XI if the commission determines that occurrences
at the department leading to dismissal of a professional
employee constitute adequate and independent grounds for
discipline under section 1122.
(m) Criminal history record and child abuse clearance.--No
temporary employee or professional employee who leaves the
employ of the department shall be returned to a position in the
school district which granted a leave of absence until the
school district is in receipt of a current criminal history
record under section 111 and the official statement regarding
child injury or abuse from the Department of Human Services as
required by 23 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to child protective
services).
(n) Criminal history record information.--Prior to beginning
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employment with the department, an individual who has direct
contact with children shall be required to submit a report of
criminal history record information as provided for in section
111. This subsection shall also apply to an individual who
volunteers to work on a full-time or part-time basis at a
persistently low-achieving school.
(o) Child abuse clearance.--An applicant for a position as a
school employee with the department shall be required to submit
the official statement regarding child injury or abuse from the
Department of Human Services as provided in 23 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63.
This subsection shall also apply to any individual who
volunteers to work on a full-time or part-time basis at the
persistently low-achieving school.
Section 613-C. Student enrollment.
Any student eligible under this section has the right to
attend the school designated under section 603-C for which the
student is eligible, notwithstanding any other provision of law
to the contrary.
Section 614-C. Oversight.
(a) Report.--Annually, the department shall submit a written
report to the Governor and the presiding officers of the Senate
and the House of Representatives. The report shall include:
(1) A listing and description of the status, including
academic performance, of each school whose jurisdiction has
been transferred to the department since the submittal of the
preceding report.
(2) A justification for each school determined to be an
eligible school that is not transferred to the department.
(b) Limitation.--The department may not expand the total
number of schools permitted under its jurisdiction in section
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605-C(b) without legislative authorization.
SECTION 615-C. PROHIBITION.
THE SECRETARY MAY NOT DESIGNATE ANY MORE SCHOOLS UNDER
SECTION 603-C AFTER MAKING DESIGNATIONS IN THE 2018-2019 SCHOOL
YEAR.
Section 4.1. The act is amended by adding a section to read:
Section 731.2. Posting of Information by Department.--No
later than February 1, 2016, and every ninety (90) days
thereafter, the Department of Education shall post and update on
its publicly accessible Internet website in a searchable and
sortable format the following information related to public
school construction and reconstruction projects, building
purchases and lease reimbursements submitted for the approval
of, or approved by, the department:
(1) The type of project, elementary school, middle school,
intermediate school, high school, charter school or vocational
technical school by school entity.
(2) The scope of project, new construction, renovation,
addition, purchase or lease.
(3) The date of receipt of each application.
(4) The date of department approval of each application.
(5) The date of approval or denial of any waiver or
exception granted by the department.
(6) The reason for approval or denial of any waiver or
exception granted by the department.
(7) The date of submission of the application for each step
of the reimbursement process.
(8) The date of approval of the application for each step of
the reimbursement process.
(9) The anticipated total project cost.
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(10) Whether the project reached the maximum reimbursable
project amount.
(11) The anticipated term of State reimbursement.
(12) The anticipated total reimbursement amount.
(13) The temporary reimbursable percentage.
(14) The permanent reimbursable percentage.
(15) The dates of expected State payments.
(16) The dates of expected school district payments.
(17) Whether the project was financed by cash.
(18) The date a project was voided, if applicable.
(19) A summary of the terms of the project's debt service or
lease.
(20) An analysis of the callability of the project's debt
service.
Section 5. Section 732.1 of the act is amended by adding a
subsection to read:
Section 732.1. Limitation on New Applications for Department
of Education Approval of Public School Building Projects.--* * *
(c) For the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years, the
Department of Education shall not accept or approve new building
construction or reconstruction project applications. Completed
school building construction or reconstruction project
applications received by the Department of Education by January
15, 2016, are not subject to this subsection.
Section 6. The act is amended by adding a section to read:
Section 732.3. Public School Building Construction and
Reconstruction Advisory Committee.--(a) There is hereby
established an advisory committee.
(b) The committee shall review and make findings and
recommendations related to the program for State reimbursement
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for construction and reconstruction and lease of public school
buildings.
(c) The advisory committee shall consist of the following:
(1) The Secretary of Education or a designee.
(2) (Reserved). A MEMBER CHOSEN JOINTLY BY THE PRESIDENT PRO
TEMPORE OF THE SENATE AND THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES.
(3) A representative from the following:
(i) The Pennsylvania Association of School Business
Officials.
(ii) The Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
(4) The chairman and minority chairman of the Appropriations
Committee and Education Committee of the Senate and the chairman
and minority chairman of the Appropriations Committee and
Education Committee of the House of Representatives.
(5) One member appointed by the President pro tempore of the
Senate.
(6) One member appointed by the Minority Leader of the
Senate.
(7) One member appointed by the Speaker of the House of
Representatives.
(8) One member appointed by the Minority Leader of the House
of Representatives.
(d) The committee shall hold its first meeting within thirty
(30) days of the effective date of this section regardless of
whether all of the committee members have been appointed to the
committee. At the first meeting, the Department of Education
shall present its report relating to the Statewide analysis of
school facilities and capital needs as required under section
732.1.
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(e) The committee shall appoint a member to serve as
chairman of the committee.
(f) The committee shall hold meetings at the call of the
chairman.
(g) The members may not receive compensation for their
services, but shall be reimbursed for all necessary travel and
other reasonable expenses incurred in connection with the
performance of their duties as members of the committee.
(h) The General Assembly shall provide administrative
support, meeting space and any other assistance required by the
committee to carry out its duties under this section in
cooperation with the department. The department shall provide
the committee with data, research and other information upon
request.
(i) The committee shall issue a report not later than
November 1, 2016, of the committee's findings to the Governor,
the President pro tempore of the Senate, the Majority Leader and
Minority Leader of the Senate, the Appropriations Committee and
Education Committee of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of
Representatives, the Majority Leader and Minority Leader of the
House of Representatives, the Appropriations Committee and
Education Committee of the House of Representatives and the
Secretary of Education.
Section 7. Section 1154(c) of the act, amended December 22,
1965 (P.L.1180, No.467), is amended to read:
Section 1154. Payment of Salaries in Cases of Sickness,
Injury or Death.--* * *
(c) Whenever a professional or temporary professional
employe is absent because of the death of a near relative, there
shall be no deduction in the salary of said employe for absence
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