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A04016
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE BILL
No.
1330
Session of
2021
INTRODUCED BY ORTITAY, HILL-EVANS, GAYDOS AND CIRESI,
MAY 5, 2021
AS RE-REPORTED FROM COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS, HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES, AS AMENDED, APRIL 11, 2022
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," providing for Educational and
Professional Development Online Course Initiative; and
establishing the Online Course Clearinghouse Restricted
Account.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. The act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known
as the Public School Code of 1949, is amended by adding an
article to read:
ARTICLE XV-K
EDUCATIONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
ONLINE COURSE INITIATIVE
Section 1501-K. 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:
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"Account." The Online Course Clearinghouse Restricted
Account established under section 1502-K(h) 1502-K .
"Clearinghouse." The central online clearinghouse
established under section 1502-K.
"Department." The Department of Education of the
Commonwealth.
"Home education program." A program conducted in compliance
with section 1327.1.
"Institution of higher education." Any of the following:
(1) A community college operating under Article XIX-A.
(2) A university within the State System of Higher
Education.
(3) The Pennsylvania State University.
(4) The University of Pittsburgh.
(5) Temple University.
(6) Lincoln University.
(7) Any other institution that is designated as "State-
related" by the Commonwealth.
(8) The Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology.
(9) Any accredited private or independent college or
university.
(10) Any private licensed school as defined in the act
of December 15, 1986 (P.L.1585, No.174), known as the Private
Licensed Schools Act.
(11) A college established under Article XIX-G.
"Nonpublic school." A school, other than a public school,
located within this Commonwealth where a Commonwealth resident
may legally fulfill the compulsory school attendance
requirements of this act and that meets the applicable
requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Public
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Law 88-352, 78 Stat. 241).
"Online course." A course of study that uses technology in
order to provide a significant portion of its curriculum and to
deliver a significant portion of instruction to students through
the Internet or other electronic means. The term shall include
all services and materials related to the course.
" Professional development course. " A course that uses
technology to provide a professional educator with continuing
professional education credits as required to maintain active
certification under section 1205.2.
"Provider." An individual or a , nonprofit or for-profit
organization, business , school entity or institution of higher
education which has submitted one or more online courses or
professional development courses to the department for inclusion
in the clearinghouse established under this article.
"School entity." A school district, charter school, regional
charter school, cyber charter school, intermediate unit or area
career and technical school.
"Secretary." The Secretary of Education of the Commonwealth.
Section 1502-K. Clearinghouse for online course offerings.
(a) Duty to establish.--The department shall establish a
central online clearinghouse which shall include the following:
(1) A database of online courses for students enrolled
in grades kindergarten through twelve and shall be accessible
by school entities, nonpublic schools, home education
supervisors and the general public.
(2) A database of online professional development
courses for compliance with section 1205.2.
(b) Implementation schedule.--In establishing the
clearinghouse, the department shall adhere to the following
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implementation schedule:
(1) From the date of establishment of the clearinghouse,
which shall be no later than the commencement of the 2024-
2025 school year, and in each school year thereafter, the
clearinghouse shall offer online courses which provide
instruction for grades nine through twelve.
(2) Beginning in the 2025-2026 school year and in each
school year thereafter, the clearinghouse shall offer online
courses which provide instruction for grades seven through
eight.
(3) Beginning in the 2026-2027 school year and in each
school year thereafter, the clearinghouse shall offer online
courses which provide instruction for kindergarten through
sixth grade.
(4) Beginning in the 2027-2028 school year and in each
school year thereafter, the clearinghouse shall offer
professional development courses.
(c) Purchase of online courses OR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
COURSES .--Online courses OR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT COURSES
included in the clearinghouse from providers may be offered for
purchase as provided under subsection (g).
(d) Responsibilities of department.--The department shall:
(1) Create an online database that catalogs the online
courses and professional development courses for which an
application was approved under subsection (e) and make the
database available to school entities, nonpublic schools,
home education programs and the general public.
(2) Construct the database provided for under paragraph
(1) for online courses and professional development courses
in such a way as to:
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(i) Provide information on each course listed in the
database, including a description of the content and
applicable grade levels of each course.
(ii) Facilitate communication between school
entities, nonpublic schools or home education programs
and providers of online courses and professional
development courses cataloged in the clearinghouse to
expedite the purchasing of the online courses.
(3) At least annually, or at any time the status of an
online course or professional development course changes,
update the database under paragraph (1).
(4) Collect application fees provided for in subsection
(f) and deposit the fees into the account.
(5) Utilize the money in the account, including interest
on the money, to pay expenses incurred by the department in
carrying out its duties under this article.
(6) Explore the possibility for Federal and private
funding to support the clearinghouse.
(7) Upon request, provide assistance to school districts
which have been declared to be in financial recovery status
or identified for financial watch status under Article VI-A
by facilitating the school districts' search for low-cost or
no-cost online course or professional development course
options.
(e) Applications.--The following shall apply:
(1) The department shall develop an application and an
application process that specify the time, form and manner by
which providers may submit their online course or
professional development course offerings to the department
for inclusion in the clearinghouse.
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(2) A provider may submit an application to the
department for approval of the online course or professional
development course through a certification process. The
application shall include:
(i) A notarized affidavit certifying that:
(A) the online course being submitted for
inclusion in the clearinghouse is aligned to the
State academic standards for education provided for
in 22 Pa. Code Ch. 4 (relating to academic standards
and assessment); or
(B) the professional development course being
submitted for inclusion in the clearinghouse is
compliant with section 1205.2.
(ii) Evidence that the online course being submitted
for inclusion in the clearinghouse fulfills at least one
of the following criteria:
(A) has been approved by another state for use
by its public schools;
(B) has been developed by a provider that has
been accredited by a national accreditation body
recognized by the United States Department of
Education; or
(C) has been designed by a school entity that
utilizes the online course or provides the online
course to another school entity for its use.
(iii) Evidence that the online course being
submitted for inclusion in the clearinghouse includes an
assessment component for determining student performance.
(iv) Evidence that the professional development
course being submitted for inclusion in the clearinghouse
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improves teaching effectiveness or aids in maintaining a
teaching certificate.
(V) A STATEMENT AS TO WHETHER THE ONLINE COURSE OR
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT COURSE IS BEING OFFERED THROUGH
THE CLEARINGHOUSE AT NO COST OR FOR A FEE.
(f) Fees, application review and approval.--The following
shall apply to the establishment of fees and the review and
approval of applications:
(1) The department may establish a reasonable
nonrefundable administrative fee for the purpose of reviewing
each application submitted by an online course provider or a
professional development provider.
(2) If, after a review of an application, the department
determines that the application meets the applicable
requirements under subsection (e) and does not violate State
law or department procedures, standards or policy, the
department shall approve the application, notify the provider
of the approval and include the online course or professional
development course in the database under subsection (d)(1)
until such time as the provider requests that the online
course or professional development course be removed or the
department removes the online course under paragraph (5).
(3) If, after a review of an application, the department
determines that the application does not meet the applicable
requirements under subsection (e), the department shall
withhold approval of the application and notify the provider
of the reason approval was withheld so that the provider may
revise and resubmit the application. Any application that has
been resubmitted for review shall be subject to the
associated administrative fee authorized under this
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subsection.
(4) The department may revisit and review any approved
application and associated online course or professional
development course at any time and remove the online course
or professional development course from the database under
subsection (d)(1) if the department determines that:
(i) the information contained in the application was
false or misleading or is no longer accurate;
(ii) the online course or professional development
course has been materially changed or revised in such a
way that the approval previously granted for the online
course or professional development course should not
apply and the provider of the online course or
professional development course has not submitted an
application to the department seeking approval of the
revisions to the online course or professional
development course in accordance with the application and
fee requirements of this section; or
(iii) the standards applicable to the course have
materially changed in such a way that the approval
previously granted for the online course or professional
development course should not apply and the provider of
the online course or professional development course has
not submitted an application to the department within 30
days seeking approval of the online course or
professional development course with revisions to address
the revised standards in accordance with the application
and fee requirements of this section.
(g) Contracts for the provision of courses cataloged in the
clearinghouse.-- The following shall apply to contracts entered
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into by school entities, nonpublic schools or home education
programs and providers of online courses or professional
development courses cataloged in the clearinghouse: IF A SCHOOL
ENTITY, NONPUBLIC SCHOOL OR HOME EDUCATION PROGRAM ENTERS INTO A
CONTRACT WITH A PROVIDER FOR THE USE OF AN ONLINE COURSE OR
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT COURSE CATALOGED IN THE CLEARINGHOUSE,
THE FOLLOWING SHALL APPLY:
(1) The purchase price and other payment and contract
terms of an online course or professional development course
cataloged in the clearinghouse shall be determined by direct
negotiations between a school entity, nonpublic school or
home education program and a provider.
(2) Immediately upon commencing negotiations of the
terms of a contract for an online course OR PROFESSIONAL
DEVELOPMENT COURSE , a provider shall provide the school
entity, nonpublic school or home education program with
information regarding refund policies and the process for
contesting payment amounts.
(h) Fees prohibited by school entities.--Notwithstanding
subsection (g), a school entity may not charge a fee to another
school entity to utilize an online course offered through the
clearinghouse.
(h) (i) Online Course Clearinghouse Restricted Account.--
(1) The Online Course Clearinghouse Restricted Account
is established as a restricted revenue account in the General
Fund.
(2) The account may consist of funding appropriated by
the General Assembly, application fees collected under
subsection (f) , fines collected under section 1504-K and any
AND interest generated by money in the account.
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(3) The money in the account is appropriated to the
department on a continuing basis for the purposes of paying
expenses incurred by the department in carrying out its
duties relating to the administration of the clearinghouse.
Section 1503-K. School entities.
(a) General rule.--A school entity may utilize any online
course made available through a school entity, through the
clearinghouse or through any other source for free.
(b) Duties.-- A school entity that offers online courses to
students shall do all of the following:
(1) Determine how instruction relating to an online
course shall be delivered.
(2) Establish policies and procedures for student
eligibility and participation, including a policy on the
selection of online courses made available to students by the
school entity. The policies and procedures shall be made
accessible to parents and students and posted on the school
entity's publicly accessible Internet website.
(3) Ensure that parents and students are made aware of
the opportunity for online learning and make information
about available online courses easily accessible to parents
and students.
Section 1504-K. Penalties.
If the department determines that a provider intentionally
submitted false or misleading information on an application, the
provider shall be prohibited from participating in the
clearinghouse for a period of five years.
Section 1505-K. Report.
(a) Submission.--The secretary shall submit an annual report
to the Governor, the chairperson and minority chairperson of the
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Education Committee of the Senate and the chairperson and
minority chairperson of the Education Committee of the House of
Representatives and post the report on the department's publicly
accessible Internet website no later than June 30, 2027, and
every five years thereafter.
(b) Content.--The report shall, at a minimum, include all of
the following information:
(1) The number of students participating in online
courses, disaggregated by student group.
(2) The number of students participating in online
courses from the clearinghouse, disaggregated by student
group.
(3) The number of online courses available through the
clearinghouse.
(4) A description of the types of online courses
available through the clearinghouse.
(5) An assessment of the academic impact of online
courses on the participating students.
(6) The number of professional employees participating
in professional development courses, disaggregated by
demographics and certification type.
(7) The number of professional development courses
available through the clearinghouse.
(8) A description of the types of professional
development courses available through the clearinghouse.
(9) Recommendations for improving the clearinghouse.
Section 1506-K. Construction.
Nothing in this article shall be construed to:
(1) Prevent a school entity from establishing and
offering its own online course or program.
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(2) Prevent a school entity or school entity personnel
from:
(i) supplementing an online course;
(ii) providing assistance, tutoring or enrichment to
a student enrolled in an online course;
(iii) using the content of an online course in
instruction delivered by school district personnel; or
(iv) monitoring a student's progress and attention
to instruction in an online course.
(3) Require a student to participate in an online course
offered by a school entity.
(4) Supersede or preempt the rights, remedies and
procedures afforded to school employees or labor
organizations under Federal or State law, including the act
of July 23, 1970 (P.L.563, No.195), known as the Public
Employe Relations Act, or any provision of a collective
bargaining agreement negotiated between a school entity and
an exclusive representative of the employees in accordance
with that act.
Section 1507-K. Regulations.
The department may issue regulations under the act of June
25, 1982 (P.L.633, No.181), known as the Regulatory Review Act,
necessary to establish reasonable fees for the purpose of
reviewing and approving courses under section 1502-K(f).
Section 2. This act shall take effect in 60 days.
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