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Final Bill Analysis

Legislative Service Commission



Effective Date from the Status Report of Legislation: 04/08/03 Effective
Because of Ohio Supreme Court interpretations, effective dates published in the Status Report of Legislation are not authoritative, and users of the Status Report of Legislation rely upon them at their own risk. The effective dates have been unofficially and undefinitively determined by the LSC Division of Legal Review and Technical Services solely for the convenience of users.

Signed by Governor: 01/07/03
Subject: Education


Sub. H.B. 364
124th General Assembly
(As Passed by the General Assembly)

ACT SUMMARY
COMMUNITY SCHOOLS
OTHER EDUCATION LAW CHANGES
TABLE OF CONTENTS
COMMUNITY SCHOOL LAW CHANGES
Background........................................................................................................................ 7
Location of start-up community schools........................................................................ 8
Additional entities may sponsor start-up community schools...................................... 8 Temporary limit on start-up community schools......................................................... 10
Corporate organization of schools................................................................................ 10
Changes in Department of Education and State Board of Education
responsibilities................................................................................................................ 11
Duties of a school sponsor............................................................................................. 13
Renewal of a contract..................................................................................................... 13
Monitoring and oversight fees....................................................................................... 14
Organization of the governing authority of a community school............................... 14
Ethics considerations...................................................................................................... 14
Documentation requirements for management companies providing services
to community schools.................................................................................................... 15

Fiscal officer qualifications........................................................................................... 15
Five-year budget projections.......................................................................................... 15
Governing authority annual report................................................................................. 16
Disclaimer to parents...................................................................................................... 16
Limiting community schools targeted for "at risk" students to students
identified as gifted.......................................................................................................... 16

Elimination of exemptions for community schools from certain education
laws................................................................................................................................... 17
Suspension of school operations for health and safety violations.............................. 23
Probationary status.......................................................................................................... 24
Distribution of assets of a closed school..................................................................... 24
Single-gender community schools................................................................................ 25
Internet community schools........................................................................................... 25 Changes to the law regarding the counting of community school students for funding purposes         28 Payments to the School Employees Retirement System............................................ 32
General Assembly's intent on the use of state money to pay taxes............................ 32
Borrowing authority........................................................................................................ 33
Title I allocations............................................................................................................ 33
Community school compliance with EMIS.................................................................. 33
Contracting for service to disabled students................................................................ 34
Transportation of community school students............................................................. 35 Other school district transportation requirements....................................................... 37 Reimbursement of community school parents for transportation to Post-
Secondary Enrollment Options...................................................................................... 40

Changes to the Community School Classroom Facilities Loan Guarantee
Program............................................................................................................................ 40

Lease-purchase authority................................................................................................ 41
Community School Revolving Loan Program.............................................................. 41
Inclusion of conversion school data on district report card........................................ 42
Applicability of "school safety zone" to community schools..................................... 43
Prohibition against monetary incentives for school enrollment................................ 44
LOEO studies.................................................................................................................. 44

CHANGES TO OTHER EDUCATION LAWS
Issuing age and schooling certificates........................................................................... 45
Change to the calculation of Disadvantaged Pupil Impact Aid (DPIA)...................... 45
Deadline for correction of reporting errors to EMIS.................................................. 46
Membership of Alternative Education Advisory Council............................................ 47


CONTENT AND OPERATION

COMMUNITY SCHOOL LAW CHANGES
Background
Community schools (often called "charter schools") are public, nonprofit, nonsectarian schools that operate independently of any school district but under contract with a public sponsor.  They are exempt from many education laws and often serve a limited number of grades or a particular purpose.  Conversion community schools may be sponsored by any school district in the state.  Start-up community schools, on the other hand, are new schools that may be established only in "challenged school districts," which include all "Big-Eight" districts, the 13 other large urban districts, all Lucas County districts (the former Pilot Project Area), and any district declared to be in a state of academic emergency.[1]
Under prior law, a start-up school could be sponsored only by the following:
(1) The board of education of the challenged school district in which the school will be located;
(2) The board of education of any other local, exempted village, city, or joint vocational school district with territory in the county in which the majority of territory of the challenged school district is located;
(3) The State Board of Education.
In Lucas County, a start-up school also may be sponsored by the Lucas County Educational Service Center and the University of Toledo Board of Trustees or its designee.
Location of start-up community schools
The act adds "school districts in a state of academic watch" to the definition of "challenged school districts," in which start-up community schools may be located.[2]  (See COMMENT 1.)
The act also explicitly prohibits the establishment of a community school in two or more school districts under the same contract.[3]
Additional entities may sponsor start-up community schools
The act eliminates the authority of the State Board of Education to sponsor start-up community schools two school years after the act's effective date.[4]  However, it also adds some new entities that can sponsor schools.
The act permits any educational service center (in addition to the ESC serving Lucas County as under prior law) to sponsor start-up schools in a county within the territory of the ESC or in a county contiguous to such county.[5]
The act further permits the board of trustees of any of the 13 state-assisted universities or a designee of the board to sponsor a start-up school if at least one of the contractually specified missions of the school is the practical demonstration of teaching methods, educational technology, or other teaching practices that are included in the university's teacher preparation program.[6]  The Department of Education is required to determine, using criteria adopted by rule, whether the mission specified in a school's contract satisfies this requirement.  The determination of the Department in such matter is final.[7]
Finally, any federally tax-exempt entity may sponsor a start-up school as long as certain conditions are satisfied.  First, the entity must have been in operation for at least five years prior to applying to be a community school sponsor.  Second, it must have assets of at least $500,000.  Third, the entity must be an "education-oriented entity" as determined solely by the Department of Education according to criteria adopted by rule of the Department.[8]  Until July 1, 2005, any such entity may sponsor only schools that were formerly sponsored by the State Board of Education.  After that time, tax-exempt entities that meet all of the specified conditions may sponsor any new or existing school in any challenged school district.[9]
Exemption for tax-exempt entity succeeding a state university in the Pilot Project Area as a community school sponsor
The act provides an exemption from the requirement that a tax-exempt entity be in existence for at least five years for any entity that succeeds the board of trustees of a state university located in the Pilot Project Area (Lucas County), or that board's designee, as the sponsor of a community school.  The entity may sponsor a school formerly sponsored by that board of trustees, or its designee, for the remainder of the term of the school's contract and may renew the contract as provided for all schools under the act.  In addition, such entity also may enter into new contracts to sponsor additional community schools as long as it satisfies all of the other requirements of the Community School Law.[10]
Temporary limit on start-up community schools
The act establishes a temporary limit on the total number of start-up community schools that can be in operation statewide.  Until July 1, 2005, there can be only 225 start-up schools operating under contracts with sponsors, except that school district-sponsored community schools that are located within their sponsoring districts do not count toward the overall limit.[11]
Corporate organization of schools
Under prior law, community schools were required to be established as nonprofit corporations under the state Nonprofit Corporation Law, codified in R.C. Chapter 1702.  Under the act, all schools established after the effective date of the act must also be established as "public benefit corporations" under that same chapter of the Revised Code.[12]  A "public benefit corporation" is a corporation that is either a federal tax-exempt entity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or "is organized for a public or charitable purpose and that upon dissolution must distribute its assets to another public benefit corporation, the United States, a state or any political subdivision of a state, or a [Section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity]."  It specifically does not include a nonprofit corporation that is organized by one or more municipal corporations to further a public purpose that is not a charitable purpose.[13]  All schools already established on the effective date of the act are not subject to the new organization requirement.
Changes in Department of Education and State Board of Education responsibilities
The act eliminates the authority of the State Board of Education to sponsor community schools.  However, the act permits the Board to continue to sponsor a school under an existing contract until the earlier of the expiration of two school years or until the school can secure a new sponsor.[14]  Instead of sponsoring schools, the Department of Education under the act is to be the statewide agency overseeing the entire community school program.  Specifically, the Department is responsible for oversight of school sponsors and for providing technical assistance to proposing parties, sponsors, and schools in development and start-up activities.[15]  The Department is further required to conduct training sessions; distribute informational materials; approve entities for sponsorship; issue an annual report to the Governor and the General Assembly on the academic effectiveness, legal compliance, and financial condition of the state's community schools; and from time to time make legislative recommendations.
Approval of sponsors
Under the act, no entity, except for certain current sponsoring entities, is permitted to sponsor community schools until it has been approved by the Department of Education for such sponsorship and has entered into a written agreement with the Department regarding the manner in which it will conduct its sponsorship.[16]  The Department is required to adopt rules that set up criteria, procedures, and deadlines for approving sponsors.  The rules also must establish guidance on oversight of sponsors, revocation of approval of sponsors, and the written agreements between the Department and sponsors.[17]  Once approved as a sponsor, an entity may enter into preliminary agreements and sponsor contracts with community schools (within the temporary limit on new start-up schools enacted in the act).
Current sponsors, not including the State Board, may continue to sponsor schools in conformance with their existing contracts and the provisions of the community school law as amended by the act.  These entities, however, are not required to ever be subject to approval by the Department of Education.  In addition, the Lucas County Educational Service Center may continue to sponsor existing schools without meeting the new geographical restrictions imposed on ESCs under the act, and the University of Toledo Board of Trustees or its designee may also continue, to sponsor existing schools without satisfying the mission requirement for sponsorship by state universities imposed by the act.[18]
All current sponsoring entities may also contract with new schools as long as they continue to comply with all other provisions of the Community School Law.[19]
The act specifies that the decision of the Department to disapprove an entity for sponsorship or to revoke such approval may be appealed under the Administrative Procedure Act.[20]
Authority to assume school sponsorship if sponsor fails to comply with law or contract
If at any time the State Board of Education finds that a sponsor is no longer willing or able to comply with its duties, the Board or designee must conduct an administrative hearing on the matter.  If the Board or designee confirms the finding, then the Department of Education may revoke the entity's approval to be a school sponsor and may assume sponsorship until a new sponsor can be found.  The Department's authority to sponsor under such a case lasts only for up to two school years.[21]
Duties of a school sponsor
In order to sponsor a community school, the act requires a sponsor to obtain the approval of the Department of Education and to enter into a written agreement with the Department.  The agreement is to outline how the entity intends to comply with its monitoring and oversight duties.[22]  A sponsor also must be located or have a representative located within 50 miles of the school location, or in the case of an Internet- or computer-based school, within 50 miles of the school's central base of operation.  A representative of the sponsor must meet with the school's governing authority and review the school's financial records at least once every two months.[23]
In addition, the contract between the governing authority of the school and the sponsor must contain certain provisions relating to what the sponsor will do for the school.  Under these provisions, the sponsor must agree to:
(1) Monitor the school's compliance with all applicable laws and terms of the contract;
(2) Monitor and evaluate the academic and fiscal performance of the school at least annually;
(3) Report the results of that evaluation to the Department and the parents of students in the school;
(4) Provide technical assistance;
(5) Take steps to intervene in the school's operation to correct problems in the school's overall performance; and
(6) Have a plan of action for use in the event the school falls into financial difficulties and closes before the end of a school year.[24]
Renewal of a contract
The initial term of a community school contract is five years.  Under prior law, a contract could be renewed for subsequent five-year terms.  The act provides that a sponsor, with the approval of the school's governing authority, may renew a contract upon its expiration if the sponsor finds that the school's compliance with the law and contract and academic performance is satisfactory.  In the case of a contract renewal under the act, the sponsor determines the term of the contract, which must run through the end of a school year.[25]
Monitoring and oversight fees
Continuing law permits a sponsor to receive payments from the community school for its services.  The act limits the amount of those payments for monitoring and oversight of the school to 3% of the total state payments the school receives for operations.[26]
Organization of the governing authority of a community school
The act provides that each start-up community school must be under the direction of its own governing authority, which must be a board of at least five individuals who are not owners or employees, or immediate relatives of owners or employees, of any for-profit firm that operates or manages a school for the governing authority.  "Immediate relatives" under the act are limited to spouses, children, parents, grandparents, siblings, and in-laws.  The act also prohibits anyone who owes the state money or is in a dispute over owing the state money in regard to a closed community school from serving on a school's governing authority or operating a school under contract with a governing authority.[27]
Ethics considerations
Under continuing law, community schools must comply with the state law on public agency ethics, which among other things requires disclosure of conflicts of interest and prohibits having interests in public contracts under the agency's control.  Nevertheless, members of community school governing authorities are permitted to have interests in contracts with their respective authority.  The act retains these provisions, but it does restrict an individual from having an interest in a for-profit firm that has a contract with the governing authority for the operation or management of a school.[28]
Documentation requirements for management companies providing services to community schools
The act requires each management company providing services to a community school amounting to more than 20% of the annual gross revenues of the school to provide a detailed accounting including the nature and costs of the services it provides to the community school.  This information is to be included in the footnotes of the financial statements of the school and be subject to audit during the course of the regular financial audit of the community school.[29]
Fiscal officer qualifications
Continuing law requires that each community school have a fiscal officer.  The act further specifies that the individual who is so employed, prior to beginning his or her duties, must either (1) be a licensed school district treasurer or business manager or (2) complete at least 16 hours of continuing education classes in school accounting approved by the school's sponsor.  If the fiscal officer is not a licensed school district treasurer or business manager, the individual must complete an additional 24 hours of approved continuing education coursework in school accounting within one year of assuming the duties of fiscal officer.[30]  Beginning with the second year of employment and each subsequent year thereafter, any such fiscal officer must complete eight hours of continuing education in school accounting approved by the school's sponsor.[31]
Five-year budget projections
The act requires the governing authority of a community school to file with the Department of Education an annual five-year revenue and expenditure projection in the same manner as required for school district boards of education.[32]
Governing authority annual report
Under continuing law, the governing authority of a community school is required to issue an annual report of the school's activities, academic progress, and financial condition.  The report is to be submitted to the school's sponsor, the parents of the school's students, and the Legislative Office of Education Oversight.  The act specifies that this report must be submitted within four months after the end of each school year.[33]
Disclaimer to parents
The act requires that each community school and any operator of a community school place a specified disclaimer in a conspicuous manner in all documents that are distributed to parents of students enrolled in the school or that are distributed to the general public.  That disclaimer is to read as follows: Limiting community schools targeted for "at risk" students to students identified as gifted
Continuing law permits a community school to limit its enrollment to a specific age group, to students from a geographical area defined in the school's contract with its sponsor, and to certain "at risk" students also as defined in the school's contract.  The act provides that for purposes of defining "at risk," the contract may include students identified as gifted students.  The act, thus, permits a school to limit its enrollment to just students identified as gifted students who satisfy the contractually defined description of "at risk."[35]
Elimination of exemptions for community schools from certain education laws
Community schools are exempt from many education laws applicable to other public schools.  Some of the exemptions previously granted to community schools are eliminated by the act.[36]
Third grade reading guarantee
A provision in continuing law commonly known as the "third grade reading guarantee" aims to ensure that students are reading at grade level by the end of third grade.  (The third grade reading guarantee replaces the current fourth grade reading guarantee effective July 1, 2003, as the fourth grade reading proficiency test is phased out in favor of the third grade reading achievement test.[37])  Under the reading guarantee provision, school districts must annually assess students at the end of first and second grade and provide them with intervention services if they are reading below grade level.[38]
Furthermore, third graders who do not attain a score in the proficient range on the third grade reading achievement test must receive intense remediation services and another opportunity to take the test in the summer following third grade.  Third graders who score in the below basic range on the summer administration of the test are subject to one of the following three options selected at the discretion of the school district:
(1) Promotion to the fourth grade if the principal and reading teacher agree, based upon other evaluations of the student's reading skill, that the student is academically prepared for fourth grade work;
(2) Promotion to the fourth grade, but only with "intensive" intervention services in that grade;
(3) Retention in third grade.
For students who are promoted to fourth grade without attaining the proficient score on the third grade reading achievement test, there are several opportunities to retake the test.  If a student still has not passed the test at the end of his or her fourth grade year, the district has the same options described above regarding the further promotion or retention of that student.[39]
The act applies to community schools all of these provisions regarding annual assessments of students' reading abilities, intervention services, and options for promoting and retaining students.
Diagnostic assessments
Continuing law requires the State Board of Education to adopt a diagnostic assessment for each of grades kindergarten through two in reading, writing, and math and grades three through eight in those subjects as well as science and social studies.  These diagnostic assessments must be aligned with statewide academic standards and be designed to measure student comprehension and mastery of the content of the standards.  The deadline for adoption is July 1, 2007.  Under continuing law, both school districts and community schools must administer and score the diagnostic assessments at least once annually beginning the first school year after their adoption.  At present no diagnostic assessments have been adopted.[40]
Under prior law, two other requirements related to the diagnostic assessments applied only to school districts.  The act applies both of these requirements to community schools.  First, districts, and now community schools, must provide intervention services to students whose diagnostic assessments show that they are not making satisfactory progress toward the attainment of the academic standards for their grade level.  Second, districts, and now community schools, must administer the appropriate diagnostic assessment to transfer students within 30 days after the date of transfer.[41]
Policy on prevention/intervention services
Under continuing law, each school district must adopt a policy governing the conduct of "academic prevention/intervention services" for all grades and school buildings served by the district.  Districts must update their policies annually.  Each district's policy must cover the services offered by the district to students who fail to attain at least a proficient score on a fourth, sixth, or ninth grade proficiency test (until such tests are phased out) or who fail to attain at least a basic score on a third, fourth, fifth, seventh, or eighth grade achievement test or who perform poorly on a diagnostic assessment.
With respect to the provision of prevention/intervention services based on the results of diagnostic assessments, the policy must include all of the following:
(1) Procedures for using the diagnostic assessments to measure student progress toward the attainment of academic standards and to identify students who may not attain the academic standards;
(2) A plan for the design of classroom-based intervention services to meet the instructional needs of individual students;
(3) Procedures for the regular collection of student performance data;
(4) Procedures for using student performance data to evaluate the effectiveness of intervention services and, if necessary, to modify such services.[42]
Under the act, the law requiring school district "academic prevention/intervention services" policies is made applicable to community schools.
Student immunizations
Continuing law prohibits a student from remaining in school for more than 14 days, beginning from the time of initial entry or the start of each school year, without providing written evidence to the admissions officer that the student has been immunized (or is in the process of being immunized) in a manner approved by the Department of Health against various communicable diseases.  Immunizations against mumps, polio, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, rubeola, and rubella are mandatory for all students.  Kindergartners must also be immunized against hepatitis B.  Exemptions from immunization are granted if (1) a student has already had a natural form of a specific disease, (2) a student's parent or guardian objects in writing to the immunization for good cause, including religious convictions, or (3) a student's physician certifies in writing that a specific immunization is medically contraindicated.[43]
Under continuing law, both school districts and community schools must keep immunization records for their students that trace the history of immunizations against the diseases listed above.[44]  On the other hand, prior law required only school districts to comply with the 14-day limit for presentation of proof of immunization and the statutory exemptions from immunization.  The act extends these requirements to community schools as well.
Training in child abuse prevention
School districts and educational service centers (ESCs), under continuing law, must develop in-service training programs in child abuse prevention for their employees who work as teachers, administrators, nurses, counselors, or school psychologists in elementary schools.  All such employees must complete at least four hours of in-service training in child abuse prevention within three years of commencing employment.  Districts and ESCs must consult with public or private agencies or individuals involved in child abuse prevention or intervention in developing their training programs.[45]
The act requires community schools that serve elementary grades to provide training programs in child abuse prevention to the same employees and in the same manner as school districts and ESCs.[46]
Compliance with various school attendance provisions
The School Attendance Law, as codified in R.C. Chapter 3321., provides that a child residing in this state between the ages of 6 and 18 is of "compulsory school age" and must attend school.[47]  While it is a parent's duty to ensure that a child of compulsory school age is educated in accordance with law, school districts also have various responsibilities under the School Attendance Law.[48]  Prior law largely exempted community school officials from adhering to the School Attendance Law.[49]  The act requires community schools to follow many of the same school attendance provisions as school districts.
One such provision requires that when a child withdraws from school, the child's teacher must determine why the child withdrew.[50]  In the case of a student who withdraws because of a change in address, it is then the responsibility of the school district superintendent to forward the child's pertinent school records to the superintendent of the child's new residential school district.  In the case of a community school, presumably the role of a district superintendent would be carried out by the governing authority.
However, if the student withdraws for a reason other than a change of address and is not attending school elsewhere, or if a student is removed from school because of an incident involving a weapon, the superintendent (governing authority, presumably) is responsible for notifying the Registrar of Motor Vehicles and the juvenile judge of the county in which the school is located.[51]  Additionally, a school may develop a policy allowing notification to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles and the applicable juvenile judge in other instances when a student is absent without a legitimate excuse, expelled, or suspended from school.
The act also requires a community school to employ an attendance officer.[52]  This attendance officer has police powers to investigate and enforce the compulsory education laws and the laws applicable to the employment of minors.[53]  Like the attendance officer of a school district, the attendance officer of a community school is also responsible for instituting legal action against a parent, guardian, or other person who violates the compulsory education or employment of minors laws.  The attendance officer is also responsible for keeping records pertaining to the officer's transactions and cooperating with the Director of Commerce in enforcing laws relating to the employment of minors.[54]
Finally, the act requires community schools to treat "habitual" and "chronic" truants in the same manner as must school districts.[55]  Like school districts, community schools must adopt an intervention policy addressing habitual truants that is developed in consultation with the applicable juvenile court judge, parents, and pertinent state and local agencies.[56]  Additionally, the act requires the attendance officer of a community school to investigate a truant student, warn the student of the legal consequences of truancy, notify the parents, and order the parents to cause the child's school attendance.
If the student is a habitual truant, the school must take either or both of the following actions:  (1) follow an intervention strategy contained in the mandatory intervention policy or (2) file a complaint in the juvenile court for the county in which the school is located alleging that the child is either "unruly" or "delinquent" and that the child's parent has failed to cause the child's school attendance.  If the student is a chronic truant, the school must file a complaint alleging the child is delinquent and that the parent has failed to send the child to school.  Furthermore, a school can require a parent to attend a parental involvement program if the parent's child is truant.[57]
Suspension of school operations for health and safety violations
Continuing law requires a sponsor to suspend immediately the operation of a community school for health and safety violations.  The governing authority of a school under suspension must notify the parents of any students enrolled in the school and school employees of the suspension, citing the reasons for the suspension and cease operations the next business day after receiving notice of the suspension.  It must submit proposed remedies within five business days or face contract termination.
The act eliminates language specifying that it is the sponsor that may determine if a school is not in compliance with health and safety standards.  The change appears to leave such a determination to local inspectors, whose report the sponsor presumably can rely on to make the decision whether or not to suspend the operation of the school.  In addition, the act provides that if a sponsor does not take action to immediately suspend a school for known health and safety problems, the Department of Education may take such action.[58]  The act also specifies that the contract between the school's governing authority and sponsor must include provisions that recognize both:
(1) The authority of public health and safety officials to inspect the facilities of the school and to order the facilities closed if those officials find that the facilities are not in compliance with health and safety laws and regulations; and
(2) The authority of the Department to suspend the operation of the school if (a) the Department has evidence of conditions or violations of law at the school that pose an imminent danger to the health and safety of the school's students and employees and (b) the sponsor fails or refuses to take such action.[59]
Probationary status
In lieu of termination or suspension, the act provides an alternative method for a sponsor to intervene in the operation of a failing community school.  Under the act, after consultation with the governing authority, the sponsor may issue a written declaration that the school is in a "probationary status," but only if it has received reasonable assurances that the governing authority can and will correct the undesirable conditions.  This status may not extend beyond the end of the current school year.
The sponsor must monitor the actions taken by the school's governing authority to remedy the conditions that warranted the probationary status.  If the sponsor finds that the school's governing authority is no longer able or willing to remedy conditions to the sponsor's satisfaction, the sponsor may (1) take over the school's operation as provided in the school's contract or (2) take steps to terminate the school's contract or suspend its operations.[60]
Distribution of assets of a closed school
The act specifies priorities for the distribution of the assets in the event that a school permanently closes.  In such case, the assets are to be distributed first to the retirement funds of employees of the school, to employees of the school, and to private creditors who are owed compensation.  Any remaining funds are to be paid to the state general revenue fund.  If the assets of the school are insufficient to pay all valid claims, the act specifies that the prioritization of the distribution of assets within each class of payees may be determined by court order in accordance with Nonprofit Corporation Law.
The act also provides that if the school has received computer hardware or software from the Ohio SchoolNet Commission, that hardware or software must be returned to the Commission.  In turn, the Commission must redistribute the hardware and software, to the extent possible, to school districts in conformance with the provisions of the programs operated and administered by the Commission.[61]
However, the act specifies that its provisions regarding the distribution of assets apply only to the extent permitted under the state Nonprofit Corporation Law, which might in some cases require other distribution priorities.[62]  Still, under that law, a corporation is required to use its assets for the payment of its obligations and only then must distribute the remainder of its assets in a prescribed manner.[63]
Single-gender community schools
Generally, the governing authority of a community school must adopt procedures that do not discriminate in the admission of students on the basis of "race, creed, color, handicapping condition, or sex."  The act, however, permits the establishment of single-gender schools with comparable facilities and learning opportunities for both boys and girls as long as the purpose of such schools is to "take advantage of the academic benefits some students realize from single-gender instruction and facilities and to offer students and parents . . . the option of a single-gender education."[64]
Internet community schools
Internet or computer-based community schools, sometimes called Internet schools, electronic schools, or e-schools, are defined by the act as community schools in which students "work primarily from their residences on assignments provided via an Internet- or other computer-based instructional method that does not rely on regular classroom instruction."[65]  Under the act, conversion schools cannot be Internet schools.[66]  Therefore, if a school district wishes to sponsor an Internet school, it must establish the school as a new start-up school rather than converting an existing school into an Internet community school.  All Internet community schools must establish a central base of operation at a physical location.[67]
Generally, all statutes and administrative rules that apply to community schools as a whole also apply to Internet schools, even though such schools have a different method of delivering educational services.[68]  The act adds three statutory stipulations that apply solely to Internet schools.  The first two of these stipulations must be specified in the contract between an Internet school's sponsor and the school's governing authority.[69]
First, Internet schools must use a hardware filtering device or install filtering software on each computer they provide to students for instructional use.  This device or software must block Internet access to materials that are considered obscene or harmful to juveniles.  (For definitions of "obscene" and "harmful to juveniles," see COMMENT 2.)  For students who use a computer at home obtained from a source other than the school (a personal computer paid for by a parent, for example), the Internet school must make such device or software available to the students at no charge so that the students may use or install it on their computers.[70]
Second, Internet schools must develop a plan to fulfill the intent of the General Assembly stated in the act that teachers at Internet schools conduct face-to-face visits with their students throughout the school year.  Each school's plan must indicate the number of times teachers will visit each student enrolled in the school during the course of the school year as well as the manner in which those visits will be conducted (for example, in the student's home, at a central location, or on a field trip with other students).
Entitlement to one computer per enrolled child in an Internet community school
The act further provides that each child enrolled in an Internet- or computer-based community school is entitled to a computer supplied by the school.  It also provides that if more than one child living in a single household is enrolled in the school, at the option of the parent of those children, the school may supply less than one computer per child, as long as at least one computer is supplied to the household.  The parent may amend the decision to accept less than one computer per enrolled child anytime during the school year.  In such case, the school must within 30 days of the parent's notice provide any additional computers requested by the parent, up to one computer for each child enrolled in the school.[71]
The act also requires each Internet school to provide to each parent who is considering enrolling a child in the school and to the parent of each child already enrolled in the school a written notice of the provisions described above.[72]
Finally, the act specifies that if a school fails to provide a student with a computer in the manner described (either on a one-computer-per-student basis or upon request of a parent), the school may not count that student as "enrolled" for purposes of receiving state moneys for that student.[73]
Changes to the law regarding the counting of community school students for funding purposes
Background
Each community school receives funding on a per pupil basis, which the Department of Education deducts from the amounts that would otherwise be paid to the school districts where the students enrolled in the community school are entitled to attend school.  For each student enrolled, the school receives the "formula amount," which is the recognized minimum base cost calculated by the state, times the cost-of-doing-business factor for the county in which the student's resident school district is located, plus an applicable weight for any special education or vocational education student.  The school also may receive some Disadvantaged Pupil Impact Aid for each low-income student.
Adjustments to school district formula ADMs when community school students are omitted from annual count
For state funding purposes, each school district's enrollment (formally called the "formula ADM") is measured as the average daily number of students attending school during the first full school week in October.  To this count is added (among other categories of students) those students who are legally entitled to attend school in the district but who instead enroll in community schools.  This arrangement allows the school district (in most cases) to be credited with the state funding generated by those students before the money is transferred to the community schools.  But if a community school opens after the first full week of October, the students presumably would not be counted in any school district's formula ADM, while the community school's funding nevertheless would be deducted from school districts.[74]  In such a scenario, a school district would experience a net loss of state funds because its formula ADM would not include the community school students, and the district would never be credited with the state funds generated by those students to offset the transfer.
The act addresses this scenario by directing the Department of Education to adjust the formula ADM of any school district whenever a community school student has been excluded from the appropriate school district's formula ADM by adding the student.  After adjusting the formula ADM to include the student, the Department then must recalculate the district's state funds for the entire fiscal year based on that adjustment.  The act specifies that this requirement applies regardless of whether the student was enrolled in the community school during the first full week of October, when the district's formula ADM was counted.[75]
Community school students must be counted in district formula ADMs for the same proportion of the school year
The act further specifies that a community school student must be counted in the formula ADM of a school district "for the same proportion of the school year that the student is counted in the enrollment of the community school."[76]
Continuing law requires the Department of Education to prorate state funding to a community school when a student is enrolled for less than a full school year.[77]
Technical change to provision of law regarding counting of all-day kindergarten students
Under continuing law, certain school districts may be eligible for state Disadvantaged Pupil Impact Aid (DPIA) payments for the provision of all-day, every-day kindergarten.  For every community school student who is enrolled in all-day kindergarten and is from a district eligible for DPIA all-day kindergarten payments, the Department of Education must pay the community school one-half the formula amount.  That payment is generally deducted from the payments credited to the community school student's home school district.  The act does not substantially change this law, but it does make a technical correction by eliminating an inaccurate division reference in prior law.[78]
Periodic payments to a school and due process considerations over disputed enrollments
Under continuing law, the Department makes periodic payments throughout a fiscal year to community schools in much the same way that it adjusts the accounts of school districts for state foundation moneys owed.  The law specifies that the Department must "adjust" the amounts of the moneys subtracted from school districts and then paid to community schools to "reflect any enrollment of students for less than the equivalent of a full school year."[79]  The act provides further statutory guidance to the Department in determining the full-time equivalency of community school students.  First, it requires the State Board of Education to adopt rules governing initial payments and periodic adjusted payments.  Second, it specifies that a student's percentage of full-time equivalency is the percentage that the hours of "learning opportunities" offered to the student is of 920 hours. Third, it specifies that "learning opportunities" for each school, including both "classroom-based" and "non-classroom-based" opportunities, must be defined in the school's contract with its sponsor in accordance with requirements established by the Department.  Fourth, the act specifies that a student's enrollment is considered to cease on any of the following:
(a) The school receives documentation from the student's parent terminating the student's enrollment;
(b) The school receives documentation that the student is enrolled in another public or private school; or
(c) The school ceases to offer the specified learning opportunities.[80]
The act also provides procedures for resolution of disputes over whether a student is enrolled in a school.  The act specifies that, if the Department determines that a review of a school's enrollment is necessary, the Department must conduct such a review and send written findings of the review to the school's governing authority and sponsor within 90 days of the end of the school's fiscal year. This period may be extended for another 30 days under agreement between the school and the Department or if the school has caused delays in data submission.  If payment is owed to the school, that payment must be made within 30 days of the notice of findings.  If the school owes the state money, the school may request an appeal within ten business days of the notice of findings.  If the school files a timely appeal, the State Board or its designee must conduct an informal hearing on the matter.  If the Board has enlisted a designee, that designee must certify its decision to the Board, which can accept or reject the decision.  Any decision made by the Board on the matter is final.[81]
Attendance policy
Continuing law requires the governing authority of each community school to establish a dismissal policy which is part of its contract with the school's sponsor.  The act requires that the contract also contain a requirement that the authority adopt an attendance policy.  That policy must include a procedure for "automatically withdrawing" any student who fails without legitimate excuse to participate in 105 cumulative hours of learning opportunities offered to the student.  Under such policy, a student must be withdrawn by the end of the 30th day after the student has failed to participate as required.[82]
Counting of certain vocational students in the ADMs of community schools and joint vocational school districts
Under continuing law, for state funding purposes, any student who is enrolled in a vocational course at a joint vocational school district (JVSD) that includes the territory of the student's resident school district is counted in the formula ADM of the JVSD for the full-time equivalent (FTE) of the time that the student is to attend that course.  In addition, the student is counted in his or her resident district's formula ADM for an additional one-quarter of FTE of the time that the student is to attend the course.[83]  In other words, in such a situation, the JVSD may count up to 1 FTE for the student and the student's resident school district may count up to 1/4 FTE for the same student.  Under the act, if a student is enrolled in a community school but also is enrolled in a JVSD that includes the territory of the student's resident district under a contract with the community school, the community school may count up to 1/4 FTE for that student.  The JVSD in which the student is enrolled may count up to 1 FTE for the student.[84]
Payments to the School Employees Retirement System
Employees of community schools participate in the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) and School Employees Retirement System (SERS), the latter for nonteaching employees.  Consequently, the schools' governing authorities are required to make periodic payments into each fund on behalf of their employees.  Law not changed by the act requires that payments into STRS by both school districts and community schools on behalf of their respective teachers, including employee and employer contributions, be deducted automatically from each district's or school's periodic state payments and paid directly into the fund by the Department of Education.[85]  For payments on behalf of community school nonteaching employees into SERS, on the other hand, prior to the enactment of this act, the law only permitted, but did not require, such automatic deduction and direct payment.  Under the act, those payments are to be deducted and paid into SERS in the same way as they are deducted and paid into STRS.  The act, however, retains permissive language relative to payments by school districts into STRS.[86]
General Assembly's intent on the use of state money to pay taxes
The act states that it is the intent of the General Assembly that no state money paid to a community school for per-pupil funding be used by the school to pay any taxes the school might owe on its own behalf, including but not limited to, local, state, and federal income taxes, sales taxes, and personal and real property taxes.  This intent language specifically does not apply to any money withheld from an employee of a community school that are payable by the school to a government entity as taxes on behalf of the employee.  The act does not specify any consequence in the case of a community school that uses its state moneys to pay any taxes the school owes.[87]
Borrowing authority
Under prior law, a community school could borrow for "necessary and actual expenses" against its expected state payments for up to one fiscal year.  In addition, a school could borrow money for up to 15 years to participate in the Community School Classroom Facilities Loan Guarantee Program (see "Changes to the Community School Classroom Facilities Loan Guarantee Program," below).  The act permits a school to borrow against expected state payments for an unspecified term and it permits borrowing for up to 15 years for any facilities acquisition.  However, the act explicitly states that, with the exception of loan guarantees issued under the Classroom Facilities Loan Guarantee Program, the State of Ohio is not liable for debts incurred by the community schools.[88]
Title I allocations
The act requires the Department of Education to include community schools in its annual allocation of federal moneys under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.[89]
Community school compliance with EMIS
Under the Education Management Information System (EMIS), school districts and community schools are required to report specified student, building, personnel, and fiscal data electronically to the Department of Education.  The act retains the requirement that community schools comply with EMIS, but it specifies how community schools are to comply and permits the State Board of Education to tailor the system to community schools' circumstances.[90]
First, it permits the State Board of Education to distinguish methods and timelines for community schools to annually report their data.  These methods and timelines must be appropriate to the academic schedules and financing of community schools.  They cannot, however, modify the actual data that is to be reported under EMIS.
Second, the act designates the financial officer of each community school as the individual responsible for reporting the school's data through EMIS.[91]  It makes that officer liable to a $100 civil penalty for:
(1) Willfully failing to report data in any one year;
(2) Willfully reporting erroneous, inaccurate, or incomplete data in any one year; or
(3) Negligently reporting erroneous, inaccurate, or incomplete data in the current and a previous year.
The penalty may be imposed by the Superintendent of Public Instruction, but only after affording the officer with notice and an opportunity for a hearing under the Administrative Procedure Act (R.C. Chapter 119.).  The act specifies that this new authority to impose a civil penalty does not preclude the State Board of Education from also exercising its pre-existing authority to suspend or revoke the license of a community school employee who willfully reports erroneous, inaccurate, or incomplete data to EMIS.[92]
Contracting for service to disabled students
The act specifically permits the governing authority of a community school to contract with the governing authority of another community school, a school district board of education, the governing board of an educational service center, a county MR/DD board, or a nonpublic school administrative authority for the provision of services to disabled students who are enrolled at the school.  It also requires that any school district board negotiate with a community school governing authority for those services in the same manner as it would negotiate with another school district board.[93]
Transportation of community school students
Background
Under continuing law, the school district in which a community school student is entitled to attend school is required to provide transportation for that student in the same manner as it provides transportation for students attending the district's own schools.  Generally, this means that a school district board must transport all community school students in grades kindergarten through eight residing in the district who live more than two miles from the school.  A district board is not required to transport nonhandicapped students to and from a community school located in another district if the drive time is more than 30 minutes.  In addition, a district board may make a payment in lieu of transportation to the parent of any student for whom it is impractical to provide transportation.
On the other hand, a school district is not required to provide transportation for any students attending a community school with which the district has entered into a contract providing for the community school to transport its students.  If a community school enters into such a contract, it must transport each of its students in grades kindergarten through eight who live more than two miles from the school and all handicapped students.  In addition, the school is eligible for a payment for each transported student who lives more than one mile from the school.[94]  The payment is deducted from the transportation money the state credits to the school districts in which the community school students reside.
Transportation obligation
The act specifically continues to treat students attending a community school the same as those attending district and nonpublic schools for purposes of the school district transportation obligation, and it also continues to allow a school district and a community school to enter into a contract making the community school responsible for the transportation of its own students.[95]
Changes in contract provisions
Under continuing law, the contract under which a community school accepts the responsibility to transport its own students is effective only if the Superintendent of Public Instruction certifies that the contract has been submitted to the Department of Education by a deadline set by the Department and that the contract specifies qualifications for student transportation.
In addition to these two criteria for a transportation contract to be effective, the act requires that the Superintendent of Public Instruction certify that the transportation provided by the community school is subject to all provisions of the Revised Code and administrative law pertaining to pupil transportation and that the sponsor of the school signed the transportation agreement.
Previously, under a transportation contract, a community school was required to transport free of any charge at least its enrolled students in grades kindergarten through eight who live more than two miles from the school.  It also could choose to transport (and receive the per pupil payment for transporting) any students who live at least one mile from the school.  The act replaces this specific language with a general requirement for the community school to provide transportation free of any charge for each of its enrolled students who are eligible for transportation under the general law governing transportation of public and nonpublic pupils.
If a community school assumes transportation responsibility under an agreement, it is entitled to a payment from the state, which is deducted from the state payments for transportation that otherwise would be paid to the students' home districts.  Under prior law, the amount of the payment was $450 per pupil transported in fiscal year 2002, and was to be inflated by the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index for all urban transportation in each subsequent fiscal year.  Prior law also authorized a community school to make a payment in lieu of transporting a student if the drive time was more than 30 minutes.  The act eliminates these provisions regarding the payment schedule and the payment in lieu of transporting if the drive time is more than 30 minutes.  Instead, the act requires that the amount of the payment to a community school for transportation of eligible students or certain disabled students is to be as specified in the contract with the school district.  It authorizes a community school to provide or arrange transportation for enrolled students who are not eligible for transportation and to charge a fee up to the cost of the transportation service.[96]
Other school district transportation requirements
Payment in lieu of transportation
Under continuing law, a school district must provide transportation for public and nonpublic school pupils in grades kindergarten through eight who live more than two miles from the school except when, in the judgment of such board and confirmed by the State Board of Education, transportation is unnecessary or unreasonable.  In determining the necessity for transportation, the school district must consider availability of facilities and distance to the school.  Where it is impractical to transport a pupil by school conveyance, a board of education may, in lieu of providing transportation, pay a parent, guardian, or other person in charge of the child, an amount per pupil, which may not exceed the average transportation cost per pupil.[97]
In general, the act codifies the current practice of the Department of Education concerning payment in lieu of transportation.[98]  It outlines the steps that a board of education of a city, exempted village, or local school district must follow when considering payment in lieu of transportation for a pupil who otherwise is eligible for transportation to and from the school that the pupil attends.
First, the board of education must consider each of the following factors:
(1) The time and distance required to provide the transportation;
(2) The number of pupils to be transported;
(3) The cost of providing transportation in terms of equipment, maintenance, personnel, and administration;
(4) Whether similar or equivalent service is provided to other pupils eligible for transportation;
(5) Whether and to what extent the additional service unavoidably disrupts current transportation schedules;
(6) Whether other reimbursable types of transportation are available.
Second, the board may pass a resolution declaring the impracticality of transportation.  The resolution must be based on its consideration of the factors listed above and must include each pupil's name and the reason for impracticality.
Third, the board must report its determination to the State Board of Education in a manner determined by the State Board.  As under current law, the board of education of a local school district additionally must submit the resolution to the educational service center (ESC) that contains the local district's territory for concurrence.  If the ESC considers transportation by school conveyance to be practicable, the local board must provide the transportation; if the ESC concurs in the resolution of impracticality, the local board must proceed in accordance with the steps described below.
Fourth, the board of education must offer to provide payment in lieu of transportation by doing the following:
(1) In accordance with guidelines established by the Department, informing the pupil's parent, guardian, or other person in charge of the pupil (hereafter, "parent") of the board's resolution and the parent's right to accept the offer of payment in lieu of transportation or to reject the offer and instead request the Department to initiate mediation procedures.
(2) Issuing the parent a contract or other form with an option to accept or reject the board's offer of payment in lieu of transportation.[99]
Acceptance of payment.  If the parent accepts the offer of payment in lieu of transportation, the board must pay an amount within a range established by the Department, the upper end of which is the amount determined by the Department as the average cost of pupil transportation for the previous school year.  Payment may be prorated if the time period involved is only a part of the school year.[100]
Rejection of payment.  If a parent rejects the offer of payment in lieu of transportation, the Department, upon the parent's request, must conduct mediation procedures.  The school district must provide transportation for the pupil from the time mediation is requested until the matter is resolved either through the mediation process or by the State Board of Education.  If the mediation does not resolve the dispute, the State Board must conduct an administrative hearing in accordance with Chapter 119. of the Revised Code.  The State Board may approve the payment in lieu of transportation or may order the district board of education to provide transportation.  The act specifies that the decision of the State Board is binding in subsequent years and on future parties in interest, provided the facts of the determination remain comparable.[101]
Sanctions for failure to transport.  If the Department determines that a school district board has failed or is failing to provide transportation after mediation is requested or as ordered by the State Board after the administrative hearing, the Department must order the school district board to pay the parent an amount equal to the state average daily cost of transportation as determined by the State Board for the previous year.[102]  The school district board must make payments on a schedule ordered by the Department.[103]
If the Department subsequently finds that a school district board is not in compliance with an order to make payments to the parent and the affected pupils are enrolled in a nonpublic or community school, the Department must deduct the amount that the board is required to pay under that order from any payments the Department makes to the school district board under the transportation part of the state funding formula.  The Department must use the deducted moneys to make payments to the nonpublic or community school attended by the pupil.  The deductions and payments continue until the school district board either complies with the Department's order to make payments to the parent or begins providing transportation.[104]
The act directs a nonpublic or community school that receives transportation payments from the Department because of the failure of the school district board to make payments as ordered either to disburse the entire amount of the payments to the parent of the affected pupil or to use the entire amount of the payments to provide acceptable transportation for the affected pupil.[105]
Reimbursement of community school parents for transportation to Post-Secondary Enrollment Options
Under the Post-Secondary Enrollment Options Program, high school students may attend a public or nonpublic college or university or a private career school part- or full-time and the state pays a proportional amount of the base cost otherwise credited to the student's home district to the institution the student attends for instructional costs.  Community school students are entitled to participate in this program.
Under the act, if a community school provides or arranges transportation for its students in grades nine through twelve, the parents of certain of its Post-Secondary Enrollment Options students may apply to the school's governing authority for a full or partial reimbursement of the cost of transporting the student to the higher education institution.  A parent may apply if the student is taking courses for both high school and college credit.  As under pre-existing law for school district students, parents of students taking courses only for college credit may not apply for reimbursement.[106]
Changes to the Community School Classroom Facilities Loan Guarantee Program
Generally, start-up community schools must arrange for their own buildings in which to operate.  To aid in that effort, the General Assembly recently created a loan guarantee program to be administered by the Ohio School Facilities Commission (SFC).  Under that program, community schools may apply for loan guarantees for up to 15 years on 85% of the principal and interest on loans to acquire buildings.[107]
Previously, that program applied only to start-up schools.  The act permits conversion community schools to also apply for loan guarantees under the program.[108]
The act repeals the prior definition of "classroom facilities" for purposes of the loan guarantee program and instead defines "classroom facilities" as "buildings, land, grounds, equipment, and furnishings used by a community school in furtherance of its mission and contract."[109]
The act further specifies that loans that are guaranteed under the program may be used for "improving or replacing" in addition to "acquiring" classroom facilities (as under prior law).  Also, the law previously excluded new construction of facilities, but the act specifically permits the guaranteed loans to be used for new construction.
Finally, prior law required that the facilities meet SFC specifications, but the act requires only that the facilities acquired, improved, or replaced meet applicable health and safety standards established for school buildings.[110]
Lease-purchase authority
Continuing law permits school districts and educational service centers to acquire buildings and building improvements through a statutory system of lease-purchase agreements.  Under such agreements, a district or ESC may enter into up to 30 one-year renewable leases with the possibility of acquiring fee simple to the property at the end of the lease period.
The act adds community school governing authorities to the list of entities that may use this method to acquire property.[111]
Community School Revolving Loan Program
The act creates a new revolving loan program to assist start-up community schools in paying the costs associated with complying with contract terms.  Loans under the program are to be made for up to five years and paid back by automatic deductions from the school's state operations payments.  The rate of interest of each loan is the rate that would be earned on the same money if invested in the state "subdivision's fund" (STAROhio fund) maintained by the state treasurer to hold short-term subdivision investments.  A school may receive more than one loan from the new fund, but over the life of the school's contract term it may receive a maximum of $250,000.  The revolving loan fund consists solely of federal money allocated for the development and operation of community schools.[112]
The principal paid back on each loan is to be redeposited in the revolving loan fund.  The interest, on the other hand, is to be deposited in the Community School Security Fund (also created in the act), which is to be used to pay into the revolving loan fund to cover the amount of any defaults on loans.[113]
The act specifies that in approving loans under the program, the Superintendent of Public Instruction may consider the soundness of the school's business plan, the availability of other funding sources, geographic distribution of loans, impact of the loan on the ability of a school to secure other funds, plans for the creative use of the loan moneys, and the financial needs of the school.  In addition, the Superintendent must give priority to new schools to pay start-up costs.[114]
Under the act, the Office of Budget and Management and the Department of Education are charged with jointly monitoring the adequacy of money in the loan fund.  The agencies must report annually to the General Assembly regarding the sufficiency of fund money and, if necessary, recommend changes in the interest rate charged on loans or in default recovery procedures.[115]
Inclusion of conversion school data on district report card
For a school district that sponsors a conversion community school, the act requires that academic performance data for students enrolled in the conversion school be included in the calculation of the performance of the district as a whole for the purpose of the annual report cards issued by the Department of Education for the district.[116]  Under continuing law, district report cards must contain disaggregated student performance data broken down by various categories such as race, gender, and student mobility.  The act requires that performance data also be disaggregated according to students' enrollment in a conversion school.[117]
Applicability of "school safety zone" to community schools
Continuing law designates certain acts as criminal offenses, and applies enhanced penalties to certain other crimes, when they are committed in a "school safety zone."[118]  As defined in the Criminal Code, a school safety zone consists of all of the following:  (1) a school building, (2) the property on which the school is located and any other property owned or leased by the school or its governing board on which instruction, extracurricular activities, or training is conducted, (3) activities held under the auspices of the school or its governing board, and (4) school buses.  Thus, for example, disorderly conduct is typically a minor misdemeanor, but if a person is convicted of disorderly conduct while at a school athletic event, then the offense is a fourth degree misdemeanor.
Under prior law, the definition of school safety zone appeared to encompass only schools operated by a board of education and private schools.  The act expands the definition of school safety zone specifically to include community schools.[119]
Prohibition against monetary incentives for school enrollment
The act prohibits the governing authority of a community school or the board of education of any city, exempted village, or local school district from offering a monetary or in-kind incentive to a student or a student's parents for enrollment at a particular community school or a school operated by the applicable school district.  There is an exception to this prohibition, however.  A community school or a school district is permitted to provide a student with any books, supplies, equipment, or other goods that are necessary for the student's education.[120]  Presumably, a community school or school district could also provide a student or the student's parents with a monetary payment to cover such expenses.
LOEO studies
The act requires the Legislative Office of Education Oversight (LOEO) to conduct two studies.  The first is a study of the methodologies and statutory systems used in other states to fund their independent public charter schools.  The Office is to compare those systems to the ones used in Ohio law and to submit a written report on the matter to the General Assembly by January 31, 2004.[121]
LOEO also must conduct a study of the cost of educating students in Internet community schools and issue its findings in a written report to the General Assembly by December 31, 2003.[122]
CHANGES TO OTHER EDUCATION LAWS
Issuing age and schooling certificates
Under the state minor labor law, an employer generally must require that an employee who is under 18 years old and has not received a high school diploma or its equivalent present an age and schooling certificate before hiring that employee.[123]  These certificates are issued by the superintendent of the school district in which the student resides or the chief administrative officer of the nonpublic school or community school that the student attends, provided the student satisfies several requirements such as proof the student is at least 14 years of age and has passed a physical exam.
Continuing law permits a superintendent or a chief administrative officer to choose a designee to issue age and schooling certificates.  The act expands this provision by explicitly allowing the superintendent of a local school district to designate the superintendent of the educational service center (ESC) to which the school district belongs as the person authorized to issue age and schooling certificates for that local district.[124]
Change to the calculation of Disadvantaged Pupil Impact Aid (DPIA)
Under the current school funding system, some school districts receive additional state money known as Disadvantaged Pupil Impact Aid (DPIA), because the proportion of low-income students who receive public assistance in the district is a certain percentage of the statewide proportion.  Generally, this money is used for statutory purposes such as safety and remediation and all-day kindergarten.
A school district's eligibility for DPIA depends on the district's DPIA index, which measures the district's proportion of children receiving public assistance relative to the statewide proportion of children receiving public assistance.  One of the elements to be used under prior law to calculate the DPIA index for fiscal year 2004 and the years following is the five-year average of the unduplicated number of children ages five to 17 who live in a family with income below the federal poverty guidelines and who receive family assistance from the Ohio Works First program, the food stamp program, the medical assistance program, the children's health insurance program (CHIP), or the disability assistance program.[125]
The act eliminates for fiscal year 2004 and subsequent years the five-year average component of the DPIA calculation.  Thus, the DPIA calculation, as modified, uses the unduplicated number of children ages five to 17 who live in a family with income below the federal poverty guidelines and who receive family assistance from the Ohio Works First program, the food stamp program, the medical assistance program, CHIP, or the disability assistance program as annually reported by the Department of Job and Family Services.[126]
Deadline for correction of reporting errors to EMIS
Under continuing law, if the Department of Education determines that a school district missed a deadline for the reporting of data to the Education Management Information System or the correction of such data, or did not make a good faith effort to report required data, the Department must file a report on the matter with the district superintendent.  This report must contain recommendations for correcting the problem.  In addition, the Department must withhold an increasing portion of state funds from the district each time a report is filed in the same fiscal year.  The district can reclaim the funds only if it takes action to correct its reporting errors.
Under prior law, the district had to take corrective action within 90 days of the date of the filing of the report or forfeit the funds permanently.  The act shortens this deadline to 45 days.[127]
Membership of Alternative Education Advisory Council
The Alternative Education Advisory Council addresses issues regarding alternative educational programs for at-risk youth.  Members of the Council consist of one representative each from the Department of Education; the Department of Youth Services; the Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services; the Department of Mental Health; the Office of the Governor, or the Office of the Lieutenant Governor if so designated by the Governor; and the Office of the Attorney General.  The act adds a representative from the Office of the Auditor of State to the Council beginning on the act's effective date.[128]
COMMENT
1. The requirement that a start-up community school be established only in a "challenged school district" is primarily a restriction on where the school can be physically located rather than on what population of students the school can serve.  Presumably, a large proportion of a start-up community school's enrollment would be drawn from those students who would otherwise be entitled to attend school in the surrounding district where the school is located.  Continuing law, however, does not prohibit a start-up community school from enrolling students outside of the district in which it is located.  It is possible, for example, for a student from an excellent school district to enroll in a community school located in a challenged school district.
In the case of Internet- or computer-based community schools, it is less certain where the school is actually "located" for the purpose of complying with the requirement to be in a challenged school district.  Presumably, the "central base of operation," which the act requires Internet schools to establish, would have to be located in a challenged school district.  Under continuing law, though, Internet community schools, like other community schools, may enroll students who do not reside in or are not otherwise entitled to attend school in a challenged school district.
2. For purposes of the filtering to be installed on computers provided by Internet community schools, the act references definitions of "obscene" and "harmful to juveniles" that are codifed in the state Criminal Code (R.C. 2907.01(E) and (F)).  "Harmful to juveniles" means that quality of any material or performance describing or representing nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sado-masochistic abuse in any form to which all of the following apply:
(1) The material or performance, when considered as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest in sex of juveniles.
(2) The material or performance is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable for juveniles.
(3) The material or performance, when considered as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, and scientific value for juveniles.  (R.C. 2907.01(E), as amended in Am. Sub. H.B. 490 of the 124th General Assembly, not in the act.)
HISTORY

ACTIONDATEJOURNAL ENTRY
    Introduced
09-13-01pp.       829-830
    Reported, H. Education
03-20-02pp.       1593-1594
    Passed House (53-41)
03-21-02pp.       1600-1603
    Reported, S. Education
12-04-02p.         2203
    Passed Senate (19-12)
12-04-02pp.       2253-2254
    House concurred in Senate amendments (57-42)

12-05-02

pp.       2212-2214




02-hb364-124.doc/kl




[1] The "Big-Eight" districts are Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown.  The other 13 large urban districts (that together with the "Big-Eight" districts are sometimes referred to as the "Urban 21" districts) are Cleveland Heights, East Cleveland, Elyria, Euclid, Hamilton, Lima, Lorain, Mansfield, Middletown, Parma, South-Western, Springfield, and Warren.
An "academic emergency" district is one that does not meet more than five of 17 performance indicators adopted by the State Board of Education or the equivalent number of indicators if the State Board adopts more than 17 total indicators.
[2] R.C. 3314.02(A)(3).  An "academic watch" school district is one that meets more than 5 but not more than 8 of 17 performance indicators adopted by the State Board of Education or the equivalent number of indicators if the State Board adopts more than 17 total indicators.
[3] R.C. 3314.02(F).
[4] R.C. 3314.02(C)(1)(d) and Section 6 of the act.
[5] R.C. 3314.02(C)(1)(d).
[6] R.C. 3314.02(C)(1)(e).  The 13 state universities are University of Akron, Bowling Green State University, Central State University, University of Cincinnati, Cleveland State University, Kent State University, Miami University, Ohio University, Ohio State University, Shawnee State University, University of Toledo, Wright State University, and Youngstown State University.  Under prior law, only the University of Toledo board of trustees or its designee could sponsor a start-up school and only if located in a Lucas County school district (the former Pilot Project Area).
[7] R.C. 3314.015(B)(2).  The Department's criteria must be adopted no later than 90 days after the act's effective date.  (Section 7 of the act.)
[8] The Department must adopt its criteria within 90 days after the act's effective date.  (Section 7 of the act.)
[9] R.C. 3314.015(B)(3) and 3314.02(C)(1)(f).
[10] Section 12 of the act.  This provision applies to community schools sponsored by the University of Toledo Board of Trustees or its designee.  The tax-exempt entity must be approved by the Department of Education for sponsorship and also must be determined to be an "education-oriented" entity by the Department before it can sponsor any existing or new schools.  The entity is exempt only from the requirement that it be in existence for at least five years prior to applying to be a sponsor.
[11] R.C. 3314.013(A)(3).
[12] R.C. 3314.03(A)(1).
[13] R.C. 1702.01(P), not in the act.   Elsewhere the act provides an order for the distribution of assets upon the closure of a school that protects the rights of certain creditors of such a school.  (See "Distribution of assets of a closed school" below.)
[14]  Section 6 of the act.
[15] R.C. 3314.015(A) and 3314.02(A)(1).  Under prior law, the State Office of School Options within the Department of Education was charged with providing advice and services for community schools and the Pilot Project Scholarship Program (the Cleveland voucher program).  The act eliminates the Office's responsibilities regarding community schools, which are transferred to the new State Office of Community Schools.  The act, however, retains these duties for the Office of School Options with respect to the voucher program.  (R.C. 3314.11 and 3314.111.)
[16] R.C. 3314.015(B).
[17] These rules must be adopted within 90 days after the act's effective date.  The act directs the Department to consult with current sponsors in developing the rules.  It also specifies that the rules may require sponsors to respond promptly to requests from the Department for information, data, and documents.  (Section 7 of the act.)
[18] Section 6 of the act.
[19] Section 6 of the act.
[20] R.C. 3314.015(D).  The Administrative Procedure Act specifies a hearing procedure to appeal an administrative decision.  It also provides for the right to appeal the decision of the hearing examiner to a court of common pleas and higher appellate courts.
[21] R.C. 3314.015(C) and 3314.03(A)(20).
[22] R.C. 3314.015(B) and 3314.03(D).

[23] R.C. 3314.023.

[24] R.C. 3314.03(D).

[25] R.C. 3314.03(A)(13) and (E) and 3314.07(A).

[26] R.C. 3314.03(C).
[27] R.C. 3314.02(E).
[28] R.C. 3314.03(A)(11)(e).
[29] R.C. 3314.024.
[30] Any coursework in school accounting in excess of 16 hours completed prior to employment counts toward the 24 additional hours required to be completed by the end of the first year of employment.
[31] R.C. 3314.011.

[32] R.C. 3314.03(A)(11)(d).  For law as it applies to school districts, see R.C. 5705.391, not in the act.

[33] R.C. 3314.03(A)(11)(g).
[34] R.C. 3314.041.
[35] R.C. 3314.06 (B) and (E).  Ordinarily, a school is not permitted to limit its enrollment based on the intellectual ability of students, but this provision permits limiting admission to a school to identified gifted students who meet the contractual definition of "at risk."
[36] R.C. 3314.03(A)(11)(d) lists provisions of law (by Revised Code section and chapter number) with which community schools must comply.  The act eliminates certain former exemptions by adding their respective Revised Code reference numbers to this list.
[37] Sections 3, 4, and 5 of Am. Sub. S.B. 1 of the 124th General Assembly.  While in effect, the fourth grade reading guarantee operates in a manner similar to the third grade reading guarantee described here.
[38]  Currently, school districts may use locally selected assessments.  Whenever the State Board adopts reading diagnostic assessments for first and second grades, however, districts must begin using those tests to determine students' reading levels (see "Diagnostic assessments" below).
[39] R.C. 3313.608, not in the act.
[40] R.C. 3301.079(D), not in the act.  According to the Department of Education, it is in the process of reviewing the development of the diagnostic assessments in the context of the new federal testing provisions outlined in the No Child Left Behind Act (20 U.S.C. 6301 et seq.).
[41] R.C. 3301.0715, not in the act.
[42] R.C. 3313.6012, not in the act.
[43] R.C. 3313.671, not in the act.
[44] R.C. 3313.67 (not in the act) and 3314.03(A)(11)(d).
[45] R.C. 3319.073, not in the act.
[46] Employees of all schools, including community schools, are required by continuing law to report instances of confirmed or suspected child abuse to the proper authorities (R.C. 2151.421, not in the act).
[47] R.C. 3321.01, not in the act.
[48] R.C. 3321.03 and 3321.04, neither section in the act.
[49] Under prior law, the only School Attendance Law with which a community school had to comply appeared to be R.C. 3321.01 which, among other aspects, specifies the conditions under which a child may be admitted to kindergarten or first grade.
[50] R.C. 3321.13, not in the act.
[51] Within ten days of such a notification, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles is required to suspend a student's driver's license or temporary license.  The student, then, has the right to petition an applicable juvenile judge for reinstatement.  (R.C. 4507.061, not in the act.)
[52] R.C. 3321.14, not in the act.  Based on Attorney General interpretations of R.C. 3321.14 (and R.C. 3321.15 which is applicable to educational service centers), a community school could appoint an employee with another job function as the attendance officer, provided both positions could be performed by one person.
[53] R.C. 3321.17, not in the act.
[54] R.C. 3321.18, not in the act.
[55] A "habitual truant" is defined as a child of compulsory school age who is absent from school without a legitimate excuse for five or more consecutive days, seven or more days in a school month, or 12 or more school days in a year (R.C. 2151.011, not in the act).  A "chronic truant" is defined as a child of compulsory school age who is absent from school without a legitimate excuse for seven or more consecutive days, ten or more days in a school month, or 15 or more school days in a year (R.C. 2152.02, not in the act).
[56] R.C. 3321.191, not in the act.  While this section specifies that an intervention policy must contain the possibility of sending a truant student to an alternative school established under R.C. 3313.533, it is unclear how this provision would apply to community schools.
[57] R.C. 3321.19, not in the act.
[58] R.C. 3314.072.
[59]  R.C. 3314.03(A)(22) and 3314.072.
[60]  R.C. 3314.03(A)(21) and 3314.073.
[61] For example, under the SchoolNet Plus program, the Commission is required to provide "interactive computer workstations" to school districts at a ratio of one workstation for every five students in grades kindergarten through six.  Under that program, the Commission is permitted to provide such workstations to community schools if adequate funds are available.
[62] R.C. 3314.074.  See also R.C. Chapter 1702., not in the act.
[63] R.C. 1702.49(D)(2), not in the act, specifies that in the case of a "public benefit corporation," in which manner all new community schools must be established, after paying off its obligations upon dissolution must distribute its assets as follows:  (a) assets held by it in trust for specified purposes must be applied so far as is feasible in accordance with the terms of the trust, (b) the remaining assets not held in trust must be applied so far as is feasible towards carrying out the purposes stated in the corporation's articles, (c) in the event and to the extent that, in the judgment of the directors, it is not feasible to apply the assets as provided in clauses (a) and (b), the assets must be applied as may be directed by the appropriate court of common pleas or another court of competent jurisdiction.
[64] R.C. 3314.06(D) and (G).
[65] R.C. 3314.02(A)(7).
[66] R.C. 3314.02(B).
[67] R.C. 3314.031(C)(3).
[68] Due to the unique circumstances of Internet schools, the act exempts such schools from certain provisions in continuing law regarding school facilities.  A student's home could possibly be construed to be a "facility" for an Internet school, making it difficult for Internet schools to satisfy some of the legal requirements that traditional brick-and-mortar schools must meet.  Specifically, under the act, Internet schools are not subject to the prohibitions against community schools serving students in multiple buildings or against serving the same grades in different facilities.  Under the act, Internet schools also do not need to comply with the requirement that community school facilities meet all health and safety standards for school buildings.  (R.C. 3314.05.)
[69] R.C. 3314.031.
[70] The act specifies that a student is not considered enrolled in an Internet school until the student possesses or has been provided with all necessary computer hardware and software materials and all materials are fully operational.  Therefore, the school could not receive any state funds for that student until the student has been equipped with the tools to participate in the school's educational services.  Continuing law requires the Department of Education to reduce an Internet school's basic aid payments if such hardware and software are not delivered, installed, and activated in a timely manner.  (R.C. 3314.08(N).)  Presumably, a filtering device or software would be part of the school's required package of hardware and software under the act and a school's failure to provide such device or software to a student would trigger the payment reductions.
[71] R.C. 3314.032(A).
[72] R.C. 3314.032(B).
[73] R.C. 3314.08(N).
[74] Specifically, R.C. 3317.03(E), unchanged by the act, allows a school district to count only those students who are actually "enrolled" in a school.  If a community school delays its opening until after the first full week of October, the student technically is not "enrolled" during that week.
[75] R.C. 3317.03(F)(3).
[76] R.C. 3317.03(C)(2).
[77] R.C. 3314.08(L).
[78] Under prior law, in R.C. 3314.13 there was a reference to reporting of students under division (B)(3) of R.C. 3314.08.  There is no such division in that section.  The act strikes through that reference.
[79] R.C. 3314.08(L).
[80] R.C. 3314.08(L)(2) and (3).
[81] R.C. 3314.08(0).
[82] R.C. 3314.03(A)(6).
[83] A student's "resident school district" is the district in which the student is entitled to attend school tuition-free under R.C. 3313.64 or 3313.65 (neither section in the act).  Generally, a student may attend school free of tuition in the district in which the student's parent resides or in some cases in the district in which the student resides.
[84] The 1/4 FTE for a student enrolled in a community school but also enrolled under contract at a JVSD that includes the territory of the student's resident district is first counted in the resident school district's formula ADM and in the community school's ADM.  The 1/4 FTE is credited to the school district and is then deducted from the school district and finally credited to the community school in the usual manner for calculating and paying state funds to community schools.  (R.C. 3314.08(B)(2)(e), (C)(1), and (D)(1) and 3317.03(A)(3) and (D)(1).)
[85] R.C. 3307.31, not in the act.
[86] R.C. 3309.51.
[87] R.C. 3314.082.
[88] R.C. 3314.08(J).
[89] R.C. 3314.081.  Title I (20 U.S.C. 6301 et. seq.) provides money to "local educational agencies" through the states for educational services for disadvantaged students. The money also may be spent on schoolwide programs in any school where a substantial specified proportion of the school's students come from low-income families.  It was recently amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Pub. L. No. 107-110).
[90] R.C. 3314.03(A)(11)(d) and 3314.17.
[91] R.C. 3314.011 requires each community school to designate a financial officer.  The Auditor of State may require each financial officer to post a bond conditioned on the faithful performance of all duties required of the officer.
[92] R.C. 3301.0714(N).
[93] R.C. 3314.022.
[94] The school may receive the payment also for any student for whom it makes a payment in lieu of transporting.
[95] R.C. 3314.09, 3314.091, and 3327.01.
[96] R.C. 3314.091.
[97] R.C. 3327.01.  Payment in lieu of transportation is not available to community school and nonpublic school students if the transportation time is more than 30 minutes.

[98] Many of these guidelines were developed based on an Ohio Supreme Court decision, Hartley v. Berlin-Milan Local School District (1982), 69 Ohio St.2d 415.
[99]R.C. 3327.02(A) to (C).
[100] R.C. 3327.02(D).
[101] R.C. 3327.02(E).
[102] This amount is the upper end that a school district may offer when making the offer of payment in lieu of transportation.
[103] R.C. 3327.02(F)(1).
[104] R.C. 3327.02(F)(2).
[105] R.C. 3327.02(G).
[106] R.C. 3365.08(D).
[107] R.C. 3318.50, as enacted in Am. Sub. H.B. 94 of the 124th General Assembly.
[108] R.C. 3318.50(A) and (B).
[109] R.C. 3318.50(A).  The loan guarantee program law previously defined "classroom facilities" as having the same meaning as in R.C. 3318.01 (the definition section of the Classroom Facilities Assistance Program).  That section defines "classroom facilities" as "rooms in which pupils regularly assemble in public school buildings to receive instruction and education and such facilities and building improvements for the operation and use of such rooms as may be needed in order to provide a complete educational program, and may include space within which a child day-care facility or a community resource center is housed."  In addition, the section specifies that  "'classroom facilities' includes any space necessary for the operation of a vocational education program in any school district that operates such a program."
[110] R.C. 3318.50(B).
[111] R.C. 3313.375.
[112] R.C. 3314.30.
[113] R.C. 3314.30(G) and 3314.31.
[114] R.C. 3314.30(D) and (E).
[115] R.C. 3314.30(H).
[116] Under continuing law, the Department of Education issues for all community schools that have been open for at least two full school years annual report cards detailing their academic and fiscal performance (R.C. 3314.012, not in the act).  Conversion community schools, therefore, would receive their own report cards besides being included in calculating their sponsoring district's performance.  However, while the conversion school's own report card would not be issued until its third year of existence, the inclusion of the conversion school's data with the sponsoring district's would begin under the act the first year the school is operational.
[117] R.C. 3302.03(D).
[118] Crimes that carry enhanced penalties when committed in a school safety zone include drug trafficking (R.C. 2925.03), corrupting another with drugs (R.C. 2925.02), trafficking in counterfeit controlled substances (R.C. 2925.37), illegal manufacture of methamphetamine (R.C. 2925.04), illegal dispensing of drug samples (R.C. 2925.36), disorderly conduct (R.C. 2917.11), assault on certain school employees (R.C. 2903.13), stalking (R.C. 2903.211), arson (R.C. 2909.03), and inducing panic (R.C. 2917.31).  Acts that are specific crimes when committed in a school safety zone include improperly discharging a firearm (R.C. 2923.161) and possession of a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance (R.C. 2923.122).
    Continuing law also requires courts to add two years to the prison term of an offender convicted of a felony offense of violence when that offense was committed in a school safety zone (R.C. 2929.14(J)).  In addition, it is a criminal offense for an administrator, employee, or faculty member of a school, including a community school under the act, to recklessly permit hazing (R.C. 2903.31).  (None of the sections cited are in the act.)
[119] R.C. 2901.01 and 2925.01 and Sections 8, 9, and 10 of the act.  The definitional change in the act also makes it mandatory for a community school principal (along with the principals of other public and private schools as under prior law) to be notified when a registered sexual predator or habitual sex offender has enrolled in the school or moves into the geographical area of the school (R.C. 2950.11, not in the act).
[120] R.C. 3313.648 and 3314.03(A)(11)(d).
[121] Section 5 of the act.
[122] Section 11 of the act.
[123] R.C. Chapter 4109., not in the act.
[124] R.C. 3331.01.  Under prior law, the superintendent of an ESC was responsible for issuing age and schooling certificates for students enrolled in member local school districts.  Am. Sub. H.B. 402 of the 124th General Assembly (effective August 28, 2002) transferred this authority from the ESC superintendent to the superintendent of the student's local school district (or the superintendent's designee).
[125] Until fiscal year 2004, the DPIA index is based only on the number of children from families receiving assistance through the Ohio Works First program.  However, because of changes in federal law, the number of families receiving assistance through this program has declined.  Consequently, Am. Sub. H.B. 94 of the 124th General Assembly added additional programs to the calculation upon the recommendation of the Legislative Office of Education Oversight's report "A New Poverty Indicator for Disadvantaged Pupil Impact Aid (DPIA)," the issuance of which report was required by Am. Sub. H.B. 650 of the 122nd General Assembly.
[126] R.C. 3317.029 and Section 189 of Am. Sub. H.B. 94 of the 124th General Assembly, as amended in Sections 3 and 4 of this act.
[127] R.C. 3301.0714(L).  These same provisions apparently apply to community schools to the extent provided by rules adopted by the State Board under R.C. 3314.17, as enacted by this act.  (See "Community school compliance with EMIS," above.)
[128] See "ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION PROGRAMS" in Section 44.05 of Am. Sub. H.B. 94 of the 124th General Assembly, as amended in Sections 3 and 4 of this act.

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