CHAPTER 180

FORMERLY

HOUSE SUBSTITUTE NO. 1

FOR

HOUSE BILL NO. 144

AS AMENDED BY

HOUSE AMENDMENT NO. 1

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO CHOICE IN PUBLIC EDUCATION.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

Section 1. Amend §202, Title 14, Delaware Code by deleting subsection (c) thereof in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subsection (c) to read as follows:

"(c) Persons attending the public schools of this State shall attend the public schools in the school district within which they reside, except as provided in Chapters 4 and 6 of this Title and in Chapter 92, Volume 23, Laws of Delaware, as amended by Chapter 172, Volume 55, Laws of Delaware."

Section 2. Amend Chapter 6, Title 14, Delaware code by adding a new §607 to read as follows:

1607. Applicability of chapter.

The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to any transfers, reassignments, or enrollment changes made with respect to any student under the provisions of Chapter 4 of this Title, nor to any transfers, re-assignments, or enrollment changes made with respect to any vocational-technical centers or schools established pursuant to §205 of Title 14."

Section 3. Amend Title 14, Delaware Code by adding a new Chapter 4 to read as follows:

"Chapter 4. School District Enrollment Choice Program. §401. Establishment; statement of purpose.

(a) There is hereby established an enrollment choice program within the public school system of this State.

(a) In establishing this program, it is the goal of the General Assembly to increase access to educational opportunity for all children throughout the State regardless of where they may live. It is therefore the intent of the General Assembly that this chapter be construed broadly to maximize parental choice in obtaining access to educational opportunities for their children.

(b) For the school year commencing July 1, 1996, and each succeeding school year a Parent residing within this State may enroll his or her child in a public school in any school district in the manner provided in this chapter.

§402. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

(a) 'District of Residence' shall mean any reorganized school district in which the Parent of a student resides.

(b) 'Parent' shall mean parent or legal guardian of the person of the child.

(c) 'Receiving District' shall mean any reorganized school district other than the District of Residence in which a student seeks to enroll. Where the District of Residence includes more than one school or more than one program within any school providing instruction at a given grade level, and a Parent of a child entering such grade level applies to enroll his or her child in a public school program within the District of Residence other than the program in which the child would normally be enrolled based on his or her place of residence, the District of Residence shall also be considered to be the Receiving District for all purposes of this chapter, except for the purposes of §408 of this Chapter.

(d) 'Good Cause' shall mean a change in a child's residence due to a change in family residence, a change in the state in which the family residence is located, a change in a child's Parent's marital status, a change caused by a guardianship proceeding, placement of a child in foster care, adoption, participation by a child in a foreign exchange program, or participation by a child in a substance abuse or mental health treatment program, or a similar set of circumstances consistent with this definition of 'Good Cause'.

(E) 'Working days' shall mean working days as determined by a school district's administrative calendar.

§403. Pupil application; withdrawal.

(a) Any Parent of a school age child may apply to enroll his or her child in a school or program in a Receiving District by submitting a written application, on a form provided by the State Board of Education, to the Receiving District and to the District of Residence no later than January 1 for enrollment during the following school year in a program in grades 1 through 12, or May 1, for enrollment during the following school year in a kindergarten program.

(b) If a Parent of a school age child fails to file an application by the deadline established in subsection (a) of this section, and Good Cause exists for the failure to meet the deadline, or if the application is to enroll a child in a kindergarten program, the Receiving District and the District of Residence shall accept and consider the application in the same manner as if the deadline had been met.

(c) The Parent of a school age child may withdraw the application at any time prior to action on the application by the board of the Receiving District by giving written notice to the boards of the Receiving District and the District of Residence..

§404. Receiving District procedures.

(a) Within ten working days of receiving an application, the Receiving District shall transmit a notice to the District of Residence that it has received the application.

(a) The board of the Receiving District shall take action no later than February 15 of the school year preceding enrollment to approve or disapprove an application for admission to a program in grades 1 through 12, and no later than June 15 of the school year preceding enrollment to approve or disapprove an application for admission to a kindergarten program.

(b) With respect to any application filed in accordance with the provisions of §403 (b) of this Chapter, the board of the Receiving District shall take action to approve or disapprove the application no later than 45 days after receipt thereof.

(c) The board of the Receiving District shall transmit a notice of the board's action to the Parent of the child, and to the board of the District of Residence within five working days after board action.

§405. Criteria for approval or disapproval.

(a) Each Receiving District shall adopt and make available upon request a policy regarding the order in which applications for enrollment pursuant to this chapter shall be considered.

(b) Each Receiving District shall adopt and make available upon request a policy establishing criteria for acceptance or rejection of applications and setting priorities for acceptances. Such criteria shall be reasonably related to the nature of the program or school for which the application is submitted. Such criteria shall include the authority of the Receiving District to reject an application based upon the requirements of any applicable existing Individualized Education Plan relating to an applicant who has special needs. The policies adopted by each district shall, at a minimum, give priority to the following categories of students in the order listed:

(1) first, to returning students who continue to meet the requirements for the program or school, including students graduating from one school to another within a single program;

(2) second, to students who meet the requirements for the program or school and who seek to attend based upon the residence of his or her Parent within the designated feeder pattern, if any, for the school; and

(3) third, to the siblings of students already enrolled in the school, provided that any siblings seeking priority under this paragraph meet the requirements for the program or school.

(c) A Receiving District may disapprove an application because of lack of capacity in the district. It may also disapprove an application for a particular program or school because of lack of capacity in the program or school. For purposes of this subsection, 'capacity' shall include but not be limited to such considerations as space, class size, and enrollment restrictions reasonably related to the nature of the program or school for which the application is submitted.

(d) A district which is subject to a court-ordered desegregation plan may approve and disapprove applications in accordance with §406(a) of this chapter.

§406. Racial balance.

(a) If approval of all of the applications for transfer into or out of a district would result in the district being out of compliance with any applicable court-ordered desegregation plan, the district shall establish the number of majority and minority group pupils who may transfer into or out of the district.

(a) Any action by the board of the District of Residence to disapprove the application pursuant to this section shall be taken no later than March 15 of the school year preceding enrollment.

(b) The board of the District of Residence shall transmit a notice of the board's action pursuant to this section to the Parent within five working days after board action.

§407. Duration of enrollment in Receiving District.

(a)(l) A pupil accepted for enrollment in a school or program pursuant to this chapter shall be entitled to remain enrolled therein until graduation from the school or completion of the program provided that the pupil continues to meet the requirements for such school or program.

(2) A pupil accepted for enrollment in a school or program pursuant to this chapter shall remain enrolled therein for a minimum of two years unless, during that two year period, the pupil graduates from the school or completes the program, the pupil's Parent(s) cease to be residents of the pupil's original District of Residence, or at the conclusion of any academic year during such two year period, the pupil ceases to meet the academic requirements for such school or program.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, a Parent may apply to terminate his or her child's enrollment in the Receiving District prior to the expiration of the minimum period established in subsection (a) of this section by submitting a written application, on a form provided by the State Board of Education, to the child's then-existing district of enrollment no later than December I for enrollment during the following school year.

(c) If a Parent of a child fails to file an application by the deadline of December I and Good Cause exists for the failure to meet the deadline, the child's then-existing district of enrollment shall accept and consider the application in the same manner as if the deadline had been met.

(d) The Parent of a child may withdraw the application at any time prior to action on the application by the board of the child's then-existing district of enrollment.

(e) Within ten working days of receiving an application to withdraw, the child's then-existing district of enrollment shall transmit a notice to the District of Residence that it has received the application.

(t) The board of the child's then-existing district of enrollment shall take action to approve or disapprove the application no later than December 15 of the school year preceding enrollment.

(g) The board of the Receiving District shall transmit a notice of the board's action to the Parent of the child and to the board of the District of Residence within five working days after board action.

(h) The action of a board in a child's then-existing District of enrollment to accept an application to terminate enrollment pursuant to this section shall be final; however, nothing in this subsection shall prohibit a board in its sole discretion from conditioning its approval of termination pursuant to this section upon acceptance of the child into another district or program pursuant to an application submitted in accordance with this chapter.

(i) Unless accepted for enrollment in a school or program in another district pursuant to this chapter, a child whose enrollment in a Receiving District concludes or terminates pursuant to this section shall automatically be re-enrolled in his or her District of Residence for the ensuing school year. Any such student shall be enrolled by the District of Residence according to the feeder pattern in which his or her Parent resides unless, pursuant the provisions of §405(b) of this chapter, all available space has been filled by returning students, in which case the student shall apply and be considered for enrollment in any other school in the District of Residence in which there is space available in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

§408. State and local education funding.

(a) A pupil enrolled in a Receiving District pursuant to this chapter shall be included in the unit count of the Receiving District for all purposes relating to the allocation of all State and Federal education funding and shall not be included in the unit count of the District of Residence for any such purposes.

(b) If a parent of a pupil enrolled outside the District of Residence pursuant to this Chapter moves during the school year to a district different from either the District of Residence or the Receiving District, the child's first District of Residence shall continue to be responsible for payments to the Receiving District for the balance of the school year pursuant to subsection (e) of this section. The child's new District of Residence shall be responsible for all such payments during succeeding years, and such payments shall be calculated as the lower Local Cost Per Pupil, as defined in subsection (d) of this section, of the new District of Residence and the Receiving District.

(c) The Department of Public Instruction shall annually calculate the Local Cost Per Pupil expended by each school district for each type of pupil for the school year immediately preceding. The State Board of Education shall annually certify each district's Local Cost Per Pupil expenditure by September 1 of each year.

(d) Local Cost Per Pupil as used in this Section shall be calculated as follows:

Total local Operating Expenditure in Preceding Fiscal Year

Total Division I Units minus Special School Units minus Vocational Deduct plus Vocational Units

Number of Pupils or Pupil Minutes per Unit

Where:

Total local Operating = Sum of all expenditures

Expenditure in from local sources minus

Preceding FY local expenditures for

tuition minus local expenditures for debt service minus local expenditures for Minor Capital Improvement

Division I Units for each= Division I Units certified by

District or Special School the State Board of Education as of September 30 of each year

Pupils or Pupil Minutes = Number of Pupils or Pupil

per Unit Minutes required for one

particular unit of funding as specified in §1703 of this Title

(e) The District of Residence shall, except as provided for in subsection (It) of this section, pay to the Receiving District the lower Local Cost Per Pupil expenditure of the two districts, adjusted by an inflation factor specified annually in the annual appropriations act, such payment to be made by November 30 of each year. In the case of a District of Residence that has a higher Local Cost Per Pupil than the Receiving District, the District of Residence shall pay in to a special fund to be known as the 'School Choice Fund,' the difference per pupil between their Local Cost Per Pupil expenditure and that of the Receiving District. The Department of Public Instruction shall establish and administer the School Choice Fund as an appropriated special fund account. Deposits by Districts of Residence to this account shall also be completed by November 30 of each school year.

(e) Once all payments have been made pursuant to subsections (b) and (e) of this section, the full amount in the 'School Choice Fund' account shall be allocated to all Receiving Districts that had a Local Cost Per Pupil, as defined in subsection (d) of this section, that was higher than the District of Residence for pupils choosing to attend schools in districts other than their District of Residence. These funds shall be provided in a pro-rata fashion so that the gap that exists in a Receiving District between the Local Per Pupil Cost in the Receiving District and the amount paid by the District of Residence is closed by an equal percentage in each Receiving District.

(f) Once all payments have been made pursuant to subsection (b), (e) and (f) of this subsection, the State of Delaware, from the Annual Appropriations made for Division III Equalization and/or that portion of the Growth and Upgrade Contingency that represents actual Division III Equalization unit growth, will provide funding to all Receiving Districts that had a Local Cost Per Pupil, as defined in subsection (d) of this section, that was higher than the District of Residence of pupils who choose to attend school in said Receiving Districts. This funding will be provided to each such Receiving District so that the gap that exists in such Receiving District between the Local Per Pupil Expenditures in the Receiving District and the amount paid by tfie District of Residence is closed by an equal percentage in each Receiving District to the extent that the actual appropriations allow.

(g) Any pupil, who because of educational need, requires services that are appropriately financed pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 6 of this Title, either at the outset or subsequent to a decision to enroll in a public school other than a school in his or her District of Residence, shall remain the financial responsibility of the District of Residence. The amount of the financial obligation shall be determined in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 6 of this Title.

(i) Any payment received by a local school district pursuant to this section may be used for current operations, local share of minor capital improvements, local debt service payments or to make tuition payments.

§409. Transportation.

(a) The Parent of any child enrolled in a district other than the District of Residence, or enrolled in a school within the District of Residence other than the school in which he or she would normally be enrolled based upon the residence of his or her Parent(s), shall be responsible for transporting the child without reimbursement to and from a point on a regular bus route of the Receiving District; provided, however, that nothing in this section shall prevent the Receiving District, after notice to the District of Residence, from establishing and operating bus routes in the District of Residence for the purpose of transporting students enrolled in the Receiving District.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, any student who is: (I)

attending a school in a district other than the District of Residence; and

(2) not disqualified from receiving transportation services by virtue of his or her proximity to the school of enrollment; and

(3) eligible for participation in the Federal Free Lunch Program administered by the Department of Public Instruction

shall be entitled to receive from the State of Delaware a payment equal to the average cost per student (regular or special education as the case may be) of transportation within the District of Residence, provided, however that if such student is receiving transportation services within the District of Residence provided by either the District of Residence or the Receiving District, the payment provided for in this subsection shall be paid directly to the District providing such services.

(c) In lieu of the payment provided for in subsection (b) of this section; the State may elect to provide any eligible student enrolled in grades 9 through 12 with passes entitling the student to free DART transportation on regular DART bus routes on school days between the student's home and a point on a regular bus route of the Receiving District.

§410. Interscholastic sports.

A student enrolled in grades ten through twelve, inclusive, in a Receiving District shall not be eligible to participate in interscholastic athletic contests or competitions during the first year of enrollment in any Receiving District if the student was enrolled in a different Receiving District during the preceding school year unless the interscholastic sport in which the student wishes to participate is not offered in the Receiving District in which the student was enrolled in the previous school year.

§4Il I. Pupils suspended or expelled in District of Residence.

If a child for whom an application has been submitted pursuant to this chapter has been suspended or expelled in the District of Residence, the board of the Receiving District may, in its sole discretion, refuse to consider the application or refuse to approve the application, or refuse to enroll the child in the Receiving District until the child has been reinstated in the District of Residence, provided, however that nothing in this Section shall be construed to enlarge upon the authority of any district to accept for re-enrollment any student who has been expelled from a school district in this State, as such authority is limited by the provisions of §4130 of this Title.

§4I2. Credits; graduation.

pupil who has been enrolled in a Receiving District and who has met that district's graduation requirements shall be granted a diploma by that district. That district shall accept credits toward graduation requirements that were awarded by another district.

§413. Discipline not affected.

Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to affect or alter district policies with regard to disciplining students, including suspensions or expulsions.

§414. lntra-District Choicc.

Where the District of Residence includes more than one school or more than one program within any school providing instruction at a given grade level, a Parent of a child entering such grade level may apply to enroll his or her child in any public school program within the District of Residence other than the program in which the child would normally be enrolled based on his or her place of residence in the manner provided in this Chapter, and in such cases, the District of Residence shall also be considered to be the Receiving District for all purposes of this Chapter, except that the provisions of §408 of this Chapter shall not apply to any such applications or changes in enrollment."

Section 4. The provisions of this Bill are severable. The invalidity or unenforceability of any provision shall not affect the validity or enforceability of the remaining provisions of this Act.

Approved July 10, 1995