§ 1601 Purpose.
It is the purpose of this chapter to provide for the establishment of a statewide comprehensive program to improve student discipline in the public elementary and secondary schools of the State. The program shall provide for the treatment of pupils who are exhibiting discipline problems and for the establishment of services to school pupils which will reduce the rate and severity of discipline problems in the future. The program shall operate under the supervision and direction of the Department of Education.
§ 1602 Appropriation.
The General Assembly shall annually provide an appropriation for the operation of the Comprehensive School Discipline Improvement Program in the budget appropriation bill. From the funds appropriated, the Department may allocate funds to the public school districts for the financial support of various components of the program.
§ 1603 Rules and regulations.
The Department of Education shall, from time to time, adopt and promulgate such rules and regulations as will be necessary for the implementation of the program authorized by this chapter.
§ 1604 Treatment of severe discipline problems component.
The Department of Education shall establish a program component which will provide alternative educational and related services for the more severe discipline problems in the public schools. This component will serve primarily secondary school students, including but not limited to: youngsters who have been expelled from regular schools, students who may be subject to expulsion, and others who have serious violations of the local school district discipline code. The Department of Education shall provide rules and regulations for the conduct of programs authorized under this section subject to the following limitations:
(1) School districts shall make application to the Department of Education for funding to implement programs authorized under this section. Preference shall be given to applications from consortia of school districts. To the extent feasible, programs offered under this component should serve eligible pupils within a county, however, multiple sites may be operated by a single consortia of school districts within a county.
(2) Any application submitted under this section shall specify the types and level of services to be provided and an estimate of the number of youngsters to be served. The application shall also include a budget of proposed expenditures during a fiscal year. That budget shall indicate, at a minimum, the funds being requested from appropriations authorized under this section and funds to be obtained from all other sources.
(3) All applications submitted to the Department of Education under this section shall indicate an agreement to fund at least 30 percent of the total cost of services provided from sources of funding other than those authorized under this section.
(4) All projects funded under this section shall submit an annual evaluation report on the effectiveness of the program to the Department of Education. Such report shall incorporate the data and information specified by the Department.
(5) School districts shall be permitted to use funds collected in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 6 of this title to make tuition payments for youngsters assigned to programs authorized under this section.
(6) Nothing in this section shall prohibit a consortia of school districts from contracting for educational or related services with public or private agencies when operating programs authorized under this section.
(7) The provisions of § 4130 of this title shall not apply to youngsters enrolled in programs authorized under this section.
(8) A student 16 years of age or less who is expelled or suspended pending expulsion by a local school district or charter school shall be presumed appropriate for placement in a Consortium Discipline Alternative Program site, provided the student is not otherwise ineligible by statute or regulation for placement in such a program. The burden of establishing that a student is not appropriate for placement in a Consortium Discipline Alternative Program shall be on the local school district or charter school. Any student not shown by preponderance of evidence to be inappropriate for placement in a Consortium Discipline Alternative Program shall be placed in such a program.
§ 1604A Site selection for alternative educational facilities.
(a) New alternative school programs funded on or after July 1, 2002, or alternative school programs except for those located on school property currently funded pursuant to § 1604 of this title that change locations on or after July 1, 2002, shall be subject to the following process:
(1) The school district or consortium of school districts shall notify by mail the Secretary of Education and every property owner located within 200 feet of the site's boundary lines that there is a plan to establish an alternative educational facility for children exhibiting discipline problems on the site. The notice must include the date, time and location of an informational meeting that will explain the details of the site, facility and program plans.
(2) The school district or consortium of school districts shall notify city council members and state legislators who represent residents of the school district in which the proposed site is located and the chief elected official of the county and town or city in which the proposed site is located of the time, date and location of the informational meeting. Further, the school district or consortium of school districts shall publish public notice of the time, date and location of the informational meeting once a week for 2 weeks in a newspaper in general circulation in the school district of the proposed site selection.
(3) Written comments shall be directed to the superintendent of the district in which the facility is to be located within 10 business days of the informational meeting.
a. If there are objections to the proposed site by at least 5 citizens who reside within 200 feet of the site or by at least 25 citizens who reside within the school district in which the site is located, the local school board shall hold a special public meeting to consider the concerns of the community and the responses of the school district or consortium of school districts proposing the facility site.
b. The local school board shall take action on the proposed site at its next regularly scheduled meeting after the informational meeting or special public meeting, whichever occurs last. The decision by the local school board is final and not subject to appeal.
(b) This section does not apply to a facility site that is located in a public school building or on the grounds of a public school building or on land owned by a reorganized school district, vocational-technical school district or charter school.
§ 1605 School and district level component.
The Department of Education shall be authorized to approve and provide financial support for programs to provide alternative educational and related services to disruptive students in the public schools. This component will serve students, in schools enrolling pupils in grades K through 12, who are causing repeated disruptions in the regular classes to which they are assigned. Services may be delivered in a variety of modes with students assigned to the specific programs for short- or long-term assistance. Programs authorized under this section could also serve as a transition for youngsters returning from programs operated under the provisions of § 1604 of this title. The Department of Education shall provide rules and regulations for the conduct of programs authorized under this section subject to the following limitations:
(1) School districts shall be permitted to use personnel authorized by any of the provisions of this title to establish alternative educational and related service programs for disruptive students. Such personnel shall continue to be paid in accordance with salary schedules specified in Chapter 13 of this title.
(2) In the event that a school district uses personnel authorized under various sections of this title to establish and operate a program for disruptive students, the district may elect to employ 2 service paraprofessionals or 2 instructional paraprofessionals, paid in accordance with § 1324 of this title, in lieu of 1 staff member paid in accordance with § 1305 of this title.
(3) Any school which either enrolls pupils in at least 2 of the grades 3 through 12 or enrolls pupils solely in 1 or more of grades K through 3, and which establishes a program for disruptive students in accordance with the provisions of this section and the rules and regulations of the Department of Education may make application to the Department for an incentive grant to help defray the cost of operating such program. No school may qualify for more than 1 incentive grant per fiscal year, and all applications for such grants must have the prior approval of the board of education of the school district in which the applicant school is located. The maximum dollar value of an incentive grant shall be specified in the annual budget appropriation bill. Funds available to the Department of Education shall be allocated on a competitive basis if in any fiscal year more schools are eligible for funding than there are funds appropriated for the incentive grants.
(4) Funds provided to a school under an incentive grant provided under paragraph (3) of this section may be used for any purpose that Division I or II funds may be used, provided, however, that such funds shall not be used to pay salaries to employees beyond the state-supported salaries specified in Chapter 13 of this title.
(5) To achieve the most cost-effective impact from the incentive funds authorized by this section and to increase the coordination of services by schools and other governmental and nongovernmental social service agencies consistent with § 1607 of this title, schools and school districts shall consider contracting for educational or related goods and services with the State Departments of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families and Health and Social Services, and other governmental and nongovernmental social service agencies using funds authorized by this section. Each school filing a report pursuant to paragraph (6) of this section shall include information regarding the provisions of this paragraph (5).
(6) All schools receiving an incentive grant pursuant to paragraph (3) of this section shall submit an annual evaluation report on the effectiveness of the program to the Department of Education. The report shall be in a format and shall include the data and information specified by the Department.
(7) To receive a supplemental grant greater than the dollar amount for base grants funded in support of programs defined in this section by the annual budget act, schools shall establish a site-based committee in the school to govern discipline matters and shall meet the criteria set forth in this subdivision. Supplemental grants shall be available for grades 7, 8, 9 and 10 only. The annual budget act shall establish the dollar amount of such supplemental grants. Before issuing funding pursuant to this paragraph, the Department shall determine that the school's application meets the following criteria:
a. The grant application must certify that the majority of the members of the school level committee are members of the school professional staff, of which a majority shall be instructional staff; that the committee contains representatives of the support staff, student body (for schools enrolling students, grades 7 through 12), parents and the community; that representatives of the employee groups are chosen by members of each respective group and representatives of the nonemployee groups are appointed by the local board of education; and that the committee operates on the 1-person, 1-vote principle for reaching all decisions.
b. The grant application must certify that the committee has the authority, within established local district budgetary guidelines and at its sole discretion, to:
1. Establish a school code of conduct which defines the roles and responsibilities of all members of the school community (administrators, teachers, support staff, contracted service personnel, students, families and child/family advocates) and which is consistent with the established state and federal laws, state and federal regulations, local board policies, local district codes of conduct and local district budgetary guidelines, unless relevant waivers have been granted.
2. Hear concerns from a staff member dissatisfied with the disposition of any disciplinary matter by the school administration;
3. Refer students to programs defined in § 1604 of this title; provided, however, that any child with disabilities be referred to such programs through the child's Individualized Education Plan;
4. Design, approve and oversee the implementation of programs established in the school as defined in this chapter;
5. Establish and enforce the school's attendance policy, including mandating attendance in programs established in paragraph (7)b.7. of this section;
6. Establish extended day, week or year programs, for students with discipline or attendance problems, or at risk of academic failure, that provide for the assessment of penalties for violations of school discipline or attendance policies and for academic acceleration and tutoring, mentoring and counseling services for such students and their families as an integral program component;
7. Establish staff development programs for conflict resolution for all school staff, and establish programs in classroom and behavioral management for schools staff identified as needing improvement;
8. Design student mentoring, conflict resolution and/or peer counseling programs for all students, especially for those who are identified as having chronic discipline, academic or attendance problems.
§ 1605A Prevention component.
The Family Services Cabinet Council (Council), with the Department of Education and the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families acting as lead agencies, shall administer a program to offer prevention-related student support services (prevention services) to students to prevent them from becoming discipline problems and from failing academically in our schools. Within the limits of appropriations made for this purpose, the Council shall provide rules and regulations for the award of prevention grants and the conduct of prevention programs authorized under this section, subject to the following limitations:
(1) The Council shall issue prevention funding to local school districts proposing to establish an integrated plan to deliver prevention services including, but not limited to, academic tutoring and student mentoring programs to provide at-risk students with the extra help they may need to succeed academically and with positive adult role models; outreach programs to promote parental, family and community involvement in students' academic studies and in reducing and resolving school discipline problems; school-linked support services to help students with family or health problems that may be adversely affecting their academic performance and their conduct at school; training to help students and school personnel resolve conflicts peacefully and non-disruptively; and assistance to help teachers better manage the behavior of students in their classrooms.
(2) Applications for funding pursuant to this section shall be made by school districts in accordance with procedures and standards established by the Council. Each applicant shall set forth an integrated plan to provide prevention services consistent with paragraph (1) of this section. To avoid duplication of effort, maximize the impact of limited resources, and increase the effect of efforts by state, local, community and private, nonprofit agencies through increased coordination and cooperation, the Council shall give preference to applications which:
a. Are submitted by 2 or more school districts working in concert, where appropriate;
b. Include private, nonprofit agencies and community organizations as partners in the application, and identify the roles those agencies and organizations are to play in delivering prevention services in the community;
c. Indicate how grants from the federal government and foundations will be used or sought to help deliver prevention services in the community; and
d. Identify the roles state and local agencies are to play in delivering prevention services in the community.
(3) The Council shall provide technical assistance to districts preparing applications and ongoing assistance to districts awarded funding pursuant to this section.
(4) The Council shall establish a timetable for the award of grants pursuant to this section which shall provide, at minimum, for a period of 1 month for joint planning between the Council and the applicants that the Counsel selects as finalists eligible for a funding award. During such joint planning, the Council and the applicant shall refine the applicant's prevention plan, ensure that the plan makes cost-effective use of the resources and services of state, local, community and private, nonprofit agencies, and consider the incorporation of successful elements of other districts' prevention programs into the applicant's plans. Final awards shall be made by the Council on or before January 15 of each year for the subsequent school year, contingent upon the appropriation of funds for such purpose in the annual appropriations act.
§ 1606 State Board waiver authority.
The Department of Education shall have the authority to waive or suspend provisions of the Delaware Code in the implementation of programs authorized under this chapter; provided however, that such waiver or suspension of a provision of the Code shall not result in an increased financial obligation to the State. The Department of Education is also authorized to waive or suspend its rules and regulations in order to maximize the projected impact of programs authorized under this chapter. The State Board shall be advised of any waiver of a regulation it must promulgate or approve, and may deny such waiver within 30 days or by the next regularly scheduled meeting, whichever is earlier, of the waiver's approval by the Department.
§ 1607 Interagency cooperation.
The Department of Education and the public school districts are to work cooperatively with other state agencies, particularly the Department of Health and Social Services and the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, in the development and implementation of programs authorized under this chapter. The intent of such cooperation is to avoid redundancy in services and to maximize the impact of resources authorized under this chapter.