Delaware charter schools must fails Rep Hudson can push her school vouchers another white Trojan horse!

SPONSOR:   

Rep. Hudson & Sen. Lavelle ;

 

Rep. D. Short; Sen. Bonini, Simpson

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

147th GENERAL ASSEMBLY

 

HOUSE BILL NO. 353


AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE ESTABLISHING THE PARENT EMPOWERMENT EDUCATION SAVINGS ACCOUNT ACT.

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

Section 1. Amend Title 14 of the Delaware Code by making deletions as shown by strike through and insertions as shown by underline as follows:

CHAPTER 43.  PARENT EMPOWERMENT EDUCATION SAVINGS ACCOUNT ACT

  • 4301. Statement of Purpose

(a)  The Parent Empowerment Education Savings Account Act allows parents to use the funds that would have been allocated to their child at their resident school district for an education program of the parents’ choosing.

(b) In establishing this program, it is the goal of the General Assembly to increase access to educational opportunity for the students covered by this act. It is therefore the intent of the General Assembly that this act be construed broadly to maximize parental choice in obtaining access to educational opportunities for their children.

(c) For the school year commencing July 1, 2015, and each succeeding school year, an eligible parent residing within this State may enroll that parent’s child in a non-public school in any school district in the manner provided in this act.

(d) The forms prescribed and policies adopted pursuant to this chapter shall be available on the websites of the school districts and the Department of Education.

  • 4302. Definitions

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

(1) “Department” means the state Department of Education or an organization chosen by the state.

(2) ”District of residence” shall mean any reorganized school district in which the parent of a student resides.

(3) ”Parent” shall mean every person in this State who has legal custody, guardianship of the person, or legal control of a child between 5 and 16 years of age, including any person acting as a caregiver pursuant to the provisions of § 202(f) of this title and includes a child with a disability’s biological or natural parent, or, as appropriate, a stepparent, guardian, educational surrogate parent, relative caregiver or custodian. With respect to a child with a disability who has reached that child’s own 18th birthday, and for whom no guardian has been appointed, all rights and entitlements accorded to parents by this chapter shall be deemed accorded directly to the child with a disability

(4)  “Participating school” means a nongovernmental primary or secondary school located in this State that provides education to elementary and/or secondary students and/or disabled students and has notified the Department of its intention to participate in the program and that does not discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin.

(5) “Resident school district” means the public school district in which the student resides.

(6) “Eligible student” means a resident of Delaware who is any of the following:

(a) A “child with a disability” identified as having a disability under section 504 of the rehabilitation act of 1973 (29 United States Code section 794); a child who because of mental, physical, emotional, developmental, speech or learning disability problems, as defined by the Department of Education rules and regulations approved by the State Board of Education, requires special education and related services in order to develop that person’s own capabilities. A child with a disability is eligible for services beginning on the child’s third birthday, or earlier if otherwise provided in Delaware Code, Title 14, Chapter 31.

(b) Any elementary or secondary student who was eligible to attend a public school in Delaware in the preceding semester or is starting school in Delaware for the first time and is a member of a household whose total annual income defined in Section 3, paragraph 4 of this act.

(c) A child of a parent or guardian who is a member of the armed forces of the United States and who is on active duty.

(d) A child who was or is a ward of the juvenile court and who achieved permanency through adoption or permanent guardianship.

(7) “Program” means the Parent Empowerment Education Savings Account program created in this act.

(8) “Private tutoring” means tutoring services provided by tutors accredited by a regional or national accrediting organization.

(9) “Eligible postsecondary institution” means a community college, an accredited university or an accredited private postsecondary institution.

(10) “Treasurer” means the office of the state treasurer.

  • 4303. Procedures for Parent Empowerment Education Savings Accounts

(a) Any parent of an eligible student shall qualify for the state to make a grant to their child’s education savings account if the parents sign an agreement promising:

(1) To provide an education for the eligible student in at least the subjects of reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies, and science;

(2) Not to enroll their eligible student in a district or charter school.

(b) The state shall deposit into a Parent Empowerment Education Savings Account some or all of the state aid that would otherwise have been provided to the resident school district for the eligible student had they enrolled in the resident school district;

(c) Parents participating in the Parent Empowerment Education Savings Account program shall agree to use the funds deposited in their eligible student’s accounts for the following qualifying expenses to educate the eligible student:

                                 (1) Tuition and fees at a participating school.

                                 (2) Textbooks required by a participating school.

                                 (3) Payment to a licensed or accredited tutor.

                                 (4) Payment for purchase of curriculum.

                                 (5) Tuition or fees for a non-public online learning program.

                                  (6) Fees for national norm-referenced examinations, Advanced Placement examinations or similar courses, and any examinations related to college or university admission.          

                                 (7) Contribution to the eligible student’s qualified tuition program established pursuant to 11 USC Section 529.

                                 (8) Educational services for pupils with disabilities from a licensed or accredited practitioner or provider.

 (9) Tuition and fees at an eligible postsecondary institution.

                                (10) Textbooks required for college or university courses.

 (11) Fees for account management by private financial management firms approved by the Department.

(d) A parent must renew the qualified student’s Parent Empowerment Education Savings Accounts on an annual basis. Notwithstanding any changes to the student’s multidisciplinary evaluation team plan, a student who has previously qualified for an empowerment scholarship account shall remain eligible to apply for renewal until the student finishes high school.

(e) The State Treasurer shall deposit into a Parent Empowerment Education Savings Account some or all of the state aid that would otherwise have been provided to the resident school district for the eligible student had they enrolled in the resident school district.

                (f) Grant amounts to Parent Empowerment Education Savings Accounts shall be calculated according to the following schedule:

 (1) For students from households qualifying for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program, the amount granted to the student’s Parent Empowerment Education Savings Account shall be equal to the dollar amount the resident school district would have received to serve and educate the eligible student from state sources had the student enrolled there.

(2) For students from households with an annual income greater than the amount required to qualify for the free or reduced-price lunch program but less than 1.5 times that amount, the amount granted to the student’s Parent Empowerment Education Savings Account shall be equal to seventy-five percent of the dollar amount the resident school district would have received to serve and educate the eligible student from state sources had the student enrolled there.

(3) For students from households with an annual income of greater than 1.5 times the amount required to qualify for the free or reduced-price lunch program but less than 2.0 times that amount, the amount granted to the student’s Education Savings Account shall be equal to fifty percent of the dollar amount the resident school district would have received to serve and educate the eligible student from state sources had the student enrolled there.

(4) For students from households with an annual income of greater than 2.0 times the amount required to qualify for the free or reduced-price lunch program but less than 2.5 times that amount, the amount granted to the student’s Parent Education Savings Account shall be equal to twenty-five percent of the dollar amount the resident school district would have received to serve and educate the eligible student from state sources had the student enrolled there.

(g) A participating school, private tutor, eligible postsecondary institution or other educational provider may not refund, rebate, or share a student’s grant with a parent or the student in any manner. The funds in a Parent Empowerment Education Saving Account may only be used for educational purposes.

(h) Parents will be allowed to make payments for the costs of educational programs and services not covered by the funds in their accounts.

(i) A participating student shall be counted in the enrollment figures for his or her resident school district for the purposes of calculating state aid to the resident school district. The funds needed for a grant to a Parent Empowerment Education Savings Account shall be subtracted from the state school aid payable to the student’s resident school district.

(j)  In exchange for the parent’s agreement pursuant to Subsection III of this act, the Department shall transfer from the monies that would otherwise be allocated to a recipient’s prior school district to the treasurer for deposit into a Delaware Parent Empowerment Education Savings Account an amount that is the base support level prescribed for that particular student.

(k) The Department of Education Parent Empowerment Education Savings Account fund is established consisting of monies retained by the department. The Department shall administer the fund. Monies in the fund are subject to legislative appropriation. Monies in the fund shall be used for the Department’s costs in administering empowerment scholarship accounts under this chapter. Monies in the fund are exempt from the provisions relating to lapsing of appropriations. If the number of empowerment scholarship accounts significantly increases after fiscal year 2015-2016, the department may request an increase in the amount appropriated to the fund in any subsequent fiscal year in the budget estimate.

(l) The State Treasurer Parent Empowerment Education Savings Accounts fund is established consisting of monies transferred by the Department to the State Treasurer pursuant to Subsection 3, F of this Act. The State Treasurer shall administer the fund. Monies in the fund shall be used for the State Treasurer’s costs in administering the empowerment scholarship accounts under this chapter. If the number of empowerment scholarship accounts significantly increases after fiscal year 2015-2016, the State Treasurer may request an increase in the amount appropriated to the fund in any subsequent fiscal year in the budget estimate. Monies in the fund are subject to legislative appropriation.

 (m) On the qualified student’s graduation from a postsecondary institution or after any period of four consecutive years after high school graduation in which the student is not enrolled in an eligible postsecondary institution, the qualified student’s Delaware Parent Empowerment Education Savings account shall be closed and any remaining funds shall be returned to the state.

(n) Monies received pursuant to this article do not constitute taxable income to the parent of the qualified student.

  • 4304. Administration of the Education Savings Account Act

(a) The Department will qualify private financial management firms to manage Parent Empowerment Education Savings Accounts.

(b) The Department will have the authority to conduct or contract for the auditing of accounts, and will at a minimum conduct random audits of accounts on an annual basis.  The Department will have the authority to make any parent of an eligible student ineligible for the Parent Empowerment Education Savings Account program in the event of substantial misuse of the funds in the account.

(c) The Department will have the authority to refer cases of substantial misuse of funds to law enforcement agencies for investigation if evidence of fraudulent use of an account is obtained.

(d) The Department shall provide parents of participating students with a written explanation of the allowable uses of education savings accounts, the responsibilities of parents and the duties of the Department.

(e) The Department may deduct an amount from the grants to Parent Empowerment Education Savings accounts to cover the costs of overseeing the accounts and administering the program up to a limit of 3 percent.

(f) The Department shall establish reasonable fees for private financial management firms participating in the program based upon market rates.

(g) The Department shall make payments to eligible students’ Parent Empowerment Education Savings Accounts on a quarterly basis.

  • 4305. Accountability Standards for Participating Schools

(a) Administrative Accountability Standards. To ensure that students are treated fairly and kept safe, all participating, private schools shall:

(1) Comply with all health and safety laws or codes that apply to private schools;

(2) Hold a valid occupancy permit if required by their municipality or county;

(3) Certify that they comply with the nondiscrimination policies set forth in 42 USC 1981 and

(b) Financial Accountability Standards. To ensure that funds are spent appropriately, all participating schools shall:

(1) Provide parents with a receipt for all qualifying expenses at the school.

(2) Demonstrate their financial viability by showing they can repay any funds that might be provided from Education Savings Accounts, if they are to receive $50,000 or more during the school year, by:

  1. Filing with the Department prior to the start of the school year a surety bond payable to the state in an amount equal to the aggregate amount of the funds from Parent Empowerment Education Savings Accounts expected to be paid during the school year from students admitted at the participating school; or

Filing with the Department prior to the start of the school year financial information that demonstrates the school has the ability to pay an aggregate amount equal to the amount of the funds from Parent Empowerment Education Savings Accounts expected to be paid during the school year to students admitted to the participating school.

(3) The Department may refer cases of substantial misuse of monies to the attorney general for investigation if the department obtains evidence of fraudulent use of an account.

(4) The Department shall make quarterly transfers of the amount calculated to the treasurer for deposit into the Parent Empowerment Savings Account of each qualified student.

(5) The Department shall determine a period that is between July 1 and May 1 of each year during which it will accept applications for the following fiscal year. On or before May 30 of each year, the Department shall furnish to the joint legislative budget committee an estimate of the amount required to fund Parent Empowerment Education Savings account for the following fiscal year. The department shall include in its budget request for the following fiscal year the amount estimated for each qualified student.

 (c) Participating School Autonomy. A participating private school is autonomous and not an agent of the state or federal government and therefore:

(1) The Department or any other state agency may not in any way regulate the educational program of a participating private school or education provider that accepts funds from a Parent Empowerment Education Savings account;

(2) The creation of the Parent Empowerment Education Savings Account Program does not expand the regulatory authority of the state, its officers, or any school district to impose any additional regulation of private schools or education providers beyond those necessary to enforce the requirements of the program; and

(3) Participating private schools and education providers shall be given the maximum freedom to provide for the educational needs of their students without governmental control.

  • 4306. Responsibilities of the Department of Education

(a) The Department shall ensure that eligible students and their parents are informed annually of which schools will be participating in the Education Savings Account Program. Special attention shall be paid to ensuring that lower-income families are made aware of the program and their options.

(b) The Department shall create a standard form that parents of eligible students can submit to establish their student’s eligibility for the Parent Empowerment Education Savings Account Program. The Department shall ensure that the application is readily available to interested families through various sources, including the Internet.

(c) The Department may bar a participating school or education provider from the Parent Empowerment Education Savings Account Program if the Department establishes that the participating school or education provider has:

(1) Routinely failed to comply with the accountability standards established in § 4305 of this chapter; or

(2) Failed to provide the eligible student with the educational services funded by the Education Savings Account.

(d) If the Department decides to bar a participating school or education provider from the program, it shall notify eligible students and their parents of this decision as quickly as possible.

(e) The Department shall adopt rules and regulations as necessary for the administration of the Parent Empowerment Education Savings Account Program.

  • 4307. Responsibilities of Resident School Districts.

(a) The resident school district shall provide a participating school or education provider that has admitted an eligible student under this program with a complete copy of the student’s school records, while complying with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (20 USC Section 1232 g).

(b) The resident school district shall provide transportation for an eligible student to and from the participating school or education provider under the same conditions as the resident school district is required to provide transportation for other resident students to private schools as per current law. The resident school district will qualify for state transportation aid for each student so transported.

Section 2.  This Act takes effect August 1, 2015.

SYNOPSIS

This bill creates the Parent Education Savings Account Act which would allow parents to use funds otherwise allocated to their resident school district for an education program of the parent’s choosing.

The goal of this legislation is to increase educational opportunities for students.

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6 responses to “Delaware charter schools must fails Rep Hudson can push her school vouchers another white Trojan horse!

  1. It seems this is targeted at low income kids. The amount that follows the kid is pro-rated on income level. This is just going to create private schools like Reach and Moyer that bring in family members and pad pockets without having to go through the Charter process. Better yet, as “Private” schools they can skip Smarter Balance requirements.
    Not to mention a whole new governmental bureaucracy to manage and over see the mess. Like they can even manage the charter screw-ups.
    Pencader
    Reach
    Family Foundations
    etc…

    Like

    • kilroysdelaware

      The Pete plan is play it off as some to benefit the poor and special need children. This way it will crack the door and then expand it later. Remember charter school we part of the plan to reform public schools to close the achievement-gap and how is CSW and NCS doing that?? Have you noticed ambiguous charter school plans approved re: student enrollment and within a year the charters comeback for a modification to lower enrollment? Its shell game and that’s what is going to happen with school vouchers aka education savings accounts.

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    • lastDEconservative

      This is the perversion. The parents actually paying (most of the) taxes will get to once again watch their money go to children other than their own for no reason other than the bleeding heart do good zealot politicians who prey on emotions and could not reason their way out of a paper sack. Corruption of the first order, repackaged for the 987th time. Stay asleep, boobus Delawareans, stay asleep. If you wake up, demand that the prorata be issued the OTHER WAY ‘ROUND — them that pays, gets. The fireworks that follow will wake up plenty more.

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    • lastDEconservative

      “The amount that follows the kid is pro-rated on income level.”

      This being the perversion to which I referred.

      Like

    • Mr. Kilroy,
      If TPS’s were providing even a modicum of the services they claimed they were providing, particularly to engaged and supportive(financial and othewise) parents, would the effort to create charters or vouchers even be on the table? If the massive amount of oversight present with TPS’s was doing it’s job, would the disservice of over 25% of students be happening? Would more oversight change this in TPS’s? If TPS’s were being financially managed well with transparency and forthrightness (instead of political ploys and pandering) would referendums be so divisive?

      As is the case with charters, vouchers are a response to the lack of satisfaction with our TPS’s and their management. PERIOD. Charters were not intended to REFORM TPS’s. They were and are attempts to show what alternatives are possible if the TPS’s would enlist some of the efforts. The resounding response by TPS’s has been to maintain their status quo (teachers, money, admins, academics and behavior) while playing the victim card and demanding more money. What is the shell game called that takes educational opportunities from normal students and deposits those resources into unengaged, noncontributory, behaviorally dysfunctional students? Progress or theft? What is the game called that exposes normal children to educational dysfunctions and unacceptable antisocial behavior? Enlightenment or corruption? Shell game indeed.

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  2. (1) Tuition and fees at a participating school. – Equals brand new schools popping up with zero oversight

    (4) Payment for purchase of curriculum. – get paid to home school!

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