View Amendment Current Amendment: 1 to Bill 3843

The Committee on Education and Public Works proposes the following amendment (LC-3843.WAB0001H):

Amend the bill, as and if amended, by striking SECTION 1 and inserting:

SECTION X. Article 1, Chapter 63, Title 59 of the S.C. Code is amended by adding:

Section 59-63-25.(A) Beginning with the 2023-2024 School Year, each local board of trustees shall follow the policy and procedures established pursuant to this section for extending open enrollment opportunities that allow parents to apply for their child to enroll in any particular program or school.

(B) Using a template developed and provided by the Department of Education and approved by the State Board of Education, each local board of trustees shall develop and adopt an open enrollment policy based on its evaluation of available data reflecting student, school, district, and community needs. The board shall ensure that the policy developed and data used to develop the policy and related procedures are posted prominently on the district website, and the board shall provide the department with its policy in a web posting format.

(1) The open enrollment policy and process must:

(a) adhere to federal desegregation and other educational requirements;

(b) identify and describe the application requirements, timeline, and communication plan;

(c) allow parents to declare school preferences, including placement of siblings within the same school;

(d) describe lottery and wait list policies and an appeal process for adverse decisions;

(e) include the policies adopted by the board regarding capacity standards, standards of approval and denial, priorities of acceptance for enrollment, and transportation;

(f) include a disclosure of:

(i) whether the district will charge nonresident students a fee to cover costs associated with their enrollment that are not covered by federal or state funding. Such costs shall not exceed the local per pupil expenditure amount in the receiving school district;

(ii) itemized fees, including the amount of each fee, charged by the district to nonresident students to cover the costs associated with their enrollment that are not covered by federal and state funding; and

(iii) whether the district has a mitigation or fee waiver process, and a description of such process for any fees charged under this section; and

(g) include a component addressing public awareness of open enrollment opportunities, accessing data on the open enrollment capacity of a school, the district application process and timeline, and written procedures for notification of acceptance or denial of an application.

(2) In implementing the provisions of this section, a school district may, but is not required to:

(a) make alterations in the structure of a requested school or to the arrangement or function of rooms within a requested school;

(b) establish and offer any particular program in a school if such program is not currently offered in the school;

(c) alter or waive any established eligibility criteria for participation in a particular program, including age requirements, course prerequisites, and required levels of performance;

(d) expand the capacity of a program or school for the purpose of accommodating increased demand for open enrollment opportunities so long as the expansion does not result in exceeding State Board of Education regulations concerning professional personnel workload, including maximum student-teacher ratios and maximum daily teaching loads;

(e) provide transportation to a student accepted pursuant to this section who is attending a school outside of the attendance zone of their residence; however, nothing in this section may be construed to prohibit the district from providing bus transportation on an approved route, from requesting state or federal funds for this purpose, or from entering into an agreement with another district to provide transportation; or

(f) have more than one open enrollment application deadline for intra-district applications, or for inter-district applications. Applications shall be accepted at least once per school year with the application deadline published for at least thirty days. A district may establish one or more subsequent deadlines as may be reasonable and necessary and in conformance with this section.

(3) In complying with this section, a school district is not required to transfer local funds for a student enrolling in a nonresident school district.

(4) The State Board of Education through the State Superintendent of Education shall establish a standard inter-district open enrollment timeline for parents and districts to follow.

(C)(1) In implementing the provisions of this section, a student who meets one or more of the following criteria must not be displaced by a student transferring from outside the attendance zone:

(a) currently resides in the attendance zone of a school;

(b) qualifies to attend a school within the attendance zone pursuant to Section 59-63-30(c), 59-63-31, 59-63-425, or 59-63-550; or

(c) is a returning student who continues to meet the requirements of the program or school.

(2) In the assignment of students for enrollment opportunities remaining after students assigned pursuant to item (1), enrollment priority shall be given as follows, unless and until a district has a policy in place in the school year prior to implementation of this section that is revised to conform pursuant to subsection (G):

(a) first, to the siblings of students residing in the same household already enrolled in the school, provided that any siblings seeking priority under this subitem meet the requirements of the program or school;

(b) second, to students who meet the requirements of the program or school and who seek to attend the designated school in the district's feeder pattern; and

(c) third, to students whose parent or legal guardian is assigned to the school as his primary place of employment, with any remaining spaces being filled pursuant to a lottery procedure:

(i) for intra-district open enrollment applicants, then

(ii) if any remaining, for inter-district open enrollment applicants.

(3) The policies must not have the purpose or effect of causing racial segregation in a school or the school district.

(4) Denial of permission to enroll in a particular program or school may only be provided in the following situations:

(a) there is a documented lack of capacity in the school, level, or program requested, in which case priority must be given to a student who currently resides in the attendance zone of a school;

(b) the school requested does not offer a particular program requested;

(c) the pupil does not meet the established eligibility criteria for participation in a particular program, including age requirements, course prerequisites, and required levels of performance;

(d) a desegregation plan is in effect for the school district and the denial is necessary to enable compliance with the desegregation plan;

(e) the student is subject to provisions in Section 59 63 210 or Section 59 63 217; or

(f) any combination of subitems (a) through (e).

(5) A school or district receiving an application request for enrollment from a student pursuant to this section and district policy shall respond with a written decision as prescribed by established and approved school or district processes, which must be publicized throughout the district and featured prominently on the district's website.

(a) If a request is denied, the written decision must cite the specific reasons for the denial and include notice of the opportunity for the parent to appeal the denial pursuant to the district grievance policy and timeline developed and adopted pursuant to this section and in accordance with state statute.

(b) If a school or district fails to respond with its written decision as outlined in the school or district's established and approved process, the request shall be considered accepted and the student may enroll in the program or school, subject to other applicable laws regarding the enrollment of students in public schools.

(D) An open enrollment policy adopted by a local board of trustees shall:

(1) clearly distinguish intra-district policies from inter-district policies;

(2) be reviewed and updated periodically by the board, using the template provided by the department; and

(3) be submitted initially, and if amended, to the Department of Education.

(E) The department shall include all district open enrollment policies on its School Choice website portal and shall annually by October 1 provide an update to the State Board of Education, the Senate Education Committee Chair, and the House Education and Public Works Chair on the status, progress, innovations, evolving best practices, and challenges of implementing the program, including identifying districts which have not submitted a policy.

(F) A school district in the process of consolidation may apply to the State Board of Education for a waiver from compliance with some or all of the requirements of this section until the consolidation is completed. Thereafter, the provisions of this section must apply to the district pursuant to the manner and timeline specified in the waiver request.

(G) A district with a documented open enrollment procedure in place during the school year prior to implementation of this section is authorized to continue its open enrollment procedure upon approval of the State Board of Education. Districts shall provide annual updates on status of meeting the agreed upon timeline.

(H) Each school district must report to the department on or before October first each year:

(1) the number of student transfers enrolled in the school district;

(2) the number of transfer applications received; and

(3) the number of transfer applications denied and the reasons supporting the denial of any transfer application.

(I) The department must publish an annual report available to the public, on or before July 1st, on their website that includes for each school district:

(1) the number of transfer applicants seeking admission to or withdrawal from each school district in the school year, showing the potential net change;

(2) the number of rejected transfer applications in the school year;

(3) the reason or reasons why each rejected transfer application was rejected in the school year; and

(4) the total number of students that either transferred into or out of each district, showing the actual net change.

SECTION X. Article 1, Chapter 63, Title 59 of the S.C. Code is amended by adding:

Section 59-63-102.A public school may not contract with a private entity that supervises, sanctions, or regulates interscholastic competitions unless the entity allows students who attend a school outside of their attendance zone to participate in interscholastic competitions. For students currently enrolled in public schools, the entity shall allow a one-time transfer to a student in middle school who transfers after establishing eligibility in the seventh grade and in high school after establishing eligibility in the ninth grade to a school outside of their attendance zone to play without penalty.