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TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING CHAPTER 38 TO TITLE 59 SO AS TO ESTABLISH THE ENGLISH EDUCATION ACT, TO DEFINE CERTAIN TERMS, TO PROVIDE HOW ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS ARE CLASSIFIED, TO PROVIDE THAT ENGLISH LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL NORMALLY MUST NOT EXCEED TWO SCHOOL YEARS, TO PROVIDE WHEN A PARENT OR LEGAL GUARDIAN MAY WAIVE THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION, TO PROVIDE THAT A PARENT OR LEGAL GUARDIAN OF A CHILD ENROLLED IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL HAS STANDING TO SUE FOR ENFORCEMENT OF THE ENGLISH EDUCATION ACT, TO PROVIDE FOR THE MONITORING OF THE STUDENTS LEARNING ENGLISH AND OTHER ACADEMIC SUBJECTS THROUGH STANDARDIZED TESTING, AND TO PROVIDE THAT A SCHOOL DISTRICT IS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR MORE THAN TWO FISCAL YEARS OF STATE ENTITLEMENT MONIES FOR A STUDENT IN AN ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNING PROGRAM.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. The General Assembly finds that:
(1) The public schools of the State have an obligation and a constitutional duty to provide all of South Carolina's children, regardless of their ethnicity or national origins, with the skills necessary to become productive members of our society. Of these skills, literacy in the English language is among the most important.
(2) In the past, many immigrant children have not been provided, in a timely way, with the level of English language literacy skills necessary for them to be able to perform successfully in the regular classroom and were, therefore, denied the educational opportunities which would have otherwise been available to them.
(3) Immigrant children, like other children, easily can acquire full fluency and literacy in a new language. It is the intent of the General Assembly that all children in South Carolina be taught English language skills and be instructed in English as rapidly and effectively as possible.
SECTION 2. Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
Section 59-38-10. This chapter may be cited as the 'English Education Act'.
Section 59-38-20. As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) 'Bilingual education' or 'native language instruction' means a language acquisition process for students in which all or substantial portions of the instruction, textbooks, and teaching materials are in the child's native language other than English.
(2) 'English language classroom' means a classroom in which the language of instruction used by the teaching personnel is overwhelmingly the English language, and in which all the teaching personnel are fluent and literate in the English language. English language classrooms encompass both English language mainstream classrooms and sheltered English immersion classrooms.
(3) 'English language learner" means a child who is not fluent in English, who is not currently able to perform regular classroom work in English, and whose native language is a language other than English.
(4) 'English language mainstream classroom' means a regular classroom in which the students either are native English language speakers or already have acquired reasonable fluency in English.
(5) 'Sheltered English immersion' means an English language acquisition process for students whose native language is not English in which nearly all classroom instruction is in English, but in which the curriculum and presentation are designed for children who are learning English. In sheltered English immersion, books and instructional materials are in English and all reading, writing, and subject matter are taught in English. Although teaching personnel may use a minimal amount of the child's native language when necessary, the majority of the instruction must be taught in English, and children in this program learn to read and write solely in English.
Section 59-38-30. (A) Beginning October 1, 2004, and by October 1 each year after that, a school district shall ascertain, pursuant to rules adopted and regulations promulgated by the State Board of Education, the number of English language learners enrolled in the school district in kindergarten through twelfth grade and shall classify them according to:
(1) the program in which each is enrolled;
(2) the grade level in which each is enrolled; and
(3) the language in which each possesses primary speaking ability.
(B) Aggregated information ascertained pursuant to this section must be made available publicly on websites posted by the school district and by each public school of the school district in which English language learners are enrolled. Each public school shall report to its local school district each English language learner's progress toward inclusion in an English language mainstream classroom.
Section 59-38-40. (A) Except as otherwise provided in Section 59-38-50, children enrolled in the public schools of the State must be taught English without delay and placed in English language classrooms as soon as practicable after achieving reasonable fluency. A school district shall educate children who are English language learners through sheltered English immersion during a temporary transition period normally not intended to exceed two school years. A school district shall permit, but not require, public schools of the school district to place in the same English language instruction classroom English language learners whose degree of English proficiency is similar, regardless of whether their native languages are similar. Once an English language learner has acquired reasonable fluency in English and is able to perform regular classroom work in English, the student's school district shall classify the student as an English language learner no longer and shall transfer the student to English language mainstream classrooms.
(B) Where available, per pupil supplemental funding for English language learners must be maintained.
(C) This section does not affect foreign language classes for children who are not English language learners and special educational programs for physically or mentally impaired students.
Section 59-38-50. (A) A school district may waive the requirements of Section 59-38-40 with the annual prior, written, informed consent of the child's parent or legal guardian as specified in this section. The informed consent must require that the child's parent or legal guardian initiate the parental exception waiver process. The school shall provide the parent or legal guardian with a full description, in a language he can understand, of the program and educational materials used in each available language acquisition program choice and of all of the public school educational opportunities available to the child. If a parental exception waiver is requested and granted pursuant to this section, the school district may transfer the child to classes teaching English and other subjects through bilingual education or other generally recognized educational methodologies as permitted by law. A child who receives a waiver may transfer to a public school that offers a program suited to the child's needs. If the child transfers to another school district, the school district in which the child is enrolled shall forward to the receiving school district the base student cost each year as determined in the Education Finance Act for the child, reduced in proportion to the time remaining in the school year.
(B) A parent or legal guardian may apply for a parental exception waiver if:
(1) the child has been educated in the South Carolina school system for three years or less;
(2) the child already possesses good English language skills, as measured by a State Board of Education-approved standardized test of English vocabulary comprehension, reading, and writing, on which the child scores at or above the state average for his grade level; and
(3) it is the informed belief of the child's parent, school principal, and educational staff that an alternate educational methodology is better suited to the child's overall educational progress and rapid acquisition of basic English language skills.
(C) To be approved, a waiver application must contain the original authorizing signatures of both the school principal and the school district superintendent or his designee. The waiver must be renewed at the beginning of each school year. A decision to issue an individual waiver pursuant to this subsection must be made subject to an approved assessment of student progress and approval of the school district superintendent or his designee, pursuant to guidelines established by and subject to the review of the county boards of education.
(D) If complying with the requirements of Section 59-38-40 constitutes a financial hardship to a school or if a school cannot meet the needs of a student, the school may provide alternative means of meeting the students' needs as established by standards set by the State Board of Education.
Section 59-38-60. (A) A student in grades kindergarten through twelve of the public schools of this State has the right to receive, at the public school of his choice, an English language education.
(B) The parent or legal guardian of a child enrolled in a public school of this State has legal standing to sue for enforcement of the provisions of this chapter.
Section 59-38-70. (A) For purposes of this section, 'test' means the state-approved standardized test of academic subject matter given in English, administered pursuant to Section 59-18-310.
(B) To ensure that the educational progress of students in learning English together with other academic subjects is monitored properly, the test must be administered at least once each year to English language learners in grades three through twelve.
(C) Only English language learners classified as severely learning disabled are exempted from taking the test.
(D) A student's performance rating on the test must be provided to his parent or legal guardian, and the state average and distributional data for individual schools and school districts must be made available publicly on the state's website. Although administration of the test is required solely for monitoring educational progress, public officials and administrators may utilize the aggregate test scores for other reporting purposes.
Section 59-38-80. (A) A school district is not eligible for more than two fiscal years of state entitlement monies on behalf of a student identified for inclusion in this English Education Act.
(B) A school district is not eligible for funding from this program if the district does not comply with the provisions of this chapter."
SECTION 3. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
This web page was last updated on Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 9:40 A.M.