Connecticut Seal

House Bill No. 7018

Public Act No. 15-133


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2015) (a) As used in this section, "alternative education" means a school or program maintained and operated by a local or regional board of education that is offered to students in a nontraditional educational setting and addresses the social, emotional, behavioral and academic needs of such students.

(b) A local or regional board of education may provide alternative education to students, in accordance with guidelines established by the State Board of Education pursuant to section 2 of this act. A local or regional board of education may use space in an existing school or establish a new school for the purposes of providing alternative education to students. Alternative education shall be provided in accordance with the provisions of sections 10-15 and 10-16 of the general statutes and shall be subject to all federal and state laws governing public schools.

(c) Each local and regional board of education shall make available on its Internet web site information relating to alternative education offered under this section, including, but not limited to, the purpose, location, contact information, staff directory and enrollment criteria for such alternative education.

Sec. 2. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2015) (a) The Department of Education shall develop guidelines for the provision of alternative education, as defined in section 1 of this act. Such guidelines shall include, but not be limited to, a description of the purpose and expectations of alternative education, criteria for who is eligible to receive alternative education, criteria for how and when a student may enter or exit alternative education.

(b) The department shall assign an identification code and organization code to each school or program of alternative education provided by a local or regional board of education for purposes of collecting, tracking and monitoring such alternative education in the public school information system, pursuant to section 10-10a of the general statutes.

Sec. 3. Subsection (a) of section 10-220 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2015):

(a) Each local or regional board of education shall maintain good public elementary and secondary schools, implement the educational interests of the state, as defined in section 10-4a, and provide such other educational activities as in its judgment will best serve the interests of the school district; provided any board of education may secure such opportunities in another school district in accordance with provisions of the general statutes and shall give all the children of the school district, including children receiving alternative education, as defined in section 1 of this act, as nearly equal advantages as may be practicable; shall provide an appropriate learning environment for all its students which includes (1) adequate instructional books, supplies, materials, equipment, staffing, facilities and technology, (2) equitable allocation of resources among its schools, (3) proper maintenance of facilities, and (4) a safe school setting; shall, in accordance with the provisions of subsection (f) of this section, maintain records of allegations, investigations and reports that a child has been abused or neglected by a school employee, as defined in section 53a-65, employed by the local or regional board of education; shall have charge of the schools of its respective school district; shall make a continuing study of the need for school facilities and of a long-term school building program and from time to time make recommendations based on such study to the town; shall adopt and implement an indoor air quality program that provides for ongoing maintenance and facility reviews necessary for the maintenance and improvement of the indoor air quality of its facilities; shall adopt and implement a green cleaning program, pursuant to section 10-231g, that provides for the procurement and use of environmentally preferable cleaning products in school buildings and facilities; on and after July 1, 2011, and triennially thereafter, shall report to the Commissioner of Administrative Services on the condition of its facilities and the action taken to implement its long-term school building program, indoor air quality program and green cleaning program, which report the Commissioner of Administrative Services shall use to prepare a triennial report that said commissioner shall submit in accordance with section 11-4a to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education; shall advise the Commissioner of Administrative Services of the relationship between any individual school building project pursuant to chapter 173 and such long-term school building program; shall have the care, maintenance and operation of buildings, lands, apparatus and other property used for school purposes and at all times shall insure all such buildings and all capital equipment contained therein against loss in an amount not less than eighty per cent of replacement cost; shall determine the number, age and qualifications of the pupils to be admitted into each school; shall develop and implement a written plan for minority staff recruitment for purposes of subdivision (3) of section 10-4a; shall employ and dismiss the teachers of the schools of such district subject to the provisions of sections 10-151 and 10-158a, as amended by this act; shall designate the schools which shall be attended by the various children within the school district; shall make such provisions as will enable each child of school age residing in the district to attend some public day school for the period required by law and provide for the transportation of children wherever transportation is reasonable and desirable, and for such purpose may make contracts covering periods of not more than five years; may [place in an] provide alternative [school program] education, in accordance with the provisions of section 1 of this act, or [other] place in another suitable educational program a pupil enrolling in school who is nineteen years of age or older and cannot acquire a sufficient number of credits for graduation by age twenty-one; may arrange with the board of education of an adjacent town for the instruction therein of such children as can attend school in such adjacent town more conveniently; shall cause each child five years of age and over and under eighteen years of age who is not a high school graduate and is living in the school district to attend school in accordance with the provisions of section 10-184, and shall perform all acts required of it by the town or necessary to carry into effect the powers and duties imposed by law.

Sec. 4. Subsection (c) of section 10-220 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2015):

(c) Annually, each local and regional board of education shall submit to the Commissioner of Education a strategic school profile report for each school and school or program of alternative education, as defined in section 1 of this act, under its jurisdiction and for the school district as a whole. The superintendent of each local and regional school district shall present the profile report at the next regularly scheduled public meeting of the board of education after each November first. The profile report shall provide information on measures of (1) student needs, (2) school resources, including technological resources and utilization of such resources and infrastructure, (3) student and school performance, including truancy, (4) the number of students enrolled in an adult high school credit diploma program, pursuant to section 10-69, operated by a local or regional board of education or a regional educational service center, (5) equitable allocation of resources among its schools, (6) reduction of racial, ethnic and economic isolation, and (7) special education. For purposes of this subsection, measures of special education include (A) special education identification rates by disability, (B) rates at which special education students are exempted from mastery testing pursuant to section 10-14q, (C) expenditures for special education, including such expenditures as a percentage of total expenditures, (D) achievement data for special education students, (E) rates at which students identified as requiring special education are no longer identified as requiring special education, (F) the availability of supplemental educational services for students lacking basic educational skills, (G) the amount of special education student instructional time with nondisabled peers, (H) the number of students placed out-of-district, and (I) the actions taken by the school district to improve special education programs, as indicated by analyses of the local data provided in subparagraphs (A) to (H), inclusive, of this subdivision. The superintendent shall include in the narrative portion of the report information about parental involvement and if the district has taken measures to improve parental involvement, including, but not limited to, employment of methods to engage parents in the planning and improvement of school programs and methods to increase support to parents working at home with their children on learning activities. For purposes of this subsection, measures of truancy include the type of data that is required to be collected by the Department of Education regarding attendance and unexcused absences in order for the department to comply with federal reporting requirements and the actions taken by the local or regional board of education to reduce truancy in the school district. Such truancy data shall be considered a public record for purposes of chapter 14.

Sec. 5. Subsection (a) of section 10-158a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2015):

(a) Any two or more boards of education may, in writing, agree to establish cooperative arrangements to provide school accommodations services, programs or activities, special education services, [or] health care services or alternative education, as defined in section 1 of this act, to enable such boards to carry out the duties specified in the general statutes. Such arrangements may include the establishment of a committee to supervise such programs, the membership of the committee to be determined by the agreement of the cooperating boards. Such committee shall have the power, in accordance with the terms of the agreement, to (1) apply for, receive directly and expend on behalf of the school districts which have designated the committee an agent for such purpose any state or federal grants which may be allocated to school districts for specified programs, the supervision of which has been delegated to such committee, provided such grants are payable before implementation of any such program or are to reimburse the committee pursuant to subsection (d) of this section for transportation provided to a school operated by a cooperative arrangement; (2) receive and disburse funds appropriated to the use of such committee by the cooperating school districts, the state or the United States, or given to the committee by individuals or private corporations; (3) hold title to real or personal property in trust, or as otherwise agreed to by the parties, for the appointing boards; (4) employ personnel; (5) enter into contracts; and (6) otherwise provide the specified programs, services and activities. Teachers employed by any such committee shall be subject to the provisions of the general statutes applicable to teachers employed by the board of education of any town or regional school district. For purposes of this section, the term "teacher" shall include each professional employee of a committee below the rank of superintendent who holds a regular certificate issued by the State Board of Education and who is in a position requiring such certification.

Sec. 6. Subsection (b) of section 10-4p of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2015):

(b) Prior to developing the plan, the State Board of Education shall conduct a state-wide assessment of the disparities among local and regional school districts and make comparisons to relevant national standards or regional accreditation standards, in the areas of: (1) Resources, including educational materials, supplies, equipment, textbooks, library materials, facilities and expenditures by category and in total; (2) staff, including the education and experience of teachers, staff-student ratios, the racial and ethnic characteristics of staff, minority staff recruitment and a comparison of the racial diversity of school staffs to the racial diversity of the region where the school is located; (3) program and curriculum, including course offerings, requirements, enrollments in advanced, special and compensatory education, programs and services to students with limited English proficiency and an analysis of such programs and services in terms of the recommendations of the bilingual education task force, policies on student assignment and promotion, extracurricular activities and student participation, goals and objectives and content and performance standards, opportunities for summer school, school-to-career transition, [alternative programs,] alternative education, as defined in section 1 of this act, alternative educational opportunities, and parent-student choice of school or program; (4) student achievement, including the effect of social promotional policies on student achievement, state and national assessments, dropout rates, attendance, graduation follow-up data, artistic, athletic and community service accomplishments, other documentation of student success, and success in reducing the racial, ethnic and economic isolation of students; and (5) community involvement, including parent and family contact with the school and teachers, business partnerships, joint programs with community agencies, town-wide preschool coordination, opportunities for adult basic education and parenting education.

Sec. 7. Subsection (c) of section 10-223h of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2015):

(c) Following the establishment of a turnaround committee, the Department of Education shall conduct, in consultation with the local or regional board of education for a school selected to participate in the commissioner's network of schools, the school governance council for such school and such turnaround committee, an operations and instructional audit, as described in subparagraph (A) of subdivision (2) of subsection (e) of section 10-223e, for such school. Such operations and instructional audit shall be conducted pursuant to guidelines issued by the department and shall determine the extent to which the school (1) has established a strong family and community connection to the school; (2) has a positive school environment, as evidenced by a culture of high expectations, a safe and orderly workplace, and that address other nonacademic factors that impact student achievement, such as students' social, emotional, arts, cultural, recreational and health needs; (3) has effective leadership, as evidenced by the school principal's performance appraisals, track record in improving student achievement, ability to lead turnaround efforts, and managerial skills and authority in the areas of scheduling, staff management, curriculum implementation and budgeting; (4) has effective teachers and support staff as evidenced by performance evaluations, policies to retain staff determined to be effective and who have the ability to be successful in the turnaround effort, policies to prevent ineffective teachers from transferring to the schools, and job-embedded, ongoing professional development informed by the teacher evaluation and support programs that are tied to teacher and student needs; (5) uses time effectively as evidenced by the redesign of the school day, week, or year to include additional time for student learning and teacher collaboration; (6) has a curriculum and instructional program that is based on student needs, is research-based, rigorous and aligned with state academic content standards, and serves all children, including students at every achievement level; and (7) uses evidence to inform decision-making and for continuous improvement, including by providing time for collaboration on the use of data. Such operations and instructional audit shall be informed by an inventory of the following: (A) Before and after school programs, (B) any school-based health centers, family resource centers or other community services offered at the school, including, but not limited to, social services, mental health services and parenting support programs, (C) whether scientific research-based interventions are being fully implemented at the school, (D) resources for scientific research-based interventions during the school year and summer school programs, (E) resources for gifted and talented students, (F) the length of the school day and the school year, (G) summer school programs, (H) [the alternative high school] alternative education, as defined in section 1 of this act, if any, [available] offered to students at the school, (I) the number of teachers employed at the school and the number of teachers who have left the school in each of the previous three school years, (J) student mobility, including the number of students who have been enrolled in and left the school, (K) the number of students whose primary language is not English, (L) the number of students receiving special education services, (M) the number of truants, (N) the number of students who are eligible for free or reduced price lunches, (O) the number of students who are eligible for HUSKY Plan, Part A, (P) the curricula used at the school, (Q) the reading curricula and programs for kindergarten to grade three, inclusive, if any, at the school, (R) arts and music programs offered at the school, (S) physical education programs offered and periods for recess or physical activity, (T) the number of school psychologists at the school and the ratio of school psychologists to students at the school, (U) the number of social workers at the school and the ratio of social workers to students at the school, (V) the teacher and administrator performance evaluation program, including the frequency of performance evaluations, how such evaluations are conducted and by whom, the standards for performance ratings and follow-up and remediation plans and the aggregate results of teacher performance evaluation ratings conducted pursuant to section 10-151b and any other available measures of teacher effectiveness, (W) professional development activities and programs, (X) teacher and student access to technology inside and outside of the classroom, (Y) student access to and enrollment in mastery test preparation programs, (Z) the availability of textbooks, learning materials and other supplies, (AA) student demographics, including race, gender and ethnicity, (BB) chronic absenteeism, and (CC) preexisting school improvement plans, for the purpose of (i) determining why such school improvement plans have not improved student academic performance, and (ii) identifying governance, legal, operational, staffing or resource constraints that contributed to the lack of student academic performance at such school and should be addressed, modified or removed for such school to improve student academic performance.

Approved June 30, 2015