PA 15-133—HB 7018

Education Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION

SUMMARY: This act establishes a statutory definition for “alternative education” and allows local and regional boards of education to provide alternative education to students using space in an existing school or by establishing a new school specifically for this purpose.

The act defines alternative education as a school or program maintained and operated by a local or regional board of education offered to students in a nontraditional setting that addresses their social, emotional, behavioral, and academic needs. It also replaces statutory references to “alternative programs,” “alternative school programs,” and “alternative high school” with the new definition.

Additionally, the act (1) assigns several new duties to local and regional boards of education, the State Department of Education (SDE), and the State Board of Education (SBE) relating to alternative education and (2) allows two or more boards of education to form cooperative arrangements to provide alternative education.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

BOARD OF EDUCATION DUTIES

Under the act, if a board of education chooses to provide alternative education, it must comply with state laws on the number and length of school days in an academic year and all other federal and state laws governing public schools.

Additionally, the act requires such boards of education to:

1. post information on their websites about alternative education they may offer, including purpose, location, contact information, staff directory, and enrollment criteria;

2. give all children in the school district who receive alternative education as nearly equal advantages as may be practicable compared with other children in the district; and

3. annually submit a strategic school profile report (see BACKGROUND) for each alternative education school or program under their jurisdiction.

SDE DUTIES

The act requires SDE to perform the following duties:

1. develop alternative education guidelines, including (a) a description of the purpose and expectations, (b) eligibility criteria, and (c) entrance and exit criteria;

2. assign each alternative education school or program an identification code and organization code for collecting, tracking, and monitoring alternative education in the public school information system (PSIS) (see BACKGROUND); and

3. perform an operations and instructional audit for any school selected to participate in the commissioner's network (see BACKGROUND) that inventories, among other things, any alternative education that the school offers to students.

SBE DUTIES

Under the act, SBE must assess alternative education and alternative education opportunities as part of its statewide assessment of disparities among local and regional school districts to make comparisons to relevant national standards or regional accreditation standards. By law, this assessment is required before SBE develops a five-year implementation plan with appropriate goals and strategies to (1) achieve resource equity and equality of opportunity; (2) increase student achievement; (3) reduce racial, ethnic, and economic isolation; (4) improve effective instruction; and (5) encourage greater parental and community involvement in the state's public schools.

BACKGROUND

Strategic School Profile Reports

By law, local and regional boards of education are responsible for creating and submitting these reports to the education commissioner. The reports contain school and district information about student needs, school resources, student and school performance, and provision of special education services (CGS 10-220).

PSIS

PSIS is a statewide, standardized electronic database that tracks and reports data on student, teacher, school, and district performance growth. This data is available to local and regional boards of education for evaluating educational performance and growth of teachers and students enrolled in Connecticut public schools (CGS 10-10a).

Commissioner's Network

The commissioner's network is a group of up to 25 schools selected by the education commissioner for three to five years of intensive state assistance, supervision, and intervention (CGS 10-223h).

OLR Tracking: DC: ND: VR: bs