Bill Summary for S 593 (2021)

Summary date: 

Jun 29 2022

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2021
Senate Bill 593 (Public) Filed Tuesday, April 6, 2021
AN ACT TO PROVIDE THAT THE EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF, THE NORTH CAROLINA SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF, AND THE GOVERNOR MOREHEAD SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND ARE GOVERNED BY BOARDS OF TRUSTEES AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE DUTIES OF THE BOARDS AND ADMISSION PROCESS FOR SCHOOLS FOR THE DEAF AND BLIND.
Intro. by B. Jackson, Ballard, Lee.

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Bill summary

House committee substitute replaces the content of the 3rd edition with the following.

Renames Article 9C, GS Chapter 115C, as Schools for Deaf and Blind Students (was, Schools for Students with Visual and Hearing Impairments). Amends the Article as follows.

Enacts GS 115C-150.10 to provide eight defined terms applicable to the Article. Defines school to include the Governor Morehead School for the Blind (school for the blind), and the Eastern NC School for the Deaf and the NC School for the Deaf (school for the deaf). Defines school for the deaf and blind to include the same three schools. 

Replaces the content of GS 115C-150.11. Grants the State Board of Education (State Board) general supervision over the schools for the deaf and blind (schools). Requires the State Board to establish equivalent service areas for each school for the deaf that cover the entire state with consideration of geographic proximity and population of service areas. Charges the State Board with evaluating the effectiveness of the schools for the deaf and blind and measuring the educational performance and growth of students placed in each school through a flexible accountability system. Subjects boards of trustees for the schools for the deaf and blind to rules adopted by the State Board pursuant to GS Chapter 150B. Houses the schools within the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) for purposes of public fund distribution, but provides for independent operation of the schools by each board of trustees (currently, DPI is the sole governing body for the Governor Morehead School for the Blind, the Eastern NC School for the Deaf, and the NC School for the Deaf, with the Superintendent of Public Instruction responsible for administration, including staffing and oversight). Requires DPI to include employees of the schools in coverage for professional liability policies purchased by DPI for its employees and facilitate the purchase of other insurance policies for those schools. Requires DPI to provide services, support, and assistance to schools in the same manner and degree as for a local administrative unit on all other matters. 

Repeals GS 115C-150.12, which sets the Article's scope to include all schools governed by the Article.

Enacts GS 115C-150.12A, requiring each school to be governed by a separate board of trustees. Sets board membership to include five voting members appointed by the NCGA and the Governor, and two nonvoting members, including the president or a designee of the respective alumni association, and an appointee of the DHHS Secretary following consultation with the Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing or the Division of Services for the Blind, as appropriate. Provides for four-year terms. Details member qualifications, declarations and filling of vacancies, and board meetings, procedures, ethics, and leadership. Requires all members to receive at least 12 hours of training every two years, provided by the UNC School of Government or other qualified sources at the choice of the board. 

Enacts GS 115C-150.12B, requiring each board of trustees to appoint a school director to act as secretary to the board and manage the daily operations of the school, along with other board prescribed duties. Deems the director equivalent to a school superintendent and subject to the duties of a superintendent under Article 18. Charges the director with recommending school personnel to the board and the supervision of school administrative staff. Requires the board to employ and provide salary and benefits for a principal, teachers, and other employees pursuant to relevant GS Chapter 115C Articles specified. Deems all employees of the schools State employees. Requires school personnel to be paid in accordance with the appropriate State salary schedule for local school administrative unit personnel, with personnel eligible for bonuses paid to local unit personnel to the extent that the school for the deaf and blind personnel meet all qualifications other than the employer. Deems the board responsible for providing human resources and employment-related services for the school, with discretion to delegate some or all of this authority to the director or the director of human resources.

Enacts GS 115C-150.12C, directing a board of trustees to adopt necessary rules for the administration of the school to implement the Part (appears to intend Article 9C). Details 36 powers and duties of boards, including duties relating to providing a sound basic education, complying with federal law and policies relating to the education of children with disabilities, accepting and administering any federal or private funds or assistance, and complying with state school safety requirements. Includes authority to provide preschool programs. Exempts the board from rulemaking procedures of Article 2A, GS Chapter 150B.

Repeals GS 115C-150.13, which requires the State Board to adopt rules for DPI to implement the Article, pursuant to GS Chapter 150B.

Enacts GS 115C-150.13A, requiring schools for the deaf and blind to admit students in accordance with criteria, standards, and procedures established through rules adopted by the board subject to: five listed considerations a board's eligibility criteria must include, including parental input and choice, and four required components of a board's admission procedure, including an admission committee to make recommendations, with a final admission decision resting with the director or a designee. Allows for either temporary assignment or education program assignment admission statuses, as described. Provides for disenrollment due to reevaluation of eligibility criteria by the admission committee. Deems the local unit or charter school to have the initial responsibility of identifying and evaluating the special education needs of a student and providing a special education program and related services pursuant to Article 9. Makes the school for the deaf and blind responsible for providing a free appropriate public education if a parent submits an application to the school for enrollment and the child is determined to meet the eligibility criteria, subject to continued eligibility; transfers the responsibility back to the local unit or charter school immediately upon a determination of a child's subsequent ineligibility. Encourages parents to seek mediation under Article 9 in resolving disputes regarding eligibility determinations or an individualized education program (IEP) prior to seeking a due process hearing under Article 9. Allows parents to seek an impartial due process hearing following a final determination of eligibility by a director, with the student's stay put placement to be the local unit or charter school.

Replaces the provisions of GS 115C-150.14 to now provide for free tuition, and free room and board at the election of the parent, for education programs provided by the schools for state residents (previously provided for free tuition and room and board). Enacts GS 115C-150.14A, authorizing schools to enroll nonresident students, defined as out-of-state students and foreign exchange students, in the education program who otherwise meet eligibility criteria at the full, unsubsidized per capita cost for the period of the student's attendance, including tuition, and room and board if elected (previously, GS 115C-150.14 allowed for admitting foreign exchange students only). Requires schools that seek to enroll nonresident students to submit a plan prior to enrollment to the board for approval. Includes defined terms.

Amends GS 115C-150.15 as follows. Requires local superintendents to provide written consent requests, as now stated, along with any information materials provided by the school for the blind and school for the deaf in the relevant service area (previously not included), to parents or custodians (was, parents, guardians, or custodians) of any children who are deaf or hard of hearing or blind or visually impaired by October 1 annually, requesting consent for the release of contact information and hearing or vision status to the schools so they can send information on services offered. Makes conforming and technical changes. Adds a new subsection to direct a superintendent or similar authority to share with a school director a copy of all current evaluation data and a copy of the current or proposed IEP for any enrolled child identified as a child with a disability who is deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired, upon the written request of the child's parent or custodian of a student who has applied to a school for the deaf or school for the blind. 

Enacts GS 115C-150.16, exempting schools for the deaf and blind from the Chapter's requirements except as otherwise provided. Deems schools a State agency, subject to all requirements for State agencies except as provided. Specifies that schools are not considered local school administrative units. 

Makes conforming changes to GS 115C-5 and GS 115C-105.51. 

Exempts employees of a school for the deaf or blind from the provisions of the State Human Resources Act, except Articles 6 and 7 of GS Chapter 126 relating to equal employment and private personnel records. 

Amends GS 138-5, capping compensation of school board of trustee members at $50 per diem for attending trustee meetings or performing related duties. 

Explicitly exempts the schools from the Administrative Procedure Act, GS Chapter 150B, as set out in GS 150B-1.

Repeals Section 10, SL 2013-247, which authorizes DPI to reorganize staffing of the schools, and Section 8.15(b), SL 2013-360, which requires DPI to retain all proceeds generated from the rental of building space on the residential school campuses and use receipts generated only to staff and operate the schools. 

Makes the above provisions effective July 1, 2023. 

Directs the State Board to adopt rules by August 4, 2022, applicable for the 2022-23 school year only, for eligibility criteria, standards, and procedures for the schools' admissions following consultation with the Superintendent of Public Instruction and school directors, subject to requirements and considerations identical to those required of board rules under Article 9C, GS Chapter 115C, as amended. Exempts this rulemaking from Article 2A, GS Chapter 150B. 

Directs DPI to continue its administrative duties and responsibilities for the schools subject to Article 9, GS Chapter 115C, as of June 30, 2023, until the board of trustees for each school has successfully transitioned into the administrative role, no later than October 1, 2023. 

Directs DPI to retain the proceeds generated from any water or other utility easement on the campus of the school for the blind and allocated receipts to the school for the blind, less 5% to the Department of Administration for the cost of processing the transaction, during the 2022-23 fiscal year only. Limits use of the receipts to general operations of the school beginning with the 2023-24 school year. Specifies the school's revenue code.

Requires appointment of the initial members of the boards of trustees for the schools by November 1, 2022, to take office effective January 1, 2023. Provides for legislative appointment pursuant to vacancy appointment procedures if the NCGA is adjourned to a date certain that is more than 20 days after the date of adjournment when the act becomes law. Sets staggered terms of initial appointees, with terms expiring June 30, 2025, or June 30, 2027. Provides for four-year terms for subsequent appointees. 

Requires the director of each school to call the initial meeting of each board by January 15, 2023. 

Directs DPI to collaborate with personnel and boards of the schools to develop a transition plan for the change in school administration, effective July 1, 2023. Requires DPI to provide an initial report by December 15, 2022, and a final report by March 15, 2022, to the specified NCGA committee on the plan. Lists three required components of the plan, including an estimate of the administrative costs of the schools for DPO over the prior three school years. 

Changes the act's titles.

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