1003.53 Dropout prevention and academic intervention.—
(1)(a) Dropout prevention and academic intervention programs may differ from traditional educational programs and schools in scheduling, administrative structure, philosophy, curriculum, or setting and shall employ alternative teaching methodologies, curricula, learning activities, and diagnostic and assessment procedures in order to meet the needs, interests, abilities, and talents of eligible students. The educational program shall provide curricula, character development and law education, and related services that support the program goals and lead to improved performance in the areas of academic achievement, attendance, and discipline. Student participation in such programs shall be voluntary. District school boards may, however, assign students to a program for disruptive students. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, no student shall be identified as being eligible to receive services funded through the dropout prevention and academic intervention program based solely on the student being from a single-parent family.
(b) Students in grades 1-12 shall be eligible for dropout prevention and academic intervention programs. Eligible students shall be reported in the appropriate basic cost factor in the Florida Education Finance Program. The strategies and supports provided to eligible students shall be funded through the General Appropriations Act and may include, but are not limited to, those services identified on the student’s academic intervention plan.
(c) A student shall be identified as being eligible to receive services funded through the dropout prevention and academic intervention program based upon one of the following criteria:
1. The student is academically unsuccessful as evidenced by low test scores, retention, failing grades, low grade point average, falling behind in earning credits, or not meeting the state or district proficiency levels in reading, mathematics, or writing.
2. The student has a pattern of excessive absenteeism or has been identified as a habitual truant.
3. The student has a history of disruptive behavior in school or has committed an offense that warrants out-of-school suspension or expulsion from school according to the district school board’s code of student conduct. For the purposes of this program, “disruptive behavior” is behavior that:
a. Interferes with the student’s own learning or the educational process of others and requires attention and assistance beyond that which the traditional program can provide or results in frequent conflicts of a disruptive nature while the student is under the jurisdiction of the school either in or out of the classroom; or
b. Severely threatens the general welfare of students or others with whom the student comes into contact.
4. The student is identified by a school’s early warning system pursuant to s. 1001.42(18)(b).
(d)1. “Second chance schools” means district school board programs provided through cooperative agreements between the Department of Juvenile Justice, private providers, state or local law enforcement agencies, or other state agencies for students who have been disruptive or violent or who have committed serious offenses. As partnership programs, second chance schools are eligible for waivers by the Commissioner of Education from State Board of Education rules that prevent the provision of appropriate educational services to violent, severely disruptive, or delinquent students in small nontraditional settings or in court-adjudicated settings.
2. District school boards seeking to enter into a partnership with a private entity or public entity to operate a second chance school for disruptive students may apply to the Department of Education for startup grants. These grants must be available for 1 year and must be used to offset the startup costs for implementing such programs off public school campuses. General operating funds must be generated through the appropriate programs of the Florida Education Finance Program. Grants approved under this program shall be for the full operation of the school by a private nonprofit or for-profit provider or the public entity. This program must operate under rules adopted by the State Board of Education and be implemented to the extent funded by the Legislature.
3. A student enrolled in a sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, or tenth grade class may be assigned to a second chance school if the student meets the following criteria:
a. The student is a habitual truant as defined in s. 1003.01.
b. The student’s excessive absences have detrimentally affected the student’s academic progress and the student may have unique needs that a traditional school setting may not meet.
c. The student’s high incidences of truancy have been directly linked to a lack of motivation.
d. The student has been identified as at risk of dropping out of school.
4. A student who is habitually truant may be assigned to a second chance school only if the case staffing committee, established pursuant to s. 984.12, determines that such placement could be beneficial to the student and the criteria included in subparagraph 3. are met.
5. A student may be assigned to a second chance school if the district school board in which the student resides has a second chance school and if the student meets one of the following criteria:
a. The student habitually exhibits disruptive behavior in violation of the code of student conduct adopted by the district school board.
b. The student interferes with the student’s own learning or the educational process of others and requires attention and assistance beyond that which the traditional program can provide, or, while the student is under the jurisdiction of the school either in or out of the classroom, frequent conflicts of a disruptive nature occur.
c. The student has committed a serious offense which warrants suspension or expulsion from school according to the district school board’s code of student conduct. For the purposes of this program, “serious offense” is behavior which:
(I) Threatens the general welfare of students or others with whom the student comes into contact;
(II) Includes violence;
(III) Includes possession of weapons or drugs; or
(IV) Is harassment or verbal abuse of school personnel or other students.
6. Prior to assignment of students to second chance schools, district school boards are encouraged to use alternative programs, such as in-school suspension, which provide instruction and counseling leading to improved student behavior, a reduction in the incidence of truancy, and the development of more effective interpersonal skills.
7. Students assigned to second chance schools must be evaluated by the district school board’s child study team before placement in a second chance school. The study team shall ensure that students are not eligible for placement in a program for emotionally disturbed children.
8. Students who exhibit academic and social progress and who wish to return to a traditional school shall complete a character development and law education program and demonstrate preparedness to reenter the regular school setting prior to reentering a traditional school.
(2)(a) Each district school board may establish dropout prevention and academic intervention programs at the elementary, middle, junior high school, or high school level. Programs designed to eliminate patterns of excessive absenteeism or habitual truancy shall emphasize academic performance and may provide specific instruction in the areas of career education, preemployment training, and behavioral management. Such programs shall utilize instructional teaching methods appropriate to the specific needs of the student.
(b) Each school that establishes a dropout prevention and academic intervention program at that school site shall reflect that program in the school improvement plan as required under s. 1001.42(18).
(3) Each district school board receiving state funding for dropout prevention and academic intervention programs through the General Appropriations Act shall submit information through an annual report to the Department of Education’s database documenting the extent to which each of the district’s dropout prevention and academic intervention programs has been successful in the areas of graduation rate, dropout rate, attendance rate, and retention/promotion rate. The department shall compile this information into an annual report which shall be submitted to the presiding officers of the Legislature by February 15.
(4) Each district school board shall establish procedures for ensuring that teachers assigned to dropout prevention and academic intervention programs possess the affective, pedagogical, and content-related skills necessary to meet the needs of these students.
(5) Each district school board providing a dropout prevention and academic intervention program pursuant to this section shall maintain for each participating student records documenting the student’s eligibility, the length of participation, the type of program to which the student was assigned or the type of academic intervention services provided, and an evaluation of the student’s academic and behavioral performance while in the program. The school principal or his or her designee shall, prior to placement in a dropout prevention and academic intervention program or the provision of an academic service, provide written notice of placement or services by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the student’s parent. The parent of the student shall sign an acknowledgment of the notice of placement or service and return the signed acknowledgment to the principal within 3 days after receipt of the notice. The parents of a student assigned to such a dropout prevention and academic intervention program shall be notified in writing and entitled to an administrative review of any action by school personnel relating to such placement pursuant to the provisions of chapter 120.
(6) District school board dropout prevention and academic intervention programs shall be coordinated with social service, law enforcement, prosecutorial, and juvenile justice agencies and juvenile assessment centers in the school district. Notwithstanding the provisions of s. 1002.22, these agencies are authorized to exchange information contained in student records and juvenile justice records. Such information is confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1). District school boards and other agencies receiving such information shall use the information only for official purposes connected with the certification of students for admission to and for the administration of the dropout prevention and academic intervention program, and shall maintain the confidentiality of such information unless otherwise provided by law or rule.
(7) The State Board of Education shall have the authority pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to adopt rules necessary to implement the provisions of this section; such rules shall require the minimum amount of necessary paperwork and reporting.
History.—s. 147, ch. 2002-387; s. 18, ch. 2008-108; s. 8, ch. 2014-184.