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The Florida Statutes

The 2022 Florida Statutes

Title XLVIII
EARLY LEARNING-20 EDUCATION CODE
Chapter 1002
STUDENT AND PARENTAL RIGHTS AND EDUCATIONAL CHOICES
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F.S. 1002.45
1002.45 Virtual instruction programs.
(1) PROGRAM.
(a) For purposes of this section, the term:
1. “Approved virtual instruction program provider” means a provider that is approved by the State Board of Education under subsection (2), the Florida Virtual School, a franchise of the Florida Virtual School, or a Florida College System institution.
2. “Department” means the Department of Education.
3. “Virtual instruction program” means a program of instruction provided in an interactive learning environment created through technology in which students are separated from their teachers by time or space, or both.
(b)1. Each school district shall provide at least one option for part-time and full-time virtual instruction for students residing within the school district. All school districts must provide parents with timely written notification of at least one open enrollment period for full-time students of 90 days or more which ends 30 days before the first day of the school year. A school district virtual instruction program shall consist of the following:
a. Full-time and part-time virtual instruction for students enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12.
b. Full-time or part-time virtual instruction for students enrolled in dropout prevention and academic intervention programs under s. 1003.53, Department of Juvenile Justice education programs under s. 1003.52, core-curricula courses to meet class size requirements under s. 1003.03, or Florida College System institutions under this section.
2. Each virtual instruction program established under paragraph (c) by a school district either directly or through a contract with an approved virtual instruction program provider shall operate under its own Master School Identification Number as prescribed by the department.
(c) To provide students residing within the school district the option of participating in virtual instruction programs as required by paragraph (b), a school district may:
1. Contract with the Florida Virtual School or establish a franchise of the Florida Virtual School pursuant to s. 1002.37(2) for the provision of a program under paragraph (b).
2. Contract with an approved virtual instruction program provider under subsection (2) for the provision of a full-time or part-time program under paragraph (b).
3. Enter into an agreement with other school districts to allow the participation of its students in an approved virtual instruction program provided by the other school district. The agreement must indicate a process for the transfer of funds required by paragraph (6)(b).
4. Establish school district operated part-time or full-time kindergarten through grade 12 virtual instruction programs.
5. Enter into an agreement with a virtual charter school authorized by the school district under s. 1002.33.

Contracts under subparagraph 1. or subparagraph 2. may include multidistrict contractual arrangements executed by a regional consortium service organization established pursuant to s. 1001.451 for its member districts. A multidistrict contractual arrangement or an agreement under subparagraph 3. is not subject to s. 1001.42(4)(d) and does not require the participating school districts to be contiguous. These arrangements may be used to fulfill the requirements of paragraph (b).

(d) A virtual charter school may provide full-time or part-time virtual instruction for students in kindergarten through grade 12 residing within the school district sponsoring the virtual charter school if the virtual charter school has a charter approved pursuant to s. 1002.33. A virtual charter school may:
1. Contract with the Florida Virtual School.
2. Contract with an approved virtual instruction program provider under subsection (2).
3. Enter into an agreement with a school district to allow the participation of the virtual charter school’s students in the school district’s virtual instruction program. The agreement must indicate a process for reporting of student enrollment and the transfer of funds required by paragraph (6)(b).
(e) Each school district shall:
1. Provide to the department by each October 1, a copy of each contract and the amount paid per unweighted full-time equivalent virtual student for services procured pursuant to subparagraphs (c)1. and 2.
2. Expend any difference in the amount of funds per unweighted full-time equivalent virtual student allocated to the school district pursuant to subsection (6) and the amount paid per unweighted full-time equivalent virtual student by the school district for a contract executed pursuant to subparagraph (c)1. or subparagraph (c)2. on acquiring computer and device hardware and associated operating system software that comply with the requirements of s. 1001.20(4)(a)1.b.
3. Provide to the department by September 1 of each year an itemized list of items acquired in subparagraph 2.
4. Limit the enrollment of full-time equivalent virtual students residing outside of the school district providing the virtual instruction pursuant to paragraph (c) to no more than 50 percent of the total enrolled full-time equivalent virtual students residing inside the school district providing the virtual instruction. This subparagraph applies to any virtual instruction contract or agreement that is entered into for the first time after June 30, 2021. However, a school district may not enroll more full-time equivalent virtual students residing outside of the school district than the total number of reported full-time equivalent students residing inside the school district.
(2) PROVIDER QUALIFICATIONS.
1(a) The department shall annually publish on its website a list of providers approved by the State Board of Education to offer virtual instruction programs. To be approved, a virtual instruction program provider must document that it:
1. Is nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and operations;
2. Complies with the antidiscrimination provisions of s. 1000.05;
3. Locates an administrative office or offices in this state, requires its administrative staff to be state residents, requires all instructional staff to be Florida-certified teachers under chapter 1012 and conducts background screenings for all employees or contracted personnel, as required by s. 1012.32, using state and national criminal history records;
4. Electronically provides to parents and students specific information that includes, but is not limited to, the following teacher-parent and teacher-student contact information for each course:
a. How to contact the instructor via phone, e-mail, or online messaging tools.
b. How to contact technical support via phone, e-mail, or online messaging tools.
c. How to contact the administration office via phone, e-mail, or online messaging tools.
d. Any requirement for regular contact with the instructor for the course and clear expectations for meeting the requirement.
e. The requirement that the instructor in each course must, at a minimum, conduct one contact with the parent and the student each month;
5. Possesses prior, successful experience offering virtual instruction courses to elementary, middle, or high school students as demonstrated by quantified student learning gains in each subject area and grade level provided for consideration as an instructional program option. However, for a virtual instruction program provider without sufficient prior, successful experience offering online courses, the State Board of Education may conditionally approve the virtual instruction program provider to offer courses measured pursuant to subparagraph (7)(a)2. Conditional approval shall be valid for 2 school years only and, based on the virtual instruction program provider’s experience in offering the courses, the State Board of Education may grant approval to offer a virtual instruction program;
6. Is accredited by a regional accrediting association as defined by State Board of Education rule;
7. Ensures instructional and curricular quality through a detailed curriculum and student performance accountability plan that addresses every subject and grade level it intends to provide through contract with the school district, including:
a. Courses and programs that meet the standards of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning and the Southern Regional Education Board.
b. Instructional content and services that align with, and measure student attainment of, student proficiency in the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.
c. Mechanisms that determine and ensure that a student has satisfied requirements for grade level promotion and high school graduation with a standard diploma, as appropriate;
8. Publishes, in accordance with disclosure requirements adopted in rule by the State Board of Education, as part of its application as an approved virtual instruction program provider and in all contracts negotiated pursuant to this section:
a. Information and data about the curriculum of each full-time and part-time virtual instruction program.
b. School policies and procedures.
c. Certification status and physical location of all administrative and instructional personnel.
d. Hours and times of availability of instructional personnel.
e. Student-teacher ratios.
f. Student completion and promotion rates.
g. Student, educator, and school performance accountability outcomes;
9. If the approved virtual instruction program provider is a Florida College System institution, employs instructors who meet the certification requirements for instructional staff under chapter 1012; and
10. Performs an annual financial audit of its accounts and records conducted by an independent auditor who is a certified public accountant licensed under chapter 473. The independent auditor shall conduct the audit in accordance with rules adopted by the Auditor General and in compliance with generally accepted auditing standards, and include a report on financial statements presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. The audit report shall be accompanied by a written statement from the approved virtual instruction program provider in response to any deficiencies identified within the audit report and shall be submitted by the approved virtual instruction program provider to the State Board of Education and the Auditor General no later than 9 months after the end of the preceding fiscal year.
(b) An approved virtual instruction program provider that maintains compliance with all requirements of this section shall retain its approved status for a period of 3 school years after the date of approval by the State Board of Education.
(3) VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS.Each virtual instruction program under this section must:
(a) Align virtual course curriculum and course content to the Sunshine State Standards under s. 1003.41.
(b) Offer instruction that is designed to enable a student to gain proficiency in each virtual instruction course of study.
(c) Provide each student enrolled in the virtual instruction program with all the necessary instructional materials.
(d) Provide each full-time student enrolled in the virtual instruction program who qualifies for free or reduced-price school lunches under the National School Lunch Act, or who is on the direct certification list, and who does not have a computer or Internet access in his or her home with:
1. All equipment necessary for participants in the virtual instruction program, including, but not limited to, a computer, computer monitor, and printer, if a printer is necessary to participate in the virtual instruction program; and
2. Access to or reimbursement for all Internet services necessary for online delivery of instruction.
(e) Not require tuition or student registration fees.
(4) CONTRACT REQUIREMENTS.Each contract with an approved virtual instruction program provider must, at minimum:
(a) Set forth a detailed curriculum plan that illustrates how students will be provided services and be measured for attainment of proficiency in the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards for each grade level and subject.
(b) Provide a method for determining that a student has satisfied the requirements for graduation in s. 1002.3105(5), s. 1003.4281, or s. 1003.4282 if the contract is for the provision of a full-time virtual instruction program to students in grades 9 through 12.
(c) Specify a method for resolving conflicts among the parties.
(d) Specify authorized reasons for termination of the contract.
(e) Require the approved virtual instruction program provider to be responsible for all debts of the virtual instruction program if the contract is not renewed or is terminated.
(f) Require the approved virtual instruction program provider to comply with all requirements of this section.
(g) Require the approved virtual instruction program provider to submit a concise, uniform, monthly financial statement summary sheet in a form prescribed by the department.
(h) Provide the current incoming baseline standard of student academic achievement, the outcomes to be achieved, the method of measurement that will be used, and a detailed description of:
1. How the baseline student academic achievement levels and prior rates of academic progress will be established.
2. How these baseline rates will be compared to rates of academic progress achieved by the same students while enrolled in the virtual instruction program.
3. To the extent possible, how the rates of progress will be evaluated and compared with rates of progress of other closely comparable student populations.
(i) Require the approved virtual instruction program provider to annually submit an accountability report that contains demographic information and student achievement performance data, that links baseline student data to the provider performance projections identified in the contract.

A contracting school district shall facilitate compliance with the requirements of paragraphs (h) and (i).

(5) STUDENT PARTICIPATION REQUIREMENTS.Each student enrolled in the school district’s virtual instruction program authorized pursuant to paragraph (1)(c) must:
(a) Comply with the compulsory attendance requirements of s. 1003.21. Student attendance must be verified by the school district.
(b) Take statewide assessments pursuant to s. 1008.22 and participate in the coordinated screening and progress monitoring system under s. 1008.25(8). Statewide assessments and progress monitoring may be administered within the school district in which such student resides, or as specified in the contract in accordance with s. 1008.24(3). If requested by the approved virtual instruction program provider or virtual charter school, the district of residence must provide the student with access to the district’s testing facilities.
(6) VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION PROGRAM AND VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOL FUNDING.
(a) All virtual instruction programs established pursuant to paragraph (1)(c) are subject to the requirements of s. 1011.61(1)(c)1.b.(III), (IV), (VI), and (4), and the school district providing the virtual instruction program shall report the full-time equivalent students in a manner prescribed by the department. A school district may report a full-time equivalent student for credit earned by a student who is enrolled in a virtual instruction course provided by the district which was completed after the end of the regular school year if the full-time equivalent student is reported no later than the deadline for amending the final full-time equivalent student membership report for that year.
(b) Students enrolled in a virtual instruction program shall be funded in the Florida Education Finance Program as provided in the General Appropriations Act. The calculation to determine the amount of funds for each student through the Florida Education Finance Program shall include the sum of the base Florida Education Finance Program pursuant to s. 1011.62(1)(s) and all categorical programs except for the categorical programs established pursuant to ss. 1011.62(1)(f), (7), and (13); 1011.68; 1011.685; and 1012.71. Students residing outside of the school district reporting the full-time equivalent virtual student shall be funded from state funds only.
(c) A Florida College System institution provider may not report students who are served in a virtual instruction program for funding under the Florida College System Program Fund.
(7) ASSESSMENT AND ACCOUNTABILITY.
(a) Each approved virtual instruction program provider contracted pursuant to this section must:
1. Participate in the statewide assessment program under s. 1008.22 and in the state’s education performance accountability system under s. 1008.31.
2. Receive a school grade under s. 1008.34 or a school improvement rating under s. 1008.341, as applicable. The school improvement rating received by each approved virtual instruction program provider shall be based upon the aggregated assessment scores of all students served by the provider statewide. Each approved virtual instruction program provider shall receive a district grade pursuant to s. 1008.34 based upon the aggregated assessment scores of all students served by the provider statewide and a separate school grade for each school district with which it contracts based upon the assessment scores of all students served within the school district. The department shall publish the school grade or school improvement rating received by each approved virtual instruction program provider on its Internet website. The department shall develop an evaluation method for providers of part-time programs which includes the percentage of students making learning gains, the percentage of students successfully passing any required end-of-course assessment, the percentage of students taking Advanced Placement examinations, and the percentage of students scoring 3 or higher on an Advanced Placement examination.
(b) The performance of part-time students in grades 9 through 12 shall not be included for purposes of school grades or school improvement ratings under subparagraph (a)2.; however, their performance shall be included for school grading or school improvement rating purposes by the district school providing the student’s primary instruction.
(c) An approved virtual instruction program provider that receives a school grade of “D” or “F” pursuant to s. 1008.34 or a school improvement rating of “Unsatisfactory” pursuant to s. 1008.341 must file a school improvement plan with the department for consultation to determine the causes for low performance and corrective actions necessary to improve performance.
(d) An approved virtual instruction program provider’s contract is automatically terminated if the provider earns two consecutive school grades of “F” pursuant to s. 1008.34 after all school grade appeals are final or earns two consecutive school improvement ratings of “Unsatisfactory” pursuant to s. 1008.341 or has violated any qualification requirement pursuant to subsection (2). An approved virtual instruction program provider that has a contract terminated under this paragraph may not be considered an approved virtual instruction program provider for at least 1 year after the date upon which the contract was terminated and until the State Board of Education determines that the virtual instruction program provider is in compliance with subsection (2) and has corrected each cause of the provider’s low performance.
(8) EXCEPTIONS.A provider of digital or online content or curriculum that is used to supplement the instruction of students who are not enrolled in a virtual instruction program under this section is not required to meet the requirements of this section.
(9) MARKETING.At the beginning of each school year, each school district shall provide notification to parents and students about a student’s right and choice to participate in a virtual instruction program under this section and in courses offered by the Florida Virtual School under s. 1002.37.
(10) RULES.The State Board of Education shall adopt rules necessary to administer this section, including rules that prescribe disclosure requirements under subsection (2), a standard contract that meets the requirements under subsection (4), and school district reporting requirements under subsection (6).
History.s. 4, ch. 2008-147; s. 11, ch. 2009-59; s. 9, ch. 2010-154; s. 30, ch. 2011-5; s. 10, ch. 2011-55; s. 4, ch. 2011-137; s. 9, ch. 2011-175; s. 4, ch. 2012-192; s. 8, ch. 2013-27; s. 44, ch. 2013-35; s. 9, ch. 2013-45; s. 176, ch. 2014-17; s. 30, ch. 2014-39; s. 8, ch. 2014-56; s. 18, ch. 2016-237; s. 52, ch. 2017-116; s. 7, ch. 2021-35; s. 2, ch. 2021-44; s. 4, ch. 2022-16; s. 17, ch. 2022-154; ss. 9, 10, ch. 2022-157.
1Note.

A. Section 9, ch. 2022-157, amended paragraph (2)(a) “[i]n order to implement Specific Appropriations 5 and 86 of the 2022-2023 General Appropriations Act.”

B. Section 10, ch. 2022-157, provides that “[t]he amendment to s. 1002.45, Florida Statutes, by this act expires July 1, 2023, and the text of that subsection shall revert to that in existence on June 30, 2022, except that any amendment enacted other than by this act shall be preserved and continue to operate to the extent that such amendments are not dependent upon the portions of text which expire pursuant to this section.” Effective July 1, 2023, paragraph (2)(a), as amended by s. 17, ch. 2022-154, and s. 10, ch. 2022-157, will read:

(a) The department shall annually publish on its website a list of providers approved by the State Board of Education to offer virtual instruction programs. To be approved, a virtual instruction program provider must document that it:

1. Is nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and operations;

2. Complies with the antidiscrimination provisions of s. 1000.05;

3. Locates an administrative office or offices in this state, requires its administrative staff to be state residents, requires all instructional staff to be Florida-certified teachers under chapter 1012 and conducts background screenings for all employees or contracted personnel, as required by s. 1012.32, using state and national criminal history records;

4. Electronically provides to parents and students specific information that includes, but is not limited to, the following teacher-parent and teacher-student contact information for each course:

a. How to contact the instructor via phone, e-mail, or online messaging tools.

b. How to contact technical support via phone, e-mail, or online messaging tools.

c. How to contact the administration office via phone, e-mail, or online messaging tools.

d. Any requirement for regular contact with the instructor for the course and clear expectations for meeting the requirement.

e. The requirement that the instructor in each course must, at a minimum, conduct one contact with the parent and the student each month;

5. Possesses prior, successful experience offering virtual instruction courses to elementary, middle, or high school students as demonstrated by quantified student learning gains in each subject area and grade level provided for consideration as an instructional program option. However, for a virtual instruction program provider without sufficient prior, successful experience offering online courses, the State Board of Education may conditionally approve the virtual instruction program provider to offer courses measured pursuant to subparagraph (7)(a)2. Conditional approval shall be valid for 1 school year only and, based on the virtual instruction program provider’s experience in offering the courses, the State Board of Education may grant approval to offer a virtual instruction program;

6. Is accredited by a regional accrediting association as defined by State Board of Education rule;

7. Ensures instructional and curricular quality through a detailed curriculum and student performance accountability plan that addresses every subject and grade level it intends to provide through contract with the school district, including:

a. Courses and programs that meet the standards of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning and the Southern Regional Education Board.

b. Instructional content and services that align with, and measure student attainment of, student proficiency in the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.

c. Mechanisms that determine and ensure that a student has satisfied requirements for grade level promotion and high school graduation with a standard diploma, as appropriate;

8. Publishes, in accordance with disclosure requirements adopted in rule by the State Board of Education, as part of its application as an approved virtual instruction program provider and in all contracts negotiated pursuant to this section:

a. Information and data about the curriculum of each full-time and part-time virtual instruction program.

b. School policies and procedures.

c. Certification status and physical location of all administrative and instructional personnel.

d. Hours and times of availability of instructional personnel.

e. Student-teacher ratios.

f. Student completion and promotion rates.

g. Student, educator, and school performance accountability outcomes;

9. If the approved virtual instruction program provider is a Florida College System institution, employs instructors who meet the certification requirements for instructional staff under chapter 1012; and

10. Performs an annual financial audit of its accounts and records conducted by an independent auditor who is a certified public accountant licensed under chapter 473. The independent auditor shall conduct the audit in accordance with rules adopted by the Auditor General and in compliance with generally accepted auditing standards, and include a report on financial statements presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. The audit report shall be accompanied by a written statement from the approved virtual instruction program provider in response to any deficiencies identified within the audit report and shall be submitted by the approved virtual instruction program provider to the State Board of Education and the Auditor General no later than 9 months after the end of the preceding fiscal year.