House File 215 - IntroducedA Bill ForAn Act 1relating to schools identified for comprehensive
2support and improvement by authorizing parents or guardians
3to petition for the closure of an attendance center,
4for implementation of an education voucher program, or
5for establishment of a charter school, establishing an
6education voucher fund, making appropriations, and providing
7penalties.
8BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF IOWA:
1   Section 1.  Section 256.7, Code 2021, is amended by adding
2the following new subsection:
3   NEW SUBSECTION.  35.  Adopt rules relating to applications
4for an education voucher pursuant to section 256E.4, including
5application processing timelines and information required to be
6submitted by a parent or guardian.
7   Sec. 2.  NEW SECTION.  256E.1  Definitions.
   81.  “Attendance center” means a public school building
9that contains classrooms used for instructional purposes for
10elementary, middle, or secondary school students.
   112.  “School board” means a board of directors regularly
12elected by the registered voters of a school district.
   133.  “State board” means the state board of education.
14   Sec. 3.  NEW SECTION.  256E.2  Alternatives for schools
15identified for comprehensive support and improvement — parent
16petition.
   171.  If an attendance center is identified for comprehensive
18support and improvement under the federal Every Student
19Succeeds Act, Pub.L. No.114-95, the parents or guardians
20of students enrolled at the attendance center may submit a
21petition to the school board to either close the attendance
22center pursuant to section 256E.3 or authorize education
23vouchers for students of the attendance center under section
24256E.4.
   252.  A valid petition under this section must state whether
26the petition is requesting the closure of an attendance center
27pursuant to section 256E.3 or the authorization of education
28vouchers under section 256E.4, and must contain the signatures
29of at least fifty percent of the parents or guardians whose
30children are enrolled at the attendance center. A valid
31petition under this section must be received by the school
32board not later than December 1 of the school year preceding
33the school year during which the requested action will be
34implemented. A petition received after that deadline will be
35considered a petition for the following school year if the
-1-1attendance center continues to meet the criteria of subsection
21.
   33.  Unless rulemaking is authorized for another state
4agency, the state board shall, after consulting with the
5department of education and the department of management, adopt
6rules to implement and administer this chapter.
7   Sec. 4.  NEW SECTION.  256E.3  Closure of attendance center —
8reallocation of students.
   91.  If a valid petition for closure of an attendance center
10is received by a school board under section 256E.2, the school
11board shall formulate and implement a plan for the closure
12of the attendance center and a plan for the reallocation of
13students currently enrolled at the attendance center and those
14students who would, but for the closure, be enrolled at the
15attendance center during the next school year.
   162.  The plan for the reallocation of students to other
17attendance centers in the school district shall include
18objective criteria and standards and criteria for prioritizing
19requests that do not have an adverse impact on the plan.
   203.  a.  If other attendance centers in the school district
21have insufficient classroom space to accommodate the students
22from the attendance center that is proposed to be closed, the
23school board shall not close the attendance center and shall
24instead implement the education voucher program under section
25256E.4.
   26b.  Every school district shall adopt a policy that defines
27the term “insufficient classroom space” for each attendance
28center in that district that is consistent with the policy
29adopted under section 282.18, subsection 2, paragraph “c”.
30   Sec. 5.  NEW SECTION.  256E.4  Education voucher program.
   311.  a.  If a valid petition authorizing education vouchers
32is received by a school board under section 256E.2, or if
33section 256E.3, subsection 3, is applicable, students eligible
34to enroll in kindergarten through grade twelve and who are
35enrolled at the attendance center at the time the applicable
-2-1petition is filed are eligible to receive education vouchers.
   2b.  Education vouchers shall be made available to parents
3and guardians in the manner authorized under subsection
44, paragraph “c”, for the payment of qualified educational
5expenses as provided in this section.
   62.  a.  (1)  By January 31 preceding the school year for
7which the education voucher is requested, the parent or
8guardian of the student requesting to receive an education
9voucher shall submit an application to the department of
10education, on application forms developed by the department,
11indicating that the parent or guardian intends to enroll the
12student in a nonpublic school.
   13(2)  In addition to other information deemed appropriate
14by the department of education, the application shall require
15certification from the nonpublic school of the student’s
16enrollment for the following school year.
   17b.  By March 1 preceding the school year for which the
18education voucher is requested, the department of education
19shall notify the department of management of the number of
20students designated for the following school year to receive
21an education voucher. The department of education shall also
22notify the parent or guardian of such students who are approved
23to receive an education voucher.
   24c.  Education vouchers shall only be approved for one school
25year per application, and applications must be submitted under
26paragraph “a” for education vouchers in subsequent school
27years.
   283.  The department of management shall assign each student an
29education voucher in an amount equal to seventy-five percent of
30the district of residence’s regular program district cost per
31pupil in the same school year.
   324.  An education voucher fund is created in the state
33treasury under the control of the department of management
34consisting of moneys appropriated to the department of
35management for the purpose of providing education vouchers
-3-1under this section. For the fiscal year commencing July 1,
22022, and each succeeding fiscal year, there is appropriated
3from the general fund of the state to the department of
4management to be credited to the fund the amount necessary
5to pay all education vouchers approved for that fiscal year.
6The director of the department of management has all powers
7necessary to carry out and effectuate the purposes, objectives,
8and provisions of this section pertaining to the fund,
9including the power to do all of the following:
   10a.  Make and enter into contracts necessary for the
11administration of the fund.
   12b.  Procure insurance against any loss in connection with the
13assets of the fund or require a surety bond.
   14c.  Contract with a private financial management firm to
15manage the fund, in collaboration with the treasurer of state,
16including providing for the disbursement of education vouchers
17in the form of an electronic debit card or checks that are
18payable directly from the student’s account in the fund.
   19d.  Conduct audits or other review necessary to properly
20administer the program.
   21e.  Adopt rules pursuant to chapter 17A for the
22administration of the fund and accounts in the fund.
   235.  a.  For each student approved for an education voucher,
24the department of management shall establish an account for
25that student in the education voucher fund. The student’s
26education voucher shall be deposited into the student’s
27account on July 1 and funds shall be immediately available
28for the payment of qualified educational expenses incurred
29by the parent or guardian for the student during that fiscal
30year using the payment method authorized under subsection 4,
31paragraph “c”.
   32b.  A nonpublic school or other entity that accepts payment
33from a parent or guardian using funds from a student’s account
34in the education voucher fund shall not refund, rebate, or
35share any portion of such payment with the parent, guardian,
-4-1or student.
   2c.  Moneys remaining in a student’s account upon conclusion
3of the fiscal year shall remain in the student’s account in the
4education voucher fund for the payment of qualified educational
5expenses in future fiscal years during which the pupil
6participates in the program, unless subject to the transfer
7required under subsection 8.
   86.  a.  For purposes of this section, “qualified educational
9expenses”
includes tuition and fees at a nonpublic school,
10textbooks, fees, or payments for educational therapies
11including tutoring or cognitive skills training, curriculum
12fees and materials for a course of study for a specific
13subject matter or grade level, tuition or fees for nonpublic
14online education programs, education materials and services
15for students with disabilities including the cost of
16paraprofessionals and assistants who are trained in accordance
17with state law, and other expenses incurred by the parent or
18guardian that are directly related to the education of the
19student at a nonpublic school, including a nonpublic school
20accredited by an independent accrediting agency approved by
21the department of education. “Qualified educational expenses”
22does not include transportation costs for the student, the cost
23of food or refreshments consumed by the student, the cost of
24clothing for the student, or the cost of disposable materials,
25including but not limited to paper, notebooks, pencils, pens,
26and art supplies.
   27b.  For purposes of this section, “nonpublic school” means
28the same as defined in section 285.16.
   297.  A person who makes a false claim for the purpose of
30obtaining an education voucher provided for in this section or
31who knowingly receives the voucher or makes a payment from an
32account in the education voucher fund without being legally
33entitled to do so is guilty of a fraudulent practice under
34chapter 714. The false claim for an education voucher or a
35payment from an account shall be disallowed. If amounts from
-5-1the voucher have been disbursed from the applicable account in
2the education voucher fund, the department of management shall
3initiate legal proceedings to recover such amounts. A parent
4or guardian who violates this subsection is prohibited from
5participating in the education voucher program in the future.
   68.  For each student with a positive balance in the student’s
7account in the education voucher fund upon graduation from
8high school or upon termination of the student’s enrollment in
9the nonpublic school, moneys in the student’s account shall be
10transferred by the department for deposit in the general fund
11of the state.
   129.  A nonpublic school that accepts payment from a parent or
13guardian using funds from a student’s account in the education
14voucher fund is not an agent of this state or other political
15subdivision of this state.
16   Sec. 6.  Section 256F.3, subsection 2, paragraph a, Code
172021, is amended to read as follows:
   18a.  (1)  To receive approval to establish a charter school
19in accordance with this chapter, the principal, teachers, or
20parents or guardians of students at an existing public school
21shall submit an application to the school board to convert an
22existing attendance center to a charter school. An attendance
23center shall not enter into a charter school contract with a
24school district under this chapter unless the attendance center
25is located within the school district. The
   26(2)   (a)   Except as otherwise provided in subparagraph
27division (b), the
application shall demonstrate the support
28of at least fifty percent of the teachers employed at the
29school on the date of the submission of the application and
30fifty percent of the parents or guardians voting whose children
31are enrolled at the school, provided that a majority of the
32parents or guardians eligible to vote participate in the ballot
33process, according to procedures established by rules of the
34state board.
   35(b)  If the attendance center at which the charter school is
-6-1to be established is identified for comprehensive support and
2improvement under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, Pub.
3L. No.114-95, the application shall demonstrate the support of
4at least fifty percent of the parents or guardians voting whose
5children are enrolled at the school, provided that a majority
6of the parents or guardians eligible to vote participate in the
7ballot process, according to procedures established by rules
8of the state board.
9   Sec. 7.  Section 422.7, Code 2021, is amended by adding the
10following new subsection:
11   NEW SUBSECTION.  51.  Subtract, to the extent included, the
12amount of any education voucher under section 256E.4 received
13during the tax year by a taxpayer authorized to spend such
14voucher amounts for qualified educational expenses.
15EXPLANATION
16The inclusion of this explanation does not constitute agreement with
17the explanation’s substance by the members of the general assembly.
   18This bill relates to schools identified for comprehensive
19support and improvement under the federal Every Student
20Succeeds Act, by authorizing parents or guardians to petition
21for the closure of an attendance center, for implementation of
22an education voucher program, or for establishment of a charter
23school.
   24Under the bill, if an attendance center is identified for
25comprehensive support and improvement under the federal Every
26Student Succeeds Act, the parents or guardians of students
27enrolled at the attendance center may submit a petition to the
28school board to either close the attendance center or authorize
29education vouchers for students of the attendance center. A
30valid petition must state whether the petition is requesting
31the closure of an attendance center or the authorization of
32education vouchers, and must contain the signatures at least 50
33percent of the parents or guardians whose children are enrolled
34at the attendance center. A valid petition must be received by
35the school board not later than December 1 of the school year
-7-1preceding the school year during which the requested action
2will be implemented. A petition received after that deadline
3will be considered a petition for the following school year
4if the attendance center continues to meet the criteria for a
5persistently lowest-achieving school.
   6If a valid petition for closure of an attendance center
7is received, the school board shall formulate and implement
8a plan for the closure of the attendance center and a plan
9for the reallocation of students currently enrolled at the
10attendance center and those students who would, but for the
11closure, be enrolled at the attendance center during the next
12school year. The bill requires the plan for the reallocation
13of students to other attendance centers in the school district
14to include objective criteria and standards and criteria for
15prioritizing requests that do not have an adverse impact on
16the plan. If other attendance centers in the school district
17have insufficient classroom space to accommodate the students
18from the attendance center proposed to be closed, the school
19board shall not close the attendance center but shall instead
20implement the education voucher program established in the
21bill.
   22Under the bill, the following students shall be eligible
23to receive an education voucher: (1) students eligible to
24enroll in kindergarten through grade 12 who are enrolled at an
25attendance center at the time a petition authorizing education
26vouchers is filed with the school board and (2) students
27eligible to enroll in kindergarten through grade 12 who are
28enrolled at an attendance center that is proposed to be closed
29under the bill and for whom there is insufficient classroom
30space at other attendance centers in the school district.
   31By January 31 preceding the school year for which the
32education voucher is requested, the parent or guardian of
33the student requesting to receive an education voucher shall
34submit an application to the department of education, on
35application forms developed by the department, indicating
-8-1that the parent or guardian intends to enroll the student in
2a nonpublic school. In addition to such information deemed
3appropriate by the department of education, the application
4shall require certification from the nonpublic school of the
5student’s enrollment for the following school year. By March
61 preceding the school year for which the education voucher
7is requested, the department of education shall notify the
8department of management of the number of students designated
9for the following school year to receive an education voucher.
10The department of education shall also notify the parent or
11guardian of such students who are approved to receive an
12education voucher.
   13The bill authorizes education vouchers to be approved for
14one school year per application, and additional applications
15must be submitted for education vouchers in subsequent school
16years. The education voucher is in an amount equal to 75
17percent of the district of residence’s regular program district
18cost per pupil in the same school year.
   19For the fiscal year commencing July 1, 2022, and each
20succeeding fiscal year, the bill appropriates from the general
21fund of the state to the department of management to be
22credited to the education voucher fund an amount necessary to
23pay all education vouchers approved for that fiscal year. For
24each student approved for an education voucher, the department
25is required to establish an account for that student in the
26education voucher fund. The amount of the student’s education
27voucher shall be deposited into the student’s account on July 1
28and such amount shall be immediately available for the payment
29of qualified educational expenses, as defined in the bill,
30incurred by the parent or guardian for the student during that
31fiscal year.
   32The bill specifies that a nonpublic school or other entity
33that accepts payment from a parent or guardian using funds from
34a student’s account in the education voucher fund shall not
35refund, rebate, or share any portion of such payment with the
-9-1parent, guardian, or student.
   2Moneys remaining in a student’s account upon conclusion
3of the fiscal year shall remain in the student’s account
4in the education voucher fund for the payment of qualified
5educational expenses in future fiscal years during which
6the pupil participates in the program. However, for each
7student with a positive balance in the student’s account in
8the education voucher fund upon graduation from high school or
9upon termination of the student’s enrollment in the nonpublic
10school, those moneys in the student’s account shall be
11transferred for deposit in the general fund of the state.
   12The bill provides that a person who makes a false claim for
13the purpose of obtaining an education voucher or who knowingly
14receives the voucher or makes a payment from an account within
15the education voucher fund without being legally entitled to
16do so is guilty of a fraudulent practice and is subject to a
17criminal penalty. The bill allows the department of management
18to initiate legal proceedings to recover vouchers and amounts
19improperly awarded or paid from accounts under the bill.
   20The bill provides that a nonpublic school that accepts
21payment from a parent or guardian using funds from a student’s
22account in the education voucher fund is not an agent of this
23state or other political subdivision of this state.
   24The bill provides that moneys from an education voucher
25under the bill are not taxable income under Code chapter 422.
   26Code chapter 256F establishes a process by which the
27principal, teachers, or parents and guardians of students at an
28existing public school may apply to the school board to convert
29an existing attendance center to a charter school. Current
30law requires the application to demonstrate the support of at
31least 50 percent of the teachers employed at the school on the
32date of the submission of the application and 50 percent of the
33parents or guardians voting whose children are enrolled at the
34school, provided that a majority of the parents or guardians
35eligible to vote participate in the ballot process, according
-10-1to procedures established by rules of the state board.
   2The bill modifies the application requirements for
3converting an existing attendance center to a charter school if
4the attendance center is identified for comprehensive support
5and improvement under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.
6Under those circumstances, the application does not need to
7demonstrate teacher support and shall only be required to
8demonstrate the support of at least 50 percent of the parents
9or guardians voting whose children are enrolled at the school,
10provided that a majority of the parents or guardians eligible
11to vote participate in the ballot process, according to
12procedures established by rules of the state board.
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