NO. 64.  AN ACT RELATING TO COMPLIANCE WITH THE NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT.

(S.185)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  16 V.S.A. § 144b is amended to read:

§ 144b.  FEDERAL EDUCATION AID FUNDS; ADMINISTRATION

The state board of education, as sole state agency, may administer such federal funds as may be made available to the state under Public Law 89-10, known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as amended, and Public Law 107-110, known as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.  Those funds may be accepted and shall be distributed and accounted for by the state treasurer in accordance with that law and rules and regulations of the United States issued under it if there is conflict between that law or those rules and regulations and the laws of this state.

Sec. 2.  COMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL REQUIREMENTS; MEASURING

             ADEQUATE YEARLY PROGRESS TOWARD ACHIEVING

             STATE STANDARDS; CONSEQUENCES

16 V.S.A. § 165 authorizes the commissioner of education to determine how well schools and students are meeting state standards every two years and to impose certain consequences if schools are failing to meet standards after specific time periods.  Notwithstanding the provisions of that section, in order to comply with the provisions of Public Law 107-110, known as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, during school years 2003-2004 and 2004-2005, the commissioner is authorized to determine whether schools are meeting state standards annually and the state board of education is authorized to impose consequences allowed in state law and required by the Act within the time frame required in the ActHowever, consistent with Title IX, Part E, Subpart 2, Sec. 9527 of the No Child Left Behind Act, neither the state nor any subdivision thereof shall be required to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under the Act in order to comply with the provisions of the Act.  The state or any subdivision thereof may expend other funds for activities they were already conducting consistent with the Act, or for activities authorized in a state or local fiscal year 2004 budget.  It is the intent of the general assembly to continue to study the provisions of the federal law and to seek guidance from the federal government in order to determine permanent changes to Title 16 that will be necessary to comply with federal law and to avoid having federal law cause state and local governments to absorb the cost of unfunded mandates.

Sec. 3.  PROVISION OF EDUCATIONAL SERVICES TO A HOMELESS

             CHILD

(a)  In this section:

(1)  “Best interest of the child” means that to the extent feasible, the child shall be educated in the school of origin unless doing so is contrary to the wishes of the child’s parent or guardian.  In determining what is feasible, the school district in which the child is living may consider the age of the child, the distance of a commute and the impact it may have on the student’s education, personal safety issues, a student’s need for special instruction, the length of the anticipated stay in the temporary location, and the time remaining in the school year.

(2)  “Child who is homeless” means a child who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, and includes a child who:

(A)  is sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; is living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; is living in emergency or transitional shelter; is abandoned in a hospital; or is awaiting foster care placement;

(B)  has a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;

(C)  is living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings; substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; or

(D)  is a migratory child who is living in circumstances described in this subsection.

(3)  “School of origin” means the school that the child attended when permanently housed or the school in which the child was last enrolled.

(b)  Notwithstanding the provisions of 16 V.S.A. §§ 1075(e), 1093, and 1128(b) which stipulate that a child of parents who become homeless shall be educated in the school district in which the child is found and that a school district may choose not to accept nonresident pupils, in order to comply with the provisions of Public Law 107-110, known as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the provisions of this section shall apply to children who are homeless during school year 2003-2004.  It is the intent of the general assembly to continue to study the provisions of the federal law and to seek guidance from the federal government in order to determine permanent changes to Title 16 that will be necessary to comply with federal law.

(c)  If a child becomes homeless during school year 2003-2004, the child shall either be educated:  in the school of origin for the duration of the homelessness or for the remainder of the academic year if the child becomes permanently housed outside the district of origin; or in the school district in which the child is actually living.  The determination as to which school the child shall attend shall be made by the school board of the school district in which the child is living according to the best interests of the child. 

(d)  If the school board determines that a child should be sent to a school other than the school requested by the parent or guardian, the school board shall provide a written explanation to the parent or guardian, including a statement that the parent may appeal to the commissioner of education.

(e)  Notwithstanding the provisions of 16 V.S.A. § 4001(1)(A) which stipulate that a pupil must be a legal resident of the district attending a school owned and operated by the district in order to be counted in the average daily membership of the district, during the 2003-2004 school year, a child who is homeless during the census period shall be counted in the school district or districts in which the child is enrolled.  However, if at any time a homeless child enrolls, pursuant to this section, in a school district other than the district in which the child was counted, the district in which the child is enrolled shall become responsible for the education of the child, including payment of education services and, if appropriate, development and implementation of an individualized education plan.

(f)  If a homeless child is enrolled in his or her school of origin and that school is outside the school district in which he or she is living, the school district of origin and the school district in which the child is living shall agree upon a method to apportion the responsibility and costs for providing the child with transportation to and from the school of origin.  If the school districts are unable to agree, the responsibility and costs for transportation shall be shared equally.

Sec. 4.  NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE

(a)  The general assembly finds that:

(1)  Public Law 107-110, known as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, hereinafter referred to as NCLB, has the potential to dramatically change the way education services are provided in Vermont;

(2)  Implementation of NCLB could have a major impact on the revenues of the state and the cost of education to Vermont taxpayers.  NCLB provides the state of Vermont with over $50 million in federal funds for fiscal year 2004, most of which is the consolidation of past federal aid programs.  It is unclear whether federal funds will be enough to implement the provisions of the Act with some estimates indicating the potential for large unfunded mandates at both the state and local levels; and

(3)  Without legislative oversight, virtually all decisions regarding how the act will be implemented could be made by the state board of education as it is the agency charged with working with the federal government to align Vermont’s education system with provisions of federal law.

(b)  Therefore, it is the intent of the general assembly to establish a no child left behind oversight committee for the purpose of:

(1)  reviewing any NCLB‑related request for proposal process.  It is the intent of the general assembly that the department of education shall consider approaching other states prior to issuing an NCLB‑related request for proposal to determine if a joint contract would be more cost effective;

(2)  receiving notification of any NCLB‑related contract, grant agreement, amended contract, or amended grant agreement of greater than $10,000.00 prior to awarding any funds under the contract or grant agreement; 

(3)  developing a process for reviewing significant state board or commissioner of education decisions regarding implementation of NCLB;

(4)  reviewing information about technical assistance that the department of education is providing to Vermont schools and school districts regarding implementation of NCLB;

(5)  proposing recommendations to the state board and commissioner of education and the legislature about any future decisions regarding implementation of NCLB;

(6)  by December 15, 2003, proposing recommendations to the senate and house committees on education and appropriations to ensure that neither the state nor local school districts will incur costs to implement NCLB other than those funded by the federal government; and

(7)  receiving reports from the commissioner of education on his or her best estimate of the costs of implementing NCLB at the state level in January of 2004 and 2005.

(c)  The NCLB oversight committee shall consist of four senators, not all from the same political party, appointed by the committee on committees, one from each of the committees on appropriations and finance, and two from the committee on education; and four representatives, not all from the same political party, appointed by the speaker, one from each of the committees on appropriations and ways and means, and two from the committee on education.  The committee shall meet monthly or as needed, and members shall receive per diem and expenses pursuant to 2 V.S.A. § 406 and shall receive staff services from the legislative council and the joint fiscal office.

(d)  The NCLB oversight committee shall send its agendas and minutes as well as copies of any significant documents it receives to all members of the senate and house committees on education; and shall report on its activities and recommendations to the general assembly in January 2004 and January 2005.  The committee shall cease to exist on July 1, 2005.

Approved:  June 11, 2003