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

Sec. 1. 28 V.S.A. § 120 is amended to read:



(a) Authority. An education program is established within the department of corrections for the education of persons who have not completed secondary education and who are *[incarcerated within an institution operated by the department]* committed to the custody of the commissioner of corrections.

(b) Applicability of education provisions. The education program shall be approved by the commissioner of education as an independent school under 16 V.S.A. § 166, shall comply with the school quality standards provided by section 165 of Title 16, and shall be coordinated with adult education, special education and technical education.

(c) Program supervision. The commissioner of corrections shall appoint an education supervisor to coordinate and supervise the education program *[offered within the correctional institutions]*.

(d) Curriculum. The education program shall offer a minimum course of study, as defined in 16 V.S.A. § 906, at each correctional *[institution]* facility and department service center, but is not required to offer a driver training course or a physical educational course.

(e) Commissioner of education's designation of special education program. Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the commissioner of education, in accordance with the provisions of 16 V.S.A. chapter 101, shall designate a program to provide for the special education of eligible persons who are *[incarcerated within an institution operated by the department]* under the custody of the commissioner of corrections. *[The]* Within the limits of funds made available for this specific purpose, the commissioner of education shall pay the costs of this program in excess of costs defined in subsection (g) of this section.

(f) Reimbursement payments. The provision of *[16 V.S.A. § 1075(d), relating topayment for the cost of education of wards of the state]* 16 V.S.A. § 4012, relating to payment for state-placed students, shall not apply to the corrections education program.

(g) Annual budget. Annually there shall be appropriated to the department of corrections an amount equal to the number of full-time equivalent students enrolled in the corrections department education program, multiplied by the average cost of public school education in the preceding year. That average cost shall be calculated to exclude debt service and transportation costs.

(h) Required participation. All persons under the custody of the commissioner of corrections who are under the age of 21 and have not received a high school diploma shall participate in the education program unless exempted by the commissioner.

Sec. 2. 16 V.S.A. § 166(b) is amended to read:

(b) Approved independent schools. On application, the state board shall approve an independent school which offers elementary or secondary education if it finds, after opportunity for hearing, that the school provides a minimum course of study and that it substantially complies with the board's rules for approved independent schools. *[The]* Except as provided in subdivision (6) of this section, the board's rules must at minimum require that the school has the resources required to meet its stated objectives, including financial capacity, faculty who are qualified by training and experience in the areas in which they are assigned, and physical facilities and special services that are in accordance with any state or federal law or regulation. Approval may be granted without state board evaluation in the case of any school accredited by a private, state or regional agency recognized by the state board for accrediting purposes.

* * *

(6) This subdivision applies to an independent school located in Vermont which offers a program of elementary or secondary education through correspondence, electronic mail, satellite communication or other means and which, because of its structure, does not meet some or all the rules of the state board for approved independent schools. In order to be approved under this subdivision, a school shallmeet the standards adopted by rule of the state board for approved independent schools which can be applied to the applicant school and any other standards or rules adopted by the state board regarding these types of schools. A school approved under this subdivision shall not be eligible to receive tuition payments from public school districts under chapter 21 of this title. However, a school district may enter into a contract or contracts with a school approved under this subdivision for provisions of some education services for its students.

Approved: April 13, 1998