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A01317 Summary:

Amd §3204, add §3204-a, Ed L
Provides an enforcement mechanism for non-public school educational standards.
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A01317 Actions:

01/08/2021referred to education
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A01317 Memo:

submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
SPONSOR: Zebrowski
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the education law, in relation to required instruction in non-public schools   PURPOSE OF THE BILL: This bill creates an enforcement mechanism for education standards in non-public schools.   SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section one of the bill amends section 3204 of the education law as it relates to clarifying that a student's education in a non-public school must be substantially equivalent to the public school district where the school is located rather than where the minor resides. Section two of the bill amends the education law by adding a new section 3204-a as it relates to required instruction in non-public schools. All nonpublic students shall receive an education that is substantially equivalent to that in the public schools with respect to rigor, allotted time and subject. It provides parents, students, teachers and residents a method to file a complaint if they feel a non-public school is failing to provide a substantially equivalent education. The commissioner of education must investigate a substantiated complaint to determine if the non-public school is providing an appropriate education. The section provides the commissioner with several remedies to ensure that the school complies with the required educational standards already set by law Section three of the bill relates to the effective date.   JUSTIFICATION: This bill would provide parents, students, teachers and residents the ability to file a complaint with the Department of Education if a nonpublic school fails to provide a "substantially equivalent" educa- tion. Currently, all non-public schools must provide instruction that is "substantially equivalent" to that of the public school. This require- ment has been around for years in order to ensure that all children are afforded a quality and basic education regardless of where they receive instruction. Unfortunately, there is no enforcement in the law to ensure that non-public schools comply with the required standards; leaving parents and students with no remedy. Recently, several parents and students were forced to sue the school district and state in order to compel their non-public school to increase the educational standards. The lawsuit claimed that students were only provided a limited number of hours of secular education per week. This bill provides a reasonable administrative mechanism to enforce an educational standards law that has been on the books for decades.   PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: A.3272 of 2019-20, A.1305 of 2017-18, A.8612 of 2015-2016   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE: Minimal.   EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
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A01317 Text:

                STATE OF NEW YORK
                               2021-2022 Regular Sessions
                   IN ASSEMBLY
                                     January 8, 2021
        Introduced by M. of A. ZEBROWSKI, GLICK -- read once and referred to the
          Committee on Education
        AN  ACT  to amend the education law, in relation to required instruction
          in non-public schools
          The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and  Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:

     1    Section  1.  Paragraph  (i)  of  subdivision  2 of section 3204 of the
     2  education law, as amended by section 1 of part SSS of chapter 59 of  the
     3  laws of 2018, is amended to read as follows:
     4    (i)  Instruction  may  be  given  only  by a competent teacher. In the
     5  teaching of the subjects of  instruction  prescribed  by  this  section,
     6  English  shall be the language of instruction, and text-books used shall
     7  be written in English, except that for a period of  three  years,  which
     8  period  may  be  extended by the commissioner with respect to individual
     9  pupils, upon application therefor by the appropriate school authorities,
    10  to a period not in excess of six years, from the date of  enrollment  in
    11  school,  pupils who, by reason of foreign birth or ancestry have limited
    12  English proficiency, shall be provided with  instructional  programs  as
    13  specified  in  subdivision  two-a of this section and the regulations of
    14  the commissioner. The purpose of providing such pupils with  instruction
    15  shall  be  to enable them to develop academically while achieving compe-
    16  tence in the English language. Instruction given to  a  minor  elsewhere
    17  than  at  a  public school shall be at least substantially equivalent to
    18  the instruction given to minors of  like  age  and  attainments  at  the
    19  public schools of the city or district where the school is located or if
    20  home-schooled, where the minor resides.
    21    §  2.  The  education law is amended by adding a new section 3204-a to
    22  read as follows:
    23    § 3204-a. Instruction required in non-public schools. 1. All  students
    24  attending  a  non-public  school  shall  be  given  instruction  that is
    25  substantially equivalent to the instruction that is given to students of
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.

        A. 1317                             2
     1  similar age and attainment in  the  district  in  which  the  school  is
     2  located.  A  non-public  school is not required to use the curriculum of
     3  the school district in which they are located but must provide  students
     4  with instruction that is similar in rigor, allotted time, and subject.
     5    2. If there is an allegation that a non-public school's instruction is
     6  not  substantially  equivalent  to  the instruction of the public school
     7  district, a written complaint may be filed with the  commissioner  by  a
     8  current  or  former  student,  parent  of  a  current or former student,
     9  current or former teacher, administrator or  employee  of  a  non-public
    10  school  or a resident of the school district that such non-public school
    11  is located. The complaint must include the complainant's name,  address,
    12  non-public school name, non-public school's address, relationship to the
    13  non-public  school,  description  of  the non-public school's failure to
    14  provide appropriate education, and evidence of the  curriculum,  content
    15  of  instruction  or  any  other  documentation  or proof that the school
    16  failed to provide substantially equivalent instruction.
    17    3. Upon receipt of a complaint pursuant to this section,  the  commis-
    18  sioner  shall  substantiate  such complaint to determine whether a valid
    19  claim exists. The commissioner shall notify the district  superintendent
    20  and  non-public school administrator, and request documentation pertain-
    21  ing  to  the  school's  instruction,  including  but  not  limited   to,
    22  description of curriculum, class instruction materials, testing program,
    23  and  schedule  of  classes.  The  non-public  school  administrator must
    24  respond to the request for documentation in a time period  specified  by
    25  the  commissioner.  In  the  course of the investigation, the department
    26  may, during any reasonable hour, conduct unannounced  school  visits  at
    27  the  non-public  school  to  observe  instruction. The visitations shall
    28  include observation of classrooms, discussions  with  school  staff  and
    29  students,  and  review  of  curriculum  documents. The non-public school
    30  authorities shall not refuse access to the department for the purpose of
    31  a visitation pursuant to this section.
    32    4. The commissioner  may  consult  with  the  district  superintendent
    33  during  the  investigation  and  may request documents needed as part of
    34  such investigation.
    35    5. Following an investigation, the commissioner shall issue  a  report
    36  on their findings of whether the non-public school is providing instruc-
    37  tion that is substantially equivalent to the school district in which it
    38  is  located. The report shall include all documentation submitted by the
    39  non-public school and if school visitations were made, all  observations
    40  and notes from such visits.
    41    6.  If the commissioner determines that a non-public school has failed
    42  to provide substantially equivalent instruction  to  the  public  school
    43  pursuant to this section, the commissioner shall take any of the follow-
    44  ing actions, either individually or in combination:
    45    (a)  The  commissioner may issue an order that provides the non-public
    46  school with a corrective action plan. The corrective action  plan  shall
    47  compel  the  non-public  school  to take immediate steps to implement an
    48  appropriate curriculum that provides students with substantially  equiv-
    49  alent instruction pursuant to this section.
    50    (b)  The  commissioner may place a temporary education observer at the
    51  non-public school to ensure that appropriate instruction is provided  to
    52  students.
    53    (c) The commissioner may, if applicable, place the non-public school's
    54  registration  on probation until the non-public school demonstrates that
    55  their instruction and curriculum  is  substantially  equivalent  to  the
    56  school district which they are located in.

        A. 1317                             3
     1    (d)  The  commissioner  may  withhold  any  apportionment  or grant of
     2  mandated services aid until any actions or orders are satisfied.
     3    (e)  The  commissioner  may permanently revoke the non-public school's
     4  registration or if not registered, prohibit the school from operating.
     5    § 3. This act shall take effect immediately.
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