2021 South Carolina Code of Laws
Title 59 - Education
Chapter 19 - School Trustees
Section 59-19-350. Schools of innovation exempt from applicable state statutes and regulations.

Universal Citation: SC Code § 59-19-350 (2021)

(A)(1) A local school district board of trustees of this State desirous of creating an avenue for new, innovative, and more flexible ways of educating children within their district, may create one or more schools of innovation within the district that are exempt from applicable state statutes and regulations which govern other schools in the district. To achieve the status of a school of innovation and have exemption from specific statutes and regulations, the local board of trustees, at a public meeting, shall identify specific statutes and regulations which will be considered for exemption and shall disclose the financial model to be used. The exemption may be granted by the governing board of the district only if there is a two-thirds affirmative vote of the board for each exemption and the proposed exemption is approved by the State Board of Education, provided a district may not designate all schools in the district as schools of innovation.

(2) To achieve the status of exemption:

(a) A school district must identify each state statute, regulation, and local district policy from which the school is requesting exemption and specify how this flexibility will support academic achievement for students and the Profile of the Graduate. No district is permitted to request flexibility from all state regulations and statutes for any school or schools.

(b) The district superintendent must submit a request containing the information in subitem (a) to the local board of trustees for approval, which must be considered in a public meeting and requires a two-thirds vote of the board for approval. Any change in the request must be approved by the local board by a two-thirds vote.

(c) Once approved by a local school board, the district superintendent must submit the request to the State Board of Education for approval, which requires a two-thirds vote of the State Board. Any change in a request that is pending approval by, or has been approved by, the State Board of Education must be made in the same manner as provided in subitem (b) and this subitem for initial requests.

(3) Each school of innovation annually before July first shall:

(a) demonstrate compliance with the financial model identified in item (1);

(b) provide full financial statements detailing how it receives and expends funds; and

(c) report the academic achievement of its students as indicated by the performance of its students on the same assessments and matrices required of all other public schools, based on grade level.

(4) Nothing in this section permits a local school district board of trustees to relinquish control or oversight of the schools created pursuant to this section, and the local school district board must ensure transparent and timely reporting of fiscal and academic performance for each school of innovation.

(B) In seeking exemptions, the local board of trustees may not exempt:

(1) federal and state laws and constitutional provisions prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, national origin, religion, ancestry, or need for special education services;

(2) health, safety, civil rights, and disability rights requirements as are applied to other public schools operating in the district;

(3) minimum student attendance requirements;

(4) state assessment requirements; and

(5) certification requirements for teachers in the core academic areas as defined by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, Public Law 107-110; however, up to twenty-five percent of the teaching staff of the school may be employed if the individual possesses a baccalaureate or graduate degree in the subject he is hired to teach.

(C) Any school created pursuant to this section shall admit all children eligible to attend the school subject to space limitations and may not limit or deny admission or show preference in admission decisions to any individual or group of individuals.

(D) A local school district that provides exemptions pursuant to subsection (A) shall provide the State Department of Education with documentation of the approved exemptions and shall submit evaluation documentation to be reviewed by the State Board of Education after three years of the exemption to ensure that the district continues to meet the needs of its students. Upon review, if the State Board of Education determines the continuation of the exemption does not meet the needs of the students attending the district school of choice, the board may suspend exemptions granted by the local board of trustees with a two-thirds vote. Before suspending the exemptions, the State Board of Education shall notify the district and provide the district with any opportunity to defend the continuation of approved exemptions.

HISTORY: 2012 Act No. 164, Section 17, eff May 14, 2012; 2021 Act No. 20 (H.3589), Section 1, eff April 22, 2021.

Effect of Amendment

2021 Act No. 20, Section 1, rewrote (A).

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