2021 Tennessee Code
Title 49 - Education
Chapter 1 - State Administration
Part 6 - Performance Goals and Assessment
§ 49-1-614. Achievement School District

Universal Citation: TN Code § 49-1-614 (2021)
  1. The “achievement school district” or “ASD” is an organizational unit of the department of education, established and administered by the commissioner for the purpose of providing oversight for the operation of schools assigned to or authorized by the ASD.

  2. The commissioner shall have the authority to directly operate or contract with one (1) or more individuals, governmental entities or nonprofit entities to manage the day-to-day operations of any or all schools placed in the ASD, including, but not limited to, providing direct services to students.


    1. The commissioner shall have the authority to assign any school or grade configuration within a school to the ASD at any time such school is designated to be in priority status pursuant to § 49-1-602; provided, however, that schools assigned to the ASD after June 1, 2017, shall be limited to priority schools.

    2. Schools placed in the ASD after June 1, 2017, shall only serve grades that the school served at the time the commissioner assigned the school to the ASD. The governing body of a charter school may apply to the LEA to expand the grades the school serves under the provisions outlined in § 49-13-106.

    3. Prior to the assignment of a school to the ASD, the commissioner shall consider geographic clusters of qualifying schools and feeder patterns with multiple eligible schools.

    4. Nothing shall prohibit the ASD from establishing an alternative school to serve students assigned to the ASD.


    1. The ASD may receive, control, and expend local and state funding for schools placed under its jurisdiction, and shall have the authority to seek, receive, expend, manage, and retain federal funding and grant funding and to otherwise seek, obtain, expend, manage, and retain funding with the same authority as an LEA. The ASD shall receive from the department or LEA, as appropriate, an amount equal to the per student state and local funds received by the department or LEA for the students enrolled in the ASD school. ASD schools shall also receive all appropriate allocations of federal funds as other LEAs under federal law or regulation, including, but not limited to, Title I and ESEA funds. All funding allocations and disbursements shall be in accordance with procedures developed by the department.

    2. The ASD shall have the authority to receive donations of money, property or securities from any source for the benefit of the ASD and schools within the ASD. All such funds shall, in good faith, be disbursed in accordance with the conditions of the gifts.

    3. To the extent that any state and local funds allocated to the ASD are not used to support a school or LEA in the ASD, they shall be allocated to a state reserve fund to be distributed to the appropriate LEA upon approval of the commissioner and upon the removal of the school from the ASD.

  3. The ASD may require any LEA to provide school support or student support services for a school transferred from the LEA's jurisdiction including, but not limited to, student transportation, school food service, alternative schools or student assessment for special education eligibility that are compliant with all laws and regulations governing such services. In such cases, the ASD shall reimburse the actual cost to the LEA providing such services.

  4. The ASD shall have the right to use any school building and all facilities and property otherwise part of the school and recognized as part of the facilities or assets of the school prior to its placement in the ASD and shall have access to such additional facilities as were typically available to the school, its students, faculty and staff prior to its placement in the ASD. Such use shall be unrestricted and free of charge, except that the ASD shall be responsible for and obligated to provide for routine maintenance and repair such that the facilities and property are maintained in as good order as when the right of use was acquired by the ASD. The ASD shall also be responsible for paying all utilities in use at ASD-utilized facilities. Extensive repairs to buildings or facilities considered capital expenses shall be the responsibility of the LEA and not the ASD. Any fixtures, improvements or tangible assets added to a school building or facility by the ASD shall remain at the school building or facility upon its return to the LEA.


    1. If it is determined that the ASD shall directly operate a school within the ASD, the employees hired to work in schools directly operated by the ASD may be deemed employees of the ASD and such employees shall be under the exclusive control of the ASD. The ASD shall develop written procedures, subject to the approval of the commissioner, for employment and management of personnel as well as the development of compensation and benefit plans. Within the limits of the budget, staffing needs of any school within the ASD shall be exclusively determined by the ASD with approval of the commissioner.

    2. The ASD, or the entity under contract to operate schools within the ASD, shall have the authority to determine whether any teacher who was assigned to such school prior to the school's transfer into the ASD shall have the option of continuing to teach at that school as an employee of either the ASD or the operating entity. Any tenured teacher not given that option shall remain an employee of the LEA, subject to § 49-5-511. The LEA, if it so chooses, may continue the employment of a nontenured teacher not given that option. Moreover, any teacher who accepts that option may, at the discretion of the LEA, return as an employee of the LEA, should the ASD or operating entity later determine not to continue to employ such teacher.

    3. With the exception of the provisions protecting teachers’ rights to accumulated sick leave, retirement benefits, pension and tenure status within an LEA, § 49-5-203, and the [former] Education Professional Negotiations Act, compiled in chapter 5, part 6 of this title, prior to June 1, 2011, shall not apply to teachers who accept the option of continuing to teach at a school placed in the ASD.

  5. Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the ASD shall, at a minimum, have the same authority and autonomy afforded to LEAs under state law regarding the procurement of property, goods and services, including, but not limited to, personal, professional, consulting, and social services. The ASD shall develop written procedures for the procurement of all goods and services in compliance with the expenditure thresholds for competitive bidding outlined or permitted in § 49-2-203. Such procedures shall be submitted to and approved by the commissioner.

  6. Notwithstanding title 12, chapter 7, part 1, or any other law to the contrary, the ASD shall have the authority to authorize the preparation and use of publications and other media for the marketing and public education needs of the ASD in order to effectively carry out its mission.

  7. The ASD or any entity the ASD contracts with to operate or manage schools that have been placed in the ASD may apply to the commissioner for a waiver of any state board rule that inhibits or hinders the ability of the school to increase student achievement. Notwithstanding this subsection (j), the commissioner shall not waive rules related to the following:

    1. Federal and state civil rights;

    2. Federal, state and local health and safety;

    3. Federal and state public records;

    4. Immunizations;

    5. Possession of weapons on school grounds;

    6. Background checks and fingerprinting of personnel;

    7. Federal and state special education services;

    8. Student due process;

    9. Parental rights;

    10. Federal and state student assessment and accountability;

    11. Open meetings; and

    12. At least the same equivalent time of instruction as required in regular public schools.


    1. A school that has been removed from the LEA and placed in the ASD shall remain in the ASD until the school is no longer identified as a priority school pursuant to § 49-1-602 for two (2) consecutive cycles beginning with the 2017 priority school list; provided, however, that no school shall remain in the ASD for more than a ten-year period. After the school improves student performance such that the school is no longer identified as a priority school for two (2) consecutive cycles, the commissioner, in consultation with the LEA, shall develop and approve a transition plan for the purpose of planning the school's return to the LEA. If the LEA is identified as an LEA earning the lowest accountability determination pursuant to § 49-1-602(a) and the parents of at least sixty percent (60%) of the children enrolled at the school demonstrate support for remaining in the ASD by signing a petition, then the school shall remain in the ASD and shall return to the LEA after the LEA is no longer identified as an LEA earning the lowest accountability determination.

    2. Notwithstanding subdivision (k)(1) or any other provision to the contrary, if a school enters the ASD and is operated as a charter school through authorization by the ASD pursuant to § 49-13-106, the ASD shall remain the chartering authority through the duration of the charter agreement and the school shall remain under the authority of the ASD. Upon expiration of the charter agreement, the school shall return to the LEA and the terms of the charter agreement may be renewed upon submission of a renewal application by the governing body of the charter school to the LEA under the provisions outlined in § 49-13-121.

    3. Notwithstanding subdivision (k)(1) or any other provision to the contrary, the commissioner shall have the authority to remove any school from the jurisdiction of the ASD at any time.

    4. Notwithstanding subdivisions (k)(1)-(3), a school that has been placed in the ASD shall remain in the ASD until the school is authorized to return to the school's LEA according to the transition plan developed by the commissioner pursuant to this subdivision (k)(4). The commissioner shall develop a transition plan for the purpose of planning the return, no earlier than the 2024-2025 school year, of schools in the ASD to the LEAs from which the schools were removed. The commissioner shall submit the plan developed pursuant to this subdivision (k)(4) to the education committees of the senate and house of representatives by January 1, 2021.

  8. Any individuals, governmental entities or nonprofit entities contracting with the commissioner to operate any school under this section shall provide timely information to the LEA and director of schools regarding the operation of such schools, including, but not limited to, matters relating to employment of personnel at the school as provided for in this section. The LEA may continue to support the educational improvement of the school under the direction and guidance of the commissioner and in accordance with any contracts entered into in accordance with this section. In addition, any individuals, governmental entities or nonprofit entities contracting with the commissioner may voluntarily work with the LEA in providing to the schools professional development or technical assistance, instructional and administrative support and facilitating any other support that may be beneficial to academic progress of the school.

  9. Any contracts to operate schools that have been placed in the ASD shall require expenditure reports for funds received and expended pursuant to such contracts. Such reports shall be provided to the department of education and comptroller of the treasury for review.

  10. The department of education shall establish within the school system with the most schools operated by the ASD a four-year pilot program of assessment of kindergarten students. The pilot program shall begin with the 2012-2013 school year. Students entering kindergarten in such system in schools operated by the ASD shall be assessed by an appropriate standardized test or tests. The test shall measure the present educational levels of the students to determine how instruction should be targeted to best meet the learning needs of the students and to eliminate disparities in learning backgrounds, if any.

  11. The ASD shall adopt an appropriate dress code for its professional employees.
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