SB 311 - When a school is identified as being in the bottom twenty percent of schools in the state through the Missouri School Improvement Program, the parent of any student enrolled in the school or the parent of any student whose age does not exceed twenty-two who resides in the attendance area of the school may petition to convert the school. Parents may petition to convert the school using one of four school turnaround options: a restart model, a school closure model, a transformation model, or a turnaround model. Alternatively, parents may petition to convert the school into a charter school.
PETITION PROCESS: Signatures from parents representing fifty-one percent of the students attending a school are required for a conversion to occur. Parents may sign a petition once. Parents who do not reside in the attendance area of the school but who have children attending the school may sign the petition.
The school district must verify the petition signatures within forty-five days of its receipt. If there are discrepancies with the signatures that result in less than the required fifty-one percent, the parents will have an additional thirty days to reconcile the discrepancies and obtain additional signatures. Unless the parents explicitly state otherwise, the district will plan the conversion and begin to implement the plan no later than the first day of school of the school year beginning in the next calendar year. Any parent who has signed a petition that the school district rejects can appeal the petition rejection to circuit court. The court's decision will be final.
School districts must implement the school turnaround option chosen by the parents in the petition unless the district makes a finding that it is logistically impossible. In such a situation, it must select an alternative school turnaround option and submit both options to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The Department must determine whether the option chosen by the parents is possible. If so, the district must implement it. If the Department determines the option the parents selected is logistically impossible, then the district must implement the option it selected. The parents or school district may appeal the Department's decision to circuit court within thirty days. The court's decision is final.
After a school has been reorganized with a turnaround option, another petition for reorganization cannot be submitted for at least three years. In addition, if after two years of no significant student academic growth using a school turnaround option, the school will be converted into a charter school, as provided in the act.
School district employees and school board members are prohibited from harassing, threatening, and intimidating parents for any action related to a petition. School and district resources cannot be used to support or oppose any petition efforts.
SCHOOL TURNAROUND OPTIONS: A restart model requires that the district convert the school or close it and reopen it using a charter school operator, charter school management organization, or an education management organization. A school using a restart model must enroll any former student and may enroll any other student who wishes to attend.
A school closure model requires that the school be closed. Students will attend other public schools in the district that are higher achieving and that should be located within a reasonable proximity. A school closure model cannot be used when a district only operates one school.
The transformation model requires the district to implement various governance and instructional strategies, and implement evaluation and assessment systems, as described in the act. It requires the replacement of the school principal and removal of staff who have not increased student achievement and high school graduation rates.
The turnaround model also requires the district to implement various governance and instructional strategies, and implement evaluation and assessment systems, as described in the act. The school principal must be replaced and a new principal is granted operational flexibility. In addition, the new principal must select new staff. No more than fifty percent of the existing staff will be retained.
CHARTER SCHOOL CONVERSION: Parents may petition to convert the school to a charter school. If converted, the charter school will serve the attendance area of the school it replaced. If space allows, it may enroll students from elsewhere in the district. If the school is converted to a charter school, the Missouri Charter Public School Commission will serve as the interim sponsor of the school for up to three years but may become the school's permanent sponsor.
DEPARTMENT OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION: The Department must promulgate rules and regulations for the following: the petition format and submission process; an appeals procedure and time line; selection criteria for charter school operators; and a procedure for the rescission of parent signatures, if required.