SS/SCS/SBs 411 & 230 - This act modifies the definition of "home school", creates a definition for "FLEX school", repeals provisions authorizing the appointment of school attendance officers, repeals provisions authorizing parents to submit a written declaration of intent to home school, and establishes provisions relating to the participation of certain students in public school activities. The act also establishes provisions relating to the four-day school week, school board vacancies, compulsory school attendance, and elective social studies courses on the Bible.
FOUR-DAY SCHOOL WEEK (Sections 160.011, 163.021, 171.028, 171.031, and 171.033)
The act provides that school districts located wholly or partially in charter counties or cities with more than 30,000 inhabitants may adopt a four-day school week in lieu of a five-day school week only by submitting to the qualified voters of the school district a ballot measure authorizing the same. The act modifies current provisions of law relating to the minimum school term and school day by specifying that only districts with a four-day school week are not required to have a minimum number of school days.
FLEX SCHOOLS (Sections 161.670, 162.996, 162.1250, 166.700, 167.031, 167.061, 167.600, 167.619, 210.167, 210.211, 211.031, 452.375, and 167.071)
The act defines a "Family-Led Educational eXperience (FLEX) school" or "FLEX school" as a school that meets certain criteria that also apply to home schools, except that a FLEX school may enroll students who participate in the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program or activities offered by a public school district. The definition of "home school" is modified to exclude students who participate in such Program or activities. The act modifies certain provisions of law to include FLEX schools in provisions that also apply to home schools. The act also modifies the definition of "qualified schools" in provisions relating to the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program to include FLEX schools instead of home schools.
Public schools, state agencies and employees, and certain private entities shall not refer to FLEX schools or to publicly funded programs, including but not limited to virtual school programs, as "home schooling". Additionally, public schools, state agencies and employees, and certain private entities shall not refer to students who are enrolled in an attendance center of a public school district, including full-time virtual school programs, students who receive education funding from the state of Missouri, or students who participate in the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program as "home schooled" students.
SCHOOL BOARD VACANCIES (Sections 162.471, 162.492, and 162.611)
Under current law, any vacancy on an urban school board shall be filled by special election. Under this act, the remaining members of the board shall fill any such vacancy by appointment until the next school board election. These provisions are identical to HB 914 (2023) and provisions in HCS/SS#2/SCS/SBs 4, 42 & 89 (2023), in CCS/HS/HCS/SS#2/SCS/SB 96 (2023), in HCS/SB 155 (2023), in HCS/HB 497, and in HB 716 (2023).
Current law also provides that any vacancy that occurs on the City of St. Louis school board outside of the normal election cycle shall be filled by appointment by the mayor for the remainder of the term. Under this act, the City of St. Louis school board shall fill any such vacancy by appointment for the remainder of the term. This provision is identical to SB 363 (2023) and is substantially similar to provisions in HCS/SS#2/SCS/SBs 4, 42 & 89 (2023), in HCS/SB 155 (2023), in HCS/HB 497 (2023), and in HB 716 (2023).
COMPULSORY SCHOOL ATTENDANCE (Section 167.031)
The act provides that a child may be excused from attendance at school if the child is unable to attend school due to mental or behavioral health concerns, provided that the school receives documentation from a mental health professional. This provision is identical to a provision in HCS/SB 122 (2023) and similar to a provision in HB 1217 (2023).
DECLARATIONS OF INTENT TO HOME SCHOOL (Section 167.042)
The act repeals provisions authorizing parents to submit a written declaration of intent to home school their child to the recorder of deeds of the county where the child legally resides or to the superintendent of the public school district where the child legally resides.
SCHOOL ATTENDANCE OFFICERS (Section 167.071)
The act repeals provisions authorizing a seven-director school district to appoint a school attendance officer who has the powers of a deputy sheriff and may investigate claims of violations of the compulsory attendance law and arrest truant juveniles without a warrant.
PARTICIPATION IN PUBLIC SCHOOL ACTIVITIES (Section 167.790)
The act provides that a school district shall not prohibit a student receiving instruction at a FLEX school or a full-time virtual school from participating in any event or activity offered by the school district or require such student to take any class in order to participate in such event or activity. The act further provides that a school district shall not be a member of, or remit any funds to, a statewide activities association that prohibits a student receiving instruction at a FLEX school or a full-time virtual school from participating in any event or activity offered by the school district in which the student resides or that requires such students to take any class in order to participate in such event or activity. Additionally, a statewide activities association shall not prohibit any member school district from participating in any event with a school that is not a member of the association.
The act outlines certain criteria that FLEX school and virtual school students shall satisfy in order to be eligible to participate in public school activities in their district of residence. Such students shall provide proof of residency in the district where they wish to participate in public school activities and adhere to the same behavior, responsibility, performance, and code conduct standards as students enrolled in the district.
A school district may establish an attendance policy for any rehearsals, practice sessions, and training sessions that are directly related to and required for participation in an event or activity. However, school disciplinary policies and attendance policies shall be applied in the same manner to all students who participate in an event or activity. A school district shall not establish a separate disciplinary or attendance policy for students who receive instruction at a FLEX school or a full-time virtual school.
If a student whose academic performance or disciplinary status would preclude such student from eligibility to participate in extracurricular events or activities in the resident school district disenrolls from such school district in order to receive instruction in a FLEX school or a full-time virtual school, such student shall not be eligible to participate in public school events or activities in the district of such student's disenrollment for twelve calendar months from the date of disenrollment.
Records created pertaining to a FLEX school student or a full-time virtual school student shall be made confidential. The parent of a FLEX school student shall oversee academic standards relating to such student's participation in a public school activity.
These provisions are similar to HB 241 (2023), SB 835 (2022), HCS/HB 2369 (2022), HCS/HB 494 (2021), SCS/SB 875 (2020), SCS/HC/HB 1540 (2020), HCS/SS/SCS/SB 528 (2020), HCS/HB 2273 (2020), and SB 130 (2019).
ELECTIVE SOCIAL STUDIES COURSES ON THE BIBLE (Section 170.341)
This act allows a school district or public charter school to offer an elective social studies course relating, but not limited to, the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament of the Bible, or the New Testament of the Bible. The course will include the contents, history, literary style and structure, and influences on society. No requirement shall be made by the district or charter school on the text translation students must use. This act requires that any course offered shall follow applicable laws to maintain religious neutrality, and shall not endorse, favor, promote, or show hostility to any particular religion, nonreligious faith, or religious perspective. This provision is identical to SB 34 (2023) and similar to HB 484 (2023), SB 684 (2022), SB 323 (2021), HB 1345 (2020), and HB 267 (2019).