An Act To Create the Maine Online Learning Program
Emergency preamble. Whereas, acts and resolves of the Legislature do not become effective until 90 days after adjournment unless enacted as emergencies; and
Whereas, delivering educational programs that meet the diverse educational needs of our children is of the greatest importance to the future welfare of the State; and
Whereas, closing the achievement gap between high-performing and low-performing students, including the gap between economically disadvantaged students and their more advantaged peers, continues to be a significant challenge; and
Whereas, providing a broader range of educational options to parents and utilizing existing resources, including learning technology, will help improve the academic achievement of students; and
Whereas, the State can augment the capacity of school administrative units to provide public school options for those students whose educational needs are not being met through the regular public school program; and
Whereas, through the use of available learning technology resources, the State can create educational opportunities for students that may not exist without the use of those resources; and
Whereas, this legislation is necessary to provide consistent, high-quality, public education options for students through the use of available learning technology resources; and
Whereas, in the judgment of the Legislature, these facts create an emergency within the meaning of the Constitution of Maine and require the following legislation as immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety; now, therefore,
Sec. 1. 20-A MRSA §5001-A, sub-§2, ¶B, as amended by PL 2003, c. 688, Pt. H, §1 and affected by §3, is further amended to read:
(1) Reached the age of 15 years or completed the 9th grade;
(2) Permission to leave school from that person's parent;
(3) Been approved by the principal for a suitable program of work and study or training;
(4) Permission to leave school from the school board or its designee; and
(5) Agreed in writing with that person's parent and the school board or its designee to meet annually until that person's 17th birthday to review that person's educational needs. When the request to be excused from school has been denied pursuant to this paragraph, the student's parent may appeal to the commissioner; or
Sec. 2. 20-A MRSA §5001-A, sub-§2, ¶D, as enacted by PL 1985, c. 123, §2, is amended to read:
Sec. 3. 20-A MRSA §5001-A, sub-§2, ¶E is enacted to read:
Sec. 4. 20-A MRSA c. 802 is enacted to read:
MAINE ONLINE LEARNING PROGRAM
§ 19151. Definitions
As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.
§ 19152. Program established
The Maine Online Learning Program, referred to in this chapter as "the program," is established to provide high-quality educational options for kindergarten to grade 12 students in this State using online learning programs and courses. The goals of the program are to:
§ 19153. Approval of online learning providers
No later than June 30, 2010, the department shall provide school administrative units with a list of providers approved to offer full-time and part-time online learning programs and courses available for kindergarten to grade 12 students in the State. The department, in consultation with the state board, shall develop approval criteria and a process for approving online learning providers to implement online learning programs and courses.
§ 19154. Enrollment and eligibility
Full-time students enrolled in an online learning program are considered to have met the compulsory attendance requirement set forth in section 5001-A, subsection 2, paragraph E. The following provisions apply for enrollment and eligibility.
§ 19155. Report
The department shall provide the Legislature annually with a report that includes, but is not limited to, the following information:
Sec. 5. Department of Education review of online learning initiatives; report; additional necessary implementing legislation. In establishing the Maine Online Learning Program under the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 20-A, chapter 802, the Department of Education shall review the online learning initiatives established in other states and jurisdictions, including the best practices established by these online learning initiatives related to funding, governance, approval requirements for online learning providers, teacher quality, assessment of student performance, accessibility of programs and materials for individuals with disabilities, alignment with accessible instructional materials provisions of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, Public Law 108-446, and alignment with the universal design provisions of the 1998 amendments to the federal Higher Education Act of 1965, Public Law 105-244. No later than January 1, 2010, the Commissioner of Education shall submit to the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs a report that contains findings, recommendations and any proposed legislation necessary to further the implementation of the Maine Online Learning Program. Following receipt and review of the report, the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs may submit a bill to the Second Regular Session of the 124th Legislature.
Emergency clause. In view of the emergency cited in the preamble, this legislation takes effect when approved.