Every Child a Graduate. Every Graduate Prepared.

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Question:   How is admission to public schools determined?

Answer:   Admission to public school shall be on an individual basis on the application of the parents, legal custodian, or guardian of the child to the local board of education at the beginning of each school year, under such rules and regulations as the board may prescribe. Authority: Ala. Code (1975) §16-28-3

Question:   Who is required to attend school?

Answer:   Every child between the ages of seven and 16 must attend a public school, private school, church school, or be instructed by a competent private tutor for the entire length of the school term except that every child attending a church school is exempt from the requirements of Ala. Code (1975)§16-28-3, provided such child complies with the enrollment and reporting procedure specified in Ala. Code (1975) §16-28-7 of the code. Authority: Ala. Code (1975) §16-28-3

Question:   What is the minimum age for admission to public schools?

Answer:   a. A child who is six years of age on or before September 1 (2)* or the date on which school begins in the enrolling district shall be entitled to admission to the public elementary schools at the opening of such schools for that school year or as soon as practicable thereafter.
b. A child who becomes six years old on or before February 1 may, with the approval of the local board of education, be admitted at the beginning of the second semester in school systems having semiannual promotions of pupils.
c. A child who is five years of age on or before September 1 (2)* or the date on which school begins in the enrolling district is entitled to admission to the kindergarten program at the beginning of the school year or as soon as practicable thereafter.
d. Kindergarten or Grade 1 students who were enrolled in an Alabama private school, church school, or were being tutored in accordance with the Ala. Code (1975) and who seek admission to kindergarten or Grade 1 in the public schools must meet the age requirements for admittance as of September 1 (2)* or the opening date of school in the enrolling district. Authority: Ala. Code (1975) §16-28-4 Report of Attorney General of Alabama October-December 1963 Volume 113, page 20

Question:   What are the requirements for Kindergarten and Grade 1 out-of-state transfers?

Answer:   a. An underage child who transfers from the first grade of a school in another state may be admitted, but must have the approval of the local board of education.
b. An underage child who has moved into this state and has completed a mandated kindergarten program in another state shall be entitled to admission to the public elementary school.
c. An underage child who transfers to Alabama from the public school kindergarten in another state may be admitted, but must have prior approval of the local board of education. Authority: Ala. Code (1975) §16-28-4

Question:   What state regulations relate to required school and absences from state schools?

Answer:   A. Attendance Required Children between the ages of seven and 16 years are required to attend a public school, private school, church school, or be instructed by a competent private tutor for the entire length of the school term in every scholastic year except that every child attending a church school as defined by Alabama law (Ala. Code §16-28-1) is exempt from this requirement, provided such child has met the requirements as specified for enrollment and reporting.
B. Absences
1. Explanation Required
a. Every parent, guardian, or other person having control or charge of any child required to attend public school, private school, or church school, shall as soon as practical explain the cause of any absence of the child under his control or charge which was without permission of the teacher.
b. Failure to furnish such explanation shall be admissible as evidence of such child being a truant with the consent and connivance of the person in control or charge of the child, unless such person can show to the reasonable satisfaction of the court that he had no knowledge of such absence and that he had been diligent in his efforts to secure the attendance of such child. Authority: Ala. Code (1975) §16-28-15
2. Excused Absences
a. Illness.
b. Death in immediate family.
c. Inclement weather which would be dangerous to the life and health of the child as determined by the principal.
d. Legal quarantine.
e. Emergency conditions as determined by the principal.
f. Prior permission of the principal upon request of the parent or legal guardian.
3. Unexcused Absences Any absences not excused shall be considered unexcused.

Question:   Can a student be retained in a grade merely because of a certain number of excused absences?

Answer:   No. Excused absences (e.g., for illness) imply that the absences will not be counted against the student.

Question:   Can a student be retained in a grade merely because of a certain number of unexcused absences?

Answer:   Yes, assuming the school board has, and carefully complies with, a policy relating attendance to academic achievement.

Question:   Can academic sanctions (grade penalties) be imposed upon a student after a certain number of excused or unexcused absences?

Answer:   Yes in the case of unexcused absences and no in the case of excused absences because the implication is that the school system has agreed to the absence of a child under certain conditions.

Question:   Can a student be retained or academic sanctions imposed after the student exceeds a certain number of excused or unexcused absences if the student is otherwise academically succeeding in the particular course?

Answer:   Yes in the case of unexcused absences and no in the case of excused absences. Once again, the school system must have publicized and faithfully complied with a policy that equates academic achievement with attendance. Report of Attorney General of Alabama January 10, 1989

Question:   Who is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the strategy (Form C of the Three-Year LEA At-Risk Plan) when the strategy is directly related to the non-profit, non-government community agency?

Answer:   The LEA superintendent is ultimately responsible for the expenditure of funds. Therefore, the person appointed by the superintendent (i.e., at-risk contact/coordinator) should oversee the implementation of all agreements related to the 20% state at-risk funds. If outside agency expenditures are inappropriate (i.e., food and/or drink purchases, or other), the LEA will be held responsible.

Question:   Faxing at-risk plan changes or reporting community service agency information after initial plan submission may create problems. Should the LEA superintendent and/or custodian of funds receive a copy of the changes submitted by the LEA at-risk coordinator? How do we assure a "fax" becomes a part of the original plan? Is the LEA notified? If "fax" information alters budget coding, what should be done?

Answer:   The SDE staff believes that the LEA’s custodian of funds should receive a copy of all changes. The superintendent will sign all changes and, therefore, be informed. The at-risk contact/coordinator should carefully track all information sent to the SDE by telephone, fax, or e-mail. Notices regarding the approval of budget go to the LEA from the SDE Administrative and Financial Services, LEA Accounting Section. A copy of those budget changes is also received by the SDE's Prevention and Support Services Section. All budget coding, including changes, should be approved by the school system's assigned accountant from the SDE, LEA Accounting Section in cooperation with the local custodian of funds.

Question:   Is C.I.T.Y. considered an approved non-profit, non-government community agency for 20% state at-risk funds?

Answer:   No. LEAs receive both state foundation and at-risk funding for students served by C.I.T.Y. programs based on the formula provided in the Alabama Administrative Code, Chapter 290-2-1-.05, (1)At-Risk Allotment. C.I.T.Y. programs also receive additional state funding through another state government agency due to the legal status of the students at-risk they serve. Additionally, the SDE considers C.I.T.Y. programs as alternative education schools.

Question:   If we partner with a non-profit, non-government agency (such as the National Children's Advocacy Center in Huntsville), what about other "for profit and/or government" agencies that they (the non-profit, non-government agency) may partner with? Do we have to show Section 501(c)(3) status for NCAC and each of the other agencies they partner with, if we utilize their services?

Answer:   There should be no subcontracts unless there are highly extenuating circumstances which are discussed with SDE staff prior to expenditure of funds. However, if the SDE agrees to a subcontract, the subcontract must meet the same guidelines as the LEA for non-profit and non-govermental agency. To do otherwise could be construed as a circumvention of the legislature's intent.

Question:   Our local BOE does not actually sign the minutes for a month after they approve the non-profit, non-government community agencies for the 20% state at-risk funding. In order to receive the 20% funding as soon as possible, may we send in an unsigned copy of the minutes with the necessary supporting documents (Section 501(c)(3) status documentation, specific amount of funding received by each approved agency, and the specific services provided) with a signed letter from the superintendent stating that the BOE approved the 20% partnership and the LEA will send the signed minutes the next month?

Answer:   YES.

Question:   During FY 2002 we used Eastside Mental Health Center in the Birmingham area and contracted with their counselors and psychologists using 20% state at-risk funds. This center would like to continue this partnership. Is Eastside Mental Health Center considered a government agency?

Answer:   Possibly. Please ask the center its status as a Section 501(c)(3) non-profit agency. Additionally, they will need to provide a written statement verifying their non-governmental status. If the center is able to document their nonprofit, non-government status, then a LEA may consider partnering with this specific agency with 20% state at-risk funds, based on prioritized needs established from the LEA’s current FY 2003 need assessment.

Question:   May 20% state at-risk funds be spent through a technical college to provide afterschool tutoring and to provide a computer enrichment summer camp?

Answer:   Yes, provided the technical college can provide you with documentation of their non-profit status, Section 501(c)(3).

Question:   Our LEA has contracted with Mental Health of Calhoun/Cleburne Counties for daytreatment counseling for two years and it has worked well. Now, I assume they are considered a government agency. We have no other community agencies in Cleburne with which we can contract. I could contract with our Children's Policy Council or Department of Human Resources (or through) them for private social workers. This is one identified area of need from the needs assessment data. Could the SDE give me some suggestions as to what I can do to utilize my 20% state at-risk funding?

Answer:   First, check with your mental health center to determine if they can document their non-profit, Section 501(c)(3) status, and their non-government status. If this agency can provide that documentation, then your LEA may consider them for partnership utilizing 20% state at-risk funding, based on you FY 2003 at-risk needs assessment. The Department of Human Resources is a state government agency, therefore would not qualify for partnership utilizing 20% state at-risk funds. The Children's Policy Council is acceptable as a nonprofit, non-government agency, as each of them is also seeking non-profit status. For further assistance, please telephone the State At-Risk Specialist at (334) 353-5766.

Question:   The new state legislation states: . . . "It is the intent of the Legislature that these funds not be utilized to partner with governmental nor quasi-governmental agencies and entities whose functions already include programs designated for at-risk funding . . . " What if the agency is quasi-governmental but their function does not "already include programs designated for at-risk funding?" Would they qualify for the 20% state at-risk funds?

Answer:   Please discuss each such program on an individual basis with the State At- Risk Specialist at (334) 353-5766. Please be prepared to provide written documentation supporting non-profit, Section 501(c)(3) status, and nongovernment status when seeking SDE technical assistance.

Question:   May my LEA receive state at-risk allocation information for specific schools in our system?

Answer:   LEAs may request state at-risk allocations for each school by contacting the State At-Risk Specialist at (334) 353-5766. That information will be provided by fax or regular mail.

Question:   16. Do we have to list a child on the Lee v. Macon Tracking Log each time the child is referred to the BBSST for prereferral interventions?

Answer:   Yes. The child is listed every time another plan is written for them.

Question:   15. Are students who are not accepted for special education evaluation recorded on the Lee v. Macon Tracking Log?

Answer:   Yes. The answer to this question is two-fold. From the general education perspective, if the student goes through the prereferral process, information related to the prereferral section should be recorded. From the special education perspective, if a referral is received for consideration, whether it is accepted for evaluation or not, information regarding the disposition of the referral should be recorded.

Question:   14. Who will maintain the Lee v. Macon Tracking Log?

Answer:   Ultimately, special education coordinator will be responsible for reporting the data to the SDE. The BBSST team is responsible for data up to the referral to special education column. The IEP team completes information after that.

Question:   13. When a parent contacts school personnel about concerns or referral for the child, can the education agencies talk to the parent about prereferral strategies before an actual referral?

Answer:   Yes. School personnel are strongly encouraged to discuss the prereferral process with parents on a case-by- case basis. However, keep in mind that the prereferral process may be waived per the Alabama Administrative Code, Chapter 290-8-9-.01(2).

Question:   12. Will I get zapped on parent referrals at monitoring?

Answer:   Parent referrals should not be encouraged in an effort to circumvent the prereferral process. Such actions are contrary to what is required by the Lee v. Macon Consent Decree and when done arbitrarily and on a wholesale basis, cannot be done with the best interest of the students in mind. Citations are made on an individual basis after reviewing the information in the education agency.

Question:   11. Should At-Risk funds or general funds be used to purchase instruments for the functional assessment of the classroom environment?

Answer:   This is an education agency decision. The BBSST is one method of serving at-risk students. If state At- Risk funds are used, the BBSST must be a part of the school system's Three-Year LEA At-Risk Plan.

Question:   10. Should the parent(s) be part of the BBSST?

Answer:   The BBSST Manual identifies "Family Member/Guardian" as possible auxiliary members of the team composition. However, it is a local decision as to when and to what extent the parent is involved. Parental participation may vary from student to student.

Question:   9. What about parents who insist that interventions be waived due to the serious nature of their child's problems?

Answer:   Prereferral interventions may be waived for a child who has severe problems that require immediate attention. Waiver of prereferral interventions is addressed in the Alabama Administrative Code, Chapter 290-8-9-.01(2).

Question:   8. Is parent permission required before conducting a functional assessment of the classroom environment?

Answer:   Permission does not appear to be required by law; however, it is best practice to inform parents when a student is being considered for any evaluation.

Question:   7. Is the functional assessment of the classroom environment completed before or after the initial referral to BBSST?

Answer:   The functional assessment of the classroom environment is required for a student who is referred for special education services. It must accompany the Student Prereferral Form for those students who are referred on December 1, 2000, and after. If a student is not referred for special education services, it is a BBSST decision whether or not a functional assessment of the classroom environment is conducted. If the BBSST determines such an assessment is needed, the assessment can be performed at any point in the prereferral process that is deemed appropriate by the BBSST.

Question:   6. We do not have a BBSST in place and have not received the BBSST training. What do we do about the prereferral process?

Answer:   The education agency should establish interim committees to perform prereferral activities. BBSST training should be scheduled as soon as possible through Prevention and Support Services, telephone (334) 242-8165 or fax (334) 353-5962.

Question:   5. Can the BBSST perform duties of another committee? Must the committee that performs BBSST duties be called the BBSST?

Answer:   There is nothing that precludes the BBSST performing other duties or being called by a different name as long as BBSST functions are effectively executed.

Question:   4. How do the new requirements apply to referrals from private schools and private school personnel? What about parent referrals for students in private schools? In such cases, are prereferral interventions and functional assessments of the classroom environment required?

Answer:   The Consent Decree does not differentiate between private and public school, nor is there an exemption delineated for private school students regarding prereferral requirements. Guidelines apply to all students within the education agency's jurisdiction and the parent referral of a private school student would be treated as any other parent referral.

Question:   3. If a student is SLI for articulation only and is experiencing academic difficulties, does he/she need to go through the Building-Based Student Support Team (BBSST) and prereferral interventions before doing further testing?

Answer:   No. The student has already been determined eligible for special education services and is, therefore, eligible for any service that the IEP Team determines is required with appropriate documentation.

Question:   2. What is a performance assessment (a subsection on the Student Prereferral Form)?

Answer:   A performance assessment is also known as an authentic assessment. It assesses the student's real skills, i.e. critical thinking skills and problem solving skills. Examples of the performance assessment are: portfolios, work samples, projects, videos, observations, products, etc.

Question:   1. Do we have to complete a prereferral form for students referred for speech/language and write N/A on it?

Answer:   It would not be necessary to complete a form for students referred for articulation, voice, or fluency.

Question:   5. Why will the Alabama Occupational Diploma (AOD) not count in the numerator of the graduation rate equation?

Answer:   By federal regulations we can only count graduates who complete an approved state program that results in a diploma. AOD students are considered to completers and not as graduates since under current state laws an AOD is not required to be accepted by all colleges and universities in Alabama.

Question:   4. Who is a graduate?

Answer:   A graduate is a student who has completed all academic requirements as outlined in Alabama Course of Study and has earned/received an Alabama diploma as identified in the Code of Alabama with the exception of the Alabama Occupational Diploma (AOD). The AOD is recorded in the denominator of the graduation formula as a non-graduate not as a graduate for future AYP calculations.

Question:   3. Part 1: Does the SDE recognize the DYS School district as an “Incarceration /enrolled in Program that culminates in Diploma”, “Incarceration/ Enrolled in program that does not culminate in a diploma” or either based on specific school criteria? Part 2: What is the expected documentation of “Proof that student is in a facility/program that culminates in a diploma”, will a letter or will the INOW transcript justify?

Answer:   Students placed in DYS for long terms will be removed from cohorts. Those who are there short term will remain in cohorts. Yes, either a letter or INOW transcripts will be sufficient.

Question:   2. How will I get my school/system’s access code?

Answer:   Access codes were e-mailed to Superintendents on Friday, March 2, 2012, and Tuesday, March 6, 2012. Get your access code from the Superintendent in your school system.

Question:   1. Will just the Powerpoint be available?

Answer:   1. Yes, both the Powerpoint and the WebEx presentations from Wednesday, February 29, 2012, and Friday, March 2, 2012 are available. Follow these steps: Access A. http://www.alsde.edu B. Choose Sections and scroll to Prevention and Support Services C. Each WebEx is in "Links" D. Each Powerpoint is in "Dropout Applications"