Title 17. Education

Chapter 1. General School Law

Part X-a. Louisiana Early Childhood Education

 

17:407.26      The Cecil J. Picard LA 4 Early Childhood Program

 

A. The state Department of Education, referred to in this Section as the “department”, shall allocate funding, out of monies appropriated for such purpose, to each public school system that applies for such funding and uses the funding solely for the purpose of providing a program for early childhood development and enrichment activity classes in compliance with the requirements of this Section, which shall be named “The Cecil J. Picard LA 4 Early Childhood Program” and shall be referred to in this Section as “the LA 4 program”. Such classes shall be referred to in this Section as “LA 4 classes”.

 

B. Subject to the availability of funds, the LA 4 program shall be available to every eligible child. To be eligible for the LA 4 program, a child shall meet all of the following criteria:

 

(1) He is four years old or eligible to enroll in kindergarten in the following school year pursuant to R.S. 17:151.3.

 

(2) He meets the requirements of R.S. 17:170 relative to immunization documentation required for regular school enrollment.

 

(3) He applies to the LA 4 program.

 

C. The cost of the LA 4 program shall be as follows:

 

(1) For children who are “at risk”, as defined in the rules and regulations of the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, referred to in this Section as the “state board”, the LA 4 program shall be provided at no cost, except for any applicable lunch cost and the cost of before and after care.

 

(2) For children who are not “at risk”, tuition may be charged on a sliding scale in an amount not to exceed that necessary for the public school system to provide the program.

 

(3) For all children, both “at risk” and not “at risk”, each public school system offering the LA 4 program may charge a fee for the cost of meals and the cost of before and after care, subject to state board rules and regulations.

 

D. Beginning with LA 4 program applications for the 2015-2016 school year:

 

(1) The department shall annually determine the demand for the LA 4 program.

 

(2) The state board shall consider such demand, the availability of public funds to support the program, and the eligibility of public school systems to receive funds for the program and annually determine the following:

 

(a) The cost of funding all LA 4 program applicants who both meet the eligibility requirements provided in Subsection B of this Section and who are determined to be “at-risk”.

 

(b) The method for equitably distributing available funds to eligible public school systems.

 

(c) The difference in dollar amount between the funding required to meet the measured funding demand and the funding available in the fiscal year.

 

E. Each participating school system may work collaboratively with other publicly funded and Type III licensed providers of early childhood education that serve children residing within the jurisdiction of the system, including Head Start and other federal programs, in providing the LA 4 program. Such collaboration may include agreements to share resources if such agreements are documented, no regulation of any provider is compromised or violated, and a clear demarcation of responsibility as to costs, employee supervision, and program administration is maintained.

 

F. (1) Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year and continuing thereafter, each participating school system shall use a percentage of the total increase in funding for the LA 4 program received each year in excess of the amount received during the previous school year to provide LA 4 classes through collaborative agreements with nonschool system providers of early childhood education that serve children residing within the geographic boundaries of the school system, that meet the definition of an early learning center as provided in Paragraph (2) of this Subsection, and that have attained the minimum quality rating as established by the state board required to be eligible to participate in the program, as follows:

 

(a) For a school year in which the per pupil allocation for the LA 4 program is less than five thousand dollars per child, each participating school system shall use at least five percent of the total increase in funding over the previous school year to provide LA 4 classes through collaborative agreements with nonschool system providers.

 

(b) For a school year in which the per pupil allocation for the LA 4 program is five thousand dollars per child or more, each participating school system shall use at least ten percent of the total increase in funding over the previous school year to provide LA 4 classes through collaborative agreements with nonschool system providers.

 

(2) For the purposes of this Section, “early learning center” means any child day care center, Early Head Start Center, Head Start Center, or stand-alone prekindergarten program not attached to a school.

 

(3) Such collaborative agreements may include but shall not be limited to the following options:

 

(a) The participating school system may lease physical space from a nonschool system provider for an LA 4 class.

 

(b) The participating school system may provide a lead teacher with the nonschool system provider supplying the physical space and all other personnel, materials, or supplies needed to meet LA 4 program requirements.

 

(c) The nonschool system provider may supply the physical space and all of the teaching and ancillary personnel, materials, and supplies needed to meet LA 4 program requirements.

 

(4) Participating school systems shall explore all feasible supports to enable nonschool system providers of early childhood education to meet the requirements of the LA 4 program, including providing teachers employed by the school system to teach LA 4 classes in nonschool system provider settings, provided such teachers are certified to serve as a lead teacher in accordance with Subparagraph (H)(3)(a) of this Section.

 

(5) A nonschool system provider of early childhood education that serves children residing within the jurisdiction of a participating public school system and that wishes to participate in the LA 4 program shall apply to the board of the school system in accordance with the time lines and regulations established by the state board. Such application shall, at a minimum, include the following information:

 

(a) Verification that the applicant is a provider of early childhood education that meets the definition of an early learning center as provided in this Subsection and has attained the minimum quality rating required to be eligible to participate in the program as established by the state board.

 

(b) Documentation that the provider meets the requirements for participation in the program as provided by state law and state board regulation.

 

(c) Documentation relative to the provider’s organizational, governance, and operational structure.

 

(d) Documentation relative to the provider’s policies, programs, and practices in place to ensure parental involvement.

 

(e) Documentation relative to the provider’s personnel policies and employment practices.

 

(f) Documentation relative to the provider’s rules and regulations applicable to children, including disciplinary policies and procedures.

 

(g) Documentation relative to the adequacy of the provider’s facilities and equipment.

 

(h) Documentation relative to the types and amounts of the provider’s insurance coverage.

 

(i) Documentation relative to applicable teacher certification requirements.

 

(6) The provisions of R.S. 17:15 shall be applicable to all employees of an early learning center that enters into a collaborative agreement with a school board to provide LA 4 classes in a nonschool system provider setting, and each early learning center shall comply with all rules and regulations established by the participating school system pursuant to such law relative to criminal history review.

 

(7)(a) A waiver of the requirement specified in Paragraph (1) of this Subsection may be granted to a participating school system by the state board if the school system provides documentation acceptable to the state board that it meets at least one of the following conditions:

 

(i) There are no early learning centers located within the geographic boundaries of the participating school system that have attained the minimum quality rating required to be eligible to participate in the program as established by the state board.

 

(ii) The participating school system did not receive an application from an early learning center seeking to collaborate in the provision of LA 4 classes.

 

(iii) After a good faith effort and for good cause shown the participating school system and early learning center were unable to reach an agreement regarding the provision of LA 4 classes in a nonschool system provider setting.

 

(b) The state board shall send written notification to a participating school system as to whether its application for a waiver has been granted. However, a waiver shall not be granted for more than one school year at a time.

 

(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in any given school year the provisions of this Subsection shall not apply to a participating school system with excess capacity in its LA 4 program nor shall such a system be required to seek or be granted a waiver from the state board of such requirements.

 

G. In addition to determining the demand for and distribution of funds for the LA 4 program, the state board shall assess all other funding streams in order to facilitate diverse delivery and fulfill demand to the greatest extent possible.

 

H. Each public school system operating the LA 4 program shall include or provide for the following:

 

(1) A full-day program for the hours of the day and the number of days that a regular school program in the school system is in session.

 

(2) A program of developmentally appropriate early childhood education, the content of which shall meet the standards required for accreditation of a high- quality early childhood education program as determined by the state board.

 

(3)(a) A teacher in each classroom, referred to in this Section as the “lead teacher”, who is in charge of the classroom, supervises other adults employed in the classroom, plans the activities for the children in the classroom, and is one of the following:

 

(i) Certified by the department in nursery school education, kindergarten, or early intervention.

 

(ii) If the superintendent of the employing school system certifies by sworn affidavit that no qualified applicant with a certificate as provided in Item (i) of this Subparagraph has applied for the position, then a teacher certified by the department pursuant to rules adopted by the state board.

 

(iii) If the superintendent of the employing school system certifies by sworn affidavit that no qualified applicant with a certificate as provided in Item (i) or (ii) of this Subparagraph has applied for the position, then the recipient of a degree in elementary education, kindergarten, early childhood education, or early intervention and employed pursuant to the interim emergency policy of the state board for hiring non-certified personnel.

 

(b) The employment, retaining, or reemployment of any person as a lead teacher who is qualified in any way other than as provided in Item (a)(i) of this Paragraph may occur only if such teacher can document consistently working toward obtaining the qualifications in Item (a)(i) of this Paragraph in compliance with the requirements of state board rule or is otherwise deemed qualified in accordance with rules adopted by the state board.

 

(4) A student-to-lead teacher ratio of no more than twenty-to-one and a student-to-adult staff member ratio of no more than ten-to-one.

 

(5) Classroom and instructional supplies consistent with the standards required in Paragraph (2) of this Subsection and consistent with standards required by state board rule.

 

(6) Required professional development, in compliance with state board rule, for lead teachers and all other persons whose employment in the LA 4 program involves direct contact with children.

 

(7) Adequate and appropriate space and facilities.

 

I. The department shall do all of the following:

 

(1) Provide technical assistance to each public school system operating the LA 4 program and ensure that each participating school system complies with the requirements of this Section and all rules adopted pursuant to this Section.

 

(2) Develop and implement a system of evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of the LA 4 program and conduct a study of the long-term effects of the program on the school success of the participating children.

 

(3) Provide regular, scheduled, and appropriate professional development for lead teachers and all other persons whose employment in the LA 4 program involves direct contact with children pursuant to Paragraph (H)(6) of this Section.

 

Added by Acts 2014, No. 644, § 1. Amended by Acts 2015, No. 297, § 1.