Bill Text: AZ HB2017 | 2019 | Fifty-fourth Legislature 1st Regular | Introduced


Bill Title: Public schools; closure

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 1-0)

Status: (N/A) 2018-12-21 - Prefile [HB2017 Detail]

Download: Arizona-2019-HB2017-Introduced.html

 

 

PREFILED    DEC 21 2018

REFERENCE TITLE: public schools; closure

 

 

 

State of Arizona

House of Representatives

Fifty-fourth Legislature

First Regular Session

2019

 

 

HB 2017

 

Introduced by

Representative Townsend

 

 

AN ACT

 

amending Title 15, chapter 1, article 1, Arizona Revised Statutes, by adding section 15-119; amending sections 15‑511 and 15-806, Arizona Revised Statutes; relating to school operations.

 

 

(TEXT OF BILL BEGINS ON NEXT PAGE)

 


Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:

Section 1.  Title 15, chapter 1, article 1, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended by adding section 15-119, to read:

START_STATUTE15-119.  School closures; prohibition; exceptions; guidelines; legal opinions; civil penalty

A.  Except as prescribed in subsection B of this section and notwithstanding any other law, a school district or charter school may not cease operations or otherwise close a school or any part of a school during regular school hours when the school is scheduled to be open for student attendance to meet the necessary number of days of student instruction during the school year as previously approved by the school district governing board, charter school governing body or department of education.

B.  A school district or charter school may cease operations or otherwise close a school or any part of a school during regular school hours when the school is scheduled to be open for student attendance during the school year only for any of the following:

1.  An invasion, hostile attack, riot, insurrection or other act of violence.

2.  An epidemic of disease or plague of insects.

3.  A flood or floodwaters.

4.  An act of god or any major disaster.

5.  A wildfire.

6.  Inclement weather that prevents the safe transportation of students to or from school.

7.  A planned vacation or holiday break that is previously approved by the school district governing board or charter school governing body.

8.  Any other bona fide threat to the safety or security of the school.

C.  The attorney general shall publish and distribute to school districts and charter schools detailed guidelines regarding school closures prohibited under this section.  The attorney general may distribute these guidelines through a website or electronically.

D.  An attorney acting on behalf of a school district or charter school may request a legal opinion from the county attorney for the county where an alleged violation of this section occurs or from the attorney general as to whether a proposed closure of a school district or charter school would violate this section.

E.  The attorney general or the county attorney for the county where an alleged violation of this section occurs shall initiate a suit in superior court in the county where the school district or charter school is located for the purpose of complying with this section.  Any person may initiate a suit in superior court in the county where the school district or charter school is located for the purpose of complying with this section.

F.  For each violation of this section, the court may impose a civil penalty of not more than $5,000 against a person who knowingly violates or knowingly aids another person in violating this section. The person determined to be out of compliance with this section shall pay all penalties.  School district and charter school monies or insurance payments may not be used to pay these penalties. 

G.  All civil penalties collected by the court for a suit initiated in superior court by:

1.  The attorney general shall be paid to the attorney general for the use and reimbursement of costs of prosecution pursuant to this section. 

2.  A county attorney shall be paid to the county treasurer of the county in which the action is brought for the use and reimbursement of costs of prosecution pursuant to this section.

3.  A person other than the attorney general or a county attorney shall be paid to that person for the use and reimbursement of costs of prosecution pursuant to this section.END_STATUTE

Sec. 2.  Section 15-511, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

START_STATUTE15-511.  Use of school district or charter school resources or employees to influence elections or coordinate school closures; prohibition; exceptions; guidelines; legal opinions; civil penalty; definitions

A.  A person acting on behalf of a school district or a person who aids another person acting on behalf of a school district shall not spend or use school district or charter school resources, including the use or expenditure of monies, accounts, credit, facilities, vehicles, postage, telecommunications, computer hardware and software, web pages, personnel, equipment, materials, buildings or any other thing of value of the school district or charter school, for the purpose of influencing the outcomes of elections or coordinating the closure of a school.  Notwithstanding this section, a school district may distribute informational pamphlets on a proposed budget override election as provided in section 15‑481, subsections B and C or informational pamphlets on a proposed bond election as provided in section 15‑491, subsection D if those informational pamphlets present factual information in a neutral manner, except for those arguments presented as prescribed in section 15‑481, subsection B, paragraph 9.  Nothing in This section precludes does not prohibit a school district from reporting on official actions of the governing board.

B.  The prohibition on the use of using public resources to influence the outcome of bond, budget override and other tax-related elections includes the use of school district‑focused promotional expenditures that occur after an election is called and through election day.  This prohibition does not include routine school district communications.

C.  This section does not prohibit the use of using school district or charter school resources, including facilities and equipment, for government‑sponsored forums or debates if the government sponsor remains impartial and the events are purely informational and provide an equal opportunity to all viewpoints.  The rental and use of a public facility by a private person or entity that may lawfully attempt to influence the outcome of an election is permitted if it does not occur at the same time and place as a government-sponsored forum or debate.

D.  An employee of a school district or charter school who is acting as an agent of or working in an official capacity for the school district or charter school may not give pupils written materials to influence the outcome of an election, or to advocate support for or opposition to pending or proposed legislation or to coordinate the closure of a school.

E.  Employees of a school district or charter school may not use the authority of their positions to influence the vote or political activities of any subordinate employee or to coordinate the closure of a school.

F.  Notwithstanding section 15‑342, paragraph 8, a school district shall not spend monies for membership in an association that attempts to influence the outcome of an election or to coordinate the closure of a school

G.  This section does not deny the civil and political liberties of any person as guaranteed by the United States and Arizona Constitutions.

H.  The attorney general shall publish and distribute to school districts and charter schools detailed guideline guidelines regarding activities that are prohibited under this section.  The attorney general may distribute these guidelines through a website or electronically.

K.  I.  An attorney acting on behalf of a public school may request a legal opinion of from the county attorney for the county where an alleged violation of this section occurs or from the attorney general as to whether a proposed use of school district resources would violate this section.

I.  J.  The attorney general or the county attorney for the county in which an alleged violation of this section occurred may initiate a suit in the superior court in the county in which where the school district or charter school is located for the purpose of complying with this section.  Any person may initiate a suit in the superior court in the county where the school district or charter school is located for the purpose of complying with this section.

J.  K.  For each violation of this section, the court may impose a civil penalty not to exceed five thousand dollars $5,000 plus any amount of misused funds monies subtracted from the school district budget against a person who knowingly violates or a person who knowingly aids another person in violating this section.  The person determined to be out of compliance with this section shall be responsible for the payment of pay all penalties and misused funds monies.  School district funds monies or insurance payments shall not be used to pay these penalties or misused funds monies.  All misused funds monies collected pursuant to this section shall be returned to the school district or charter school whose funds monies were misused.

L.  All penalties collected by the court for a suit initiated in superior court by:

1.  The attorney general shall be paid to the office of the attorney general for the use and reimbursement of costs of prosecution pursuant to this section.  All penalties collected by the court for a suit initiated in superior court by

2.  A county attorney shall be paid to the county treasurer of the county in which the court is held for the use and reimbursement of costs of prosecution pursuant to this section.

3.  A person other than the attorney general or a county attorney shall be paid to that person for the use and reimbursement of costs of prosecution pursuant to this section.

M.  For the purposes of this section:

1.  "Closure of a school" means the cessation of operations or other closure of a school or any part of a school within a school district, an entire school district or a charter school for any portion of a day during regular school hours when the school is scheduled to be open for student attendance during the school year pursuant to section 15-119.  

1.  2.  "Government-sponsored forum or debate" means any event or part of an event or meeting in which the government is an official sponsor, which that is open to the public or to invited members of the public, and whose purpose is to inform the public about an issue or proposition that is before the voters.

2.  3.  "Influencing the outcomes of elections" means supporting or opposing a candidate for nomination or election to public office or the recall of a public officer or supporting or opposing a ballot measure, question or proposition, including any bond, budget or override election and supporting or opposing the circulation of a petition for the recall of a public officer or a petition for a ballot measure, question or proposition in any manner that is not impartial or neutral.

3.  4.  "Misused funds monies" means school district monies or resources that are used unlawfully pursuant to this section.

4.  5.  "Routine school district communications" means messages or advertisements that are germane to the functions of the school district and that maintain the frequency, scope and distribution consistent with past practices or are necessary for public safety.END_STATUTE

Sec. 3.  Section 15-806, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

START_STATUTE15-806.  Excuse from school attendance

A.  The governing board of each school district and the governing body of each charter school shall adopt a policy governing the excuse of pupils for religious purposes.  The policy may permit a pupil to be excused from school attendance for religious purposes, including participation in religious exercises or religious instruction.  If the policy permits a pupil to be excused for religious purposes, the policy shall stipulate the conditions under which the excuse will be granted.  These conditions shall include at least the following:

1.  The person who has custody of the pupil has given written consent.

2.  Any religious instruction or exercise takes place at a suitable place away from school property designated by the church or religious denomination or group.

B.  The governing board of each school district and the governing body of each charter school shall adopt a policy governing the excuse of pupils from school attendance.  The policy shall require the school district to apply to the department of education for authorization of school closure for the following reasons:

1.  Widespread illness for any period of three consecutive days or more.

2.  Adverse weather conditions for any period of three consecutive days or more.

3.  Concerted refusal by students to attend classes for any period of three consecutive days or more.

4.  Threats of violence against school property, school personnel or pupils for any period of one day or more.

5.  Situations affecting the safety of persons or property resulting from fire, flooding or floodwater, an earthquake, a hazardous material event or another cause if approved by the department of education. END_STATUTE

Sec. 4.  Intent

It is the intent of the legislature that public schools in this state remain open at all times, as regularly scheduled, to promote a stable and safe learning environment for students.  Public schools in this state should close only when the health, safety or well-being of students is at risk.

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