Bill Text: MS HB638 | 2019 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: School administrators; authorize school board to terminate or suspend for failure to report abuse of vulnerable or exceptional children by a school employee.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 1-0)

Status: (Failed) 2019-02-05 - Died In Committee [HB638 Detail]

Download: Mississippi-2019-HB638-Introduced.html

MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATURE

2019 Regular Session

To: Education

By: Representative Crawford

House Bill 638

AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 37-3-2, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE FOR THE DENIAL OF LICENSE AND REVOCATION OF LICENSE TO LICENSED SCHOOL TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS FOR PHYSICALLY ABUSING OR HAVING INAPPROPRIATE SEXUAL INVOLVEMENT WITH STUDENTS; TO AMEND SECTIONS 43-21-353 AND 379-59, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PRESCRIBE THE PENALTIES AND DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS IMPOSED UPON SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS WHO FAIL TO REPORT ABUSE OF VULNERABLE AND EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN BY SCHOOL EMPLOYEES TO THE APPROPRIATE AUTHORITIES; TO BRING FORWARD SECTIONS 97-3-95, 97-5-23, 97-5-24 AND 97-29-3, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, FOR THE PURPOSE OF POSSIBLE AMENDMENTS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.

     BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:

     SECTION 1.  Section 37-3-2, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

     37-3-2.  (1)  There is established within the State Department of Education the Commission on Teacher and Administrator Education, Certification and Licensure and Development.  It shall be the purpose and duty of the commission to make recommendations to the State Board of Education regarding standards for the certification and licensure and continuing professional development of those who teach or perform tasks of an educational nature in the public schools of Mississippi.

     (2)  The commission shall be composed of fifteen (15) qualified members.  The membership of the commission shall be composed of the following members to be appointed, three (3) from each congressional district:  four (4) classroom teachers; three (3) school administrators; one (1) representative of schools of education of institutions of higher learning located within the state to be recommended by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning; one (1) representative from the schools of education of independent institutions of higher learning to be recommended by the Board of the Mississippi Association of Independent Colleges; one (1) representative from public community and junior colleges located within the state to be recommended by the Mississippi Community College Board; one (1) local school board member; and four (4) laypersons.  All appointments shall be made by the State Board of Education after consultation with the State Superintendent of Public Education.  The first appointments by the State Board of Education shall be made as follows:  five (5) members shall be appointed for a term of one (1) year; five (5) members shall be appointed for a term of two (2) years; and five (5) members shall be appointed for a term of three (3) years.  Thereafter, all members shall be appointed for a term of four (4) years.

     (3)  The State Board of Education when making appointments shall designate a chairman.  The commission shall meet at least once every two (2) months or more often if needed.  Members of the commission shall be compensated at a rate of per diem as authorized by Section 25-3-69 and be reimbursed for actual and necessary expenses as authorized by Section 25-3-41.

     (4)  (a)  An appropriate staff member of the State Department of Education shall be designated and assigned by the State Superintendent of Public Education to serve as executive secretary and coordinator for the commission.  No less than two (2) other appropriate staff members of the State Department of Education shall be designated and assigned by the State Superintendent of Public Education to serve on the staff of the commission.

          (b)  An Office of Educator Misconduct Evaluations shall be established within the State Department of Education to assist the commission in responding to infractions and violations, and in conducting hearings and enforcing the provisions of subsections (11), (12), (13), (14) and (15) of this section and violations of the Mississippi Educator Code of Ethics.

     (5)  It shall be the duty of the commission to:

          (a)  Set standards and criteria, subject to the approval of the State Board of Education, for all educator preparation programs in the state;

          (b)  Recommend to the State Board of Education each year approval or disapproval of each educator preparation program in the state, subject to a process and schedule determined by the State Board of Education;

          (c)  Establish, subject to the approval of the State Board of Education, standards for initial teacher certification and licensure in all fields;

          (d)  Establish, subject to the approval of the State Board of Education, standards for the renewal of teacher licenses in all fields;

          (e)  Review and evaluate objective measures of teacher performance, such as test scores, which may form part of the licensure process, and to make recommendations for their use;

          (f)  Review all existing requirements for certification and licensure;

          (g)  Consult with groups whose work may be affected by the commission's decisions;

          (h)  Prepare reports from time to time on current practices and issues in the general area of teacher education and certification and licensure;

          (i)  Hold hearings concerning standards for teachers' and administrators' education and certification and licensure with approval of the State Board of Education;

          (j)  Hire expert consultants with approval of the State Board of Education;

          (k)  Set up ad hoc committees to advise on specific areas; and

          (l)  Perform such other functions as may fall within their general charge and which may be delegated to them by the State Board of Education.

     (6)  (a)  Standard License - Approved Program Route.  An educator entering the school system of Mississippi for the first time and meeting all requirements as established by the State Board of Education shall be granted a standard five-year license.  Persons who possess two (2) years of classroom experience as an assistant teacher or who have taught for one (1) year in an accredited public or private school shall be allowed to fulfill student teaching requirements under the supervision of a qualified participating teacher approved by an accredited college of education.  The local school district in which the assistant teacher is employed shall compensate such assistant teachers at the required salary level during the period of time such individual is completing student teaching requirements.  Applicants for a standard license shall submit to the department:

              (i)  An application on a department form;

              (ii)  An official transcript of completion of a teacher education program approved by the department or a nationally accredited program, subject to the following:  Licensure to teach in Mississippi prekindergarten through kindergarten classrooms shall require completion of a teacher education program or a Bachelor of Science degree with child development emphasis from a program accredited by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) or by the National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC) or by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).  Licensure to teach in Mississippi kindergarten, for those applicants who have completed a teacher education program, and in Grade 1 through Grade 4 shall require the completion of an interdisciplinary program of studies.  Licenses for Grades 4 through 8 shall require the completion of an interdisciplinary program of studies with two (2) or more areas of concentration.  Licensure to teach in Mississippi Grades 7 through 12 shall require a major in an academic field other than education, or a combination of disciplines other than education.  Students preparing to teach a subject shall complete a major in the respective subject discipline.  All applicants for standard licensure shall demonstrate that such person's college preparation in those fields was in accordance with the standards set forth by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) or the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) or, for those applicants who have a Bachelor of Science degree with child development emphasis, the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS).  Effective July 1, 2016, for initial elementary education licensure, a teacher candidate must earn a passing score on a rigorous test of scientifically research-based reading instruction and intervention and data-based decision-making principles as approved by the State Board of Education;

              (iii)  A copy of test scores evidencing satisfactory completion of nationally administered examinations of achievement, such as the Educational Testing Service's teacher testing examinations;

              (iv)  Any other document required by the State Board of Education; and

              (v)  From and after September 30, 2015, no teacher candidate shall be licensed to teach in Mississippi who did not meet the following criteria for entrance into an approved teacher education program:

                   1.  Twenty-one (21) ACT equivalent or achieve the nationally recommended passing score on the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators examination; and

                   2.  No less than 2.75 GPA on pre-major coursework of the institution's approved teacher education program provided that the accepted cohort of candidates meets or exceeds a 3.0 GPA on pre-major coursework.

          (b)  Standard License - Nontraditional Teaching Route.  From and after September 30, 2015, no teacher candidate shall be licensed to teach in Mississippi under the alternate route who did not meet the following criteria:

              (i)  Twenty-one (21) ACT equivalent or achieve the nationally recommended passing score on the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators examination; and

              (ii)  No less than 2.75 GPA on content coursework in the requested area of certification or passing Praxis II scores at or above the national recommended score provided that the accepted cohort of candidates of the institution's teacher education program meets or exceeds a 3.0 GPA on pre-major coursework.

     Beginning January 1, 2004, an individual who has a passing score on the Praxis I Basic Skills and Praxis II Specialty Area Test in the requested area of endorsement may apply for the Teach Mississippi Institute (TMI) program to teach students in Grades 7 through 12 if the individual meets the requirements of this paragraph (b).  The State Board of Education shall adopt rules requiring that teacher preparation institutions which provide the Teach Mississippi Institute (TMI) program for the preparation of nontraditional teachers shall meet the standards and comply with the provisions of this paragraph.

              (i)  The Teach Mississippi Institute (TMI) shall include an intensive eight-week, nine-semester-hour summer program or a curriculum of study in which the student matriculates in the fall or spring semester, which shall include, but not be limited to, instruction in education, effective teaching strategies, classroom management, state curriculum requirements, planning and instruction, instructional methods and pedagogy, using test results to improve instruction, and a one (1) semester three-hour supervised internship to be completed while the teacher is employed as a full-time teacher intern in a local school district.  The TMI shall be implemented on a pilot program basis, with courses to be offered at up to four (4) locations in the state, with one (1) TMI site to be located in each of the three (3) Mississippi Supreme Court districts.

              (ii)  The school sponsoring the teacher intern shall enter into a written agreement with the institution providing the Teach Mississippi Institute (TMI) program, under terms and conditions as agreed upon by the contracting parties, providing that the school district shall provide teacher interns seeking a nontraditional provisional teaching license with a one-year classroom teaching experience.  The teacher intern shall successfully complete the one (1) semester three-hour intensive internship in the school district during the semester immediately following successful completion of the TMI and prior to the end of the one-year classroom teaching experience.

              (iii)  Upon completion of the nine-semester-hour TMI or the fall or spring semester option, the individual shall submit his transcript to the commission for provisional licensure of the intern teacher, and the intern teacher shall be issued a provisional teaching license by the commission, which will allow the individual to legally serve as a teacher while the person completes a nontraditional teacher preparation internship program.

              (iv)  During the semester of internship in the school district, the teacher preparation institution shall monitor the performance of the intern teacher.  The school district that employs the provisional teacher shall supervise the provisional teacher during the teacher's intern year of employment under a nontraditional provisional license, and shall, in consultation with the teacher intern's mentor at the school district of employment, submit to the commission a comprehensive evaluation of the teacher's performance sixty (60) days prior to the expiration of the nontraditional provisional license.  If the comprehensive evaluation establishes that the provisional teacher intern's performance fails to meet the standards of the approved nontraditional teacher preparation internship program, the individual shall not be approved for a standard license.

              (v)  An individual issued a provisional teaching license under this nontraditional route shall successfully complete, at a minimum, a one-year beginning teacher mentoring and induction program administered by the employing school district with the assistance of the State Department of Education.

              (vi)  Upon successful completion of the TMI and the internship provisional license period, applicants for a Standard License - Nontraditional Route shall submit to the commission a transcript of successful completion of the twelve (12) semester hours required in the internship program, and the employing school district shall submit to the commission a recommendation for standard licensure of the intern.  If the school district recommends licensure, the applicant shall be issued a Standard License - Nontraditional Route which shall be valid for a five-year period and be renewable.

              (vii)  At the discretion of the teacher preparation institution, the individual shall be allowed to credit the twelve (12) semester hours earned in the nontraditional teacher internship program toward the graduate hours required for a Master of Arts in Teacher (MAT) Degree.

              (viii)  The local school district in which the nontraditional teacher intern or provisional licensee is employed shall compensate such teacher interns at Step 1 of the required salary level during the period of time such individual is completing teacher internship requirements and shall compensate such Standard License - Nontraditional Route teachers at Step 3 of the required salary level when they complete license requirements.

     Implementation of the TMI program provided for under this paragraph (b) shall be contingent upon the availability of funds appropriated specifically for such purpose by the Legislature.  Such implementation of the TMI program may not be deemed to prohibit the State Board of Education from developing and implementing additional alternative route teacher licensure programs, as deemed appropriate by the board.  The emergency certification program in effect prior to July 1, 2002, shall remain in effect.

     A Standard License - Approved Program Route shall be issued for a five-year period, and may be renewed.  Recognizing teaching as a profession, a hiring preference shall be granted to persons holding a Standard License - Approved Program Route or Standard License - Nontraditional Teaching Route over persons holding any other license.

          (c)  Special License - Expert Citizen.  In order to allow a school district to offer specialized or technical courses, the State Department of Education, in accordance with rules and regulations established by the State Board of Education, may grant a one-year expert citizen-teacher license to local business or other professional personnel to teach in a public school or nonpublic school accredited or approved by the state.  Such person may begin teaching upon his employment by the local school board and licensure by the Mississippi Department of Education.  The board shall adopt rules and regulations to administer the expert citizen-teacher license.  A Special License - Expert Citizen may be renewed in accordance with the established rules and regulations of the State Department of Education.

          (d)  Special License - Nonrenewable.  The State Board of Education is authorized to establish rules and regulations to allow those educators not meeting requirements in paragraph (a), (b) or (c) of this subsection (6) to be licensed for a period of not more than three (3) years, except by special approval of the State Board of Education.

          (e)  Nonlicensed Teaching Personnel.  A nonlicensed person may teach for a maximum of three (3) periods per teaching day in a public school district or a nonpublic school accredited/approved by the state.  Such person shall submit to the department a transcript or record of his education and experience which substantiates his preparation for the subject to be taught and shall meet other qualifications specified by the commission and approved by the State Board of Education.  In no case shall any local school board hire nonlicensed personnel as authorized under this paragraph in excess of five percent (5%) of the total number of licensed personnel in any single school.

          (f)  Special License - Transitional Bilingual Education.  Beginning July 1, 2003, the commission shall grant special licenses to teachers of transitional bilingual education who possess such qualifications as are prescribed in this section.  Teachers of transitional bilingual education shall be compensated by local school boards at not less than one (1) step on the regular salary schedule applicable to permanent teachers licensed under this section.  The commission shall grant special licenses to teachers of transitional bilingual education who present the commission with satisfactory evidence that they (i) possess a speaking and reading ability in a language, other than English, in which bilingual education is offered and communicative skills in English; (ii) are in good health and sound moral character; (iii) possess a bachelor's degree or an associate's degree in teacher education from an accredited institution of higher education; (iv) meet such requirements as to courses of study, semester hours therein, experience and training as may be required by the commission; and (v) are legally present in the United States and possess legal authorization for employment.  A teacher of transitional bilingual education serving under a special license shall be under an exemption from standard licensure if he achieves the requisite qualifications therefor.  Two (2) years of service by a teacher of transitional bilingual education under such an exemption shall be credited to the teacher in acquiring a Standard Educator License.  Nothing in this paragraph shall be deemed to prohibit a local school board from employing a teacher licensed in an appropriate field as approved by the State Department of Education to teach in a program in transitional bilingual education.

          (g)  In the event any school district meets the highest accreditation standards as defined by the State Board of Education in the accountability system, the State Board of Education, in its discretion, may exempt such school district from any restrictions in paragraph (e) relating to the employment of nonlicensed teaching personnel.

          (h)  Highly Qualified Teachers.  Beginning July 1, 2006, any teacher from any state meeting the federal definition of highly qualified, as described in the No Child Left Behind Act, must be granted a standard five-year license by the State Department of Education.

     (7)  Administrator License.  The State Board of Education is authorized to establish rules and regulations and to administer the licensure process of the school administrators in the State of Mississippi.  There will be four (4) categories of administrator licensure with exceptions only through special approval of the State Board of Education.

          (a)  Administrator License - Nonpracticing.  Those educators holding administrative endorsement but having no administrative experience or not serving in an administrative position on January 15, 1997.

          (b)  Administrator License - Entry Level.  Those educators holding administrative endorsement and having met the department's qualifications to be eligible for employment in a Mississippi school district.  Administrator License - Entry Level shall be issued for a five-year period and shall be nonrenewable.

          (c)  Standard Administrator License - Career Level.  An administrator who has met all the requirements of the department for standard administrator licensure.

          (d)  Administrator License - Nontraditional Route.  The board may establish a nontraditional route for licensing administrative personnel.  Such nontraditional route for administrative licensure shall be available for persons holding, but not limited to, a master of business administration degree, a master of public administration degree, a master of public planning and policy degree or a doctor of jurisprudence degree from an accredited college or university, with five (5) years of administrative or supervisory experience.  Successful completion of the requirements of alternate route licensure for administrators shall qualify the person for a standard administrator license.

     Individuals seeking school administrator licensure under paragraph (b), (c) or (d) shall successfully complete a training program and an assessment process prescribed by the State Board of Education.  All applicants for school administrator licensure shall meet all requirements prescribed by the department under paragraph (b), (c) or (d), and the cost of the assessment process required shall be paid by the applicant.

     (8)  Reciprocity.  (a)  The department shall grant a standard license to any individual who possesses a valid standard license from another state and meets minimum Mississippi license requirements or equivalent requirements as determined by the State Board of Education.  The issuance of a license by reciprocity to a military-trained applicant or military spouse shall be subject to the provisions of Section 73-50-1.

          (b)  The department shall grant a nonrenewable special license to any individual who possesses a credential which is less than a standard license or certification from another state.  Such special license shall be valid for the current school year plus one (1) additional school year to expire on June 30 of the second year, not to exceed a total period of twenty-four (24) months, during which time the applicant shall be required to complete the requirements for a standard license in Mississippi.

     (9)  Renewal and Reinstatement of Licenses.  The State Board of Education is authorized to establish rules and regulations for the renewal and reinstatement of educator and administrator licenses.  Effective May 15, 1997, the valid standard license held by an educator shall be extended five (5) years beyond the expiration date of the license in order to afford the educator adequate time to fulfill new renewal requirements established pursuant to this subsection.  An educator completing a master of education, educational specialist or doctor of education degree in May 1997 for the purpose of upgrading the educator's license to a higher class shall be given this extension of five (5) years plus five (5) additional years for completion of a higher degree.

     (10)  All controversies involving the issuance, revocation, suspension or any change whatsoever in the licensure of an educator required to hold a license shall be initially heard in a hearing de novo, by the commission or by a subcommittee established by the commission and composed of commission members for the purpose of holding hearings.  Any complaint seeking the denial of issuance, revocation or suspension of a license shall be by sworn affidavit filed with the Commission on Teacher and Administrator Education, Certification and Licensure and Development.  The decision thereon by the commission or its subcommittee shall be final, unless the aggrieved party shall appeal to the State Board of Education, within ten (10) days, of the decision of the committee or its subcommittee.  An appeal to the State Board of Education shall be on the record previously made before the commission or its subcommittee unless otherwise provided by rules and regulations adopted by the board.  The State Board of Education in its authority may reverse, or remand with instructions, the decision of the committee or its subcommittee.  The decision of the State Board of Education shall be final.

     (11)  The State Board of Education, acting through the commission, may deny an application for any teacher or administrator license for one or more of the following:

          (a)  Lack of qualifications which are prescribed by law or regulations adopted by the State Board of Education;

          (b)  The applicant has a physical, emotional or mental disability that renders the applicant unfit to perform the duties authorized by the license, as certified by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist;

          (c)  The applicant is actively addicted to or actively dependent on alcohol or other habit-forming drugs or is a habitual user of narcotics, barbiturates, amphetamines, hallucinogens or other drugs having similar effect, at the time of application for a license;

          (d)  Revocation, suspension or surrender of an applicant's certificate or license by another state shall result in immediate denial of licensure until such time that the records predicating the revocation, suspension or surrender in the prior state have been cleared;

          (e)  Fraud or deceit committed by the applicant in securing or attempting to secure such certification and license;

          (f)  Failing or refusing to furnish reasonable evidence of identification;

          (g)  The applicant has been convicted, has pled guilty or entered a plea of nolo contendere to a felony, as defined by federal or state law;

          (h)  The applicant has been convicted, has pled guilty or entered a plea of nolo contendere to a sex offense as defined by federal or state law.  For purposes of this paragraph (h) and paragraph (g) of this subsection, a "guilty plea" includes a plea of guilty, entry of a plea of nolo contendere, or entry of an order granting pretrial or judicial diversion; * * *or

          (i)  Probation or post-release supervision for a felony or sex offense conviction, as defined by federal or state law, shall result in the immediate denial of licensure application until expiration of the probationary or post-release supervision period * * *.;

          (j)  The applicant has been convicted, has pled guilty or entered a plea of nolo contendere to a physical child abuse of a student conviction or inappropriate sexual involvement with a student as prohibited under Sections 97-3-95, 97-5-23, 97-5-24 and 97-29-3; or

          (k)  Probation or post-release supervision for a physical child abuse of a student conviction or conviction for inappropriate sexual involvement with a student as prohibited under Sections 97-3-95, 97-5-23, 97-5-24 and 97-29-3, shall result in the immediate denial of licensure application until expiration of the probationary or post-release supervision period.

     (12)  The State Board of Education, acting through the commission, may revoke, suspend or refuse to renew any teacher or administrator license for specified periods of time or may place on probation, censure, reprimand a licensee, or take other disciplinary action with regard to any license issued under this chapter for one or more of the following:

          (a)  Breach of contract or abandonment of employment may result in the suspension of the license for one (1) school year as provided in Section 37-9-57;

          (b)  Obtaining a license by fraudulent means shall result in immediate suspension and continued suspension for one (1) year after correction is made;

          (c)  Suspension or revocation of a certificate or license by another state shall result in immediate suspension or revocation and shall continue until records in the prior state have been cleared;

          (d)  The license holder has been convicted, has pled guilty or entered a plea of nolo contendere to a felony, as defined by federal or state law.  For purposes of this paragraph, a "guilty plea" includes a plea of guilty, entry of a plea of nolo contendere, or entry of an order granting pretrial or judicial diversion;

          (e)  The license holder has been convicted, has pled guilty or entered a plea of nolo contendere to a sex offense, as defined by federal or state law, shall result in immediate suspension or revocation;

          (f)  The license holder has received probation or post-release supervision for a felony or sex offense conviction, as defined by federal or state law, which shall result in immediate suspension or revocation until expiration of the probationary or post-release supervision period;

          (g)  The license holder knowingly and willfully committing any of the acts affecting validity of mandatory uniform test results as provided in Section 37-16-4(1);

          (h)  The license holder has engaged in unethical conduct relating to an educator/student relationship as identified by the State Board of Education in its rules;

          (i)  The license holder has fondled a student as described in Section 97-5-23, or had any type of sexual involvement with a student as described in Section 97-3-95;

          (j)  The license holder has failed to report sexual involvement of a school employee with a student as required by Section 97-5-24;

          (k)  The license holder served as superintendent or principal in a school district during the time preceding and/or that resulted in the Governor declaring a state of emergency and the State Board of Education appointing a conservator;

          (l)  The license holder submitted a false certification to the State Department of Education that a statewide test was administered in strict accordance with the Requirements of the Mississippi Statewide Assessment System; * * * or

          (m)  The license holder has failed to comply with the Procedures for Reporting Infractions as promulgated by the commission and approved by the State Board of Education pursuant to subsection (15) of this section * * *.;

          (n)  The license holder has been convicted, has pled guilty or entered a plea of nolo contendere to a physical child abuse of a student conviction, shall result in the immediate permanent revocation;

          (o)  The license holder has received probation or post-release supervision for a physical child abuse of a student conviction, shall result in the immediate permanent revocation; or

          (p)  The license holder, if an administrator, failed to report the abuse of a vulnerable person or exceptional child by a  school employee under the reporting requirement of Section 43-21-353.

     (13)  (a)  Dismissal or suspension of a licensed employee by a local school board pursuant to Section 37-9-59 may result in the suspension or revocation of a license for a length of time which shall be determined by the commission and based upon the severity of the offense.

          (b)  Any offense committed or attempted in any other state shall result in the same penalty as if committed or attempted in this state.

          (c)  A person may voluntarily surrender a license.  The surrender of such license may result in the commission recommending any of the above penalties without the necessity of a hearing.  However, any such license which has voluntarily been surrendered by a licensed employee may only be reinstated by a majority vote of all members of the commission present at the meeting called for such purpose.

     (14)  (a)  A person whose license has been revoked or surrendered on any grounds except criminal grounds may petition for reinstatement of the license after one (1) year from the date of revocation or surrender, or after one-half (1/2) of the revoked or surrendered time has lapsed, whichever is greater.  A person whose license has been suspended on any grounds or violations under subsection (12) of this section may be reinstated automatically or approved for a reinstatement hearing, upon submission of a written request to the commission.  A license suspended, revoked or surrendered on criminal grounds may be reinstated upon petition to the commission filed after expiration of the sentence and parole or probationary period imposed upon conviction.  A revoked, suspended or surrendered license may be reinstated upon satisfactory showing of evidence of rehabilitation.  The commission shall require all who petition for reinstatement to furnish evidence satisfactory to the commission of good character, good mental, emotional and physical health and such other evidence as the commission may deem necessary to establish the petitioner's rehabilitation and fitness to perform the duties authorized by the license.

          (b)  A person whose license expires while under investigation by the Office of Educator Misconduct for an alleged violation may not be reinstated without a hearing before the commission if required based on the results of the investigation.

     (15)  Reporting procedures and hearing procedures for dealing with infractions under this section shall be promulgated by the commission, subject to the approval of the State Board of Education.  The revocation or suspension of a license shall be effected at the time indicated on the notice of suspension or revocation.  The commission shall immediately notify the superintendent of the school district or school board where the teacher or administrator is employed of any disciplinary action and also notify the teacher or administrator of such revocation or suspension and shall maintain records of action taken.  The State Board of Education may reverse or remand with instructions any decision of the commission regarding a petition for reinstatement of a license, and any such decision of the State Board of Education shall be final.

     (16)  An appeal from the action of the State Board of Education in denying an application, revoking or suspending a license or otherwise disciplining any person under the provisions of this section shall be filed in the Chancery Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County, Mississippi, on the record made, including a verbatim transcript of the testimony at the hearing.  The appeal shall be filed within thirty (30) days after notification of the action of the board is mailed or served and the proceedings in chancery court shall be conducted as other matters coming before the court.  The appeal shall be perfected upon filing notice of the appeal and by the prepayment of all costs, including the cost of preparation of the record of the proceedings by the State Board of Education, and the filing of a bond in the sum of Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00) conditioned that if the action of the board be affirmed by the chancery court, the applicant or license holder shall pay the costs of the appeal and the action of the chancery court.

     (17)  All such programs, rules, regulations, standards and criteria recommended or authorized by the commission shall become effective upon approval by the State Board of Education as designated by appropriate orders entered upon the minutes thereof.

     (18)  The granting of a license shall not be deemed a property right nor a guarantee of employment in any public school district.  A license is a privilege indicating minimal eligibility for teaching in the public school districts of Mississippi.  This section shall in no way alter or abridge the authority of local school districts to require greater qualifications or standards of performance as a prerequisite of initial or continued employment in such districts.

     (19)  In addition to the reasons specified in subsections (12) and (13) of this section, the board shall be authorized to suspend the license of any licensee for being out of compliance with an order for support, as defined in Section 93-11-153.  The procedure for suspension of a license for being out of compliance with an order for support, and the procedure for the reissuance or reinstatement of a license suspended for that purpose, and the payment of any fees for the reissuance or reinstatement of a license suspended for that purpose, shall be governed by Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163, as the case may be.  Actions taken by the board in suspending a license when required by Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163 are not actions from which an appeal may be taken under this section.  Any appeal of a license suspension that is required by Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163 shall be taken in accordance with the appeal procedure specified in Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163, as the case may be, rather than the procedure specified in this section.  If there is any conflict between any provision of Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163 and any provision of this chapter, the provisions of Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163, as the case may be, shall control.

     SECTION 2.  Section 43-21-353, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

     43-21-353.  (1)  Any attorney, physician, dentist, intern, resident, nurse, psychologist, social worker, family protection worker, family protection specialist, child caregiver, minister, law enforcement officer, public or private school employee or any other person having reasonable cause to suspect that a child is a neglected child or an abused child, shall cause an oral report to be made immediately by telephone or otherwise and followed as soon thereafter as possible by a report in writing to the Department of Human Services, and immediately a referral shall be made by the Department of Human Services to the youth court intake unit, which unit shall promptly comply with Section 43-21-357.  In the course of an investigation, at the initial time of contact with the individual(s) about whom a report has been made under this Youth Court Act or with the individual(s) responsible for the health or welfare of a child about whom a report has been made under this chapter, the Department of Human Services shall inform the individual of the specific complaints or allegations made against the individual.  Consistent with subsection (4), the identity of the person who reported his or her suspicion shall not be disclosed.  Where appropriate, the Department of Human Services shall additionally make a referral to the youth court prosecutor.

     Upon receiving a report that a child has been sexually abused, or burned, tortured, mutilated or otherwise physically abused in such a manner as to cause serious bodily harm, or upon receiving any report of abuse that would be a felony under state or federal law, the Department of Human Services shall immediately notify the law enforcement agency in whose jurisdiction the abuse occurred and shall notify the appropriate prosecutor within forty-eight (48) hours, and the Department of Human Services shall have the duty to provide the law enforcement agency all the names and facts known at the time of the report; this duty shall be of a continuing nature.  The law enforcement agency and the Department of Human Services shall investigate the reported abuse immediately and shall file a preliminary report with the appropriate prosecutor's office within twenty-four (24) hours and shall make additional reports as new or additional information or evidence becomes available.  The Department of Human Services shall advise the clerk of the youth court and the youth court prosecutor of all cases of abuse reported to the department within seventy-two (72) hours and shall update such report as information becomes available.

     (2)  Any report to the Department of Human Services shall contain the names and addresses of the child and his parents or other persons responsible for his care, if known, the child's age, the nature and extent of the child's injuries, including any evidence of previous injuries * * * and, any other information that might be helpful in establishing the cause of the injury, and the identity of the perpetrator.

     (3)  The Department of Human Services shall maintain a statewide incoming wide-area telephone service or similar service for the purpose of receiving reports of suspected cases of child abuse; provided that any attorney, physician, dentist, intern, resident, nurse, psychologist, social worker, family protection worker, family protection specialist, child caregiver, minister, law enforcement officer or public or private school employee who is required to report under subsection (1) of this section shall report in the manner required in subsection (1).

     (4)  Reports of abuse and neglect made under this chapter and the identity of the reporter are confidential except when the court in which the investigation report is filed, in its discretion, determines the testimony of the person reporting to be material to a judicial proceeding or when the identity of the reporter is released to law enforcement agencies and the appropriate prosecutor pursuant to subsection (1).  Reports made under this section to any law enforcement agency or prosecutorial officer are for the purpose of criminal investigation and prosecution only and no information from these reports may be released to the public except as provided by Section 43-21-261.  Disclosure of any information by the prosecutor shall be according to the Mississippi Uniform Rules of Circuit and County Court Procedure.  The identity of the reporting party shall not be disclosed to anyone other than law enforcement officers or prosecutors without an order from the appropriate youth court.  Any person disclosing any reports made under this section in a manner not expressly provided for in this section or Section 43-21-261 shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to the penalties prescribed by Section 43-21-267.

     (5)  All final dispositions of law enforcement investigations described in subsection (1) of this section shall be determined only by the appropriate prosecutor or court.  All final dispositions of investigations by the Department of Human Services as described in subsection (1) of this section shall be determined only by the youth court.  Reports made under subsection (1) of this section by the Department of Human Services to the law enforcement agency and to the district attorney's office shall include the following, if known to the department:

          (a)  The name and address of the child;

          (b)  The names and addresses of the parents;

          (c)  The name and address of the suspected perpetrator;

          (d)  The names and addresses of all witnesses, including the reporting party if a material witness to the abuse;

          (e)  A brief statement of the facts indicating that the child has been abused and any other information from the agency files or known to the family protection worker or family protection specialist making the investigation, including medical records or other records, which may assist law enforcement or the district attorney in investigating and/or prosecuting the case; and

          (f)  What, if any, action is being taken by the Department of Human Services.

     (6)  In any investigation of a report made under this chapter of the abuse or neglect of a child as defined in Section 43-21-105(m), the Department of Human Services may request the appropriate law enforcement officer with jurisdiction to accompany the department in its investigation, and in such cases the law enforcement officer shall comply with such request.

     (7)  (a)  Anyone who willfully violates any provision of this section shall be, upon being found guilty, punished by a fine not to exceed Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or by imprisonment in jail not to exceed one (1) year, or both.

          (b)  Any public or private school administrator who fails to report the abuse of a vulnerable or exceptional child by any school employee under the requirements of this section, shall be subject to the penalties imposed under paragraph (a) of this subsection, in addition to the disciplinary action taken by the local school board under Section 37-9-59.

     (8)  If a report is made directly to the Department of Human Services that a child has been abused or neglected in an out-of-home setting, a referral shall be made immediately to the law enforcement agency in whose jurisdiction the abuse occurred and the department shall notify the district attorney's office within forty-eight (48) hours of such report.  The Department of Human Services shall investigate the out-of-home setting report of abuse or neglect to determine whether the child who is the subject of the report, or other children in the same environment, comes within the jurisdiction of the youth court and shall report to the youth court the department's findings and recommendation as to whether the child who is the subject of the report or other children in the same environment require the protection of the youth court.  The law enforcement agency shall investigate the reported abuse immediately and shall file a preliminary report with the district attorney's office within forty-eight (48) hours and shall make additional reports as new information or evidence becomes available.  If the out-of-home setting is a licensed facility, an additional referral shall be made by the Department of Human Services to the licensing agency.  The licensing agency shall investigate the report and shall provide the Department of Human Services, the law enforcement agency and the district attorney's office with their written findings from such investigation as well as that licensing agency's recommendations and actions taken.

     (9)  If a child protective investigation does not result in an out-of-home placement, a child protective investigator must provide information to the parent or guardians about community service programs that provide respite care, voluntary guardianship or other support services for families in crisis.

     SECTION 3.  Section 37-9-59, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

     37-9-59.  For incompetence, neglect of duty, immoral conduct, intemperance, brutal treatment of a pupil or other good cause the superintendent of schools may dismiss or suspend any licensed employee in any school district.  The failure of a superintendent or principal to report the brutal treatment of a pupil or abuse of a vulnerable student or exceptional child to the appropriate authority under Section 43-21-353 shall result in termination or suspension subject to action by the local school board.  Before being so dismissed or suspended any licensed employee shall be notified of the charges against him and he shall be advised that he is entitled to a public hearing upon said charges.  * * *Provided, However, * * *that a school superintendent whose employment has been terminated under this section shall not have the right to request a hearing before the school board or a hearing officer.  * * *Provided, However, * * *that a licensed employee in a conservator school district whose employment has been terminated under this section for good cause as determined by a conservator appointed by the State Board of Education shall not have a right to request a hearing before the school board, a hearing officer or the State Board of Education.  The conservator has the right to immediately terminate a licensed employee under this section.  In the event the continued presence of said employee on school premises poses a potential threat or danger to the health, safety or general welfare of the students, or, in the discretion of the superintendent, may interfere with or cause a disruption of normal school operations, the superintendent may immediately release said employee of all duties pending a hearing if one is requested by the employee.  In the event a licensed employee is arrested, indicted or otherwise charged with a felony by a recognized law enforcement official, the continued presence of the licensed employee on school premises shall be deemed to constitute a disruption of normal school operations.  The school board, upon a request for a hearing by the person so suspended or removed shall set a date, time and place for such hearing which shall be not sooner than five (5) days nor later than thirty (30) days from the date of the request.  The procedure for such hearing shall be as prescribed for hearings before the board or hearing officer in Section 37-9-111.  From the decision made at said hearing, any licensed employee shall be allowed an appeal to the chancery court in the same manner as appeals are authorized in Section 37-9-113.  Any party aggrieved by action of the chancery court may appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court as provided by law.  In the event that a licensed employee is immediately relieved of duties pending a hearing, as provided in this section, said employee shall be entitled to compensation for a period up to and including the date that the initial hearing is set by the school board, in the event that there is a request for such a hearing by the employee.  In the event that an employee does not request a hearing within five (5) calendar days of the date of the notice of discharge or suspension, it shall constitute a waiver of all rights by said employee and such discharge or suspension shall be effective on the date set out in the notice to the employee.

     The school board of every school district in this state is hereby prohibited from denying employment or reemployment to any person as a superintendent, principal or licensed employee, as defined in Section 37-19-1, or as a noninstructional personnel, as defined in Section 37-9-1, for the single reason that any eligible child of such person does not attend the school system in which such superintendent, principal, licensed employee or noninstructional personnel is employed.

     SECTION 4.  Section 97-3-95, Mississippi Code of 1972, is brought forward as follows:

     97-3-95.  (1)  A person is guilty of sexual battery if he or she engages in sexual penetration with:

          (a)  Another person without his or her consent;

          (b)  A mentally defective, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless person;

          (c)  A child at least fourteen (14) but under sixteen (16) years of age, if the person is thirty-six (36) or more months older than the child; or

          (d)  A child under the age of fourteen (14) years of age, if the person is twenty-four (24) or more months older than the child.

     (2)  A person is guilty of sexual battery if he or she engages in sexual penetration with a child under the age of eighteen (18) years if the person is in a position of trust or authority over the child including without limitation the child's teacher, counselor, physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, minister, priest, physical therapist, chiropractor, legal guardian, parent, stepparent, aunt, uncle, scout leader or coach.

     SECTION 5.  Section 97-5-23, Mississippi Code of 1972, is brought forward as follows:

     97-5-23.  (1)  Any person above the age of eighteen (18) years, who, for the purpose of gratifying his or her lust, or indulging his or her depraved licentious sexual desires, shall handle, touch or rub with hands or any part of his or her body or any member thereof, or with any object, any child under the age of sixteen (16) years, with or without the child's consent, or a mentally defective, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless person as defined in Section 97-3-97, shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined in a sum not less than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) nor more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or be committed to the custody of the State Department of Corrections not less than two (2) years nor more than fifteen (15) years, or be punished by both such fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the court.

     (2)  Any person above the age of eighteen (18) years, who, for the purpose of gratifying his or her lust, or indulging his or her depraved licentious sexual desires, shall handle, touch or rub with hands or any part of his or her body or any member thereof, any child younger than himself or herself and under the age of eighteen (18) years who is not such person's spouse, with or without the child's consent, when the person occupies a position of trust or authority over the child shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined in a sum not less than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) nor more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or be committed to the custody of the State Department of Corrections not less than two (2) years nor more than fifteen (15) years, or be punished by both such fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the court.  A person in a position of trust or authority over a child includes without limitation a child's teacher, counselor, physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, minister, priest, physical therapist, chiropractor, legal guardian, parent, stepparent, aunt, uncle, scout leader or coach.

     (3)  Upon a second conviction for an offense under this section or a substantially similar offense under the laws of another state, the person so convicted shall be punished by commitment to the State Department of Corrections for a term not to exceed twenty (20) years.

     SECTION 6.  Section 97-5-24, Mississippi Code of 1972, is brought forward as follows:

     97-5-24.  If any person eighteen (18) years or older who is employed by any public school district or private school in this state is accused of fondling or having any type of sexual involvement with any child under the age of eighteen (18) years who is enrolled in such school, the principal of such school and the superintendent of such school district shall timely notify the district attorney with jurisdiction where the school is located of such accusation, the Mississippi Department of Education and the Department of Human Services, provided that such accusation is reported to the principal and to the school superintendent and that there is a reasonable basis to believe that such accusation is true.  Any superintendent, or his designee, who fails to make a report required by this section shall be subject to the penalties provided in Section 37-11-35.  Any superintendent, principal, teacher or other school personnel participating in the making of a required report pursuant to this section or participating in any judicial proceeding resulting therefrom shall be presumed to be acting in good faith.  Any person reporting in good faith shall be immune from any civil liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed.

     SECTION 7.  Section 97-29-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is brought forward as follows:

     97-29-3.  If any teacher and any pupil under eighteen (18) years of age of such teacher, not being married to each other, shall have sexual intercourse, each with the other, they shall, for every such offense, be fined in any sum, not more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) each, and the teacher may be imprisoned not less than three (3) months nor more than six (6) months.

     SECTION 8.  This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2019.


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