Open enrollment, other laws change in South Dakota

Open enrollment, other laws change in South Dakota Applications to open enroll South Dakota students in another public school will be accepted throughout the year, under a law that changes July 1.

State lawmakers earlier this year eliminated the annual Feb. 1 deadline to file open enrollment applications. The change is among several education-related bills that became law July 1.

"This allows parents or guardians to apply to open enroll their child in another school district at any time," Ray Christensen, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Education and Cultural Affairs, said. "If approved by the receiving district, the actual transfer also could occur at any time."

A requirement that obligates the student to attend the desired school, once open enrollment is approved, was kept on the books. Under the law, a student is released from open enrollment only when the affected school boards agree in writing to allow the student to transfer back. Christensen said that provision is important to lessen the chances that a student might move frequently from school to school.

Open enrollment applications are approved or denied based on standards that each school district has adopted related to capacity of their school buildings, classrooms or programs. Once enrolled in the new school, the student does not have to resubmit an application each year.

Other education-related laws that took effect July 1:

* Change how the state's special education funding system pays schools for educating severely disabled students.

* Require bond elections for joint projects involving a school district and another unit of government, such as a county or city, to carry by the 60 percent majority needed to pass a school bond election.

* Require student teachers and contracted staff, who are in regular contact with students, to have health certificate and TB skin test within 10 days after beginning work in a school.

Require school officials to report any firearm or dangerous weapons violation on school grounds to local law enforcement.

* Lengthen the time small school districts can continue to receive extra state aid if they consolidate.

* Allow school boards to open polling places for school elections as early as 7 a.m.

* Require schools to equip public access computers with filtering software or, by Jan. 1, 2001, implement a local "acceptable use policy" that restricts minors' access to obscene materials on computers.

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