Opportunity Youth Act


The Opportunity Youth Act relates to the enrollment of eligible students ages 13-26 in a competency-based high school completion program operated by a public or charter school authorized under state law. Eligibility of those students for ESSA, IDEA and state funding and benefits, reporting requirements, dropout status, and academic accountability and performance.

Opportunity Youth Act


Section 1. Title.

This Act may be referred to as the “Opportunity Youth Act.”

Section 2. Statement of Findings and Purposes.

(A) The legislature hereby finds and declares that:

(1) The State Department of Education is authorized to approve new or to authorize existing open-enrollment charter schools to establish and operate competency-based educational programs as defined in this section, as dropout recovery schools, and to receive funding under ESSA and IDEA school program as provided in this section.

(2) It is in the public interest:

(a) To ensure the right of all students to receive an equitable education regardless of circumstances.

Section 3. Definitions.

(A) “Opportunity Youth educational program” means a high school completion program approved by the State Department of Education to serve “eligible students” in an open-enrollment charter school or a campus of an open-enrollment charter school authorized , or campus or program charter school authorized , and designated by the State Department of Education as a dropout recovery school, and where the system of academic instruction, assessment, grading, reporting, course credit and funding is based on the charter school demonstrating student learning, as provided in this section, and not solely on average daily attendance, or dependent on minutes of operation, as stipulated in education code.

(B) “Eligible student” means a student who is a resident of the state, regardless of the student’s school district of residence, who is at least 14 years of and who is under 26 years of age on September 1 of the school year, and who meets any of the following criteria:

(1) was previously reported through a student information system to have dropped out of school or as a dropout (or equivalent) in another state, including a student who has been previously reported as a dropout, but reenrolled in school, regardless of the student’s most recent status;

(2) is a “student at risk of dropping out of school”;

(3) has previously been placed in an alternative education program based on submissions or review of student discipline records;

(4) has been expelled during the preceding four school years or current school year or, as reported in a student information system, has ever been expelled by another charter school under that charter school’s student code of conduct;

(5) is currently on parole, probation, deferred prosecution, deferred adjudication or other conditional release;

(6) is in the custody or care of the Department of Family and Protective Services or has, during a previous school year or current school year, been referred to the department by any school official, officer of the juvenile court, or law enforcement official;

(7) has been homeless, at any time, or is currently homeless, as defined McKinley Vento Act and its subsequent amendments;

(8) resided, at any time, or currently resides in the current school year in a residential treatment or placement facility, including a detention facility, substance abuse treatment facility, emergency shelter, psychiatric hospital, halfway house, cottage home operation, specialized child-care home, or general residential operation;

(9) is employed and working in a paid capacity ordinarily of at least 15 hours or more per week, in support of the student’s own self or family;

(10) is ordered by a court to attend a high school equivalency certificate program but who has not yet earned a high school equivalency certificate or high school diploma;

(11) certifies to the charter school that they would benefit from the program under this section and avoid otherwise dropping out of school due to extraordinary family-circumstances or responsibilities, including medical or caregiver needs of family member or the student, or substantial financial support to the student or student’s family; or

(12) was previously placed on a personal graduation plan or offered an intensive program of instruction.

Section 4. Optional Flexible Year Program – State Education Code, is amended to read as follows:

(A) A school district may provide a flexible year program for students who did not or are likely not to perform successfully on an assessment instrument or who would not otherwise be promoted to the next grade level.

(B) To enable a school district to provide additional instructional days for a program under this section, with the approval of the State Department of Education, a school district may:

(1) provide a number of days of instruction during the regular school year that is not more than 10 days fewer than the number required or as otherwise permitted;  and

(a)  provide flexibility in the number of hours each day a student attends;

(b)  provide flexibility in the number of days each week a student attends;

(c)  allow a student to enroll in less than or more than a full course load; or

(d)  allow a student to enroll in a dropout recovery program in which courses are conducted online.

(2) use for instructional purposes not more than five days that would otherwise be used for staff development or teacher preparation.

(C) A school district may require educational support personnel to provide service as necessary for an optional flexible year program.

(D) The State Department of Education may adopt rules for the administration of programs provided under this section.

Section 8. Severability clause.

Section 9. Repealer clause.

Section 10. Effective date.

Approved By the ALEC Board of Directors: September 3, 2019