Text: S.265 — 114th Congress (2015-2016)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in Senate (01/27/2015)

 
[Congressional Bills 114th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[S. 265 Introduced in Senate (IS)]

114th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                 S. 265

  To expand opportunity through greater choice in education, and for 
                            other purposes.


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                            January 27, 2015

Mr. Scott (for himself, Mr. Cornyn, Mr. Alexander, Mr. Cruz, Mr. Rubio, 
Mr. Flake, and Mr. Hatch) introduced the following bill; which was read 
 twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and 
                                Pensions

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
  To expand opportunity through greater choice in education, and for 
                            other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Creating Hope and Opportunity for 
Individuals and Communities through Education Act'' or the ``CHOICE 
Act''.

  TITLE I--IMPROVING THE SCHOLARSHIPS FOR OPPORTUNITY AND RESULTS ACT

SEC. 101. PURPOSE.

    The purpose of this title is to amend the Scholarships for 
Opportunity and Results Act (Public Law 112-10, 125 Stat. 199) in order 
to improve provisions concerning opportunity scholarships available for 
low-income students in the District of Columbia.

SEC. 102. IMPROVEMENTS TO THE SCHOLARSHIPS FOR OPPORTUNITY AND RESULTS 
              ACT.

    (a) Carryover Amounts.--Section 3014 of division C of the 
Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 
(Public Law 112-10, 125 Stat. 212) is amended by adding at the end the 
following:
    ``(c) Carryover Amounts.--
            ``(1) In general.--Amounts appropriated under this section 
        shall remain available until expended.
            ``(2) Use of carryover amounts.--Of the funds appropriated 
        under this section that are unobligated, are not expended in 
        the fiscal year for which such funds are appropriated, and are 
        not necessary for the continuation of the scholarships already 
        awarded, the Secretary shall, for the subsequent fiscal year--
                    ``(A) use 2 percent of such funds to carry out 
                outreach and parental education and assistance 
                activities described in section 3007(c) that are in 
                addition to any such activities carried out by an 
                eligible entity under such section; and
                    ``(B) use the remaining amount of such funds to 
                provide opportunity scholarships to eligible students 
                who have not previously received such a scholarship.''.
    (b) Clarification in Student Eligibility.--Section 3013(3) of 
division C of the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing 
Appropriations Act, 2011 (Public Law 112-10, 125 Stat. 211) is amended, 
in the matter preceding subparagraph (A), by inserting ``, is enrolled, 
or will be enrolled for the next school year, in a public or private 
elementary school or secondary school,'' after ``District of 
Columbia''.

   TITLE II--EDUCATION PORTABILITY FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES

SEC. 201. PURPOSE.

    The purpose of this title is to provide options to States to 
innovate and improve the education of children with disabilities by 
expanding the choices for students and parents under the Individuals 
with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.).

SEC. 202. AMENDMENTS TO THE INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES EDUCATION 
              ACT.

    (a) Children Enrolled in Private Schools by Their Parents.--Section 
612(a)(10)(A) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 
U.S.C. 1412(a)(10)(A)) is amended by adding at the end the following:
                            ``(viii) Parent option program.--If a State 
                        has established a program that meets the 
                        requirements of section 663(c)(11) (whether 
                        statewide or in limited areas of the State) and 
                        that allows a parent of a child described in 
                        section 663(c)(11)(A) to use public funds, or 
                        private funds in accordance with 
                        633(c)(11)(B)(ii), to pay some or all of the 
                        costs of attendance at a private school--
                                    ``(I) funds allocated to the State 
                                under section 611 may be used by the 
                                State to supplement such public or 
                                private funds, if the Federal funds are 
                                distributed to parents who make a 
                                genuine independent choice as to the 
                                appropriate school for their child, 
                                except that in no case shall the amount 
                                of Federal funds provided under this 
                                subclause to a parent of a child with a 
                                disability for a year exceed the total 
                                amount of tuition, fees, and 
                                transportation costs for the child for 
                                the year;
                                    ``(II) the authorization of a 
                                parent to exercise this option fulfills 
                                the State's obligation under paragraph 
                                (1) with respect to the child during 
                                the period in which the child is 
                                enrolled in the selected school; and
                                    ``(III) a selected school accepting 
                                such funds shall not be required to 
                                carry out any of the requirements of 
                                this title with respect to such 
                                child.''.
    (b) Research and Innovation To Improve Services and Results for 
Children With Disabilities.--Section 663(c) of the Individuals with 
Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1463(c)) is amended--
            (1) in paragraph (9), by striking ``and'' after the 
        semicolon;
            (2) in paragraph (10), by striking the period at the end 
        and inserting ``; and''; and
            (3) by adding at the end the following:
            ``(11) supporting the post-award planning and design, and 
        the initial implementation (which may include costs for 
        informing the community, acquiring necessary equipment and 
        supplies, and other initial operational costs), during a period 
        of not more than 3 years, of State programs that allow the 
        parent of a child with a disability to make a genuine 
        independent choice of the appropriate public or private school 
        for their child, if the program--
                    ``(A) requires that the child be a child who has 
                received an initial evaluation described in section 
                614(a) and has been identified as a child with a 
                disability, in accordance with part B;
                    ``(B)(i) permits the parent to receive from the 
                State funds to be used to pay some or all of the costs 
                of attendance at the selected school (which may include 
                tuition, fees, and transportation costs); or
                    ``(ii) permits persons to receive a State tax 
                credit for donations to an entity that provides funds 
                to parents of eligible students described in 
                subparagraph (A), to be used by the parents to pay some 
                or all of the costs of attendance at the selected 
                school (which may include tuition, fees, and 
                transportation costs);
                    ``(C) prohibits any school that agrees to 
                participate in the program from discriminating against 
                eligible students on the basis of race, color, national 
                origin, or sex, except that--
                            ``(i) the prohibition of sex discrimination 
                        shall not apply to a participating school that 
                        is operated by, supervised by, controlled by, 
                        or connected to a religious organization to the 
                        extent that the application of such prohibition 
                        is inconsistent with the religious tenets or 
                        beliefs of the school; and
                            ``(ii) notwithstanding this subparagraph or 
                        any other provision of law, a parent may 
                        choose, and a school may offer, a single-sex 
                        school, class, or activity;
                    ``(D) notwithstanding any other provision of law, 
                allows any school participating in the program that is 
                operated by, supervised by, controlled by, or connected 
                to, a religious organization to exercise its right in 
                matters of employment consistent with title VII of the 
                Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq.), 
                including the exemptions in that title;
                    ``(E) allows a school to participate in the program 
                without, consistent with the First Amendment of the 
                Constitution of the United States--
                            ``(i) necessitating any change in the 
                        participating school's teaching mission;
                            ``(ii) requiring any private participating 
                        school to remove religious art, icons, 
                        scriptures, or other symbols; or
                            ``(iii) precluding any private 
                        participating school from retaining religious 
                        terms in its name, selecting its board members 
                        on a religious basis, or including religious 
                        references in its mission statements and other 
                        chartering or governing documents; and
                    ``(F) requires a participating school selected for 
                a child with a disability to be--
                            ``(i) accredited, licensed, or otherwise 
                        operating in accordance with State law; and
                            ``(ii) academically accountable to the 
                        parent for meeting the educational needs of the 
                        student.''.

                    TITLE III--MILITARY SCHOLARSHIPS

SEC. 301. PURPOSE.

    The purpose of this title is to ensure high-quality education for 
children of military personnel who live on military installations and 
thus have less freedom to exercise school choice for their children, in 
order to improve the ability of the Armed Forces to retain such 
military personnel.

SEC. 302. MILITARY SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM.

    (a) Definitions.--In this section:
            (1) ESEA definitions.--The terms ``child'', ``elementary 
        school'', ``secondary school'', and ``local educational 
        agency'' have the meanings given the terms in section 9101 of 
        the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 
        7801).
            (2) Eligible military student.--The term ``eligible 
        military student'' means a child who--
                    (A) is a military dependent student;
                    (B) lives on a military installation selected to 
                participate in the program under subsection (b)(2); and
                    (C) chooses to attend a participating school, 
                rather than a school otherwise assigned to the child.
            (3) Military dependent student.--The term ``military 
        dependent student'' has the meaning given the term in section 
        572(e) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 
        Year 2006 (20 U.S.C. 7703b(e)).
            (4) Participating school.--The term ``participating 
        school'' means a public or private elementary school or 
        secondary school that--
                    (A) accepts scholarship funds provided under this 
                section on behalf of an eligible military student for 
                the costs of tuition, fees, or transportation of the 
                eligible military student; and
                    (B) is accredited, licensed, or otherwise operating 
                in accordance with State law.
            (5) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary 
        of Defense.
    (b) Program Authorized.--
            (1) In general.--From amounts made available under 
        subsection (g) and beginning for the first full school year 
        following the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary 
        shall carry out a 5-year pilot program to award scholarships to 
        enable eligible military students to attend the public or 
        private elementary schools or secondary schools selected by the 
        eligible military students' parents.
            (2) Scope of program.--
                    (A) In general.--The Secretary shall select not 
                less than 5 military installations to participate in 
                the pilot program described in paragraph (1). In making 
                such selection, the Secretary shall choose military 
                installations where eligible military students would 
                most benefit from expanded educational options.
                    (B) Ineligibility.--A military installation that 
                provides, on its premises, education for all elementary 
                school and secondary school grade levels through one or 
                more Department of Defense dependents' schools shall 
                not be eligible for participation in the program.
            (3) Amount of scholarships.--
                    (A) In general.--The annual amount of each 
                scholarship awarded to an eligible military student 
                under this section shall not exceed the lesser of--
                            (i) the cost of tuition, fees, and 
                        transportation associated with attending the 
                        participating school selected by the parents of 
                        the student; or
                            (ii)(I) in the case of an eligible military 
                        student attending elementary school--
                                    (aa) $8,000 for the first full 
                                school year following the date of 
                                enactment of this Act; or
                                    (bb) the amount determined under 
                                subparagraph (B) for each school year 
                                following such first full school year; 
                                or
                            (II) in the case of an eligible military 
                        student attending secondary school--
                                    (aa) $12,000 for the first full 
                                school year following the date of 
                                enactment of this Act; or
                                    (bb) the amount determined under 
                                subparagraph (B) for each school year 
                                following such first full school year.
                    (B) Adjustment for inflation.--For each school year 
                after the first full school year following the date of 
                enactment of this Act, the amounts specified in 
                subclauses (I) and (II) of subparagraph (A)(ii) shall 
                be adjusted to reflect changes for the 12-month period 
                ending the preceding June in the Consumer Price Index 
                for All Urban Consumers published by the Bureau of 
                Labor Statistics of the Department of Labor.
            (4) Payments to parents.--The Secretary shall make 
        scholarship payments under this section to the parent of the 
        eligible military student in a manner that ensures such 
        payments will be used for the payment of tuition, fees, and 
        transportation expenses (if any) in accordance with this 
        section.
    (c) Selection of Scholarships Recipients.--
            (1) Random selection.--If more eligible military students 
        apply for scholarships under the program under this section 
        than the Secretary can accommodate, the Secretary shall select 
        the scholarship recipients through a random selection process 
        from students who submitted applications by the application 
        deadline specified by the Secretary.
            (2) Continued eligibility.--
                    (A) In general.--An individual who is selected to 
                receive a scholarship under the program under this 
                section shall continue to receive a scholarship for 
                each year of the program until the individual--
                            (i) graduates from secondary school or 
                        elects to no longer participate in the program;
                            (ii) exceeds the maximum age for which the 
                        State in which the student lives provides a 
                        free public education; or
                            (iii) is no longer an eligible military 
                        student.
                    (B) Continued participation for military 
                transfers.--
                            (i) Transfer to private non-military 
                        housing.--Notwithstanding subparagraph 
                        (A)(iii), an individual receiving a scholarship 
                        under this section for a school year who meets 
                        the requirements of subparagraphs (A) and (C) 
                        of subsection (a)(2) and whose family, during 
                        such school year, moves into private non-
                        military housing that is not considered to be 
                        part of the military installation, shall 
                        continue to receive the scholarship for use at 
                        the participating school for the remaining 
                        portion of the school year.
                            (ii) Transfer to a different military 
                        installation.--Notwithstanding subparagraph 
                        (A)(iii), an individual receiving a scholarship 
                        under this section for a school year whose 
                        family is transferred to a different military 
                        installation shall no longer be eligible to 
                        receive such scholarship beginning on the date 
                        of the transfer. Such individual may apply to 
                        participate in any program offered under this 
                        section for the new military installation for a 
                        subsequent school year, if such individual 
                        qualifies as an eligible military student for 
                        such school year.
    (d) Nondiscrimination and Other Provisions.--
            (1) Non-discrimination.--A participating school shall not 
        discriminate against program participants or applicants on the 
        basis of race, color, national origin, or sex.
            (2) Applicability and single-sex schools, classes, or 
        activities.--
                    (A) In general.--Notwithstanding any other 
                provision of law, the prohibition of sex discrimination 
                in paragraph (1) shall not apply to a participating 
                school that is operated by, supervised by, controlled 
                by, or connected to a religious organization to the 
                extent that the application of paragraph (1) is 
                inconsistent with the religious tenets or beliefs of 
                the school.
                    (B) Single-sex schools, classes, or activities.--
                Notwithstanding paragraph (1) or any other provision of 
                law, a parent may choose, and a participating school 
                may offer, a single-sex school, class, or activity.
            (3) Children with disabilities.--Nothing in this section 
        may be construed to alter or modify the Individuals with 
        Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.).
            (4) Rules of conduct and other school policies.--A 
        participating school, including the schools described in 
        subsection (e), may require eligible students to abide by any 
        rules of conduct and other requirements applicable to all other 
        students at the school.
    (e) Religiously Affiliated Schools.--
            (1) In general.--Notwithstanding any other provision of 
        law, a participating school that is operated by, supervised by, 
        controlled by, or connected to, a religious organization may 
        exercise its right in matters of employment consistent with 
        title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e et 
        seq.), including the exemptions in that title.
            (2) Maintenance of purpose.--Notwithstanding any other 
        provision of law, funds made available under this title to 
        eligible military students that are received by a participating 
        school, as a result of their parents' choice, shall not, 
        consistent with the First Amendment of the Constitution of the 
        United States--
                    (A) necessitate any change in the participating 
                school's teaching mission;
                    (B) require any private participating school to 
                remove religious art, icons, scriptures, or other 
                symbols; or
                    (C) preclude any private participating school from 
                retaining religious terms in its name, selecting its 
                board members on a religious basis, or including 
                religious references in its mission statements and 
                other chartering or governing documents.
    (f) Reports.--
            (1) Annual reports.--Not later than July 30 of the year 
        following the year of the date of enactment of this Act, and 
        each subsequent year through the year in which the final report 
        is submitted under paragraph (2), the Secretary shall prepare 
        and submit to Congress an interim report on the scholarships 
        awarded under the pilot program under this section that 
        includes the content described in paragraph (3) for the 
        applicable school year of the report.
            (2) Final report.--Not later than 90 days after the end of 
        the pilot program under this section, the Secretary shall 
        prepare and submit to Congress a report on the scholarships 
        awarded under the program that includes the content described 
        in paragraph (3) for each school year of the program.
            (3) Content.--Each annual report under paragraph (1) and 
        the final report under paragraph (2) shall contain--
                    (A) the number of applicants for scholarships under 
                this section;
                    (B) the number, and the average dollar amount, of 
                scholarships awarded;
                    (C) the number of participating schools;
                    (D) the number of elementary school students 
                receiving scholarships under this section and the 
                number of secondary school students receiving such 
                scholarships; and
                    (E) the results of a survey, conducted by the 
                Secretary, regarding parental satisfaction with the 
                scholarship program under this section.
    (g) Authorization of Appropriations.--There are authorized to be 
appropriated to carry out this section $10,000,000 for each of fiscal 
years 2016 through 2020.
    (h) Offset in Department of Education Salaries.--Notwithstanding 
any other provision of law, for fiscal year 2016 and each of the 4 
succeeding fiscal years, the Secretary of Education shall return to the 
Treasury $10,000,000 of the amounts made available to the Secretary for 
salaries and expenses of the Department of Education for such year.
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