17:7.7       Continuing education pilot program for school support personnel in schools; reimbursement to public and nonpublic colleges and universities for tuition costs; rules and regulations; reporting; repayment for noncompletion of courses

 A. The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education shall adopt rules and regulations establishing a pilot program in the state Department of Education, division of continuing education, to assist school support personnel who work full-time in city and parish elementary and secondary schools to meet the qualifications for certification as a teacher. Such pilot program shall include provisions under which such personnel may apply to be exempt from tuition for required teacher training courses at a public college or university in the state or at a nonpublic institution listed in R.S. 17:7.3(A)(1). Such exemption shall be applicable to no more than one course per applicant per semester or quarter in the fall and spring and to no more than two courses in a summer session. However, upon approval by the city or parish school superintendent, such exemption shall be applicable to two additional courses per applicant per semester or quarter in the fall and spring and to two additional courses in a summer session. In no case may state funds be used toward tuition for courses in theology or divinity.

 B. The amount of tuition paid shall be limited to the registration fee and building use fee per semester hour, provided that the amount paid by the state to any nonpublic school for tuition shall not exceed the highest tuition charged for that course by a public college or university in the state.

 C. The state superintendent of education shall at the beginning of each semester pay half of the anticipated reimbursement to each college and university under this tuition exemption program. At the end of the semester, upon notification by a participating college or university of the enrollment of school support personnel in teacher training courses, he shall promptly pay to that institution the remainder of the reimbursement owed under the provisions of this Section.

 D. Funds for the purpose of reimbursing colleges and universities under this program shall come from monies specifically appropriated or otherwise made available for this purpose. The board shall promulgate rules and regulations to award tuition exemptions on a priority basis in those circumstances where the amount of funds available is not sufficient to provide reimbursement for participation of all eligible applicants.

 E. (1) Each school support employee seeking to participate in the program shall apply to the Department of Education. An "eligible school support employee" shall be defined as a person who is not certified as a classroom teacher but who is assigned to one or more specific teachers or schools on a full-time basis to assist with the administration, operation, or maintenance of schools. To be eligible to participate in the program after July 1, 1999, an applicant shall have been admitted to an approved college of education at a public college or university in the state or at a nonpublic institution listed in R.S. 17:7.3(A)(1) and shall have taken the general knowledge and communication sections of the National Teachers Examination and achieved the score established as provided by R.S. 17:7.1(A)(7) for entry into a teacher education program.

 (2) At or prior to registration, any eligible school support employee participating in the program shall be required to enter into a written agreement with the state superintendent of education obligating such employee to reimburse the state superintendent as provided in Subsection F herein for all or any part of the tuition costs paid on his behalf under this program which are not otherwise reimbursed to the state, together with the cost of collection in the event he fails to make timely reimbursement.

 F. Any eligible school support employee for whom payment is advanced pursuant to Subsection C and who completes all required courses for certification but who fails to become certified within one year after completing such course work or who is found to be ineligible or who drops a course after the deadline for obtaining a full or partial tuition refund from the college or university, or who fails to complete a course successfully, shall reimburse the state superintendent of education for any monies allocated and paid in his behalf pursuant to this Section which are not otherwise reimbursed, together with reimbursement for the cost of collection in the event that timely reimbursement is not made in accordance with this Section and the rules and regulations which the board shall adopt to accomplish proper reimbursement. The attorney general shall collect all such obligations on behalf of the superintendent of education which are not timely paid. Any person receiving retirement benefits from a state retirement system or owing reimbursement to the state superintendent under this program is ineligible for participation.

 G. The state superintendent shall annually submit a report to the House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Education relative to any program established for eligible school support employee under this Section. Such report shall include but not be limited to the following:

 (1) The number of persons applying for such education.

 (2) The number of persons accepted in the program.

 (3) The educational background and the work experience of such persons.

 (4) The number of participants receiving a teaching certificate.

 (5) The amount of reimbursement paid by the Department of Education.

 (6) The funding that would have been necessary to reimburse tuition for qualifying courses for all eligible applicants.

 H. Rules and regulations of the board pursuant to this Section shall be adopted in accordance with R.S. 49:950 et seq.

 I. The total administrative costs of this program incurred by the state Department of Education, including mileage and other travel expenses, shall not exceed an annual cost of two thousand dollars.

Added by Acts 1999, No. 807, ยง 1, eff. July 2, 1999.