(1) As used in this section and in section 22-32-138.5, unless the context otherwise requires:
(a) "Child placement agency" has the same meaning as provided in section 19-1-103 (21).
(b) "County department" has the same meaning as provided in section 19-1-103 (32).
(c) "Department of education" means the department of education created in section 24-1-115.
(d) "Department of human services" or "state department of human services" means the state department of human services created and existing pursuant to section 24-1-120.
(d.5) "Division of youth services placement" means a secure facility or contract community residential program of the division of youth services in the state department of human services.
(e) "Education provider" means a school, school district, the state charter school institute, or a board of cooperative services that operates a school.
(f) "School" means a public school of a school district, a school operated by a board of cooperative services pursuant to article 5 of this title 22, an institute charter school authorized pursuant to part 5 of article 30.5 of this title 22, a state-licensed day treatment facility, or an approved facility school as defined in section 22-2-402 (1).
(g) "School of origin" means the school in which a student was enrolled at the time of each placement into foster care. If the student's foster care placement changes, the school of origin is the school in which the student is enrolled at the time of the change in placement. If the student is enrolled in a facility school, including residential child care facilities and secure detention facilities, and the student will no longer be enrolled in the facility school, the school of origin is the last school the student attended within the previous two years for at least one complete semester or term prior to entering the facility school or another school where the student had a meaningful connection within the previous two years. "School of origin" includes the designated receiving school at the next grade level for feeder school or zone patterns when the student completes the final grade level served by the school of origin. When there is more than one potential school of origin, the student's input must be given strong consideration in determining which school to designate as the school of origin.
(h) "Student in out-of-home placement" means a child or youth who at any time during an academic semester or term is in foster care and receiving educational services through a state-licensed day treatment facility or who at any time during an academic semester or term is in placement out of the home, as that term is defined in section 19-1-103 (85), including but not limited to any child or youth who is in placement outside of the home at any time during an academic semester or term as a result of an adjudication pursuant to article 2 of title 19. "Student in out-of-home placement" includes a child or youth who transfers enrollment as a result of being returned to his or her home at the conclusion of out-of-home placement.
(1.5) Department of education foster care education coordinator - creation and duties. Subject to available appropriations, the department of education shall hire a full-time foster care education coordinator who has the following duties beginning in the 2019-20 fiscal year:
(a) Providing training and professional development to address needs associated with implementation of state and federal mandates relating to foster care education;
(b) Collecting and disseminating child welfare education liaison contact information on the department of education's website;
(c) Coordinating with the department of human services and other agencies as necessary;
(d) Providing technical assistance to education providers for removing barriers to graduation pursuant to subsection (5) of this section;
(e) Serving as a point of contact to review compliance of education providers; and
(f) Acting as a liaison in coordination with the department of human services to review complaints related to disputes over transportation agreements between school districts and the state charter school institute and county departments.
(2) (a) Each school district and the state charter school institute, created pursuant to section 22-30.5-503, shall designate an employee of the school district or the institute to act as the child welfare education liaison for all district schools or for all state charter schools. In lieu of designating an employee, a school district or the state charter school institute may contract with an individual to act as the child welfare education liaison. Each school district and the state charter school institute shall report to the department of education by August 15, 2010, and by August 15 each year thereafter, the name and contact information of the child welfare education liaison. The department of education shall be responsible for posting that information on the department of education's website and providing the information to the department of human services.
(b) The child welfare education liaison shall be responsible for working with child placement agencies, county departments, and the state department of human services to facilitate services to maintain students in out-of-home placement in their schools of origin or, if the county department determines that it is not in the students' best interests to remain in the school of origin, facilitate the prompt and appropriate placement, transfer, and enrollment in school of students in out-of-home placement within the school district or who are enrolled or enrolling in institute charter schools. The child welfare education liaison's specific duties include but need not be limited to:
(I) Responding to a county department request for input from an education provider concerning the determination of whether it is in the best interest of the student in out-of-home placement to remain in the school of origin;
(II) Collaborating with the county department to ensure that any necessary transportation and services are provided for the student in out-of-home placement to remain in the student's school of origin;
(III) If a county department determines that it is not in the student's best interest to remain in the school of origin, working with county departments, juvenile probation officers, parents, guardian ad litems, and foster care parents to ensure that the student is enrolled in a new school immediately with transition planning, and that the student's complete education information and records are requested immediately by the student's new school upon enrollment;
(IV) Upon receiving the required notification and invitation, participating in a transition planning meeting regarding the enrollment in a public school of a student in an out-of-home placement pursuant to section 22-2-139 from a state-licensed day treatment facility, facility school, or hospital, or having his or her designee participate in the meeting;
(V) Participating, or having his or her designee participate, in any interagency collaboration teams or threat-assessment teams centered on students in out-of-home placement, which teams the education provider may develop or on which teams the education provider may be invited to participate; and
(VI) Providing to the department of education, the department of human services, and the education committees of the house of representatives and the senate, or any successor committees, the information required pursuant to sections 22-2-139 and 26-1-138.
(c) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (2)(a) of this section, a board of cooperative services created pursuant to article 5 of this title 22 may designate an employee of the board to act as the child welfare education liaison for the school districts that are members of the board of cooperative services. A child welfare education liaison employed by a board of cooperative services has the duties specified in this subsection (2) and shall perform them on behalf of the school districts that are members of the board of cooperative services.
(3) (a) If a student in out-of-home placement is enrolled in one school and transfers enrollment to another school either in the same education provider or in another education provider, the sending education provider shall transfer the student's education information and records to the receiving school as soon as possible but not to exceed five school days after receiving a transfer request.
(b) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, without having to obtain a court order, the county department that has legal custody of a student in out-of-home placement may request that the education provider in which the student was enrolled release the student's education information and records to an employee of the county department. The education provider may comply with the requirements of subsection (3)(a) of this section by complying with the county department's request as soon as possible but not to exceed five school days after receiving the request.
(c) A school district or school shall not delay the transfer of the education information and records of a student in out-of-home placement for any reason, including but not limited to the existence of any unpaid fines or fees that the student may have outstanding at the school from which the student is transferring.
(d) If an education provider receives a transfer request pursuant to subsection (3)(a) of this section or a request for release of records pursuant to subsection (3)(b) of this section and the request involves a student who is receiving special education services pursuant to an individualized education program, the education provider shall notify the special education director for the education provider of the request as soon as possible following receipt of the request.
(4) (a) Notwithstanding any provision of law, other than subsection (4)(b) of this section, to the contrary, if a student who is in out-of-home placement is required to change schools, the education provider shall enroll the student in school immediately, regardless of whether:
(I) The education provider has received the student's educational information and records, including the certificate of immunization;
(II) The student can comply with any requirements pertaining to the use of school uniforms or other clothing restrictions; or
(III) The student can comply with any other preenrollment restrictions or requirements imposed by the school district or school.
(b) The provisions of paragraph (a) of this subsection (4) shall not be construed to prohibit a school district or school from denying enrollment to a student in out-of-home placement based on the circumstances specified in section 22-33-106 (2) and (3); except that the school district or school:
(I) May deny enrollment based on the student having been expelled from a school district in the preceding twelve months as provided in section 22-33-106 (3)(c) only if the student was expelled for having drugs or weapons at school or for being a danger to self or others; and
(II) May not deny enrollment based on failure to comply with the provisions of part 9 of article 4 of title 25, C.R.S., as provided in section 22-33-106 (3)(e).
(c) If an education provider enrolls a student in out-of-home placement without receiving the student's certificate of immunization, the education provider shall notify the county department that, unless the education provider receives the student's certificate of immunization or a written authorization for administration of immunizations within fourteen days after the student enrolls, the education provider shall suspend the student until such time as the education provider receives the certificate of immunization or the authorization.
(5) (a) When a student in out-of-home placement transfers from one school to another school or from a division of youth services placement to a school, the sending education provider or division of youth services placement shall certify to the receiving education provider the course work that the student has fully or partially completed while enrolled in the education provider. The receiving education provider shall accept the student's certified course work and the course work certified by previous education providers and division of youth services placements in which the student was enrolled, as reflected in the student's records, for comparable course credit, as if it had been completed at the receiving education provider. The receiving education provider shall apply all of the student's certified course work toward completion of the student's requirements for grade level promotion at the receiving education provider or for graduation from the receiving education provider if the student is enrolled in twelfth grade.
(b) When a student experiences out-of-home placement at any point during high school, an education provider may waive course or program prerequisites or other preconditions for placement in courses or programs under the jurisdiction of the education provider.
(c) An education provider may waive specific courses required for graduation if similar course work has been satisfactorily completed in another jurisdiction or the student has demonstrated competency in the content area. If the receiving school does not grant a waiver to a child who would qualify to graduate from the sending school, the education provider is encouraged to provide an alternative means of acquiring the required course work or competency requirements so that timely graduation may occur. The receiving education provider awarding the diploma may award elective credit for any portion of the student's certified course work that is not aligned with core academic course descriptions of the receiving education provider or for demonstrated competencies that are not aligned with the receiving education provider.
(d) If a student in out-of-home placement who is transferring at the beginning of or during twelfth grade is ineligible to graduate from the receiving education provider, the education provider may request a diploma from a previously attended education provider, and the previously attended education provider may issue a diploma if the student meets the education provider's graduation requirements.
(6) A student in out-of-home placement shall receive an excused absence from the school district or school in which the student is enrolled for any time the student is out of school due to a required court appearance or participation in court-ordered activities, including but not limited to family visitation or therapy. The social worker who is assigned to the student shall verify to the school district or school each instance in which the student is out of school for a court appearance or for participation in a court-ordered activity.
(7) An education provider in which a student in out-of-home placement is enrolled shall waive all fees that would otherwise be assessed against the student, including but not limited to any general fees, fees for books, fees for lab work, fees for participation in in-school or extracurricular activities, and fees for before-school or after-school programs. The education provider shall not limit the opportunity of a student in out-of-home placement to participate in in-school and extracurricular activities and before-school and after-school programs due to waiver of the participation fees.
(8) A school district or school in which a student in out-of-home placement is enrolled shall provide a foster parent with access to education records and reports for a student who resides in the foster parent's home, including information and records available online. The foster parent shall maintain the confidentiality of any information obtained pursuant to this subsection (8).
(9) The department of education and the department of human services shall enter into a data-sharing agreement that ensures that individual data relevant to students in out-of-home placement is shared at the state level for purposes of accountability, program improvement, and research.
(10) School districts and the state charter school institute shall coordinate with county departments to establish systems-level plans for how necessary transportation to the school of origin is provided, arranged, and funded for the duration of a child's or youth's time as a student in out-of-home placement, including the equitable allocation of costs.
Source: L. 2008: Entire section added, p. 468, 2, effective April 17. L. 2009: (1)(c) amended, (SB 09-292), ch. 369, p. 1963, 62, effective August 5. L. 2010: (2)(a) amended, (HB 10-1274), ch. 271, p. 1248, 3, effective May 25. L. 2018: (8) added, (HB 18-1348), ch. 325, p. 1961, 2, effective May 30; (1) R&RE, (1.5), (9), and (10) added, and (2), (3)(a), (3)(b), (3)(d), IP(4)(a), (4)(a)(I), (4)(c), (5), and (7) amended, (HB 18-1306), ch. 364, p. 2173, 2, effective August 8; (1)(d.5) added and (5) amended, (SB 18-213), ch. 301, p. 1827, 1, effective August 8.
Editor's note: (1) Subsection (1)(d.5) was numbered as subsection (1)(b.5) in SB 18-213. That provision was harmonized with subsection (1) as it appears in HB 18-1306.
(2) Amendments to subsection (5) by SB 18-213 and HB 18-1306 were harmonized.
Cross references: For the legislative declaration contained in the 2008 act adding this section, see section 1 of chapter 147, Session Laws of Colorado 2008. For the legislative declaration contained in the 2010 act amending subsection (2)(a), see section 1 of chapter 271, Session Laws of Colorado 2010. For the legislative declaration in HB 18-1306, see section 1 of chapter 364, Session Laws of Colorado 2018.