The South Dakota Legislature’s Rule Review committee reviewed the rules of the School Finance Accountability Board (SFAB) and asked them to review their rules again to make some additions.
On a 3-2 vote, Rules Review committee members sent the SFAB rules back to the board with the request to add an appeals process, which would outline how districts that would potentially have their teacher compensation accountability waiver denied by the board could then apply for review by the legislature’s Joint Appropriations committee.
“I think (establishing an appeals process) needs to be done before these rules are essentially complete,” Rep. Steven Haugaard said.
SFAB members adopted the rules, which included the waiver request process, that waiver requests be submitted to the board before the first Friday in November, the documentation school districts are required to submit and how the factors the board must consider, in March.
Rules Review committee members were concerned over a possible lack of due process for districts who had waivers denied by the board because they believe South Dakota Codified Law 1-45-38 provides for an appeal process.
“My goal is to send it back and have them adopt an appeals procedure, which is what I think the statute requires,” Sen. Craig Kennedy said. “The rules just don’t get there.”
DOE Director of Finance and Management Tamara Darnall – who has worked closely with the accountability board throughout the process – told committee members the board believed the waiver was the appeals process and districts could come before the board to “present their case” for having the waiver approved.
The legislature’s Joint Appropriations committee would have final say on any approved waiver. DOE Legal Counsel Holly Farris said the interpretation was “that denials would not be forwarded on to the committee on appropriations.”
Sen. Alan Solano noted he sees the rules as fulfilling their requirement.
“As I’ve looked at this, it’s a matter of providing (districts) a waiver,” Sen. Solano said. “I think that it (rules) is complete. I don’t know that the intention was to create a debatable environment.”
Appropriators reviewed the rules and their role in the waiver process in March.
“Do we want to overturn somebody (who has) expertise in that matter?” Peters asked during the March 27 meeting. “Unless it’s (board’s decision) blatant I don’t know why we’d overturn.”
With the committee’s decision on Monday (5/1), the accountability board will need to review the rules and add the requested appeals process prior to their tentatively scheduled to meeting on Thursday, November 16.