Trump-fake-news-yellow-bg-950x108px.jpg

Public Charter School Operations and Autonomy Model Legislation Exposed

From ALEC Exposed
Jump to: navigation, search

The Public Charter School Operations and Autonomy Model Legislation was adopted by ALEC's Education and Workforce Development Task Force at the Annual Meeting on July 23, 2015, approved by the ALEC Board of Directors on September 4, 2015. (Accessed on 11/30/2015).

ALEC Bill Text

Summary

The purpose of this legislation is to define the requirements and capabilities of public charter schools in school districts.

Model Policy

Section 1. {Definitions}

(A) An “applicant” means any person, entity, or group that develops and submits an application for a public charter school to an authorizer.

(B) An “application” means a proposal from an applicant to an authorizer to enter into a charter contract whereby the proposed school obtains public charter school status.

(C) An “at-risk student” means a student who has an economic or academic disadvantage that requires special services or assistance to succeed in educational programs. The term includes, but is not necessarily limited to, students who are members of economically disadvantaged families, students who are identified as having special educational needs, students who are limited in English proficiency, students who are at risk of dropping out of high school, students who are under-credited, and students who do not meet minimum standards of academic proficiency.

(D) An “authorizer” means an entity authorized under this Act to review applications, decide whether to approve or reject applications, enter into charter contracts with applicants, oversee public charter schools, and decide whether to renew, not renew, or revoke charter contracts.

(E) A “charter contract” means a fixed-term, renewable contract between a public charter school and an authorizer that outlines the roles, powers, responsibilities, and performance expectations for each party to the contract.

(F) A “conversion public charter school” means a charter school that existed as a non-charter public school before becoming a public charter school.

(G) An “education service provider” means a for-profit education management organization, non-profit charter management organization, school design provider, or any other partner entity with which a public charter school intends to contract for educational design, implementation, or comprehensive management.

(H) A “governing board” means the independent board of a public charter school that is party to the charter contract with the authorizer and whose members have been elected or selected pursuant to the school’s application.

(I) A “local school board” means a school board exercising management and control of a local school district pursuant to the state constitution and state statutes.

(J) A “local school district” means a public agency that establishes and supervises one or more public schools within its geographical limits pursuant to the state constitution and state statutes.

(K) A “non-charter public school” means a public school that is under the direct management, governance, and control of a local school board or the state.

(L) A “parent” means a parent, guardian, or other person or entity having legal custody of a child.

(M) A “public charter school” means a public school that:

(1) Has autonomy over decisions including, but not limited to, matters concerning finance, personnel, scheduling, curriculum, and instruction;
(2) Is governed by an independent governing board;
(3) Is established and operating under the terms of a charter contract between the school’s board and its authorizer;
(4) Is a school to which parents choose to send their children;
(5) Is a school that admits students on the basis of a lottery if more students apply for admission to any specific grade or program than can be accommodated;
(6) Provides a program of education that includes one or more of the following: pre-school, pre-kindergarten, any grade or grades from kindergarten through 12th grade, and adult community, continuing, and vocational education programs;
(7) Operates in pursuit of a specific set of educational objectives as defined in its charter contract; and
(8) Operates under the oversight of its authorizer in accordance with its charter contract and application.

(N) A “start-up public charter school” means a public charter school that did not exist as a non-charter public school prior to becoming a public charter school.

(O) A “student” means any child who is eligible for attendance in public schools in the state.

(P) A “virtual public charter school” means a public charter school that offers educational services predominantly through an on-line program.

Section 2. {Operations and Autonomy}

(A) Open Enrollment and Lottery Requirements

(1) A public charter school shall be open to any student who is eligible for attendance in public schools in the state.
(2) A school district shall not require any student enrolled in the school district to attend a public charter school.
(3) A public charter school shall not limit admission based on ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, income level, disabling condition, proficiency in the English language, or academic or athletic ability.
(4) A public charter school may limit admission to students within a given age group or grade level and may be organized around a special emphasis, theme, or concept as stated in the school’s application.
(5) A public charter school shall enroll all students who wish to attend the school, unless the number of students exceeds the capacity of a program, class, grade level, or building.
(6) If capacity is insufficient to enroll all students who wish to attend any specific grade level or program at the school, the public charter school shall select students through a lottery.

(B) Enrollment Preferences

(1) Any non-charter public school converting partially or entirely to a public charter school shall adopt and maintain a policy giving enrollment preference to students who reside within the former attendance area of that public school.
(2) A public charter school shall give enrollment preference to students enrolled in the public charter school the previous school year and to siblings of students already enrolled in the public charter school. An enrollment preference for returning students excludes those students from entering into a lottery.
(3) A public charter school may give enrollment preference to children of a public charter school’s founders, governing board members, and full-time employees, so long as they constitute no more than 10 percent of the school’s total student population.
(4) This section does not preclude the formation of a public charter school whose mission is focused on serving students with disabilities, students of the same gender, students who pose such severe disciplinary problems that they warrant a specific educational program, or students who are at risk of academic failure. If capacity is insufficient to enroll all students who wish to attend such school, the public charter school shall select students through a lottery.

(C) Credit Transferability

(1) If a student who was previously enrolled in a public charter school enrolls in another public school in this state, the student’s new school shall accept credits earned by the student in courses or instructional programs at the public charter school in a uniform and consistent manner and according to the same criteria that are used to accept academic credits from other public schools.

(D) Information to Parents and the General Public

(1) A school district shall provide or publicize to parents and the general public information about public charter schools authorized by the district as an enrollment option within the district to the same extent and through the same means that the district provides and publicizes information about non-charter public schools in the district.

(E) Determination of Student Capacity of Public Charter Schools

(1) An authorizer may not restrict the number of students a public charter school may enroll. The capacity of the public charter school shall be determined annually by the governing board of the public charter school and in consideration of the public charter school’s ability to facilitate the academic success of its students, to achieve the other objectives specified in the charter contract, and to ensure that its student enrollment does not exceed the capacity of its facility or site.

(F) Legal Status of Public Charter School

(1) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, to the extent that any provision of this Act is inconsistent with any other state or local law, rule, or regulation, the provisions of this Act shall govern and be controlling.
(2) A public charter school shall be a non-profit education organization.
(3) A public charter school shall be subject to all federal laws and authorities enumerated herein or arranged by charter contract with the school’s authorizer, where such contracting is consistent with applicable laws, rules, and regulations.
(4) Except as provided in this Act, a public charter school shall not be subject to the state’s education statutes or any state or local rule, regulation, policy, or procedure relating to non- charter public schools within an applicable local school district regardless of whether such rule, regulation, policy, or procedure is established by the local school board, the state board of education, or the state department of education.
(5) A charter contract may consist of one or more schools, to the extent approved by the authorizer and consistent with applicable law. Each public charter school that is part of a charter contract shall be separate and distinct from any others.
(6) A single governing board may hold one or more charter contracts. Each public charter school that is part of a charter contract shall be separate and distinct from any others.

(G) Local Educational Agency Status [The 44 jurisdictions with public charter school laws vary greatly in how they address the local educational agency (LEA) status of public charter schools. In this model legislation, we provide two options for handling this issue in state law. Option one is the preferred method, but option two is available if necessary for state consideration.]


OPTION 1: A PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL IS A LOCAL EDUCATIONAL AGENCY

(1) A public charter school shall function as a Local Educational Agency (“LEA”). A public charter school shall be responsible for meeting the requirements of LEAs under applicable federal, state, and local laws, including those relating to special education. LEA status shall not preclude a public charter school from developing partnerships with districts for services, resources, and programs by mutual agreement or formal contract.
(2) A public charter school shall have primary responsibility for special education at the school, including identification and service provision. It shall be responsible for meeting the needs of enrolled students with disabilities. In instances where a student’s individualized education program team determines that a student’s needs are so profound that they cannot be met in the public charter school and that the public charter school cannot provide a free, appropriate public education to that student, the student’s district of residence shall place the student in a more appropriate setting.


OPTION 2: A PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL IS NOT A LOCAL EDUCATIONAL AGENCY

(1) The [INSERT NAME OF ENTITY] of a public charter school is the public charter school’s Local Educational Agency (“LEA”). A public charter school is a school with that LEA.
(2) The [INSERT NAME OF ENTITY] retains responsibility for special education and shall serve students in public charter schools in a manner consistent with LEA obligations under applicable federal, state, and local law.

(H) Powers of Public Charter School

(1) A public charter school shall have all the powers necessary for carrying out the terms of its charter contract including the following powers:
(a) To receive and disburse funds for school purposes;
(b) To secure appropriate insurance and to enter into contracts and leases, free from prevailing wage laws;
(c) To contract with an education service provider for the management and operation of the public charter school so long as the school’s governing board retains oversight authority over the school, as specified in this Act;
(d) To incur debt in reasonable anticipation of the receipt of public or private funds;
(e) To pledge, assign, or encumber its assets to be used as collateral for loans or extensions of credit;
(f) To solicit and accept any gifts or grants for school purposes subject to applicable laws and the terms of its charter contract;
(g) To acquire real property for use as its facility or facilities, from public or private sources; and,
(h) To sue and be sued in its own name.

(I) General Requirements

(1) A public charter school shall not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, disability, or national origin or any other category that would be unlawful if done by a non-charter public school.
(2) No public charter school may engage in any sectarian practices in its educational program, admissions or employment policies, or operations.
(3) A public charter school shall not discriminate against any student on the basis of national- origin minority status or limited proficiency in English. Consistent with federal civil rights laws, public charter schools shall provide limited English proficient students with appropriate services designed to teach them English and the general curriculum.
(4) A public charter school shall not charge tuition and may only charge such fees as may be imposed on other public schools in the state.
(5) The powers, obligations, and responsibilities set forth in the charter contract cannot be delegated or assigned by either party.

(J) Applicability of Other Laws, Rules, and Regulations

(1) Public charter schools shall be subject to the same civil rights, health, and safety requirements applicable to other public schools in the state, except as otherwise specifically provided in this Act.
(2) Public charter schools shall be subject to the student assessment and accountability requirements applicable to other public schools in the state, but nothing herein shall preclude a public charter school from establishing additional student assessment measures that go beyond state requirements if the school’s authorizer approves such measures.
(3) Public charter school governing boards shall be subject to and comply with state open meetings and freedom of information laws.

(K) Public Charter School Employees

(1) Public charter schools shall comply with applicable federal laws, rules, and regulations regarding the qualification of teachers and other instructional staff. In accordance with Section 2, (G), (4), teachers in public charter schools shall be exempt from state teacher certification requirements.
(2) Employees in public charter schools shall have the same rights and privileges as other public school employees except as otherwise stated herein.
(3) Employees in public charter schools are eligible for participation in retirement and other benefits programs of the state, if the public charter school chooses to participate.
(4) Teachers and other school personnel, as well as governing board trustees, shall be subject to criminal history record checks and fingerprinting requirements applicable to other public schools.
(5) Public charter school employees cannot be required to be members of any existing collective bargaining agreement between a school district and its employees. A public charter school may not interfere, however, with laws and other applicable rules protecting the rights of employees to organize and be free from discrimination.

(L) Access to Extra-Curricular and Interscholastic Activities

(1) A public charter school shall be eligible for state-sponsored or district-sponsored interscholastic leagues, competitions, awards, scholarships, and recognition programs for students, educators, administrators, and schools to the same extent as non-charter public schools.
(2) A public charter school student is eligible to participate in extracurricular activities not offered by the student’s school at:
(a) The school within whose attendance boundaries the student’s custodial parent or legal guardian resides; or
(b) The non-charter public school from which the student withdrew for the purpose of attending a public charter school.
(3) A public charter school student is eligible for extracurricular activities at a non-charter public school consistent with eligibility standards as applied to full-time students of the non- charter public school.
(4) A school district or non-charter public school may not impose additional requirements on a public charter school student to participate in extracurricular activities that are not imposed on full-time students of the non-charter public school.
(5) When selection to participate in an extracurricular activity at a non-charter public school is made on a competitive basis, a public charter school student is eligible to try out for and participate in the activity as provided in this section.
(6) The state board of education shall make rules establishing fees for public charter school students’ participation in extracurricular activities at non-charter public schools. The rules shall provide that:
(a) Public charter school students pay the same fees as other students to participate in extracurricular activities;
(b) Public charter school students are eligible for fee waivers similar to other students;
(c) For each public charter school student who participates in an extra-curricular activity at a non- charter public school, the public charter school shall pay a share of the non- charter public school’s costs for the extracurricular activity; and
(d) A public charter school’s share of the costs of having one or more students participate in an extracurricular activity at non-charter public schools shall reflect state and local tax revenues expended, except capital facilities expenditures, for such extracurricular activities in a non-charter public school divided by total student enrollment of the non-charter public school.
(7) In determining a public charter school’s share of the costs of an extracurricular activity under Subsections (6)(c) and (d), the state board of education may establish uniform fees statewide based on average costs statewide or average costs within a sample of school districts.

Approved by ALEC’s Education and Workforce Development Task Force at the ALEC Annual Meeting on Thursday July 23, 2015.

Approved by ALEC Board of Directors on September 4, 2015.