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Policy Manual

9800 - Charter Schools

F.S. 1002.33 gives the School Board the authority to sponsor a charter school within the county over which it has jurisdiction. The Board designates the Superintendent to receive and review all charter applications. The Superintendent shall recommend to the Board the approval or denial of each charter application and contract. The Board shall have final authority, by majority vote, to approve or deny any application and charter contract.

Approved charter schools are public schools and shall receive goods and services from the Board as required by law and/or specified through a separate contract with the Board.

If approved, the initial charter shall be for terms as set forth in state law. The Board may renew charters under the conditions and for terms as set forth in State law.

In addition, a charter school that satisfied the requirements set forth in State law for designation as a high-performing charter school may receive a modification of its term to 15 years or a 15 year charter renewal. The charter may be modified or renewed for a shorter term at the option of the high-performing charter school.

The Board and charter school operator shall enter into a charter that is based upon the Model Charter School Contract as adopted by the State Board.

The Board, as sponsor, shall perform the duties provided in F.S. 1002.345. The sponsor may choose not to renew or may terminate the charter for any of the following grounds:

 

A.

failure to participate in the Florida's education accountability system or failure to meet the requirements for student performance as specified in the charter;

     
 

B.

failure to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management;

     
 

C.

violation of law;

     
 

D.

material breaches of the charter, as described in State law; and/or

     
 

E.

other good cause shown.

A charter may be terminated immediately if the sponsor determines that good cause has been shown or the health, safety, or welfare of the students is threatened. The sponsor shall notify in writing the charter school's governing body, the charter school principal, and the Department of Education if a charter is immediately terminated. The sponsor shall clearly identify the specific issues that resulted in immediate termination and provide evidence of prior notification of issues resulting in the immediate termination when appropriate.

Upon initial notification of nonrenewal, closure, or termination of its charter, a charter school may not expend more than $10,000 per expenditure without prior written approval from the sponsor unless such expenditure was included within the annual budget submitted to the sponsor pursuant to the charter contract, is for reasonable attorney fees and costs during the pendency of any appeal, or is for reasonable fees and costs to conduct an independent audit.

An independent audit shall be completed within 30 days after notice of nonrenewal, closure, or termination to account for all public funds and assets.

A provision in a charter contract that contains an acceleration clause requiring the expenditure of funds based upon closure or upon notification of nonrenewal or termination is void and unenforceable.

A violation of this paragraph triggers a reversion or clawback power by the sponsor allowing for collection of an amount equal to or less than the accelerated amount that exceeds normal expenditures. The reversion or clawback plus legal fees and costs shall be levied against the person or entity receiving the accelerated amount.

Application Procedure

Potential applicants should send letters notifying the Board of their intent to submit an application to sponsor a public charter school not later than July 1st. Such correspondence should be directed to the Charter School office.

Failing to send the letter of intent will in no way negatively impact a potential sponsor’s application.

Applications for a public charter school will be accepted during regular business hours with a submission deadline of August 1st, by 4:45 p.m. If the submission deadline falls on a non-business day, the deadline shall be postponed to 4:45 p.m. on the next business day. Applications may be mailed or hand delivered but receipt by the Board must be on or before the deadline.

An applicant may submit a draft charter school application on or before May 1st with an application fee of $500. If a draft application is timely submitted, the sponsor shall review and provide feedback as to material deficiencies in the application by July 1st. The applicant shall then have until August 1st to resubmit a revised and final application. The sponsor may approve the draft application.

The following pertains to the submission of an application:

 

A.

An individual, teachers, parents, a group of individuals, a municipality, or a legal entity organized under the laws of this State anticipating submission of an application are urged to contact the Charter School Office for assistance prior to completion of their applications.

     
 

B.

Charter school applicants must participate in training provided by the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) after approval of an application, but at least 30 days before the first day of classes at the charter school.

 

C.

The Board and/or any of its designees shall not take unlawful reprisal against another Board employee because that employee is either directly or indirectly involved with a charter school application.

     
 

D.

Applicants must submit an application on FLDOE’s Model Florida Charter School Application template and forms.

     
 

E.

The Board shall not charge any fees for processing or consideration of a charter school application. The Board's approval of a charter shall not be predicated on the promise of any future pay of any kind.

     
 

F.

The applicant and Board may mutually agree, in writing, to extend the statutory timeline to consider the charter application. Such agreement shall detail the extension date or timeframe.

     
 

G.

Charter schools shall not use or bear the name of an existing traditional public, charter, or private/parochial school in Hillsborough County.

Applications shall be submitted to:

 

Hillsborough County Public Schools
Raymond O. Shelton Administrative Center
Charter School Office
901 E. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33602

The District shall review all applications using an evaluation instrument developed by the FLDOE.

Application Contents


 

A.

State Application Form

     
   

Applications must be submitted using the Model Charter School Application form developed and distributed by the FLDOE.

     
 

B.

Statement of Assurances

     
   

Applicants are required to sign under the penalties of perjury the Statement of Assurances form contained within the Model Charter School Application developed and distributed by the FLDOE, thereby attesting to the following:

     
 

1.

The charter school will be nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices and operations.

     
 

2.

The charter school will enroll any eligible student who submits a timely application, unless the school receives a greater number of applications than there are spaces for students, in which case students will be admitted through a random selection process.

     
 

3.

The charter school will adhere to the antidiscrimination provisions of F.S. 1000.05.

     
 

4.

The charter school will adhere to all applicable provision of State and Federal law relating to the education of students with disabilities, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1974; and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

 

5.

The charter school will adhere to all applicable provisions of Federal law relating to students who are limited English proficient, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974.

     
 

6.

The charter school will participate in the Statewide assessment program created under F.S. 1008.22.

     
 

7.

The charter school will comply with Florida statutes relating to public records and public meetings, including F.S. Chapter 119 and 286.011 which are applicable to applicants even prior to being granted a charter.

     
 

8.

The charter school will obtain and keep current all necessary permits, licenses and certifications related to fire, health and safety within the building and on school property.

     
 

9.

The charter school will provide for an annual financial audit in accordance with F.S. 218.39.

     
 

C.

Proposed Contracts for Services

     
   

Applicants anticipating a request for school food service or other services from the District must include a proposed contract for that service.

Application Evaluation Process

 

A.

The District shall receive and review all applications using an evaluation instrument developed by the FLDOE.

     
 

B.

The Board shall evaluate all timely applications as submitted. During the evaluation process, 1) applications cannot be amended and 2) missing documentation and unsolicited information will not be accepted or considered. However, as required by law, the Board shall allow the applicant, upon receipt of written notification, seven calendar days to make technical or nonsubstantive corrections and clarifications, including, but not limited to corrections of grammatical, typographical, and like errors or to add missing signatures, if such errors are identified as cause to deny the application.

     
 

C.

The Board shall deny any application that does not comply with the statutory requirements and/or Board's instructions for charter school applications.

     
 

D.

Additional Information

     
 

1.

The Board may solicit information regarding 1) history and background of individual applicants and/or founding/governing boards and its individual members including, but not limited to, a demonstration of the professional experience or competence of those individuals or organizations applying to operate the charter school or those hired or retained to perform professional services; and 2) the description of clearly delineated responsibilities and the policies and practices needed to effectively manage the charter school. A description of internal audit procedures and establishment of controls to ensure that the financial resources are properly managed must be included. This information may be used to evaluate the applicant's ability to operate a charter school.

 

2.

The Board may solicit additional information during the review and evaluation of the charter school application such as whether the applicant currently operates charter schools in Florida and if the proposed school will be a replication of an existing school design. This information may be used to evaluate the applicant's ability to operate a charter school.

   

3.

The applicant may provide evidence of prior experience in establishing and operating public charter schools. Evidence of prior experience and success in establishing and operating charter schools shall be weighed in making a determination to recommend approval or denial of an application.

   
 

E.

Application Review Committee (ARC)

     
   

The purpose of this committee is to identify deficiencies in the written application and/or areas that require clarification to fully evaluate the quality of the application or the capacity of the group to properly implement the proposed plan.

     
   

The ARC shall be comprised of District staff and other appropriate personnel.

   

Applicants are given an opportunity to make a presentation to the ARC no more than 30 minutes in length.

     
   

Applicants shall be notified and requested to attend an interview. The applicant shall have the governing board members present.

     
   

The ARC shall make a recommendation to the Superintendent to approve or deny each application.

     
   

All applications will be submitted to the Board by the Superintendent with a recommendation for approval or denial no later than 60 calendar days after the application is received, unless the applicant and the District mutually agree, in writing, to postpone the vote to a specific date, at which time the Board shall approve or deny the application.

     
   

An application submitted by a high-performing charter school that has satisfied the requirements set forth in State law for such designation may be denied by the Board only if the Superintendent demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that the application failed to meet one (1) or more of the criteria set forth in F.S. 1002.33(6)(b)(3)(b):

     
 

1.

The application does not materially comply with the requirements set forth in F.S. 1002.33(3)(a).

     
 

2.

The charter school proposed in the application does not materially comply with the requirements in F.S. 1002.33(9).

     
 

3.

The proposed charter school’s educational program does not substantially replicate that of the applicant’s high-performing charter school.

     
 

4.

The applicant has made a material misrepresentation or false statement or concealed an essential or material fact during the application process.

     
 

5.

The proposed charter school’s educational program and financial management practices do not materially comply with the requirements of F.S. 1002.33.

   

If the Board denies an application submitted by a high-performing charter school, the specific reasons, based upon the criteria set forth in F.S. 1002.33(3)(b), for the denial shall be provided in writing to the applicant and the Department of Education within ten calendar days after such denial.

Appeal of a Decision to Deny an Application

Pursuant to State law, an applicant may, no later than 30 calendar days after receiving the Board’s final order denying an application or upon the Board’s failure to act on an application, appeal the Board’s decision to the State Board of Education. The applicant shall notify the Board of the appeal.

Such appeals shall be conducted in accordance with F.S. 1002.33(6), and applicable State Board rules.

In accordance with State Board rule, the State Board of Education shall by majority vote accept or reject the decision of the Board no later than 90 calendar days after the appeal is filed. The State Board of Education shall remand the application to the sponsor with its written decision that the sponsor approve or deny the application. The sponsor shall implement the decision of the State Board of Education. The decision of the State Board of Education is not subject to the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act.

If the Board denies an application submitted by a high-performing charter school, the Board shall, within ten calendar days after such denial, state in writing the specific reasons, based upon the criteria in F.S. 1002.33 supporting its denial of the application and must provide the letter of denial and supporting documentation to the applicant and to the department. The applicant may appeal the Board’s denial of the application directly to the State Board of Education pursuant to F.S. 1002.33.

Appeal of a Proposed Termination or Nonrenewal of a Charter

At least 90 days prior to renewing or terminating a charter, the Board shall notify the charter school’s governing board in writing of its proposed action. The notice shall state in reasonable detail the grounds for the proposed action and stipulate that the charter school's governing board may, within 14 calendar days after receiving the notice, request a hearing. The hearing shall be conducted at the sponsor’s election by the Board within 60 days after the request for a hearing. The hearing shall be conducted in accordance with F.S. 120.569 and 120.57. The Board shall decide the matter by majority vote. The outcome of the Board's vote shall be issued as a final order, and recorded as such.

The final order shall state the specific reasons for the Board's action and shall be provided to the charter school's governing board and the Department of Education no later than ten calendar days after it is issued. The charter school’s governing board may, within 30 calendar days after receiving the Board’s final order, appeal the decision pursuant to F.S. 120.68.

A charter may be terminated immediately if the Board sets forth in writing the particular facts and circumstances indicating that an immediate and serious danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the charter school’s students exists. The Board’s determination is subject to the procedures set forth in F.S. 1002.33 (8)(b) and(c), except that the hearing may take place after the charter has been terminated. The Board shall notify in writing the charter school’s governing board, the charter school principal, and FLDOE if a charter is terminated immediately. The Board shall clearly identify the specific issues that resulted in the immediate termination and provide evidence of prior notification of issues resulting in the immediate termination when appropriate. Upon receiving written notice from the Board, the charter school’s governing board has ten calendar days to request a hearing. A requested hearing must be expedited and the final order must be issued within 60 days after the date of request. The Board shall assume operation of the charter school throughout the pendency of the hearing unless the continued operation of the charter school would materially threaten the health, safety, or welfare of the students.

Charter Contract and Contract Negotiation Process

A standard charter contract shall be consistent with this policy and approved by the Superintendent to be used as the basis for all charters approved under this policy. All contracts and contract amendments, as approved by the Superintendent, must be presented to the Board for approval. The charter contract must contain all information set forth in the Florida Model Charter Contract Format (Form IEPC-M3) prescribed by the FLDOE.

 


 

A.

Initial Charter Contract

     
 

1.

Initial contract shall be for a term of four or five years unless a longer term is specifically required by law.

     

2.

Before a recommendation regarding whether or not the Board should approve an initial contract, evidence of the following shall be provided:

   
 

a.

Evidence of a proper legal structure (e.g., articles of incorporation, bylaws, municipal charter). The applicant shall be a not for profit organized pursuant to F.S. Chapter 617.

     
 

b.

Except for virtual charter schools, actual location and evidence that a facility has been secured for the term of the charter, or a deadline for submitting evidence that a facility has been secured for the term of the charter is included in the charter. Evidence should include, but is not limited to:

     
 

1)

letter of intent from the landlord or mortgagee indicating property usage and term of occupancy,

     
 

2)

executed lease or certificate of occupancy, and/or

     
 

3)

use or occupational license indicating proper use.

     
   

All facilities must meet the requirements set forth in F.S. 1002.33.

 

B.

Charter Contract Negotiations

     
 

1.

The Board shall have 30 days to provide an initial proposed charter contract to the charter school. The applicant and the Board shall have 40 days thereafter to negotiate and notice the charter contract for final approval by the Board unless both parties agree to an extension. The proposed charter contract shall be provided to the charter school at least seven calendar days prior to the date of the meeting at which the charter is scheduled to be voted upon by the Board. The Department of Education shall provide mediation services for any dispute regarding this section subsequent to the approval of a charter application and for any dispute relating to the approved charter, except disputes regarding charter school application denials. If the Commissioner of Education determines that the dispute cannot be settled through mediation, the dispute may be appealed to an administrative law judge appointed by the Division of Administrative Hearings. The administrative law judge has final order authority to rule on issues of equitable treatment of the charter school as a public school, whether proposed provisions of the charter violate the intended flexibility granted charter schools by statute, or on any other matter regarding this section except a charter school application denial, a charter termination, or a charter nonrenewal and shall award the prevailing party reasonable attorney’s fees and costs incurred to be paid by the losing party. The party whom the administrative law judge rules against shall pay the costs of the administrative hearing.

     
 

2.

The Charter Schools Office shall negotiate any charter contract or amendment that significantly deviates from the Florida Model Charter Contract Format (Form IEPC-M3) prescribed by the FLDOE.

 

C.

Request to Extend Negotiations/School Opening

     
 

1.

The applicant and Board may mutually agree to extend the statutory timeline to negotiate and consider approval of the charter contract for a period not to exceed one year from the approved opening date in the charter school application. Requests shall be submitted to Charter School Operations, in writing, by an authorized agent of the charter school, detailing the reason for the requested extension.

   

2.

In the event that the statutory timeline to negotiate and enter into a charter contract is extended, the applicant shall update its charter school application prior to resuming negotiations with regard to: (1) updated budget; and (2) applicable application revisions necessitated by the delay.

   

3.

The application shall be automatically rescinded, without further action by the Board, if the applicant does not enter into contract negotiations or open the school within: (1) the timeframe specified by law, or (2) the date of extension which has been mutually agreed upon in writing by both parties.

   

4.

Unless extended pursuant to this policy, an approved applicant shall open its charter school at the beginning of the Board’s next school year following the approval of the charter school application. At the written request of the applicant and at the Board’s sole discretion, the Board may allow an applicant with an approved charter school application to defer the opening of its charter school for one school year following the opening date specified in the approved approval of its charter school application. In the event that the opening of the approved applicant’s charter school is deferred, the applicant shall update its charter school application prior to the opening of the charter school with regard to: (1) updated budget; and (2) applicable application revisions.

   
 

5.

An approved contract shall be automatically revoked, without further action by the Board, if the applicant does not open the school within:

     
 

a.

on the first day of school of the initial school year indicated in the contract, or

     
 

b.

the first day of the school year indicated in the approved deferral.

     
 

D.

Charter Contract Amendments/Modifications

     
 

1.

A charter may be modified during its initial term or any renewal term upon the recommendation of the Board or the charter school’s governing board and the approval of both parties to the agreement. All modifications must be mutual and in writing. Unilateral modification made by the charter school is grounds for termination or non-renewal.

   

2.

Modifications may be considered by the Board for a number of reasons, which may include, but is not limited to, protect the health, safety, or welfare of the students.

   

3.

All contract amendment requests shall be submitted in writing to the Charter School Office by an authorized agent of the charter school. Additional information or documentation may be requested for consideration of any amendment requests.

 

4.

The charter school shall provide evidence of governing board approval for all proposed amendments (e.g., governing board resolution, governing board meeting minutes).

   

5.

Requirements for Amendment Requests

   
 

a.

Education Program Amendments

   
 

Significant changes in the curriculum or changes in grade levels constitute a change in the educational program and shall require an amendment that is mutually acceptable and approved by both parties. Requests for such amendments shall include the following information and supporting documentation:

   
 

1)

justification for change

   

2)

effective date of the change

 

3)

evidence that financial implications, feasibility, and student access issues have been addressed, including provisions for all required resources, staff, and materials

   

4)

evidence of parental support

     
 

A high-performing charter school that has met the requirements set forth in State law for such designation shall notify the sponsor of any increase in enrollment by March 1st of the school year preceding the increase. The written notice shall specify the grade levels that will be added.

   

b.

Location Amendments

   
 

1)

Changes in locations or addition of location (i.e., relocation, secondary campus, satellite locations) shall include the following information and supporting documentation:

   
 

a)

description of location, including identification as permanent or temporary

   
 

If the relocation will be temporary, the request shall include the period of time during which the school will be at the temporary location.

     

b)

effective date of the relocation

   

c)

evidence that financial implications, feasibility, and student access issues have been addressed

   

d)

evidence of parental support for the new facility

 

e)

evidence of the school's property interest in the facility (owner or lessee)

   

f)

a disclosure affidavit in accordance with F.S. 286.23, if the school leases the facility

     

2)

Nothing in this policy or State law obligates the Board to agree to an increase in the number of facilities, campuses, and/or locations associated with a charter school’s operations.

   

3)

The charter school shall not change or add facilities or locations at any time during the term of this charter contract without prior approval of the Board through the contract amendment process. Violation of this provision constitutes a unilateral amendment or modification of this contract and good cause for termination.

   

4)

If the request for a location amendment involves a facility in which other schools are operating, the names of the school(s), the grade levels, number of classrooms, number of students in each class, and the number of students enrolled in each school shall be included in the request, in addition to the information and documentation described in paragraphs a and b above.

   
 

5)

No later than 30 days prior to the opening of schools or the initial use of the facility by the school, the school shall have an approved contract and evidence of all necessary permits, licenses, zoning, use approval, facility certification and other approvals required for use of the facility by the local government.

 

c.

Enrollment Capacity Amendments

   
 

Changes to enrollment capacity after the established date for enrollment projections shall include the following information and supporting documentation:

   
 

1)

justification for change

   

2)

effective date of the change

   

3)

evidence of proper facility approvals and/or allowable facility capacity

     

4)

evidence that financial implications, feasibility, and student access issues have been addressed

   

5)

evidence of parental support

     
 

A high-performing charter school that has met the requirements set forth in State law for such designation shall be required to notify the Board in writing by March 1st of its intent to increase enrollment the following school year. The written notice shall specify the amount of the enrollment increase.

     

6.

When a contract is amended or renewed, it shall be updated to comply with this policy and the current standard charter contract.

Pre-Opening Requirements

No later than 15 days prior to the initial use of the facility by the school, the school shall have an approved contract and provide evidence of all necessary permits, licensing, zoning, use approval, facility certification and other approvals required for use of the facility by the local government. Failure to comply shall result in automatic rescission of the contract, with no further action by the Board.

School Governance/Management

 

A.

Charter schools shall organize or be operated by a non-profit organized pursuant to F.S. Chapter 617, a municipality, or another public entity, as provided by law.

     
 

B.

Charter School’s Governing Board Requirements

     
 

1.

The charter school’s governing board shall be solely responsible for the operation of the charter school which includes, but is not limited to, school operational policies; academic accountability; and financial accountability.

     
 

As required by State law, each charter school’s governing board must appoint a representative to facilitate parental involvement, provide access to information, assist parents and others with questions and concerns, and resolve disputes. Furthermore, this representative must reside in the District in which the charter school is located. The individual serving as the parental involvement representative may be a governing board member, charter school employee, or an individual with whom the charter school contracts to represent the governing board in this capacity. If the governing board oversees more than one charter school in the District, a representative to facilitate parental involvement shall be appointed for each school. The name and contact information for the representative must be provided in writing to parents of children enrolled in the charter school at least annually and must also be prominently posted on the charter school’s website.

   

The charter school’s governing board shall hold at least two public meetings per school year in the District. The meetings must be noticed, open, and accessible to the public and attendees must be provided an opportunity to receive information and provide input regarding the charter school’s operations. The appointed representative to facilitate parental involvement and the principal or director or his/her equivalent must be physically present at each meeting.

   

2.

Governing board members must:

   
 

a.

notify the Board of changes in membership within 72 hours of change;

   

b.

successfully fulfill a background check by the Board, as specified by law upon appointment to the governing board.

     

3.

Governing board members must develop and approve by-laws that govern the operations of the governing board and the charter school prior to execution of the charter contract and annually consult with charter school staff to refine overall policy decision-making of the charter school as it regarding curriculum, financial management, and internal controls.

     

4.

Governing board members must not be an employee of the charter school or receive compensation, directly or indirectly, from the charter school’s operations, including but not limited to: grant funds; lease/mortgage payments; or contracted service fees.

 

5.

An employee of the charter school, or his/her spouse, or an employee of a charter management organization, or his/her spouse, may not be a member of the governing board of the charter school.

     
 

6.

Governing board members must participate in the FLDOE sponsored charter school governance training to ensure that each governing board member is aware of his/her duties and responsibilities, pursuant to State Board Rule F.A.C. 6A-6.0784:

   
 

a.

Each governing board member must complete a minimum of four hours of instruction focusing on Government in the Sunshine, conflicts of interest, ethics, and financial responsibility as specified in F.S. 1002.33(9)(k). After the initial four hour training, each member is required, within the subsequent three years and for each three year period after that to complete a two hour refresher training on the four topics above in order to retain his/her position on the charter school board. Any member who fails to obtain the two hour refresher training within any three year period must take the four hours of instruction again in order to remain eligible as a charter school board member.

   

b.

New members joining a charter school board must complete the four hour training with 90 days of appointment to the governing board.

     

7.

Dispute Procedures (Board versus Charter School Governing Board)

   
 

Application, nonrenewal and termination decisions are not subject to this dispute resolution process and must follow the procedures in F.S. 1002.33, Board policy, and the charter contract. Nothing contained herein shall operate to limit a charter school’s rights to utilize the dispute resolution procedures set forth in F.S. 1002.33.

   
 

a.

The Board and the charter school agree that the existence and the details of a dispute notwithstanding, both parties shall continue without delay their performance under the charter contract, except for any performance, which may be directly affected by such dispute.

 

b.

Either party shall notify the other party that a dispute exists between them. The notification shall be in writing and shall identify the article and section of the contract that is in dispute and the grounds for the position that such article and section is in dispute. The matter shall be immediately submitted to the Board and the charter school’s director for further consideration and discussion to attempt to resolve the dispute.

   

c.

Should the representatives named in paragraph b above be unable to resolve the dispute within ten days of receipt of written notification by one to the other of the existence of such dispute, then the matter may be submitted by either party to the Superintendent and to the school’s governing board chair for further consideration and discussion to attempt to resolve the dispute.

   

d.

Should the parties still be unable to resolve their dispute within 30 days of the date of receipt of written notification by one to the other of the existence of such dispute, then either party may proceed with utilizing the dispute resolution procedures set forth in F.S. 1002.33.

     

8.

Conflict Resolution (Charter School versus Parents/Legal Guardians, Employees, and Vendors)

   
 

a.

All conflicts between the charter school and the parents/legal guardians of the students enrolled at the charter school shall be handled by the charter school or its governing board.

   
 

b.

Evidence of each parent’s acknowledgement of the charter school’s Parent Conflict Resolution Process shall be available for review upon request by the Board.

   
 

c.

All conflicts between the charter school and the employees of the charter school shall be handled by the charter school or its governing board.

 

d.

All conflicts between the charter school and vendors of the charter school shall be handled by the charter school or its governing board.

   

e.

The Board shall be provided with the name and contact information of the parties involved in the charter school’s conflict resolution process. The Board shall be notified immediately of any change in the contact information.

     
 

C.

Management Companies

     
 

1.

If a management company or a combination of contracted professionals will be managing the charter school, the contract(s) between the charter school and company(ies) shall be submitted to the Board for review prior to the approval of the charter school’s contract. If a decision to hire any of these entities occurs subsequent to the execution of the charter contract or amendment, the contract(s) between the charter school and company(ies) shall be submitted to the Board at least ten days before any payment is made to any of the entities.

     

2.

Any proposed amendments to the contract with the management company shall be submitted to the Board for approval prior to execution of that amended contract with the management company by the charter school. A copy of all executed contracts must be provided to the Board within the timeframe provided by the charter contract.

   
 

3.

All management company contracts with the charter school must make it clear that the charter governing body shall retain and exercise continuing oversight over all charter school operations and must contain provisions specifying the ability for the charter school to terminate the contract and must comply with terms as stated in the charter contract between the charter school and the Board. Any default or breach of the terms of the charter contract by the management company(ies) shall constitute a default or breach of the charter contract by the charter school.

     
 

4.

Neither employees of the management company nor "relatives" of the management company’s employees as defined in F.S. 1002.33 shall serve on the charter school’s governing board or serve as officers of the corporation.

Employees of Charter Schools

A charter school shall employ or contract with employees who have undergone background screening as provided in F.S. 1012.32. Members of the governing board of the charter school shall also undergo background screening in a manner similar to that provided in F.S. 1012.32. A charter school may not enter into a contract with an employee that exceeds the term of the school's charter contract with its sponsor.

A charter school shall disqualify instructional personnel and school administrators, as defined in F.S. 1012.01, from employment in any position that requires direct contact with students if the personnel or administrators are ineligible for such employment under F.S. 1012.315.

Charter school personnel may not appoint, employ, promote, or advance any relative, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement of any relative to a position in the charter school in which the personnel are serving or over which the personnel exercises jurisdiction or control. An individual may not be appointed, employed, promoted, or advanced in or to a position in a charter school if such appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement has been advocated by charter school personnel who serve in or exercise jurisdiction or control over the charter school and who is a relative of the individual or if such appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement is made by the governing board of which a relative of the individual is a member. For purposes of this policy, the definition of relative shall be as it is defined in F.S. 1002.33(24)(a)(2).

Full disclosure of the identity of all relatives employed by the charter school shall be in accordance with F.S. 1002.33.

The governing board of a charter school shall adopt policies establishing standards of ethical conduct for instructional personnel and school administrators.

The policies must require all instructional personnel and school administrators, as defined in F.S. 1012.01, to complete training on the standards; establish the duty of instructional personnel and school administrators to report, and procedures for reporting, alleged misconduct by other instructional personnel and school administrators which affects the health, safety, or welfare of a student; and include an explanation of the liability protections provided under F.S. 39.203 and 768.095.

A charter school, or any of its employees, may not enter into a confidentiality agreement regarding terminated or dismissed instructional personnel or school administrators, or personnel or administrators who resign in lieu of termination, based in whole or in part on misconduct that affects the health, safety, or welfare of a student, and may not provide instructional personnel or school administrators with employment references or discuss the personnel's or administrators' performance with prospective employers in another educational setting, without disclosing the personnel's or administrators' misconduct. Any part of an agreement or contract that has the purpose of effect of concealing misconduct by instructional personnel or school administrators which affects the health, safety, or welfare of a student is void, is contrary to public policy, and may not be enforced.

Before employing instructional personnel or school administrators in any position that requires direct contact with students, a charter school shall conduct employment history checks of each of the personnel's or administrators' previous employer(s), screen the instructional personnel or school administrators through use of the educator screening tools described in F.S. 1001.10(5) and document the findings. If unable to contact a previous employer, the charter school must document efforts to contact the employer.

The sponsor of a charter school that knowingly fails to comply with this paragraph shall terminate the charter under subsection (8) (F.S. 1002.33(g)).

School Operations


 

A.

The Board shall not impose any policies or practices to limit charter school enrollment except as may be permitted in accordance with State law.

     
 

B.

The Board may document, in writing, any discrepancies or deficiencies--whether fiscal, educational, or related to school climate--and the steps and timelines for correction and additional monitoring. At a minimum, copies will be provided to the charter school’s governing board chair, charter school principal and appropriate Board staff.

     
 

C.

The charter school shall obtain the appropriate facility capacity approvals from the jurisdictional authority where the facility is located (i.e., county, municipality, or both). The Board, at its discretion, may accept a letter from the architect of record specifying the capacity if the capacity is not provided by the facility’s jurisdictional authority. The Board may withhold monthly payments for FTE that exceed capacity specified by the charter contract or approved facility capacity.

     
 

D.

The charter school’s calendar will be consistent with the beginning of the Board’s calendar for the first school year and must provide instruction for the minimum number of days and minutes required by law for other public schools. Should the charter school elect to provide a summer program or year-round school, the charter school shall notify the Board, in writing, each year to ensure appropriate record keeping.

 

E.

Student Code of Conduct, Student Handbooks, and Parent Contracts

     
 

1.

Only the Board may expel a student.

 

2.

The charter school may follow the Board’s Student Code of Conduct or an alternate code of conduct approved by the Board. The Board shall be provided a copy of an approved alternate student code of conduct annually. Evidence of governing board approval is required for amendments.

     

3.

Any student/parent handbooks and parent contracts shall also be submitted to the Board after approval by the governing board.

 

4.

The charter school may be required to provide proof of parent/guardian’s receipt of student code of conduct, handbook, or parent contract.

     
 

F.

Charter School Student Transfers

     
   

The process for student transfers can be found in Policy 5131.

     
 

G.

Food Service and Transportation

     
   

Transportation and food services are the responsibility of the charter school. These services must be provided according to District, State, and Federal laws, rules, and regulations.

 

H.

Facility Leases

     
 

1.

If a charter school will be leasing or subleasing a facility, the contract(s) between the charter school and landlord or sub-lessor shall be submitted to the Board for review.

 

2.

Any amendments to the lease shall be submitted to the Board for review prior to execution, by the charter school.

   

3.

A copy of all executed contracts must be provided to the Board within the timeframe provided by the charter contract.

   

4.

Any default or breach of the terms of the lease by the lessor/sub-lessor may constitute a default or breach of the charter contract by the charter school.

 

I.

Academic Accountability

     
 

1.

The Superintendent or designee shall have ongoing responsibility for monitoring all approved charter schools with regard to the charter school’s progress towards achieving the goals established in the charter. The Superintendent shall have access to the charter school at all times.

     
 

2.

The Board shall monitor adherence to the educational and related programs as specified in the approved application, charter, curriculum, instructional methods, any distinctive instructional techniques to be used, reading programs and specialized instruction for students who are reading below grade level, compliance with State standards, assessment accountability, and achievement of long- and short-term goals. An analysis comparing the charter school's standardized test scores to those of similar student populations attending other public schools in the District will also be conducted.

   

3.

The charter school shall make annual progress reports to the Board.

     
 

a.

In the event a charter school earns a grade of "D" or "F" the Director and a representative of the governing board of the charter school shall appear before the Board to present information concerning each contract component having noted deficiencies and shall prepare and submit to the Board for approval a proposed School Improvement Plan to raise student achievement. The proposed School Improvement Plan must meet the requirements set forth in State law. The charter school shall implement the proposed School Improvement Plan once approved by the Board.

 

b.

If a charter school earns three consecutive grades of "D," two consecutive grades of "D" followed by a grade of "F," or two nonconsecutive grades of "F" within a three year period, the charter school governing board shall take corrective action as set forth in F.S. 1002.33. The corrective action must be implemented in the school year following receipt of a third consecutive grade of "D," a grade of "F" following two consecutive grades of "D," or a second nonconsecutive grade of "F" within a three year period. If the charter school does not improve by at least one letter grade after two full school years of implementing the corrective action, the charter school must select and implement a different corrective action in accordance with F.S. 1002.33. If the charter school does improve by at least one letter grade, it is no longer required to implement the corrective action; however, the charter school must continue to implement strategies identified in the School Improvement Plan.

     
 

c.

Upon publication by the FLDOE or Board of the list of charter schools that meet the criteria set forth in paragraphs I.3.a. and b. above, the Board shall notify, in writing, each charter school in the District that appears on the list that it is required to submit a School Improvement Plan and to appear before the Board. Pursuant to State Board rule, such notification may be delivered electronically, provided there is proof of receipt.

     
   

The notification shall include the following:

     
 

1)

The date, time, and location of the publicly noticed meeting at which the director and a representative of the charter school governing board shall appear before the Board. For purposes of this requirement, "director" shall mean charter school director, principal, chief executive officer or other management personnel with similar authority. The appearance shall be no earlier than 30 calendar days and no later than 90 calendar days after the Board’s notification is received by the charter school.

 

2)

The date by which the charter school must submit its proposed School Improvement Plan to the Board for review by staff, which shall be no earlier than 30 calendar days after notification from the Board is received by the charter school.

     
 

3)

Whether the charter school is required to select a corrective action.

     
 

d.

The Board shall notify the charter school, in writing, within ten calendar days of its decision to approve or deny the School Improvement Plan.

     
 

1)

The Board may deny a School Improvement Plan if it does not meet the requirements of State law. If denied, the Board shall provide the charter school, in writing, the specific reasons for denial and the timeline for its resubmission.

     
 

2)

Either the charter school or the Board may request mediation pursuant to State law if the parties cannot agree on a School Improvement Plan.

     
 

e.

As required by State law, the Board will review the School Improvement Plan annually to monitor the charter school’s continued improvement.

     
 

1)

The Director and a representative of the governing board of the charter school shall appear before the Board at least once per year to present information regarding the progress of intervention and support strategies implemented by the charter school pursuant to the School Improvement Plan and, if applicable, to review the corrective actions taken pursuant to I.2.c below.

     
 

2)

At the meeting, the Board will identify the services that the District will provide to the charter school to assist the charter school in addressing its deficiencies, and following the meeting, these services will be communicated, in writing, to the director.

 

3)

A charter school that improves at least one letter grade is not required to submit a new School Improvement Plan but must continue to implement the strategies identified in the approved School Improvement Plan and continue to report annually to the Board. The Board shall notify, in writing, each charter school implementing a School Improvement Plan of the requirement to appear before the Board to present information regarding the progress of the approved School Improvement Plan. The notification shall include the date, time, and location of the publicly noticed meeting at which the director and a representative of the charter school shall appear.

     
 

f.

The Board shall terminate the charter if the charter school earns two consecutive grades of "F," unless one of the exceptions set forth in State law is applicable.

     
 

g.

The laws applicable to School Improvement Plans and corrective actions do not limit the Board’s authority to terminate the charter at any time in accordance with State law.

     
 

4.

Exceptional Student Education (ESE)

   
 

a.

The Board is the Local Educational Agency (LEA) for all charter schools.

   

ESE students will be educated in the least restrictive environment. The charter school shall ensure that ESE students are provided with programs and services implemented in accordance with Federal, State, and local policies and procedures and specifically, the IDEA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and other related statutes and State Board of Education rules. If an IEP team determines that the charter school cannot meet the needs of an ESE student, the charter school and the Board agree to provide the ESE student with the appropriate placement as determined by the IEP team in accordance with State and Federal law.

     

b.

The Board shall provide ESE administration services to charter schools which shall be set forth in more detail in the charter.

   

c.

With respect to the provision of special education and related services:

   
 

1)

The Board shall be responsible for conducting initial evaluations of students referred for potential special education and gifted placement in accordance with Federal and State statutes.

   

2)

The charter school shall deliver all educational and related services indicated on a student’s IEP, Section 504 Plan, or EP. The Board may provide related services through a separate contract between the charter school and the Board.

   

3)

The Board shall appoint an "ESE Staffing Specialist" who may, at the Board’s discretion, attend all IEP meetings and meetings related to the provision of special education and related services to charter school students. The charter school must provide notice to the ESE Staffing Specialist of all such meetings. The ESE Staffing Specialist shall serve as the LEA representative at all meetings.

   

4)

The charter shall further set forth the specific roles and responsibilities of the charter school and the Board with respect to exceptional student education.

     

5.

English Language Learners (ELL) -- Students who are of limited proficiency in English will be served by ESOL certified personnel. The charter school shall demonstrate an understanding of State and Federal requirements regarding the education of English language learners, be committed to serving the full range of needs of ELL students, create and implement sound plans for educating ELL students that reflect the full range of programs and services required to provide all students with a high quality education, and demonstrate capacity to meet the school’s obligations under State and Federal law regarding the education of ELL students.

6.

The Board may, in accordance with State law, require all charter schools to submit to the Board a school improvement plan to ensure a plan to maintain or raise student academic achievement within the timelines specified by the Board and the FLDOE.

 

J.

Financial Accountability

     
 

1.

In order to provide comparable financial information to that reported for other public schools, charter schools shall maintain all financial records in accordance with the accounts and codes prescribed in the most recent issuance of the publication titled,Financial and Program Cost Accounting and Reporting for Florida Schools. Charter school governing boards shall also annually adopt and maintain an operating budget as required by F.S. 1002.33(9)(h). Charter schools shall provide annual financial reports and program cost report information by the deadlines specified in the charter contract, in the State-required formats for inclusion in the Board’s reporting in compliance with F.S. 1011.60(1) and 1002.33(9)(g). The financial statements are to be prepared in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles using governmental accounting, regardless of corporate structure. F.S. 1002.33(9)(g). The annual financial audit must be in the State-required format.

   
 

At the discretion of the charter school’s governing board, a charter school may elect to follow generally accepted accounting standards for not-for-profit organizations, but must reformat this information for reporting according to the requirement set forth in the paragraph above.

     
 

High-performing charter schools are required to submit financial statements in accordance with and within the timeframes stated in F.S. 1002.33.

   
 

2.

First year charter schools may be required to provide the Board any of the following, which may be in addition to information otherwise required by law:

   
 

a.

A sensitivity analysis and financial plan based on enrollment of 50%, 75%, and 100% of projected capacity.

   

b.

Cash flow projections for the first year, displayed by month, and a plan to fund any cash flow shortfalls, updated monthly.

   

c.

Contingency plans to replace any loss of State funds for both operation and capital expenditures.

     

d.

Within 45 days of month end, reconciliations of all bank accounts, which must include a copy of the entire bank statement of each account, must be attached to the bank reconciliation.

 

3.

Title I: A charter school that is eligible to receive Title I funds shall submit an approved Title I School-wide Plan within three months of becoming a designated Title I school, and shall not receive Title I funds until an approved plan has been submitted.

   

4.

Financial Policies: The charter school shall establish and implement accounting and reporting policies, procedures, and practices for maintaining complete records of all receipts and expenditures. The charter school shall provide a copy of these policies to the Board annually.

     
 

5.

Payments to charter schools by Board

   
 

a.

The Board shall make timely and efficient payment and reimbursement to charter schools, including processing paperwork required to access special State and Federal funding for which they may be eligible. The Board may distribute funds to a charter school for up to three months based on the projected full-time equivalent student membership of the charter school. Thereafter, the results of full-time equivalent student membership surveys shall be used in adjusting the amount of funds distributed monthly to the charter school for the remainder of the fiscal year. The payment shall be issued no later than ten working days after the Board receives a distribution of State or Federal funds.

   

b.

Capital Outlay Payments – The Board shall make payments to the school upon receipt of all required supporting documentation as referenced in the section 8.h – Capital Outlay Payment Process.

   

c.

Miscellaneous Payments – The Board shall make timely miscellaneous payments to the charter school upon receipt of funding from the FLDOE for various programs including Title I. The Board’s payment is subject to the charter school’s fulfillment of its responsibilities under the applicable State and Federal laws.

     
 

6.

Financial Reports: As required by State law, the charter school shall provide to the Board all required financial statements monthly including a Balance Sheet and a Statement of Revenues, Expenditures and Changes in Fund Balances. These reports must be prepared in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles using governmental accounting. A high-performing charter school that has satisfied the requirements set forth in State law for such designation may provide quarterly financial statements.

     

7.

Annual Financial Statements

   
 

a.

Unaudited June 30th year-end financial statements shall be submitted to the Board within the timelines specified by the charter contract. These financial statements must be prepared in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles using governmental accounting.

     

b.

Annual Financial Audit - The charter school agrees to submit to and pay for an annual financial audit, in compliance with Federal, State and Board regulations, showing all revenue received, from all sources, and all expenditures for services rendered. The audit shall be conducted by an independent certified public accountant or auditor selected by the governing board of the charter school, and shall be delivered to the Board in compliance with the charter contract. If the charter school’s audit reveals a deficit financial position, the auditors are required to notify the charter school’s governing board, the Board and the Florida Department of Education in the manner defined in the charter contract. No later than May 1st of each year, the charter school must formally notify the Board of the name, address, and phone number of the auditor engaged to perform the year-end audit.

     
 

1)

Selection Procedures -- Charter schools shall use auditor selection procedures when selecting an auditor to conduct the annual financial audit pursuant to the processes described in F.S. 218.39 and 218.391, which includes, but is not limited to: the establishment of an audit committee and request for proposal (RFP) for audit services, public advertisement of RFP, and development of evaluation and selection criteria.

     

2)

Requirements -- Pursuant to F.S. 218.391, the procurement of audit services shall be evidenced by a written contract embodying all provisions and conditions of the procurement of such services. An engagement letter signed by the governing board chair and executed by both parties shall constitute a written contract. The written contract shall, at a minimum, include the following:

   
 

a)

a provision specifying the services to be provided and fees or other compensation for such services

   

b)

a provision requiring that invoices for fees or other compensation be submitted in sufficient detail to demonstrate compliance with the terms of the contract

   

c)

a provision specifying the contract period, including renewals, and conditions under which the contract may be terminated or renewed.

     

c.

Failure to comply with the timely submission of all financial statements in the required format specified by the Board, shall constitute a material breach of the charter contract.

 

8.

Capital Outlay Funding

   
 

Pursuant to F.S. 1013.62(4), the application for, approval of, and process for documenting expenditures from charter school capital outlay funds shall be in accordance with the procedures specified by the Commissioner of Education.

   
 

Before receiving capital outlay funds the charter school governing board must enter into a written agreement with the Board. Such agreement must provide for the reversion of any unencumbered funds and all equipment and property purchased with public education funds to the ownership of the Board, as provided for in F.S. 1013.62(3), if the charter school terminates operations. Any funds recovered by the state shall be deposited in the State’s General Revenue Fund.

   
 

As required by State law, the Board shall remit capital outlay funds to a charter school within ten business days of the receipt of said funds.

   

9.

Review and Audit

   
 

a.

The Board has the right at any time to review and audit all financial records of the charter school to ensure fiscal accountability and sound financial management pursuant to F.S. 1002.33. The charter school shall provide the Board with a copy of the management letter from any audits as well as any responses to the auditor's findings with a corrective plan that shall be prepared and submitted within 30 days from the date of the management letter.

 

b.

Deteriorating Financial Condition and Financial Emergencies (F.S. 1002.345)

   
 

1)

Deteriorating Financial Condition – "Deteriorating financial condition" means a circumstance that significantly impairs the ability of a charter school or a charter technical career center to generate enough revenues to meet its expenditures without causing the occurrence of a condition described in F.S. 218.503(1).

   
 

a)

A charter school shall be subject to an expedited review by the Board upon the occurrence of any of the conditions specified in F.S. 1002.345(1)(a)(1)-(4).

   

b)

The Board shall notify the governing board within seven business days after one or more of the conditions set forth in F.S. 1002.345(1)(a)(1)-(4) are identified or occur.

   

c)

The governing board and the Board shall develop a corrective action plan and file the plan with the Commissioner of Education within 30 business days after notification is received as provided in paragraph (9)(b)(1)(b) herein. If the governing board and the Board are unable to agree on a corrective action plan, the Commissioner of Education shall determine the components of the plan. The governing board shall implement such plan.

     

d)

Failure to implement the corrective action plan within one year shall result in additional action prescribed by the State Board of Education, including the appearance of the chair of the governing board before the State Board of Education.

 

2)

Financial Emergency – If a financial audit conducted by a CPA in accordance with F.S. 218.39 reveals that one or more of the conditions in F.S. 218.503(1) have occurred or will occur if action is not taken to assist the charter school, the auditor shall notify the governing board of the charter school, as appropriate, the Board, and the Commissioner of Education within seven business days after the finding is made. If the charter school is found to be in a state of financial emergency pursuant to F.S. 218.503(4), the charter school shall file a financial recovery plan pursuant to F.S. 218.503 with the Board and the Commissioner of Education within 30 days after being notified by the Commissioner of Education that a financial recovery plan is needed.

 

3)

Annual progress of the corrective action plans and/or financial recovery plans shall be included in an annual progress report to the Board.

   

4)

The Board may require periodic appearances of governing board members and charter school representative.

     
 

10.

Grants

   
 

a.

If the Board is required to be the fiscal agent for a grant, the charter school shall comply with the Board’s grant procedures.

   

b.

The Board shall receive written approval from the charter school to include the charter school in a District-wide grant. The appropriate pro-rata share of grants will be allocated to the charter school, as defined by the grant awarded.

 

c.

The charter school is required to maintain adequate records to support grant-funded programs for the minimum years prescribed by the law. The Board may review these records, upon reasonable notice.

 

11.

Health, Safety and Welfare of Staff and Students

     
   

Charter schools shall comply with Policy 7440.01 Protection of Personnel and Property.

Interpretation

If a court or agency of competent jurisdiction invalidates any provision of this policy or finds a specific provision to be in conflict with the Florida Constitution, Florida Statutes, the Florida Administrative Code, or any rule or policy prescribed by the Florida Department of Education, then all of the remaining provisions of this policy shall continue unabated and in full force and effect.

In the event that an existing charter school contract provision is found to be inconsistent with this policy, the contract provision prevails. Any charter approved after the adoption of this policy is required to be fully consistent with this policy.

F.S. Chapter 120
F.S. 39.203, 218.39, 218.391, 218.503, 286.23, 768.095, 1001.10(5), 1001.41, 
F.S. 1002.33, 1002.33(g), 1002.345, 1008.31, 1011.60, 1012.01, 1012.315
F.S. 1012.32, 1013.12
Chapter 96-186(1) Laws of Florida
F.A.C. 6A-1.0081; 6A-2.0020; 6A-6.0781 through 6A-6.0788
FL DOE Forms: IEPC-M1, IEPC-M2, IEPC-M3

Revised 4/1/14

© Neola 2012


 

 

 

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