SB451 HFA ESPINOSA, COWLES, BIBBY AND WILSON 2-13 #1
Delegates Espinosa, Cowles, Bibby and Wilson move to amend the House Finance Committee amendment on page 21 following line 10, by striking article §18-5G-1 et seq. in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new article §18-5G-1 et seq. to read as follows:
§18-5G-1. Legislative purpose and intent.
(a) The West Virginia Legislature hereby authorizes a pilot program under which public charter schools may be authorized to allow new, innovative, and more flexible ways of educating all children who choose to attend and advance a renewed commitment to the mission, goals, and diversity of public education. The purposes of this public charter school initiative are to:
(1) Improve student learning by creating more diverse public schools with high standards for student performance;
(2) Provide innovative educational methods and practices through programs that engage students in the learning process, thus resulting in higher student achievement;
(3) Enable schools to establish a distinctive school curriculum, a specialized academic theme, or method of instruction; and
(4) Allow schools enhanced freedom and flexibility in exchange for exceptional levels of results-driven accountability.
The following words used in this article and any proceedings pursuant thereto have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
(1) “Applicant” means any group or entity with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status or that has submitted an application for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status that develops and submits an application for a public charter school to an authorizer: Provided, That in the case of a conversion public charter school, “Applicant” means an organization or group comprised primarily of parents and others who reside within the community served by a noncharter public school who:
(A) Have obtained 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status or have submitted an application for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status;
(B) Develop and submit an application to become a conversion public charter school to the county board of the county wherein the school is located;
(C) May include as partner organizations a public or private institution or institutions of higher education and partners in business and industry; and
(D) Include in the application for conversion to a public charter school, in addition to the other requirements of this article, the demonstrated support for the proposed conversion to a public charter school as evidenced by:
(A) A petition for conversion signed by a majority of the employees of the school proposed for conversion; and
(B) A petition for conversion signed by a majority of the parents, guardians or custodians of the students enrolled in the school proposed for conversion.
(2) “Authorizer” means the entity authorized under this article to review and approve or deny charter applications, enter into charter contracts with applicants, oversee public charter schools, and determine whether to renew, not renew, or revoke charter contracts. Authorizers include:
(A) A county school board in the county in which a public charter school is proposed to be located;
(B) Two or more county school boards representing the several counties which a public charter school is proposed to serve; or
(C) The West Virginia Public Charter School Commission established pursuant to §18-5G-10 of this code: Provided, That the Commission may authorize a public charter schools only upon the request by a county board that the Commission assume the role of authorizer;
(3) “Charter 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;
(4) “Charter contract” or “contract” means a fixed-term, renewable contract between a public charter school’s governing board and an authorizer that identifies the roles, powers, responsibilities, operational duties, accountability, and performance expectations for each party to the contract, consistent with the requirements of this article;
(6) “Conversion public charter school” means a public charter school that existed as a noncharter public school before becoming a public charter school;
(7) “County board” means a county board of education;
(8) “Education service provider” means an education management organization, school design provider, or any other partner entity with which a public charter school contracts for educational design, implementation, or comprehensive management;
(9) “Governing board” means a board of directors as provided for in §18-5G-3 of this code;
(10) “Noncharter public school” means a public school other than a public charter school established pursuant to this article;
(11) “Parent” means a parent, guardian, or other person or entity having legal custody over a child;
(12) “Public charter school” means a public school established pursuant to this article that:
(A) Is a public school and is part of the state’s system of public education but is exempt from all statutes and administrative regulations applicable to the state board, a county board, or a school unless expressly stated otherwise in this article: Provided, That nothing in this article prohibits a public charter school from complying with any statute, state board policy, or county board policy applicable to noncharter public schools;
(B) Is a public corporate body, exercising public power through its governing board, including the power in name to contract and be contracted with, sue and be sued, and adopt bylaws not inconsistent with this article;
(C) Has autonomy over decisions relating to finance, personnel, scheduling, curriculum, and instruction consistent with this article and its charter contract;
(D) Is governed by a governing board that is independent of a county board except as otherwise provided in this article;
(E) Is established and operating under the terms of a charter contract between the public charter school’s governing board and its authorizer;
(F) Is a public school to which parents choose to send their children;
(G) Is a public school that admits students on the basis of a random and open lottery if more students apply for admission than can be accommodated, pursuant to and subject to §18-5G-4 of this code;
(H) Offers a comprehensive instructional program that meets or exceeds the student performance standards adopted pursuant to §18-2E-5 of this code; and
(I) Operates under the oversight of its authorizer in accordance with its charter contract;
(13) “State board” means the West Virginia Board of Education; and
(14) “Student” means any person that is eligible for attendance in a public school in West Virginia.
§18-5G-3. Authorization for the establishment of public charter schools; governing board.
(a) The authorization for the establishment of public charter schools in this state is limited as a pilot project to five public charter schools: Provided, That the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind may be an applicant to the West Virginia Board of Education to become a public charter school and if authorized by the West Virginia Board of Education, this public charter school is not within the five school limit. The West Virginia Board of Education may request the West Virginia Public Charter School Commission to assume the role of authorizer.
(b) No elected official may profit or receive any monetary consideration from a charter school: Provided, That this prohibition does not apply with respect to the employment of an elected official who was employed by a school prior to conversion to a public charter school.
(c) A public charter school authorized under this article is part of the state’s system of public education but is exempt from all statutes and administrative regulations applicable to the state board, a county board, or a school unless expressly stated otherwise in this article. A public charter school shall:
(1) Adhere to the same immunization, civil rights, and disability rights requirements applicable to noncharter public schools;
(2) Have no entrance requirements or charge any tuition or fees: Provided, That a public charter school may require the payment of fees on the same basis and to the same extent as noncharter public schools.
(3) Have no power to levy taxes.
(4) Be governed by a governing board as specified in subsection (d) of this section;
(5) Provide instructional time that is at least equal to the number of days or their equivalent required by §18-5-45 of this code;
(6) Require criminal background checks for staff and volunteers, including members of its governing board, as required of all noncharter public school employees and volunteers;
(7) Prohibit contractors and service providers or their employees from making direct, unaccompanied contact with students or accessing school grounds unaccompanied when students are present if it cannot be verified that the contractors, service providers, or their employees have not been previously convicted of a qualifying offense pursuant to §18-5-15c of this code;
(8) Ensure student participation in the required state summative assessment pursuant to §18-2E-5 of this code;
(9) Adhere to generally accepted accounting principles and adhere to the same financial audits, audit procedures, and audit requirements applicable to noncharter public schools;
(10) Utilize the same system for reporting student information data and financial data as is utilized by noncharter public schools;
(11) Comply with the Freedom of Information Act as set forth in §29B-1-1 et seq. of this code;
(12) Report data using the West Virginia Education Information System or successor data reporting system that noncharter public schools use;
(13) Operate under the oversight of its authorizer in accordance with its charter contract;
(14) As a public corporate body, have the powers necessary for carrying out the terms of its charter contract, including, but not limited to the power to:
(A) Receive and disburse funds for school purposes;
(B) Secure appropriate insurance and enter into contracts and leases;
(C) Contract with an education service provider, so long as the governing board retains final oversight and authority over the school;
(D) Pledge, assign, or encumber its assets to be used as collateral for loans or extensions of credit;
(E) Solicit and accept any gifts or grants for school purposes, subject to applicable laws and the terms of its charter; and
(F) Acquire real property for use as its facilities or facilities from public or private sources;
(15) Enroll students in the public charter school pursuant to §18-5G-4 of this code;
(16) Require any education service provider contracted with the governing board to provide a monthly detailed budget to the board;
(17) Serve one or more of grades and limit admission to students within the grade levels served; and
(18) Provide programs and services to a student with a disability in accordance with the student's individualized education program and all federal and state laws, rules, and regulations. A public charter school shall deliver the services directly or contract with another provider to deliver the services.
(d) A public charter school authorized under this article may:
(1) Negotiate and contract with its authorizer or any third party for the use, operation, and maintenance of a building and grounds, liability insurance, and the provision of any service, activity, or undertaking that the public charter school is required to perform in order to carry out the educational program described in its charter contract. Any services for which a public charter school contracts with a school district shall be provided by the district at cost and shall be negotiated as a separate agreement after final charter contract negotiations;
(2) Sue and be sued in its own name;
(3) Own, rent, or lease its space;
(4) Participate in cocurricular activities to the same extent as noncharter public schools; and
(5) Participate in extracurricular activities to the same extent as noncharter public schools.
(e) Nothing in this article prohibits a public charter school from complying with any statute, state board policy, or county board policy applicable to noncharter public schools.
(f) A county board may not require any employee of the local school district to be employed in a charter school. A county board may not harass, threaten, discipline, discharge, retaliate or in any manner discriminate against any district employee involved directly or indirectly with an application to establish a charter school as authorized under this section.
(g) All personnel employed by a public charter school shall continue to accrue seniority with the county board in the same manner that they would accrue seniority if employed in a noncharter public school in the county, but only for purposes of employment in noncharter public schools.
(g) Public charter school governing board. —
(1) To ensure compliance with this article, a public charter school shall be administered by a governing board accountable to the authorizer as set forth in the charter contract. A public charter school governing board shall consist of no fewer than five members.
(2) The governing board of a conversion public charter school authorized under this article shall consist of the following members elected or selected in a manner specified in the charter application:
(2) The governing board shall consist of at least two parents of students attending the public charter school operating under the governing board; and
(3) Members of the governing board shall:
(A) Not be an employee of the public charter school administered by the governing board;
(B) Not be an employee of an education service provider that provides services to the public charter school; and
(C) File a full disclosure report to the authorizer identifying potential conflicts of interest, relationships with management organizations, and relationships with family members who have other business dealings with the school, the management organization of the school, or any other public charter school.
(4) Members of the governing board shall collectively possess expertise in leadership, curriculum and instruction, law, and finance.
(5) A member of the public charter school governing board shall be considered an officer of a school district under the provisions of §6-6-7 of this code, and may only be removed from office under the provisions of that section.
(6) The governing board shall be responsible for the operation of its public charter school, including, but not limited to, preparation of an annual budget, contracting for services, school curriculum, personnel matters, and achieving the objectives and goals of the public charter school’s program.
(7) The governing board shall comply with open governmental proceedings requirements set forth in §6-9A-1 et seq. of this code.
§18-5G-4. Enrollment in a public charter school; recruitment and retention plans.
(a) A public charter school may enroll any student residing in the state. A student enrolled in a public charter school shall be included in the net enrollment of the county in which the school is located for the purposes of §18-9A-1 et seq. and shall be allocated to the public charter school in accordance with the State Board rule promulgated pursuant to section §18-5G-13 of this article.
(b) A conversion public charter school shall guarantee enrollment to all students who were previously enrolled in the noncharter public school and to all students who reside in the school’s attendance area. All students who reside in the attendance area of a public school that converts to a public charter school may enroll in the public charter school if they choose to do so. The school shall adopt and maintain a policy that gives enrollment preference to students who reside within the attendance area as established prior to the conversion of the school. An enrollment preference also shall be given to students enrolled in the public charter school the previous school year and to siblings of students already enrolled in the public charter school. If the school has excess capacity after enrolling students within the attendance area and those with preference, students outside the attendance area are eligible for enrollment;
(c) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, if the capacity of a public charter school is insufficient to enroll all students who wish to attend any specific grade level at a public charter school, the school shall select students through a randomized and transparent lottery: Provided, That the state board shall promulgate a rule to guide student application and lottery procedures for public charter schools.
(d) Enrollment preference for public charter schools shall be given to students enrolled in the public charter school the previous year and to siblings of students already enrolled in the school. An enrollment preference for returning students shall exclude those students from entering into a lottery, as identified in §18-5G-4(b) of this code.
(e) A public charter school may allow an enrollment preference for students who meet federal eligibility requirements for free or reduced-price meals and at-risk students.
(f) A public charter school may give enrollment preference to children of a public charter school’s governing board members and full-time employees, as long as they constitute no more than 10 percent of the school’s total student population.
(g) Every charter school shall submit a recruitment and retention plan annually to its authorizer. The plan shall list deliberate, specific strategies the school will use to attract, enroll, and retain a student population that includes students who are, to the extent applicable:
(1) Limited English proficient;
(2) Special education;
(3) Low income;
(4) Below proficiency on the comprehensive statewide student assessment;
(5) At risk of dropping out of school;
(6) Have dropped out of school; or
(7) Any others who should be targeted to eliminate achievement gaps.
(h) If a student who was previously enrolled in a public charter school transfers enrollment to a noncharter public school in this state, the school to which the student transfers 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 noncharter public schools or that consider content competency when appropriate due to differences in curriculum delivery, instructional methods and strategies, or course designations and sequence.
§18-5G-5. Application to establish public charter school.
(a) To establish a new public charter school or to convert an existing noncharter public school to a public charter school, an applicant shall submit a charter application to an authorizer: Provided, That only a county board may authorize the conversion of an existing noncharter public school to a public charter school. Charter authorizers shall accept and document the date and time of receipt of all charter applications.
(b) The application shall contain, at a minimum, the following information:
(1) A mission statement and a vision statement for the public charter school, including specialized academic focus, if any, to be promoted and advanced through the establishment of the public charter school;
(2) A detailed description of the public charter school's proposed program;
(3) The student achievement goals for the public charter school's program and the chosen methods of evaluating whether students have attained the skills and knowledge specified for those goals;
(4) The school’s plan for using data derived from student evaluations and assessments, including the statewide summative assessment, to drive instruction and promote continued school improvement;
(5) An explanation of how the school's proposed program is likely to improve the achievement of traditionally underperforming students in the local school district;
(6) The proposed governance structure of the school, including a list of members of the initial governing board, a draft of bylaws that include the description of the qualifications, terms, and methods of appointment or election of governing board members, and the organizational structure of the school that clearly presents lines of authority and reporting between the governing board, school administrators, staff, any related bodies such as advisory bodies or parent and teacher councils, and any external organizations that will play a role in managing the school;
(7) Plans and timelines for student enrollment, including policies and procedures for conducting transparent and random admission lotteries that are open to the public, and that are consistent with this article;
(8) A proposed five-year budget, including the start-up year and projections for four additional years with clearly stated assumptions;
(9) Proposed fiscal and internal control policies for the public charter school;
(10) Acknowledgement that the public charter school will participate in the state’s accountability system;
(11) A proposed handbook that outlines the personnel policies of the public charter school, including the criteria to be used in the hiring of qualified teachers, school administrators, and other school employees, a description of staff responsibilities, and the school's plan to evaluate personnel on an annual basis;
(12) An explanation of proposed student discipline procedures, including disciplinary procedures for students with disabilities, which shall be consistent with the requirements of due process and with state and federal laws and regulations governing the placement of students with disabilities;
(13) A description of the facilities to be used by the public charter school, including the location of the school and how the facility supports the implementation of the school's program. The school shall obtain all required occupation and operation certificates and licenses prior to the first instructional day for students;
(14) The proposed ages and grade levels to be served by the public charter school, including the planned minimum and maximum enrollment per grade per year;
(15) The school calendar and school day schedule, which shall meet the requirements of §18-5-45 of this code;
(16) Types and amounts of insurance coverage to be obtained by the public charter school, which:
(A) Shall include adequate insurance for liability, property loss, and the personal injury of students comparable to noncharter public schools within the local school district operated by the county board; and
(B) May include coverage from the Board of Risk and Insurance Management pursuant to §29-12-5a of this code;
(17) A description of the food services to be provided to students attending the school;
(18) Process and procedures to be followed in the case of the closure or dissolution of the public charter school, including provisions for the transfer of students and student records to the appropriate local school district and an assurance and agreement to payment of net assets or equity, after payment of debts as specified in §18-5G-8 of this code;
(19) A code of ethics for the school setting forth the standards of conduct expected of its governing board, officers, and employees;
(20) The public charter school’s plan for successfully serving students with disabilities, students who are English language learners, bilingual students, and students who are academically behind and gifted, including, but not limited to, the school’s plan for compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations;
(21) A description of cocurricular and extracurricular programs to be offered by the public charter school and how they will be funded and delivered;
(22) The process by which the school will resolve any disputes with the authorizer;
(23) A detailed start-up plan, including financing, tasks, timelines, and individuals responsible for carrying out the plan; and
(24) The public charter school’s plan for parental involvement.
(c) If the applicant intends to contract with an education service provider for educational program implementation or comprehensive management, the application shall additionally require the applicant to provide the following information with respect to the educational service provider:
(1) Evidence of success in serving student populations similar to the targeted population, including demonstrated academic achievement as well as successful management of nonacademic school functions, if applicable;
(2) Student performance data and financial audit reports for all current and past public charter schools;
(3) Documentation of and explanation for any actions taken, legal or otherwise, against any of its public charter schools for academic, financial, or ethical concerns;
(4) The proposed duration of the service contract;
(5) The annual proposed fees and other amounts to be paid to the education service provider;
(6) The roles and responsibilities of the governing board, the school staff, and the education service provider;
(7) The scope of services and resources to be provided by the education service provider;
(8) Performance evaluation measures and timelines;
(9) Methods of contract oversight and enforcement;
(10) Investment disclosure;
(11) Conditions for renewal and termination of the contract; and
(12) Disclosure and explanation any existing or potential conflicts of interest between the governing board and the proposed education service provider or any affiliated business entities.
§18-5G-6. Authorizer duties and responsibilities.
(a) An authorizer shall:
(1) Demonstrate public accountability and transparency in all matters concerning its charter-authorizing practices, decisions, and expenditures;
(2) Approve new charter applications that meet the requirements of this section and §18-5G-5 of this code, demonstrate the ability to operate the school in an educationally and fiscally sound manner, and are likely to improve student achievement through the program detailed in the charter application;
(3) Decline to approve charter applications that fail to meet the requirements of §18-5G-5 of this code;
(4) Negotiate and execute in good faith a charter contract with each public charter school it authorizes;
(5) Monitor the performance and compliance of public charter schools according to the terms of the charter contract;
(6) Determine whether each charter contract it authorizes merits renewal or revocation; and
(7) Establish and maintain policies and practices consistent with the principles and professional standards for authorizers of public charter schools, including standards relating to:
(A) Organizational capacity and infrastructure;
(B) Evaluating applications;
(C) Ongoing public charter school oversight and evaluation; and
(D) Charter approval, renewal, and revocation decision-making.
(b) After an applicant submits a written application to establish a public charter school, the authorizer shall:
(1) Complete a thorough review process;
(2) Conduct an in-person interview with the applicant;
(3) Provide an opportunity in a public forum for local residents to provide input and learn about the charter application;
(4) Provide a detailed analysis of the application to the applicant or applicants;
(5) Allow an applicant a reasonable time to provide additional materials and amendments to its application to address any identified deficiencies; and
(6) Approve or deny a charter application based on established objective criteria or request additional information.
(c) In deciding to approve a charter application, the authorizer shall:
(1) Approve charter applications only to applicants that possess competence in all elements of the application requirements identified in this section and §18-5G-5 of this code;
(2) Base decisions on documented evidence collected through the application review process; and
(3) Follow charter-granting policies and practices that are transparent, based on merit, and avoid conflicts of interest.
(d) No later than 90 days following the filing of the charter application, the authorizer shall approve or deny the charter application. The authorizer shall provide its decision in writing, including an explanation stating the reasons for approval or denial of its decision during an open meeting. Any failure to act on a charter application within the time specified shall be deemed an approval by the authorizer.
(e) An authorizer's charter application approval shall be submitted to the West Virginia Department of Education.
(f) No public charter school may begin operations prior to July 1, 2020.
(g) Notwithstanding any provision of this code to the contrary, no civil liability shall attach to an authorizer or to any of its members or employees for any acts or omissions of the public charter school. Neither the county board of education nor the State of West Virginia shall be liable for the debts or financial obligations of a public charter school or any person or entity that operates a public charter school.
(h) To cover authorizer costs for overseeing public charter schools in accordance with this Act, each public charter school shall remit to its respective authorizer an oversight fee. The oversight fee shall be drawn from and calculated as a uniform percentage of the per student operational funding allocated to each public charter school under §18-5G-12 of this code, not to exceed one percent of each public charter school’s per-student funding in a single school year. The state board shall establish a statewide formula for authorizer funding, which shall apply uniformly to every authorizer in the state. The state board may establish a sliding scale for authorizing funding, with the funding percentage decreasing after the authorizer has achieved a certain threshold, such as after a certain number of schools have been authorized or after a certain number of students are enrolled in the authorizer’s public charter schools. The state board shall establish a cap on the total amount of funding that an authorizer may withhold from a full-time charter school. The state board shall annually review the effectiveness of the state formula for authorizer funding and shall adjust the formula if necessary to maximize public benefit and strengthen the implementation of this act.
§18-5G-7. Charter contract requirements; term of contract.
(a) Within 90 days of the approval of a charter application, the governing board and the authorizer shall negotiate and enter into a charter contract.
(b) The charter contract shall address, in detail, the following items:
(1) The term of the contract: Provided, That the contract term shall be no longer than five years;
(2) The agreements relating to each item required under §18-5G-5(b) and §18-5G-5(c) of this code;
(3) The rights and duties of the authorizer and the public charter school;
(4) The administrative relationship between the authorizer and the public charter school;
(5) The process the authorizer will use to provide ongoing oversight;
(6) The specific commitments of the authorizer relating to its obligations to oversee, monitor the progress of, and supervise the public charter school;
(7) The process and criteria the authorizer will use to annually monitor and evaluate the overall academic, operating, and fiscal conditions of the public charter school, including the process the authorizer will use to oversee the correction of any deficiencies found;
(8) The process for revision or amendment to the terms of the charter contract agreed to by the authorizer and the governing board;
(9) The process agreed to by the authorizer and the governing board that identifies how disputes between the authorizer and the board will be handled; and
(10) Any other terms and conditions agreed to by the authorizer and the governing board, including preopening conditions.
(c) The charter contract shall include provisions relating to the performance of the public charter school that set forth the academic and operational performance indicators, measures, and metrics to be used by the authorizer to evaluate the public charter school. At a minimum, the performance provisions shall include indicators, measures, and metrics for:
(1) Student academic proficiency;
(2) Student academic growth;
(3) Achievement gaps in both student proficiency and student growth between student subgroups, including race, sex, socioeconomic status, and areas of exceptionality;
(4) Student attendance;
(5) Student suspensions;
(6) Student withdrawals;
(7) Recurrent enrollment from year to year;
(8) Governing board’s performance and stewardship, including compliance with all applicable statutes and terms of charter contract; and
(9) Additional valid and reliable indicators requested by the public charter school.
(d) The authorizer shall be responsible for collecting and reporting to the state board all state-required assessment and achievement data for the public charter school.
(e) The charter contract shall be signed by the chair of the governing board and the president of the county board, presidents of the county boards, as applicable, or by the chairman of the West Virginia Public Charter School Commission for the charter schools for which the Commission is serving as the authorizer.
(f) No public charter school may commence operations without a charter contract that meets the requirements of this section, has been properly executed, and has been approved by the county board.
(g) A copy of the charter contract shall be provided to the State Superintendent of Schools.
§18-5G-8. Renewal or nonrenewal of charter contracts; revocation of charter contracts; rulemaking; right to appeal.
(a) A charter contract may be renewed by the authorizer for a term of no more than five years. Authorizers may grant renewal with specific conditions for necessary improvements in the public charter school: Provided, That any specific condition imposed does not contradict the terms of this article.
(b) The State Board of Education shall promulgate a rule establishing the process for renewing or not renewing a charter contract. At a minimum, this rule shall include:
(1) A timeline for a governing board to submit an application for renewal to an authorizer;
(2) The information that must be included in an application for renewal;
(3) If the authorizer initially determines to deny a renewal application:
(A) Notification requirements to the governing board about the prospect of nonrenewal and the reasons for possible closure of the public charter school;
(B) An opportunity and timeframe for the governing board to provide a response to the notice of the nonrenewal;
(C) An opportunity for the governing board to submit documentation and provide testimony as to why the charter contract should be renewed; and
(D) An opportunity for a recorded public hearing, at the request of the governing board;
(4) That the authorizer shall consider the governing board’s response, testimony, and documentation, as well as the recorded public hearing, prior to rendering a final decision on the nonrenewal of the charter contract;
(5) The information that must be included in the authorizer’s final decision if it determines to deny a renewal application;
(6) A timeline for an authorizer to render a final decision on whether or not to revoke a charter contract;
(7) Approval of the authorizer’s decision shall be adopted by the county board or boards, or by the West Virginia Public Charter School Commission, during an open meeting; and
(8) A provision that the failure of the authorizer to act on a renewal application within the designated timeframes shall be deemed an approval of the renewal application.
(c) A charter contract shall not be renewed if the authorizer determines that the public charter school has:
(1) Committed a material violation of any of the terms, conditions, standards, or procedures required under this article or the charter contract, and has persistently failed to correct the violation after fair and specific notice from the authorizer;
(2) Failed to meet or make significant progress toward the program performance expectations identified in the charter contract;
(3) Failed to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management, and has failed to correct the violation after fair and specific notice from the authorizer; or
(4) Substantially violated any material provision of law from which the public charter school was not exempted and has failed to correct the violation after fair and specific notice from the authorizer.
(d) A charter contract shall include provisions for revoking the charter contract. At a minimum, these provisions shall include:
(1) The information that must be included in the authorizer’s initial decision to revoke the charter contract;
(2) Notification requirements to the governing board about the authorizer’s initial decision to revoke a charter contract and the reasons for the revocation;
(3) An opportunity and timeframe for the governing board to provide a response to the authorizer’s initial decision to revoke the charter contract;
(4) An opportunity for the governing board to submit documentation and provide testimony as to why the charter contract should not be revoked;
(5) An opportunity for a recorded public hearing, at the request of the governing board;
(6) That the authorizer shall consider the governing board’s response, testimony, and documentation, as well as the recorded public hearing, prior to rendering a final decision on the revocation of the charter contract;
(7) The information that must be included in the authorizer’s final decision if it determines to revoke the charter contract;
(8) A timeline for an authorizer to render a final decision on whether or not to revoke a charter contract;
(9) Approval of the authorizer’s decision shall be adopted during an open meeting; and
(10) A provision that the failure of the authorizer to act on a renewal application within the designated timeframes shall be deemed.
(e) Notwithstanding the process set forth in §18-5G-8(d) of this code, an authorizer shall take immediate action to revoke a charter contract if the health and safety of students attending the public charter school is threatened.
(f) An authorizer shall develop a public charter school closure protocol or protocol for transitioning a charter school to noncharter public school status. The protocol shall ensure timely notification to parents, orderly transition of students and student records to new schools when applicable, and proper disposition of school funds, property, and assets. The protocol shall specify tasks, timelines, and responsible parties, including delineating the respective duties of the public charter school and the authorizer. If a public charter school closes or transitions to noncharter public school status for any reason, the authorizer shall oversee and work with the closing or transitioning school to ensure a smooth and orderly closure or transition and transition for students and parents, as guided by the closure or school transition protocol. If a public charter school is subject to closure or transition, following exhaustion of any appeal allowed under §18-5G-10 of this code, an authorizer may remove at will at any time any or all of the members of the board of directors of the public charter school in connection with ensuring a smooth and orderly closure or transition. If the authorizer removes members of the board of directors such that the board of directors can no longer function, the authorizer shall be empowered to take any further necessary and proper acts connected with closure or transition of the public charter school in the name and interest of the public charter school.
§18-5G-9. West Virginia Public Charter School Commission; members; appointments; meetings.
(a) There is hereby created the West Virginia Public Charter School Commission which shall report directly to and be responsible to the state board, separate from the Department of Education, for carrying out its duties in accordance with this article. The mission of the Commission is to assist county boards in the authorization of high-quality public charter schools throughout the state that provide more options for students to attain a thorough and efficient education, particularly through schools designed to expand the opportunities for at-risk students. The commission and public charter schools authorized in accordance with this article are subject to the general supervision of the state board solely for the purposes of accountability for meeting the standards for student performance required of other public school students under §18-2E-5 of this code. Except as otherwise authorized in this article, no other governmental agency or entity may assume any charter authorizing function or duty in any form.
(b) The commission shall consist of seven voting members, as follows:
(1) The State Superintendent of Schools, or designee;
(2) The Chancellor of the Higher Education Policy Commission, or designee;
(3) The Chancellor for Community and Technical College Education, or designee; and
(4) Four members appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate.
(c) The chair of the House Committee on Education and the chair of the Senate Committee on Education shall serve as nonvoting ex officio members of the commission.
(d) Each appointed member shall represent the public interest and must satisfy the following requirements:
(1) Be a citizen of the state;
(2) Possess experience and expertise in public or nonprofit governance, management and finance, public school leadership, assessment, curriculum or instruction, or public education law; and
(3) Have demonstrated an understanding of, and commitment to, charter schooling as a strategy for strengthening public education.
(e) No more than three of the appointed members of the commission may be of the same political party. No more than two of the appointed members may be residents of the same congressional district. No person may be appointed who holds any other public office or public employment under the government of this state or any of its political subdivisions, or who is an appointee or employee of any charter school governing board or an immediate family member of an employee under the jurisdiction of the commission or any charter school governing board. No person may be appointed who is engaged in, or employed by a person or company whose primary function involves, the sale of services and activities to public charter schools or charter school governing boards.
(f) The initial appointments made pursuant to this section shall be for staggered one- and two-year terms. Thereafter, all appointments shall be for a term of two years. The initial appointments shall be made before February 1, 2020. The commission shall meet as soon as practical after February 1, 2020, upon the call of the Governor, and shall organize for business by selecting a chairman and adopting bylaws. Subsequent meetings shall be called by the chairman.
(g) An appointed member of the commission may be removed from office by the Governor for official misconduct, incompetence, neglect of duty, or gross immorality. A member may also be removed if the member's personal incapacity renders the member incapable or unfit to discharge the duties of the office or if the member is absent from a number of meetings of the commission as determined and specified by the commission in its bylaws. Whenever an appointed member vacancy on the commission exists, the Governor shall appoint, with the advice and consent of the Senate, a qualified person for the remainder of the vacated term.
(h) Except in the case of gross negligence or reckless disregard of the safety and well-being of another person, the commission and members of the commission in their official capacity are immune from civil liability with respect to all activities related to a public charter school approved by the commission. The official actions of the members of the commission who are serving in an ex officio capacity by virtue of their designation or employment in another position are commission member actions only, and may not be construed as official actions or positions of such member’s employing entity.
(i) The commission may appoint an executive director and may employ such additional staff as may be necessary. The executive director shall serve at the will and pleasure of the commission. The executive director must demonstrate an understanding of and commitment to charter schooling as a strategy for strengthening public education and must possess an understanding of state and federal education law.
(j) The commission shall meet as needed, but at least bi-annually. From funds appropriated or otherwise made available for such purpose, its members shall be reimbursed for reasonable and necessary expenses actually incurred in the performance of official duties upon submission of an itemized statement in a manner consistent with guidelines of the Travel Management Office of the Department of Administration.
Notwithstanding any provision in this article that may be interpreted to the contrary, a public charter school may not:
(1) Be home-school based; and
(2) Discriminate on any basis for which the noncharter public schools of this state may not discriminate: Provided, That nothing in this subsection may be construed to limit the formation of a public charter school that is dedicated to focusing education services on at-risk students, students with disabilities, and students who pose such severe disciplinary problems that they warrant a specific education program.
§18-5G-11. State board rule relating to funding for charter school enrollment and other necessary provisions.
(a) The state board shall promulgate a rule in accordance with §29A-3B-1 et seq. of this code setting forth requirements for public charter school funding. The rule shall include a requirement that 90 percent of the per pupil total basic foundation allowance follow the student to the public charter school, subject to the following:
(1) Notwithstanding §18-9A-1 et seq. of this code, the rule may provide for modifications to the calculations outlined in §18-9A-7 regarding the allowance for student transportation and in §18-9A-9(1) regarding the allowance for current expense for the purpose of providing additional state aid funding to county boards of education related to the operation of public charter schools;
(2) The rule shall designate which county school district is required to pay for a student attending a public charter school; and
(3) The rule shall require the Department of Education to follow federal requirements in ensuring that federal funding follows the student to a public charter school.
(b) The state board may promulgate a rule in accordance with §29A-3B-1 et seq. of this code to clarify, if necessary, the requirements of this article and address any unforeseen issues that might arise relating to the implementation of the requirements of this article.
(c) The state board may promulgate a rule in accordance with §29A-3B-1 et seq. of this code, if necessary, for ensuring the accountability of public charter schools for meeting the standards for student performance required of other public school students under §18-2E-5 of this code and the accountability of authorizers for ensuring that those standards are met in the schools authorized by it. If an authorizer fails to close a charter school that does not meet the standards, the authorizer shall appear before the State Board to justify it’s decision. The State Board may uphold or overturn the authorizer’s decision and may revoke the authority of the authorizer to authorize charter schools.
§18-5G-12. Access to public facilities.
(a) A public charter school may request usage of public facilities from a local county board where the charter school is located. A local county board or other public entity shall make facilities available for use or lease to the charter school that are not a currently in use as an operating public school or which are available at the time the charter school seeks to use in whole or in part for a legitimate public school use.
(b) If a charter school seeks to lease the whole or part of a public facility, the cost of the lease must be at or under current market value.
(c) During the term of the lease, the charter school is solely responsible for the direct expenses related to the public facility lease, including utilities, insurance, maintenance, repairs and remodeling. The county school board is responsible for any debt incurred or liens that are attached to the school building before the charter school leases the public facility.
(a) An authorizer that has authorized a public charter school that is currently in operation shall submit to the state superintendent for presentation to the state board an annual report within 60 days of the end of each school fiscal year summarizing:
(1) The performance of the public charter schools overseen by the authorizer, according to the performance measures and expectations specified in the charter contracts;
(2) The authorizing duties and functions provided by the authorizer during the previous academic year.
(b) One year after public charter schools have been in operation, and each year thereafter, the State Superintendent shall issue to the Governor, the Legislature, and the general public, a report on the state's public charter school program, drawing from the annual reports submitted by authorizers pursuant to this section, as well as any additional relevant data compiled by the State Superintendent up to the school year ending in the preceding calendar year. The report must include an assessment of the public charter school program’s successes, challenges, and areas for improvement in meeting the purposes of this chapter as well as any suggested changes in state law or policy necessary to strengthen the public charter school program.