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AB-1224 Charter schools: chartering authorities: foundational principles.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 01/03/2018 02:23 PM
AB1224:v97#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  January 03, 2018
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 18, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 1224


Introduced by Assembly Member Weber

February 17, 2017


An act to add Section 47604.6 to amend Sections 47604.32 and 47604.33 of the Education Code, relating to charter schools.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1224, as amended, Weber. Charter schools: Chartering Authority Pilot Program. schools: chartering authorities: foundational principles.
Existing law, the Charter Schools Act of 1992, provides for the establishment and operation of charter schools and authorizes the governing board of a school district, a county board of education, and the State Board of Education to approve a petition for the establishment of a charter school and to act as a chartering authority.
This bill would establish the Chartering Authority Pilot Program under which the state board would be authorized to select up to 3 county boards of education with demonstrated authorizing and oversight capacity to authorize and oversee up to 5 additional charter schools each. The bill would authorize a nonprofit public benefit corporation that operates more than one charter school in the state to petition a county board of education participating in the pilot program to consolidate some or all of its existing and future charter schools under the jurisdiction of a single chartering authority, subject to approval by the state board. The bill would require the state board to annually evaluate and report to the Legislature on the performance of participating chartering authorities and each charter school approved pursuant to the pilot program. The bill would require the state board to submit a final report to the Legislature on or before June 30, 2024, as provided. The bill would authorize the state board to extend the chartering authority of the participating chartering authorities, as provided. The bill would also authorize the state board or a participating chartering authority to solicit and receive grants from private nonprofit foundations and organizations to fund the startup and the administration of, or the research and reporting on, the pilot program. require a chartering authority to look to specified foundational principles in implementing the act, including, among others, that charter schools are to be governed with transparency and according to the highest ethical standards. To the extent the bill would impose additional requirements on certain local educational agencies, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program. The bill would also make a nonsubstantive change by updating a cross reference.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NOYES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this act to ensure all of the following:
(a) That charter schools provide opportunities for teachers, parents, pupils, and community members to establish and maintain charter schools that operate independently from the existing school districts and therefore should be recognized as the most local of all forms of public education.
(b) That charter schools be governed with transparency and according to the highest ethical standards.
(c) That charter schools operate with the least restrictive monitoring and oversight possible while still protecting the best interests of pupils and the public.
(d) That the actions and decisions of effective chartering authorities be guided by the following values:
(1) Autonomy: a chartering authority acknowledges the operational and educational independence of charter schools and the flexibility and autonomy of charter school governing bodies.
(2) Transparency: a chartering authority provides predictability and clarity to charter schools regarding criteria, process, and timeframes for petition review and oversight.
(3) Accountability: a chartering authority exhibits objectivity aligned with statutory criteria and for charter review and oversight that provides for efficient and rigorous outcome-based evaluation and decisions.
(4) Equity: a chartering authority treats charter schools fairly in allocating local resources, including public school facilities, and ensures charter schools provide equitable access to all pupils.

SEC. 2.

 Section 47604.32 of the Education Code is amended to read:

47604.32.
 (a) A chartering authority shall look to the following foundational principles in implementing this act:
(1) Charter schools provide opportunities for teachers, parents, pupils, and community members to establish and maintain schools that operate independently from school districts and therefore should be recognized as the most local of all forms of public education.
(2) Through charter school approval and oversight, a chartering authority serves the interests of pupils and the public.
(3) A charter school operates with monitoring and oversight that is the least restrictive possible while still protecting the best interests of the pupils and the public.
(4) Chartering authorities hold charter schools accountable for results in exchange for the substantial autonomy and flexibility granted to charter schools under this act.
(5) Charter schools are governed with transparency and according to the highest ethical standards.
(6) Accountability for results includes maintaining high standards for performance in academics, operations, governance, and finance.
(7) Standards for performance include ensuring access and pursuing achievement for all pupils.

(a)

(b) Each chartering authority, in addition to any other duties imposed by this part, shall do all of the following with respect to each charter school under its authority:
(1) Identify at least one staff member as a contact person for the charter school.
(2) Visit each charter school at least annually.
(3) Ensure that each charter school under its authority complies with all reports required of charter schools by law, including the local control and accountability plan and annual update to the local control and accountability plan required pursuant to Section 47606.5.
(4) Monitor the fiscal condition of each charter school under its authority.
(5) Provide timely notification to the department if any of the following circumstances occur or will occur with regard to a charter school for which it is the chartering authority:
(A) A renewal of the charter is granted or denied.
(B) The charter is revoked.
(C) The charter school will cease operation for any reason.

(b)

(c) The cost of performing the duties required by this section shall be funded with supervisorial oversight fees collected pursuant to Section 47613.

SEC. 3.

 Section 47604.33 of the Education Code is amended to read:

47604.33.
 (a) Each charter school shall annually prepare and submit the following reports to its chartering authority and the county superintendent of schools, or only to the county superintendent of schools if the county board of education is the chartering authority:
(1) On or before July 1, a preliminary budget. For a charter school in its first year of operation, the information submitted pursuant to subdivision (g) of Section 47605 satisfies this requirement.
(2) On or before July 1, a local control and accountability plan and an annual update to the local control and accountability plan required pursuant to Section 47606.5.
(3) On or before December 15, an interim financial report. This report shall reflect changes through October 31.
(4) On or before March 15, a second interim financial report. This report shall reflect changes through January 31.
(5) On or before September 15, a final unaudited report for the full prior year.
(b) The chartering authority shall use any financial information it obtains from the charter school, including, but not limited to, the reports required by this section, to assess the fiscal condition of the charter school pursuant to paragraph (4) of subdivision (a) (b) of Section 47604.32.
(c) The cost of performing the duties required by this section shall be funded with supervisorial oversight fees collected pursuant to Section 47613.

SEC. 4.

 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.
SECTION 1.Section 47604.6 is added to the Education Code, to read:
47604.6.

(a)The Chartering Authority Pilot Program is hereby established under the administration of the state board. The state board shall consider and may select up to three county boards of education with demonstrated authorizing and oversight capacity to authorize and oversee up to five additional charter schools each pursuant to this section.

(b)The state board shall adopt a process, timeline, and application criteria that allow for at least one application cycle each year to be considered for charter authorization in accordance with this section until the maximum number of chartering authorities has been selected. The state board shall consider in its selection criteria the selection of counties that reflect the range of size, geography, and demographics of the state. At a minimum, the application shall include all of the following:

(1)A charter approval plan that includes a description of how the county board of education will apply the criteria and timelines specified in subdivision (b) of Section 47605 to evaluate and approve charter petitions.

(2)The scope of the pilot program that includes a description of the types of charter schools that the county board of education may consider within its pilot program that is beyond its traditional authorizing scope. This may include, but is not limited to, certain types of charter school educational models, multiple charter schools operating under a single governance structure, a specific regional or geographic scope within or beyond the county, and provisions to assume the chartering duties of a small school district that chooses to opt out of chartering pursuant to subdivision (e).

(3)How the county board of education will ensure the charter schools authorized pursuant to this section create and implement a local engagement plan to ensure that the governing boards of school districts and communities in which the charter school will be located are notified of the proposed charter school and are provided an opportunity to comment on each proposed charter school. Engagement activities shall, at a minimum, include one public hearing during the timeline and approval process of the charter by the county in the community in which each proposed charter school plans to operate. The plan shall also include a process for the chartering authority to work with the charter school to consider and resolve complaints about the charter school by the local community, including complaints by the governing board of the school district in which the charter is located, and a clear process for parents to report any concerns or complaints about the charter school.

(4)A charter school oversight plan that includes a description of the county board of education’s capacity and expertise in approving and overseeing charter schools and how the county board of education plans to expand its capacity to accommodate additional charter schools. The plan shall, at a minimum, ensure compliance with Section 47604.32 and shall outline the provisions of any memorandum of understanding that may be necessary between the charter school and the participating chartering authority.

(5)Assurance that the participating chartering authority will generally align with standards of charter authorizing and oversight approved by the state board to ensure quality and proper levels of accountability for performance.

(6)A plan for annual reporting to the state board and for an annual public meeting in the county in which charter schools authorized by the county board of education are located that describes chartering activities and the academic performance and fiscal viability of each charter school authorized pursuant to this section.

(c)The state board shall establish a process to evaluate proposals submitted in accordance with subdivision (b) and select no more than three of the highest-quality applications to participate in the pilot program.

(d)(1)The state board shall annually evaluate and report to the Legislature on the performance of the participating chartering authorities and each of the charter schools approved pursuant to the pilot program, and may require the participating chartering authority to submit annual reports as necessary to meet this requirement.

(2)On or before June 30, 2024, the state board shall submit a final report to the Legislature with conclusions about the success or challenges of the pilot program and whether any statutory changes are recommended to implement the conclusions. The state board may extend the authority for any of the pilot program participants to continue to authorize and oversee the charter schools approved pursuant to this section, or, if the state board finds that a participating county board of education has been unable to provide reasonable oversight over its charter schools, the state board may terminate the authority of any of the participants. If the state board terminates the authority of a participating county board of education, the oversight of a charter school authorized by that county board of education pursuant to this section shall be transferred to the state board or to the governing board of the school district in which the charter school operates.

(3)(A)A report submitted to the Legislature pursuant to paragraphs (1) and (2) shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.

(B)The reporting requirement pursuant to paragraphs (1) and (2) shall become inoperative on June 30, 2028, pursuant to Section 10231.5 of the Government Code.

(e)(1)Except for charter schools that meet the conditions pursuant to subdivision (f), a participating chartering authority may only approve charter schools that will operate within its county or an adjacent county, and any other geographic constraints imposed by the state board.

(2)In order to ensure access for parents and other members of the community, a charter school shall ensure that any meeting of the governing body of the charter school be accessible in a teleconference location in the county that has authorized the charter school and any county in which the charter school operates.

(f)(1)A nonprofit public benefit corporation that operates more than one charter school in the state may petition a county board of education participating in the pilot program to consolidate some or all of its existing and future charter schools under the jurisdiction of a single chartering authority that has been approved by the state board in accordance with this section for this purpose.

(2)A chartering authority that opts to accept the authorizing and oversight for an organization with multiple charter schools shall first receive approval from the state board to authorize and oversee charter schools beyond its typical geographic jurisdiction. A charter school authorized by a participating chartering authority is exempt from Section 47605.1 and the geographic restrictions imposed pursuant to Section 47605, if authorized by the state board to do so.

(3)In addition to the requirements of subdivision (b), the request shall include a process for the authorizing county board of education to review the overall fiscal and operational health of the charter organization as part of its oversight. The authorizing county board of education may approve only one charter organization pursuant to this subdivision. For purposes of subdivision (a), a charter organization approved under this subdivision shall count as one charter school and may transfer oversight of up to 10 existing individual charter schools to the county board of education. A charter organization approved pursuant to this subdivision may add no more than one new charter school every other year for the length of the pilot program, and subject to approval by the county board of education.

(4)In order to ensure access to parents and other members of the community, a charter organization with multiple charter schools in multiple counties shall ensure that any meeting of the governing body of the charter organization be accessible in a teleconference location in each county in which the charter organization has been authorized to operate a charter school.

(g)Notwithstanding the geographic restriction of subdivision (k) of Section 47605, and in addition to the authority provided in subdivision (k) of Section 47605, the state board may designate one or more entities to oversee charter schools that it approves pursuant to subdivision (j) of Section 47605 in accordance with the chartering authority approval process in this section.

(h)An operating charter school that changes chartering authorities as a result of approval in this section shall continue to operate under the terms and conditions of its approved charter and shall not be deemed a new charter school. The charter school shall retain all of its financial and operational practices and status as a continuing charter school, including, but not limited to, funding eligibility, funding rates under the local control funding formula, demographic data, school codes, employment, enrollment eligibility, and accountability status.

(i)Notwithstanding Section 47613, a participating chartering authority may charge for the actual costs of supervisorial oversight, management of the pilot, and reporting to the state board pursuant to paragraph (6) of subdivision (b) in an amount no greater than 3 percent of the pilot charter schools’ revenues. Accounting for the use of oversight fees collected, and an evaluation of the adequacy of oversight fees received, shall be included in the annual reports submitted pursuant to subdivision (d).

(j)Except where explicitly exempt, a participating chartering authority shall comply with all laws and requirements of chartering authorities imposed by this chapter, including all of the provisions related to charter school approval, oversight, renewal, and revocation. A charter school authorized by a county board of education pursuant to this section shall comply with all of the provisions applicable to charter schools pursuant to this chapter except where explicitly exempted by this section.

(k)Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit or change the chartering authority of school districts, county boards of education, or the state board pursuant to Section 47605, 47605.5, 47605.6, 47605.8, or 47606.

(l)The state board or a participating chartering authority may solicit and receive grants from private nonprofit foundations and organizations for the purpose of funding the startup and administration of, or research and reporting on, the pilot program established under this section.

(m)For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply:

(1)“Participating chartering authority” means a county board of education selected to participate in the pilot program authorized by this section.

(2)“Pilot program” means the Chartering Authority Pilot Program established pursuant to this section.