SS/SCS/SB 576 – This act modifies the laws governing charter schools.
SECTION 29.205 – The State Auditor may audit any charter school in the same manner as any agency of the state.
SECTION 160.400 – In addition to the St. Louis City and Kansas City School Districts, charter schools may be operated in unaccredited districts. Charter schools may be operated in districts accredited without provisions if sponsored by the local school board except that a local school board with an enrollment of 1550 students or greater cannot enroll more than thirty-five percent of its enrollment in charter schools it sponsors, as described in the act. Charter schools may be operated in a provisionally accredited district after three full school years of provisional accreditation and APR scores consistent with a classification of provisionally accredited or unaccredited beginning in the 2012-2013 school year. In addition, if the provisional accreditation is related to financial stress or hardship, the State Board of Education must vote to decide whether charters may operate. The sponsor is limited to the local school board or a sponsor that has met accountability standards, as described in the act.
This act modifies sponsorship. If the State Board of Education appoints a special administrative board for Kansas City, the special administrative board may sponsor charter schools. This act removes the restriction that a sponsoring public four-year college or university have its primary campus in the school district or in a county adjacent to the county in which the district is located. In addition, a community college whose service area encompasses some portion of the district may be a sponsor. Currently, any private four-year college or university located in St. Louis City with an enrollment of one thousand students and an approved teacher preparation program may be a sponsor. This act eliminates the requirement that the institution be located in St. Louis City but requires that its primary campus be located in Missouri. Additional sponsors include the special administrative board of the St. Louis City School District, any two-year private vocational or technical school, as described in the act, and the Missouri Charter Public School Commission.
In an unaccredited or provisionally accredited district where a charter school is sponsored by an entity other than the local school board, when the district becomes classified as accredited, a charter school may continue to be sponsored by the entity sponsoring it prior to the classification of accreditation. Such a school will not be limited to the local school board as a sponsor. Charter schools in Kansas City and St. Louis may be sponsored by any eligible entity, regardless of the districts' accreditation classification. A charter school whose charter provides for the addition of grade levels may add grade levels until the planned expansion is complete.
The mayor of St. Louis City may request a two-year private vocational or technical school or the Missouri Charter Public School Commission to sponsor a workplace charter school.
When a charter school chooses to affiliate with a four-year college or university, the college or university will no longer be required to be located within the county in which the school district lies or in an adjacent county.
A school district or the State Board of Education, when acting as a sponsor, may have expenses associated with sponsorship be defrayed by having the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education withhold up to 1.5% of the charter school's state and local funding. A sponsor that receives 1.5% funding to defray expenses associated with sponsorship must submit annual reports to the Joint Committee on Education demonstrating compliance with requirements.
A charter school sponsor must develop policies and procedures for the following: the review of a charter school proposal; the granting of a charter; the performance framework of a charter; the renewal, revocation, and nonrenewal processes; additional criteria for oversight of the charter; and procedures to be used when a school closes. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is required to provide guidance to sponsors in developing these procedures and policies.
Currently, the State Board may suspend a sponsor's ability to sponsor a school for a period of one year. This act modifies the State Board's existing monitoring and suspension authority and instead requires the State Board to evaluate sponsors, as described in the act, to determine compliance with sponsorship standards every three years. If the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education determines that a sponsor is in material noncompliance with sponsorship duties, it must be notified and given remediation time. If compliance does not improve, the Commissioner of Education must conduct a public hearing and recommend corrective action to the State Board of Education. The State Board will have final determination over corrective action. If the State Board removes sponsorship authority for any currently operating charter school, the Missouri Charter Public School Commission will become the school's sponsor.
SECTION 160.403 – The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must establish an annual application and approval process for all entities eligible to sponsor charter schools. All information and guidelines for eligible sponsors must be made available by November 1, 2012.
This act identifies the information that must be included in an eligible sponsor's application.
By April 1 annually, the Department must grant or deny a sponsoring authority to a sponsor applicant. Within thirty days of the Department's decision, it must execute a renewable sponsoring contract with each approved sponsoring entity. The term will be six years in length and may be renewed.
SECTION 160.405 – This act modifies the framework of a charter school's charter. The charter will be a legally binding performance contract that describes the obligations and responsibilities of the school and the sponsor.
The term of a charter will be for five years, instead of the current provision that allows charters to be not less than five but not greater than ten years. This act identifies additional items that must be contained in a charter. Charter schools operating on August 27, 2012 will have until August 28, 2015 to meet the new requirements for items that must be in a charter.
A charter must be submitted to the sponsor and follow the sponsor's policies and procedures for review and granting. The charter must be consistent with the sponsor's charter sponsorship goals and capacity. In addition, the charter must be approved by the State Board of Education by December 1 prior to the proposed opening date of the charter school.
This act modifies the definition of "high risk" student.
This act eliminates judicial review for the disapproval of a charter.
Charter schools must conduct a background check of education personnel, including through the employee criminal history background check and the Family Care Safety Registry.
Charter schools with local educational agency status must comply with all federal audit requirements for such charters.
Currently, charter schools must collect baseline data during at least the first three years to determine performance. This act requires charter schools to establish baseline student performance during the first year of operation and collect student performance data, as described in the act, throughout the duration of the charter to annually monitor student academic performance, based upon grade levels offered by the school.
The performance standards for alternative and special purpose charter schools that target high-risk students must be based on measures defined in the school's performance contract with its sponsors.
Charter schools are required to comply with all applicable federal and state special education laws including IDEA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
This act allows proposed or existing high risk or alternative charter schools to include alternative arrangements for students to obtain credits for satisfying graduation requirements in the charter application and charter. Alternative arrangements may include credit for off-campus instruction, embedded credit, work experience, independent studies, and performance-based credit options. Upon approval of the charter by the State Board of Education, any alternative arrangements will be approved at the same time.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must conduct a study of any such charter school granted alternative arrangements for students to obtain credit to assess student performance, graduation rates, educational outcomes, and entry into the workforce or higher education.
The sponsor, governing board, and charter school staff must jointly review the school's performance, management, and operations during the first year of operation and then every other year after the most recent review, instead of the current requirement of at least once every two years.
This act removes the requirement that a charter school become a local educational agency for the sole purpose of direct access to federal grants and allows the school to become an agency if the sponsor and the governing board reach a written agreement to become an agency.
Sponsors must annually review the charter school's compliance with statutory standards including statewide assessment participation, completion of the annual report card, data collection, a method to measure pupil progress, and publication of the charter school's annual performance report. Sponsors must have intervention policies to give schools notice of contract violations or performance deficiencies, as described in the act. A sponsor must have a policy to revoke a charter if there is evidence of underperformance or a violation of the law or the public trust that imperils students or public funds, as described in the act.
This act limits the length of probationary status for a charter school to no more than twelve months, provided that no more than one designation of probationary status is allowed for the duration of the charter contract.
This act removes judicial review of a sponsor's final decision to revoke a charter. Instead, the decision to revoke a charter will be subject to an appeal to the State Board of Education, which must then determine whether the charter will be revoked.
Sponsors must conduct a renewal process of charter schools based on objective evidence, as described in the act, including annual performance report results. Beginning August 1 during the year in which a charter is up for renewal, a sponsor must demonstrate to the State Board of Education that the charter school is in compliance with federal and state law and the school's performance contract, including academic performance requirements. The sponsor must also submit a revised charter application to the State Board of Education, which must determine if the sponsor has demonstrated compliance. If compliance is demonstrated, the State Board must renew the charter.
SECTION 160.410 – This act requires charter schools whose mission includes student drop-out prevention or recovery to enroll nonresident pupils from the same or an adjacent county who reside in residential care facilities, transitional living group homes, or independent living programs whose last school of enrollment is in the school district where the charter school is established, who submit a timely application. Charter alternative and special purpose schools may also give a preference for admission to high-risk students, as defined, when the school targets these students through its proposed mission, curriculum, teaching methods, and services.
Charter schools may limit admission based on gender if the school is a single-gender school.
Students of a charter school who are present for the January membership count in Section 163.011 will be counted in the performance of the charter school on the statewide assessments in that calendar year, unless otherwise exempted as English language learners.
If a charter school is operated by a management company, a copy of the contract must be made available for public inspection.
If a student attending a charter school moves so that he or she no longer lives in the school district where charter schools may operate, he or she may complete the current semester at the charter school and will be considered a resident student. The parent or legal guardian will be responsible for the student's transportation.
If a change in school district boundary lines occurs so that a student no longer lives in a school district, or if action by the State Board of Education occurs under Section 162.081 where charter schools may operate, the student may complete the current academic year at the charter school. The parent or legal guardian will be responsible for the student's transportation.
The Foster Care Bill of Rights (Sections 167.018 and 167.019) will apply to charter schools.
SECTION 160.415 – This act contains requirements to be included in a request for proposals if a proposed charter school intends to contract with an education services provider for substantial educational services, management services, or both.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education may withhold funding at an adequate level during a charter school's last year of operation until the Department determines that school records, liabilities, and reporting requirements, including a full audit, are satisfied.
SECTION 160.417 – By October 1, 2012, and each October 1 thereafter, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must identify charter schools experiencing financial stress using information from the report required by Section 162.821. A list of charter schools experiencing financial stress will be provided to the Governor, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and President Pro Tem of the Senate.
Parameters for financial stress are defined in the act.
By November 1, the sponsor must notify the governing board of a charter school if it is identified as experiencing financial stress. The governing board must develop and approve a budget and education plan, which must be submitted to the sponsor within forty-five days. Requirements for what must be included in the plan are described in the act. The sponsor may make suggestions to improve the plan.
The Department may withhold any payment of financial aid until such time as the charter school is in compliance with these requirements.
SECTION 160.420 - In addition to existing criminal background check requirements, charter schools must ensure that a Family Care Safety Registry check is conducted for employees.
Multiple provisions are repealed because they are identical to provisions contained in Section 160.415.
SECTION 160.425 – This act creates the Missouri Charter Public School Commission. It will have nine members, all appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. Members will serve a term of four years, except for the initial appointees, whose terms are staggered. Commission members will be: one member selected from a slate of three candidates recommended by the Commissioner of Education; one member selected from a slate of three candidates recommended by the Commissioner of Higher Education; one member selected from a slate of three recommended by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate; a member selected from a slate of three recommended by the Speaker of the House of Representatives; and five additional members appointed by the Governor, one of which must be selected from a slate of three submitted from the Missouri School Boards Association. Operating procedures for the Commission are included.
The Commission may approve proposed charters for its sponsorship, as described in the act. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must provide start-up funding for the Commission to operate, which will be reimbursed from funds the Commission receives as sponsor of any charter schools under Section 160.400.
This act is similar to HCS/HB 1228 (2012), SB 762 (2012), HCS/HB 473 (2011), HCS/HB 1740 (2012), SCS/SBs 291, 184 & 294 (2011), SB 838 (2010), SB 835 (2010), HB 2200 (2010), SB 317 (2009), SB 1027 (2008) and SB 64 (2009).