SB 838 – This act modifies the charter school laws.
SECTION 160.400: Current law allows charter schools to be operated only in the St. Louis City School District or Kansas City School District. This act allows charter schools to be operated in a district that has been classified as unaccredited by the State Board of Education or in a district that has a Title I school in level 3, 4, or 5 of school improvement.
A community college whose service area encompasses any portion of a school district in which charter schools are allowed to operate may serve as a sponsor. This act removes the requirement that a private four-year college or university be located in St. Louis City to serve as a sponsor; instead, a private four-year college or university must have its primary campus in Missouri to be a sponsor. The mayor of St. Louis City may sponsor a charter school or workplace charter school in the St. Louis City School District. In addition, the mayor may request that a public or private four-year college or university or community college, as described in the act, serve as the sponsor of a workplace charter school.
This act allows a school district or the State Board of Education, when acting as a sponsor, to have expenses associated with sponsorship to 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.
The sponsor of a charter school must develop policies and procedures for the review of a charter school proposal, the granting of a charter, and procedures if a charter school should close, including but not limited to the transfer or repository of student records and the disposition of a charter school's assets.
If the State Board of Education serves as the interim sponsor of a charter school and the school fails to meet academic performance or other goals, the State Board of Education may revoke the charter.
SECTION 160.405: This act replaces the requirement that a charter state educational goals and objectives to be achieved by the school with the requirement that the charter contain an accountability plan, as described in the act. A charter must also contain procedures to be implemented if the charter school should close, including the transfer or repository of student records and the disposition of the charter school's assets.
A charter must be submitted to the sponsor by August 15 of the year prior to the proposed opening date.
Charter schools must conduct a background check of education personnel, including through the Family Care Safety Registry.
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 based upon grade levels offered by the school.
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, 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 seeking direct access to federal grants.
Beginning January 1, 2011, when a charter is up for renewal, the sponsor must demonstrate to the State Board of Education that the school complies with federal and state laws on accountability, transparency, maintenance of parent, student, and employee rights, performance of charter requirements, and academic performance standards, as described in the act. The State Board of Education must determine if a charter school is in compliance. If compliance has not been met, the sponsor may file a statement about why the school should remain open and the Board must hold a public hearing. The Board must vote on whether to continue operation of the school, may impose conditions on the school, or may close it at the end of the academic year.
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 are considered high-risk or are dropouts, or 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. Preference will be given to resident pupils over non-resident pupils if there is insufficient capacity. Charter schools may also give an admissions preference to high-risk and dropout students.
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. 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 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.
SECTION 160.415: The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education may withhold funding at an appropriate 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 160.420: This act repeals language that is identical to language also contained in section 160.415.
This act contains provisions similar to SB 317 (2009), SB 1027 (2008), and SB 64 (2009).