PRINTER'S NO. 839
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
SENATE BILL
No.
1
Session of
2021
INTRODUCED BY MARTIN, DiSANTO, CORMAN, ARGALL, MENSCH, SCAVELLO,
STEFANO, REGAN, AUMENT AND HUTCHINSON, JUNE 4, 2021
REFERRED TO EDUCATION, JUNE 4, 2021
AN ACT
Amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), entitled "An
act relating to the public school system, including certain
provisions applicable as well to private and parochial
schools; amending, revising, consolidating and changing the
laws relating thereto," in preliminary provisions, providing
for advertising and for mandate waiver program; in pupils and
attendance, providing for transfer of attendance records to
another school entity or nonpublic school; in terms and
courses of study, further providing for agreements with
institutions of higher education; in opportunities for
educational excellence, further providing for definitions and
for concurrent enrollment agreements; in charter schools,
further providing for definitions, for powers of charter
schools, for charter school requirements and for powers of
board of trustees, providing for duties of administrators,
further providing for establishment of charter school,
establishing the Public Charter School Commission and
providing for application process, further providing for
regional charter school, for contents of application, for
term and form of charter, for State Charter School Appeal
Board, for facilities, for enrollment, for school staff and
for funding for charter schools, providing for fee
prohibition, further providing for tort liability, for causes
for nonrenewal or termination, for multiple charter school
organizations, for charter school grants, for provisions
applicable to charter schools, for powers and duties of
department, for cyber charter school requirements and
prohibitions, for school district and intermediate unit
responsibilities, for establishment of cyber charter school,
for State Charter School Appeal Board review and for
applicability of other provisions of this act and of other
acts and regulations; and, in educational tax credits,
further providing for definitions, for qualification and
application by organizations, for application by business
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firms, for tax credits, for limitations and for opportunity
scholarships.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. The act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known
as the Public School Code of 1949, is amended by adding sections
to read:
Section 129. Advertising.--(a) A paid media advertisement
by a public school entity that refers to the cost of tuition or
other services, including transportation, computers, Internet or
other electronic devices, may not advertise the expenses as
free, and any reference to tuition or other services, including
transportation, computers, Internet or other electronic device
costs, must stipulate that the cost is covered by taxpayer
dollars. A paid media advertisement shall include a television,
radio or movie theater advertisement, billboard, bus poster,
newspaper, magazine, publicly accessible Internet website or any
other commercial method that may promote enrollment in a public
school entity.
(b) For the purposes of this section, the term "public
school entity" shall mean a school district, charter school,
cyber charter school, regional charter school, intermediate unit
or area career and technical school.
Section 130. Mandate Waiver Program.--(a) Except as
otherwise provided in this section, a governing body may adopt a
resolution to apply to the department for a waiver of one or
more provisions of this act, regulations of the State Board,
standards of the secretary, policies or guidance of the
department or any other provisions of law permitted to be waived
under this section to enable the school entity to improve
instructional programs or operate in a more effective, efficient
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or economical manner.
(b) The application for a waiver shall be submitted in a
manner and on a form established by the department. The
application may only require an applicant to:
(1) Specify the provisions of this act, regulations of the
State Board, standards of the secretary or policies or guidance
of the department for which the applicant is seeking a waiver.
(2) Include the reasons why the waiver is being requested.
(3) Provide supporting data or information to explain the
benefits expected to be obtained as a result of the waiver.
(c) Each application for waiver must be adopted by a
resolution of a governing body at a regularly scheduled meeting
of the governing body. Approval from the department shall be
required prior to implementing the waiver.
(d) The department, in considering each waiver application:
(1) May not impose additional requirements on the waiver
applicant other than the requirements specified in this section.
(2) Shall approve a waiver application that:
(i) Complies with the application process and provides the
information required in the application form developed by the
department under subsection (b).
(ii) Does not conflict with a provision of Federal law or
regulation or other law or regulation that is not permitted to
be waived under this section.
(e) The department shall have thirty (30) days from receipt
of the waiver application to issue a written approval or
disapproval or request modifications to the application. If the
department fails to act within the time period, the waiver
application shall be deemed to be approved.
(f) The following shall apply:
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(1) If the department requests modification to or
disapproves the waiver application, the specific reasons for the
department's request or disapproval shall be transmitted to the
waiver applicant.
(2) If the department denies an application, the response to
the applicant shall include an explanation of any provision of
law, regulation of the State Board, standard of the secretary or
policies or guidance of the department that is not subject to
waiver under this section and would be violated if the
application were granted.
(3) The waiver applicant may submit a revised application
for a waiver in accordance with subsection (c).
(4) A waiver applicant may appeal a disapproval to the
secretary pursuant to 2 Pa.C.S. Chs. 5 (relating to practice and
procedure) and 7 (relating to judicial review). A waiver
applicant may not be required to revise and resubmit the waiver
application prior to appealing a disapproval.
(g) A waiver shall remain in effect permanently unless
rescinded by the governing body or found by a court of competent
jurisdiction to be in violation of subsection (d)(2)(ii).
(h) The following shall not be subject to waiver under this
section:
(1) The following provisions of this act: sections 106, 108,
110, 111, 111.1, 321, 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, 431,
436, 437, 440.1, 443, 513, 518, 527, 701.1, 708, 740, 741, 751,
752, 753, 771, 776, 785, 808, 809, 810, 1073, 1073.1, 1076,
1077, 1080, 1302, 1303, 1310, 1310.1, 1317, 1317.2, 1318, 1327,
1327.1, 1327.2, 1330, 1332, 1361, 1366, 1501, 1502, 1513, 1517,
1518, 1521, 1523, 1526, 1546 and 1547, provisions prohibiting
discrimination, Articles VI, VI-A, XI, XI-A, XII, XIII-A, XIII-
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B, XIII-C, XIII-D, XIII-E, XIV, XVII-A and this section.
(2) The following provisions of 22 Pa. Code (relating to
education):
Chapter 4 (relating to academic standards and assessment).
Chapter 10 (relating to safe schools).
Chapter 11 (relating to student attendance).
Chapter 12 (relating to students and student services).
Chapter 14 (relating to special education services and
programs).
Chapter 15 (relating to protected handicapped students).
Chapter 16 (relating to special education for gifted
students).
Chapter 235 (relating to Code of Professional Practice and
Conduct for Educators).
Chapter 711 (relating to charter school and cyber charter
school services and programs for children with disabilities).
(3) For intermediate units, Article IX-A and 22 Pa. Code
Ch. 17 (relating to intermediate units).
(4) For area career and technical schools, Article XVIII and
22 Pa. Code Ch. 339 (related to vocational education).
(i) The department shall maintain and annually update a
listing of all approved waiver applications on the department's
publicly accessible Internet website. The listing shall include
the name of the school entity and the provisions of law,
regulation, standard of the secretary or policies or guidance of
the department for which waivers were granted.
(j) Nothing in this section shall be construed to supersede
or preempt a provision of a collective bargaining agreement in
effect on the effective date of this subsection.
(k) As used in this section, the following words and phrases
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shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection unless
the context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Department." The Department of Education of the
Commonwealth.
"Governing body." A board of school directors or other
governing authority of a school entity.
"School entity." A school district, charter school, cyber
charter school, regional charter school, area career and
technical school or intermediate unit.
"Secretary." The Secretary of Education of the Commonwealth.
"State Board." The State Board of Education.
"Waiver applicant." A school entity that applies for a
waiver under this section.
Section 1313.2. Transfer of Attendance Records to Another
School Entity or Nonpublic School.--(a) The following shall
apply:
(1) If a student transfers to another school entity or
nonpublic school within this Commonwealth, a copy of the
student's attendance record shall be transmitted to the school
entity or nonpublic school to which the student has transferred.
(2) The school entity or nonpublic school to which the
student has transferred shall request the attendance record.
(3) The sending school entity or nonpublic school shall have
ten (10) days from the receipt of the request to provide a copy
of the student's attendance record.
(b) For a student transferring during the course of a school
term, the student's unexcused absences shall be included in the
student's attendance record at the school entity or nonpublic
school to which the student has transferred for that school
term.
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(c) For purposes of this section, the term "school entity"
means a school district, charter school, cyber charter school,
regional charter school, intermediate unit or area career and
technical school.
Section 2. Section 1525 of the act is amended to read:
Section 1525. Agreements with Institutions of Higher
Education.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the
contrary, a school district, charter school, regional charter
school, cyber charter school or area career and technical school
may enter into an agreement with one or more institutions of
higher education approved to operate in this Commonwealth in
order to allow [resident] students to attend such institutions
of higher education while the [resident] students are enrolled
in the school district, charter school, regional charter school,
cyber charter school or area career and technical school. The
agreement may be structured so that high school students may
receive credits toward completion of courses at the school
district, charter school, regional charter school, cyber charter
school or area career and technical school and at institutions
of higher education approved to operate in this Commonwealth.
Section 3. The definitions of "concurrent student" and
"school entity" in section 1602-B of the act are amended to
read:
Section 1602-B. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this article
shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
context clearly indicates otherwise:
* * *
"Concurrent student." A student who is enrolled in a school
district, a charter school, a regional charter school, a cyber
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charter school, an area career and technical school, a nonpublic
school, a private school or a home education program under
section 1327.1 and who takes a concurrent course through a
concurrent enrollment program.
* * *
"School entity." A school district, charter school, regional
charter school, cyber charter school or an area career and
technical school.
* * *
Section 4. Section 1613-B of the act is amended by adding a
subsection to read:
Section 1613-B. Concurrent enrollment agreements.
* * *
(c) Charter schools, regional charter schools and cyber
charter schools.--Charter schools, regional charter schools and
cyber charter schools shall have the power and authority to
enter into a concurrent enrollment agreement with an institution
of higher education. Appropriate credit shall be awarded to
students concurrently enrolled under an agreement under this
subsection.
Section 5. Sections 1703-A, 1714-A, 1715-A and 1716-A of the
act are amended to read:
Section 1703-A. Definitions.--As used in this article,
"Administrator" shall include an employe of a charter school
entity, including the chief administrator of a charter school
entity and any other employe, who by virtue of the employe's
position is responsible for taking official action of a
nonministerial nature with regard to contracting or procurement,
administering or monitoring grants or subsidies, managing or
regulating staff, student and school activities or any activity
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where the official action has an economic impact of greater than
a de minimis nature on the interests of any person.
"Aid ratio" and "market value/income aid ratio" shall be:
(1) the aid ratio and market value/income aid ratio for the
school district that granted a charter to the charter school;
(2) for a regional charter school, the aid ratio and market
value/income aid ratio shall be a composite, as determined by
the department, based on the school districts that granted the
charter; or
(3) for a cyber charter school, the aid ratio and market
value/income aid ratio shall be that of the school district in
which the administrative offices of the cyber charter school are
located.
"Appeal board" shall mean the State Charter School Appeal
Board established by this article.
"Assessment" shall mean the Pennsylvania System of School
Assessment test, the Keystone Exam or another test established
or approved by the State board or the General Assembly to meet
the requirements of section 2603-B or 2604-B or 22 Pa. Code §
4.51 (relating to State assessment system) or required under the
Every Student Succeeds Act (Public Law 114-95, 129 Stat. 1802)
or its successor Federal statute.
"At-risk student" shall mean a student at risk of educational
failure because of limited English proficiency, poverty,
community factors, truancy, academic difficulties or economic
disadvantage.
"Charter school" shall mean an independent public school
established and operated under a charter from the local board of
school directors and in which students are enrolled or attend. A
charter school must be organized as a public, nonprofit
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corporation. Charters may not be granted to any for-profit
entity.
["Chief executive officer" shall mean an individual appointed
by the board of trustees to oversee and manage the operation of
the charter school, but who shall not be deemed a professional
staff member under this article.]
"Charter school entity" shall mean a charter school, regional
charter school or cyber charter school.
"Charter school foundation" shall mean a nonprofit
organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue
Code of 1986 (Public Law 99-514, 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3)), that
provides funding, resources or otherwise serves to support a
charter school entity.
"Chief administrator" shall mean an individual appointed by a
board of trustees to oversee and manage the operation of a
charter school entity. The term shall not include a professional
staff member under this article.
"Commission" shall mean the Public Charter School Commission
established under section 1717.1-A.
"Cyber charter school" shall mean an independent public
school established and operated under a charter from the
Department of Education and in which the school uses technology,
including electronic or digital books, in order to provide a
significant portion of its curriculum and to deliver a
significant portion of instruction to its students through the
Internet or other electronic means. A cyber charter school must
be organized as a public, nonprofit corporation. A charter may
not be granted to a for-profit entity.
"Department" shall mean the Department of Education of the
Commonwealth.
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"Educational management service provider" shall mean a
nonprofit charter management organization, for-profit education
management organization, school design provider or business
manager with which a board of trustees of a charter school
entity contracts to provide educational design, business
services, comprehensive management or personnel functions or to
implement the charter. The term shall not include a charter
school foundation.
"Family member" shall mean a parent, child, stepchild,
spouse, brother or sister.
"Local board of school directors" shall mean the board of
directors or other governing authority of a school district in
which a proposed or an approved charter school is located.
"Nonrelated" shall mean an individual who is not a family
member.
"Regional charter school" shall mean an independent public
school established and operated under a charter from more than
one local board of school directors and in which students are
enrolled or attend. A regional charter school must be organized
as a public, nonprofit corporation. Charters may not be granted
to any for-profit entity.
"School district of residence" shall mean the school district
in this Commonwealth in which [the parents or guardians of a
child reside.] a child resides as determined under section 1302
and 22 Pa. Code § 11.11(a)(1) (relating to entitlement of
resident children to attend public schools).
"School entity" shall mean a school district, intermediate
unit, joint school or area career and technical school.
"Secretary" shall mean the Secretary of Education of the
Commonwealth.
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"State board" shall mean the State Board of Education of the
Commonwealth.
Section 1714-A. Powers of Charter [Schools] School
Entities.--(a) A charter school entity established under this
act is a body corporate and shall have all powers necessary or
desirable for carrying out its charter, including, but not
limited to, the power to:
(1) Adopt a name and corporate seal; however, any name
selected shall include the words "charter school."
(2) Sue and be sued, but only to the same extent and upon
the same condition that political subdivisions and local
agencies can be sued.
(3) Acquire real property from public or private sources by
purchase, lease, lease with an option to purchase or gift for
use as a charter school entity facility.
(4) Receive and disburse funds for charter school entity
purposes only.
(5) Make contracts and leases for the procurement of
services, equipment and supplies.
(6) Incur temporary debts in anticipation of the receipt of
funds.
(6.1) Incur debt for the construction of school facilities.
(7) Solicit and accept any gifts or grants for charter
school entity purposes.
(b) A charter school entity shall have such other powers as
are necessary to fulfill its charter and which are not
inconsistent with this article.
(c) Any indebtedness incurred by a charter school entity in
the exercise of the powers specified in this section shall not
impose any liability or legal obligation upon a school entity or
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upon the Commonwealth.
Section 1715-A. Charter School Entity Requirements.--(a)
Charter [schools] school entities shall be required to comply
with the following provisions:
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this article, a charter
school entity is exempt from statutory requirements established
in this act, from regulations of the State board and the
standards of the secretary not specifically applicable to
charter [schools] school entities. Charter [schools] school
entities are not exempt from statutes applicable to public
schools other than this act.
(2) A charter school entity shall be accountable to the
parents, the public and the Commonwealth, with the delineation
of that accountability reflected in the charter. Strategies for
meaningful parent and community involvement shall be developed
and implemented by each school.
(3) A charter school entity shall not unlawfully
discriminate in admissions, hiring or operation.
(4) A charter school entity shall be nonsectarian in all
operations.
(5) [A charter school shall not provide any religious
instruction, nor shall it display religious objects and symbols
on the premises of the charter school.] The following shall
apply:
(i) Subject to subparagraph (ii), a charter school entity
may not provide religious instruction and may not display
religious objects and symbols on the premises of the charter
school entity.
(ii) It shall not be a violation of this paragraph for a
charter school entity to utilize a sectarian facility:
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(A) if the charter school entity provides for discrete and
separate entrances to buildings utilized for school purposes
only;
(B) if the religious objects and symbols within the portions
of the facility utilized by the school are covered or removed to
the extent reasonably feasible; or
(C) in which the unused portion of the facility or its
common areas do not contain religious symbols and objects.
(6) A charter school entity shall not advocate unlawful
behavior.
(7) A charter school entity shall only be subject to the
laws and regulations as provided for in section 1732-A, or as
otherwise provided for in this article.
(8) A charter school entity shall participate in the
Pennsylvania State Assessment System as provided for in 22 Pa.
Code Ch. 5 (relating to curriculum), or subsequent regulations
promulgated to replace 22 Pa. Code Ch. 5, in the manner in which
the school district in which the charter school entity is
located is scheduled to participate.
(9) A charter school entity shall provide a minimum of one
hundred eighty (180) days of instruction or nine hundred (900)
hours per year of instruction at the elementary level, or nine
hundred ninety (990) hours per year of instruction at the
secondary level. Nothing in this clause shall preclude the use
of computer and satellite linkages for delivering instruction to
students.
(10) [Boards] Charter school entities, boards of trustees
and contractors of charter [schools] school entities shall be
subject to the following statutory requirements governing
construction projects and construction-related work:
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(i) The following provisions of this act:
(A) Sections 751 and 751.1.
(B) Sections 756 and 757 insofar as they are consistent with
the act of December 20, 1967 (P.L.869, No.385), known as the
"Public Works Contractors' Bond Law of 1967."
(ii) Section 1 of the act of May 1, 1913 (P.L.155, No.104),
entitled "An act regulating the letting of certain contracts for
the erection, construction, and alteration of public buildings."
(iii) The act of August 11, 1961 (P.L.987, No.442), known as
the "Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act."
(iv) The "Public Works Contractors' Bond Law of 1967."
(v) The act of March 3, 1978 (P.L.6, No.3), known as the
"Steel Products Procurement Act."
[(11) Trustees of a charter school shall be public
officials.
(12) A person who serves as an administrator for a charter
school shall not receive compensation from another charter
school or from a company that provides management or other
services to another charter school. The term "administrator"
shall include the chief executive officer of a charter school
and all other employes of a charter school who by virtue of
their positions exercise management or operational oversight
responsibilities. A person who serves as an administrator for a
charter school shall be a public official under 65 Pa.C.S. Ch.
11 (relating to ethics standards and financial disclosure). A
violation of this clause shall constitute a violation of 65
Pa.C.S. § 1103(a) (relating to restricted activities), and the
violator shall be subject to the penalties imposed under the
jurisdiction of the State Ethics Commission.]
(b) A charter school entity shall form an independent audit
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committee of its board of trustees members which shall review at
the close of each fiscal year a complete certified audit of the
operations of the charter school entity. The audit shall be
conducted by a qualified independent certified public
accountant. The audit shall be conducted under generally
accepted audit standards of the Governmental Accounting
Standards Board and shall include the following:
(1) An enrollment test to verify the accuracy of student
enrollment and reporting to the Commonwealth.
(2) Full review of expense reimbursements for members of the
board of trustees and administrators, including sampling of each
reimbursement.
(3) Review of internal controls, including review of
receipts and disbursements.
(4) Review of annual Federal and State tax filings,
including the Internal Revenue Service Form 990, Return of
Organization Exempt from Income Tax and each related schedule
and appendix for the charter school entity and charter school
foundation, if applicable.
(5) Review of the financial statements of any charter school
foundation.
(6) Review of the selection and acceptance process of each
contract publicly bid pursuant to section 751.
(7) Review of each board policy and procedure with regard to
internal controls, code of ethics, conflicts of interest,
whistle-blower protections, complaints from parents or the
public, compliance with 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 (relating to open
meetings), finances, budgeting, audits, public bidding and
bonding.
(c) A charter school entity may be subject to an annual
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audit by the Auditor General, in addition to any other audits
required by Federal law or this act.
(d) A charter school entity shall annually provide the
department and, for a charter school or regional charter school,
shall annually provide the school district with a copy of the
annual budget for the operation of the charter school entity . A
charter school entity authorized by the commission under section
1717.2-A shall annually provide the department and the
commission with a copy of the annual budget for the operation of
the charter school entity. A copy of the annual budget under
this subsection shall identify all of the following:
(1) The source of funding for each expenditure.
(2) If funding is provided by a charter school foundation,
the amount of funds and a description of the use of the funds.
(3) The salaries of each administrator of the charter school
entity.
(4) Each expenditure to an educational management service
provider.
(e) The annual budgets under subsection (d) are public
documents and shall be made available on the charter school
entity's publicly accessible Internet website, if available,
and, for a charter school or regional charter school, on the
school district's publicly accessible Internet website.
(f) The charter school foundation shall make copies of its
annual budget available upon request and on the foundation's or
the charter school entity's publicly accessible Internet website
within thirty (30) days of the close of the charter school
foundation's fiscal year. The annual budget shall include the
salaries of each employe of the charter school foundation.
Section 1716-A. Powers and Duties of Board of Trustees.--(a)
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The board of trustees of a charter school entity shall have the
authority to decide matters related to the operation of the
school, including, but not limited to, budgeting, curriculum and
operating procedures, subject to the school's charter. The board
shall have the authority to employ, discharge and contract with
necessary professional and nonprofessional employes subject to
the school's charter and the provisions of this article.
(b) No member of a local board of school directors of a
school entity shall serve on the board of trustees of a charter
school entity that is located in the member's district.
(b.1) (1) An individual may not serve as a voting member of
the board of trustees of the charter school or regional charter
school if the individual or a family member receives
compensation from or is employed by or is a member of the local
board of school directors who participated in the initial
review, approval, oversight, evaluation or renewal process of
the charter school or regional charter school chartered by that
board.
(2) An employe of the school district that chartered a
charter school or regional charter school may serve as a member
of the board of trustees of the charter school or regional
charter school without voting privileges.
(b.2) A member of the board of trustees of a charter school
entity shall take the oath of office as required under section
321 before entering upon the duties of their office.
(b.3) A member of the board of trustees of a charter school
entity shall be considered a public official subject to the
provisions of 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 11 (relating to ethics standards
and financial disclosures).
(b.4) A member of the board of trustees of a charter school
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entity may not be compensated for duties on the board of
trustees.
(b.5) A member of the board of trustees of a charter school
entity shall be automatically disqualified and immediately
removed from the board of trustees upon conviction for an
offense graded as a felony, an infamous crime, an offense
pertaining to fraud, theft or mismanagement of public funds, any
offense pertaining to the member's official capacity as a member
of the board of trustees or any crime involving moral turpitude.
(c) The board of trustees shall comply with [the act of July
3, 1986 (P.L.388, No.84), known as the "Sunshine Act."] 65
Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 (relating to open meetings).
(d) (1) The board of trustees of a charter school entity
shall consist of a minimum of five (5) nonrelated voting
members.
(2) If a charter school entity has fewer than five (5)
nonrelated voting members serving on its board of trustees on
the effective date of this subsection, the charter school entity
shall, within sixty (60) days, appoint additional members to the
board of trustees to meet the minimum requirements of this
section.
(e) (1) A majority of the voting members of the board of
trustees shall constitute a quorum. If less than a majority is
present at any meeting, no business may be transacted at the
meeting.
(2) The affirmative vote of a majority of all of the voting
members of the board of trustees, duly recorded, shall be
required in order to take official action on the subjects
enumerated under subsection (a).
Section 6. The act is amended by adding a section to read:
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Section 1716.2-A. Duties of Administrators.--(a) An
individual who serves as an administrator for a charter school
entity shall be considered a public employe subject to the
provisions of 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 11 (relating to ethics standards
and financial disclosures).
(b) (1) An administrator for a charter school entity may
not receive compensation from another charter school entity or
from an educational management service provider, unless:
(i) The administrator has submitted a sworn statement to the
board of trustees of the charter school entity and the sworn
statement details the work for the other entity and includes the
projected number of hours, rate of compensation and projected
duration.
(ii) The board of trustees of the charter school entity has
reviewed the sworn statement under subclause (i) and agreed, by
resolution, to grant permission to the administrator.
(2) A copy of the sworn statement under clause (1)(i) and
the resolution by the board of trustees granting the permission
under clause (1)(ii) shall be provided to, and kept on file
with, the charter school entity and the local board of school
directors or, in the case of a cyber charter school, the
department or, in the case of a charter school entity authorized
under section 1717.2-A, the commission.
(c) An administrator of a charter school entity or family
member of the administrator may not serve as a voting member of
the board of trustees of the charter school entity that employs
the administrator.
(d) An administrator shall be immediately dismissed upon
conviction for an offense graded as a felony, an infamous crime,
an offense pertaining to fraud, theft or mismanagement of public
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funds or any crime involving moral turpitude.
Section 7. Section 1717-A of the act is amended to read:
Section 1717-A. Establishment of Charter School.--(a) A
charter school may be established by an individual; one or more
teachers who will teach at the proposed charter school; parents
or guardians of students who will attend the charter school; any
nonsectarian college, university or museum located in this
Commonwealth; any nonsectarian corporation not-for-profit, as
defined in 15 Pa.C.S. (relating to corporations and
unincorporated associations); any corporation, association or
partnership; or any combination thereof. A charter school may be
established by creating a new school or by converting an
existing public school or a portion of an existing public
school. No charter school shall be established or funded by and
no charter shall be granted to any sectarian school, institution
or other entity. No funds allocated or disbursed under this
article shall be used to directly support instruction pursuant
to section 1327.1.
(b) (1) The conversion of an existing public school or
portion of an existing public school to a charter school may be
initiated by any individual or entity authorized to establish a
charter school under subsection (a).
(2) In order to convert an existing public school to a
charter school, the applicants must show that:
(i) More than fifty per centum of the teaching staff in the
public school have signed a petition in support of the public
school becoming a charter school; and
(ii) More than fifty per centum of the parents or guardians
of pupils attending that public school have signed a petition in
support of the school becoming a charter school.
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(3) In no event shall the board of school directors serve as
the board of trustees of an existing school which is converted
to a charter school pursuant to this subsection.
(c) An application to establish a charter school shall be
submitted to the local board of school directors of the district
where the charter school will be located by [November 15]
October 1 of the school year preceding the school year in which
the charter school will be established except that for a charter
school beginning in the 1997-1998 school year, an application
must be received by July 15, 1997. In the 1997-1998 school year
only, applications shall be limited to recipients of fiscal year
1996-1997 Department of Education charter school planning
grants.
(c.1) Notwithstanding subsection (c), an individual under
subsection (a) may submit an application for the establishment
of a charter school to the commission for consideration under
section 1717.2-A.
(d) Within forty-five (45) days of receipt of an
application, the local board of school directors in which the
proposed charter school is to be located shall hold at least one
public hearing on the provisions of the charter application,
under [the act of July 3, 1986 (P.L.388, No.84), known as the
"Sunshine Act."] 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 (relating to open meetings).
At least forty-five (45) days must transpire between the first
public hearing and the final decision of the board on the
charter application except that for a charter school beginning
in the 1997-1998 school year, only thirty (30) days must
transpire between the first public hearing and the final
decision of the board.
(e) (1) Not later than seventy-five (75) days after the
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first public hearing on the application, the local board of
school directors shall grant or deny the application. For a
charter school beginning in the 1997-1998 school year, the local
board of school directors shall grant or deny the application no
later than sixty (60) days after the first public hearing.
(2) A charter school application submitted under [this
article] subsection (c) shall be evaluated by the local board of
school directors based on criteria, including, but not limited
to, the following:
(i) The demonstrated, sustainable support for the charter
school plan by teachers, parents, other community members and
students, including comments received at the public hearing held
under subsection (d).
(ii) The capability of the charter school applicant, in
terms of support and planning, to provide comprehensive learning
experiences to students pursuant to the adopted charter.
(iii) The extent to which the application considers the
information requested in section 1719-A and conforms to the
legislative intent outlined in section 1702-A.
(iv) The extent to which the charter school may serve as a
model for other public schools.
(3) The local board of school directors, in the case of an
existing school being converted to a charter school, shall
establish the alternative arrangements for current students who
choose not to attend the charter school.
(4) A charter application shall be deemed approved by the
local board of school directors of a school district upon
affirmative vote by a majority of all the directors. Formal
action approving or denying the application shall be taken by
the local board of school directors at a public meeting, with
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notice or consideration of the application given by the board,
under [the "Sunshine Act."] 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7.
(5) Written notice of the board's action shall be sent to
the applicant, the department and the appeal board. If the
application is denied, the reasons for the denial, including a
description of deficiencies in the application, shall be clearly
stated in the notice sent by the local board of school directors
to the charter school applicant.
(f) At the option of the charter school applicant, a denied
application may be revised and resubmitted to the local board of
school directors. Following the appointment and confirmation of
the Charter School Appeal Board under section 1721-A, the
decision of the local board of school directors may be appealed
to the appeal board. When an application is revised and
resubmitted to the local board of school directors, the board
may schedule additional public hearings on the revised
application. The board shall consider the revised and
resubmitted application at the first board meeting occurring at
least forty-five (45) days after receipt of the revised
application by the board. For a revised application resubmitted
for the 1997-1998 school year, the board shall consider the
application at the first board meeting occurring at least thirty
(30) days after its receipt. The board shall provide notice of
consideration of the revised application under [the "Sunshine
Act."] 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7. No appeal from a decision of a local
school board may be taken until July 1, 1999.
(g) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (e)(5),
failure by the local board of directors to hold a public hearing
and to grant or deny the application for a charter school within
the time periods specified in subsections (d), (e) and (f) shall
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permit the applicant for a charter to file its application as an
appeal to the appeal board. In such case, the appeal board shall
meet within thirty (30) days to review the application and make
a decision to grant or deny a charter based on the criteria
established in subsection (e)(2)[.] within sixty (60) days
following the review. Failure by the appeal board to meet the
time periods s pecified under this subsection shall deem the
charter application approved.
(h) In the case of a review by the appeal board of an
application that is revoked or is not renewed, the appeal board
shall make its decision based on the criteria established in
subsection (e)(2). A decision by the appeal board under this
subsection, subsection (g) or section 1717.2-A(c) to grant, to
renew or not to revoke a charter shall serve as a requirement
for the commission or local board of directors of a school
district or school districts, as appropriate, to sign the
written charter of the charter school as provided for in section
1717.2-A or 1720-A. Should the commission or local board of
directors fail to grant the application and sign the charter
within ten (10) days of notice of reversal of the decision of
the commission or local board of directors, the charter shall be
deemed to be approved and shall be signed by the chairman of the
appeal board.
(i) (1) The appeal board shall have the exclusive review of
an appeal by a charter school applicant, or by the board of
trustees of an existing charter school, of a decision made by
the commission or a local board of directors not to grant a
charter as provided in this section or section 1717.2-A.
(2) In order for a charter school applicant to be eligible
to appeal the denial of a charter by the local board of
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directors, the applicant must obtain the signatures of at least
two per centum of the residents of the school district or of one
thousand (1,000) residents, whichever is less, who are over
eighteen (18) years of age. For a regional charter school, the
applicant must obtain the signatures of at least two per centum
of the residents of each school district granting the charter or
of one thousand (1,000) residents from each of the school
districts granting the charter, whichever is less, who are over
eighteen (18) years of age. The signatures shall be obtained
within sixty (60) days of the denial of the application by the
local board of directors in accordance with clause (3).
(3) Each person signing a petition to appeal denial of a
charter under clause (2) shall declare that he or she is a
resident of the school district which denied the charter
application and shall include his or her printed name;
signature; address, including city, borough or township, with
street and number, if any; and the date of signing. All pages
shall be bound together. Additional pages of the petition shall
be numbered consecutively. There shall be appended to the
petition a statement that the local board of directors rejected
the petition for a charter school, the names of all applicants
for the charter, the date of denial by the board and the
proposed location of the charter school. No resident may sign
more than one petition relating to the charter school
application within the sixty (60) days following denial of the
application. The department shall develop a form to be used to
petition for an appeal.
(4) Each petition shall have appended thereto the affidavit
of some person, not necessarily a signer, setting forth all of
the following:
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(i) That the affiant is a resident of the school district
referred to in the petition.
(ii) The affiant's residence, giving city, borough or
township, with street and number, if any.
(iii) That the signers signed with full knowledge of the
purpose of the petition.
(iv) That the signers' respective residences are correctly
stated in the petition.
(v) That the signers all reside in the school district.
(vi) That each signer signed on the date set forth opposite
the signer's name.
(vii) That to the best of the affiant's knowledge and
belief, the signers are residents of the school district.
(5) If the required number of signatures are obtained within
sixty (60) days of the denial of the application, the applicant
may present the petition to the court of common pleas of the
county in which the charter school would be situated. The court
shall hold a hearing only on the sufficiency of the petition.
The applicant and local board of school directors shall be given
seven (7) days' notice of the hearing. The court shall issue a
decree establishing the sufficiency or insufficiency of the
petition. If the petition is sufficient, the decree shall be
transmitted to the State Charter School Appeal Board for review
in accordance with this section. Notification of the decree
shall be given to the applicant and the local board of
directors[.] and the appeal board shall give notice of
acceptance of the appeal to the applicant within thirty (30)
days following receipt of the decree.
(6) In any appeal, the decision made by the commission or
local board of directors shall be reviewed by the appeal board
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on the record as certified by the commission or local board of
directors. The appeal board shall give due consideration to the
findings of the commission or local board of directors and
specifically articulate its reasons for agreeing or disagreeing
with those findings in its written decision. The appeal board
shall have the discretion to allow the commission or local board
of directors and the charter school applicant to supplement the
record if the supplemental information was previously
unavailable.
(7) Not later than thirty (30) days after the date of notice
of the acceptance of the appeal, the appeal board shall meet to
officially review the certified record.
(8) Not later than sixty (60) days following the review
conducted pursuant to clause (6), the appeal board shall issue a
written decision affirming or denying the appeal. If the appeal
board has affirmed the decision of the commission or local board
of directors, notice shall be provided to [both parties.] the
charter school applicant and either the commission or local
board of directors, as appropriate.
(8.1) Failure by the appeal board to satisfy the time
periods specified under clauses (7) and (8) shall deem the
charter application approved, renewe d or not revoked.
(9) A decision of the appeal board to reverse the decision
of the commission or local board of directors shall serve as a
requirement for the commission or local board of directors of a
school district or school districts, as appropriate, to grant
the application and sign the written charter of the charter
school as provided for in section 1717.2-A or 1720-A. Should the
commission or local board of directors fail to grant the
application and sign the charter within ten (10) days of notice
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of the reversal of the decision of the commission or local board
of directors, the charter shall be deemed to be approved and
shall be signed by the chairman of the appeal board.
(10) All decisions of the appeal board shall be subject to
appellate review by the Commonwealth Court.
(11) In the case of a charter school applicant appealing the
denial of a charter by the commission, clauses (2), (3), (4) and
(5) shall also apply.
Section 7.1. The act is amended by adding sections to read:
Section 1717.1-A. Public Charter School Commission.-- (a)
The Public Charter School Commission is established within the
Commonwealth. The purpose of the commission shall be to act as
an authorizer of high-quality public charter schools throughout
this Commonwealth.
(b) The commission shall consist of citizens of this
Commonwealth who shall be appointed as follows:
(1) One (1) member who shall be appointed by the Governor by
and with the consent of a majority of the members of the Senate.
(2) Six (6) members who shall be appointed by the General
Assembly as follows:
(i) The President pro tempore of the Senate shall appoint
two (2) members.
(ii) The Minority Leader of the Senate shall appoint one (1)
member.
(iii) The Speaker of the House of Representatives shall
appoint two (2) members.
(iv) The Minority Leader of the House of Representatives
shall appoint one (1) member.
(3) Members appointed to the commission shall collectively
possess strong experience and expertise in public and nonprofit
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governance, management and finance, public school leadership,
assessment, curriculum and instruction and public education law.
(c) The following shall apply to terms:
(1) To establish staggered terms of office, the appointment
of the Governor, the first appointment of the President pro
tempore of the Senate and the first appointment of the Speaker
of the House shall serve an initial term of four (4) years.
(2) The appointment of the Minority Leader of the Senate and
the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives shall serve
an initial term of two (2) years.
(3) All remaining and subsequent appointments shall be for
terms of three (3) years.
(4) Initial appointments shall be made no later than thirty
(30) days after the effective date of this section. Members may
be reappointed, except that no member shall serve more than
three (3) consecutive terms.
(d) A member of the commission shall be automatically
disqualified and immediately removed from the commission upon
conviction for an offense graded as a felony, an infamous crime,
an offense pertaining to fraud, theft or mismanagement of public
funds, an offense pertaining to the member's official capacity
as a member of the commission or a crime involving moral
turpitude.
(e) A member of the commission shall be considered a public
official subject to 65 Pa.C.S. Ch.11 (relating to ethics
standards and financial disclosures).
(f) A member of the commission shall serve without pay
except that the member may receive reimbursement for any
reasonable and necessary expenses incurred by reason of service
on the commission.
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(g) If a vacancy occurs on the commission by death,
resignation or removal, the original appointing authority shall
appoint a qualifying individual to serve as a member of the
commission for the balance of the unexpired term.
(h) The following shall apply to operations:
(1) The members of the commission shall annually elect from
among the membership one (1) individual to serve as chairperson.
For death, resignation or removal of the member selected to be
chairperson, another member shall be selected from among the
membership to serve as chairperson for the remainder of the
annual term.
(2) A majority of the members of the commission, except for
a position that may be vacant, shall constitute a quorum
sufficient for conducting the business of the commission.
(3) The commission shall meet at the call of the
chairperson, or by a request of the majority of the members, and
shall comply with 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 (relating to open meetings).
(i) The following shall apply to personnel and resources:
(1) Subject to rules as may be made by the commission, the
chairperson shall have the power to appoint, terminate and fix
the pay of an executive director and other personnel deemed
necessary to fulfill the purpose of the commission.
(2) The chairperson, on behalf of the commission, shall
submit an annual budget request to the Governor, the chairperson
and minority chairperson of the Appropriations Committee of the
Senate and the chairperson and minority chairperson of the
Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives no
later than November 1, 2021, and November 1 each year
thereafter.
(3) The General Assembly shall consider the budget request
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and make an annual appropriation to the commission for the
salary and benefits of the executive director and other
necessary expenses.
(4) The department shall provide administrative support,
office space, meeting space and any other assistance required by
the commission to carry out its duties under this section.
(j) The following shall apply:
(1) As an authorizer of charter school entities, the
commission shall:
(i) Receive and evaluate applications to ensure the
applications meet the requirements under this article and make
approval or denial decisions.
(ii) Execute charters, consistent with approved
applications, between the commission and charter school entities
detailing the rights and responsibilities of the commission and
the charter school entity and setting forth the academic and
operational performance expectations and measures by which the
charter school entity will be judged. The commission may choose
to make the approved application the charter.
(2) Monitor on a regular basis the performance of the
charter school entities the commission oversees. The commission
shall have ongoing access to the records and facilities of the
charter school entity to ensure the charter school entity is in
compliance with its charter and this act and that requirements
for testing, civil rights and student health and safety are
being met.
Section 1717.2-A. Application Process.--(a) In reviewing
and evaluating charter applications, the commission shall employ
procedures, practices and criteria consistent with this article
and shall adopt approval criteria by resolution at a public
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meeting of the commission pursuant to 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 (relating
to open meetings). The application review process shall include
thorough evaluation of each written charter application and an
opportunity in a public hearing under 65 Pa.C.S. Ch.7 for local
residents to learn about and provide input on each application.
At least thirty (30) days prior to the hearing, the commission
shall transmit notice of the hearing and the purpose of the
application to the Legislative Reference Bureau for publication
in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. The commission shall grant the
applicant a reasonable time to provide additional materials and
amendments to its application to address any identified
deficiencies.
(b) In deciding whether to approve charter applications, the
commission shall:
(1) Grant charters only to applicants that have demonstrated
competence in each element of the commission's published
approval criteria and which are likely to open and operate a
successful charter school entity.
(2) Base decisions on documented evidence collected through
the application review process.
(3) Follow charter-granting policies and practices that are
transparent, based on merit and are void of a conflict of
interest or an appearance of a conflict of interest.
(c) No later than seventy-five (75) days after the filing of
a charter application, the commission shall approve or deny the
charter application. The commission shall adopt by resolution
each charter approval or denial decision in a public meeting
pursuant to 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7. Failure to approve or deny the
charter within seventy-five (75) days of receiving the charter
application shall permit the applicant to file its application
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as an appeal to the appeal board. The appeal board shall review
the application within thirty (30) days of receipt and make a
decision to grant or deny a charter based on the criteria
established under subsection (a) within sixty (60) days
following the review. Failure by the appeal board to meet the
time periods specified under this subsection shall deem the
charter application approved .
(c.1) Upon approval of a charter application under
subsection (c), a written charter shall be developed containing
the provisions of the charter application. This written charter
may not contain any provision requiring a charter school entity
to forfeit the charter school entity's due process rights under
this article to appeal with the appeal board. The written
charter shall be signed by the commission or the chair of the
appeal board in accordance with sections 1717-A(i)(9) or 1746-
A(b)(4) and the charter school entity's board of trustees. The
written charter, when duly signed, shall act as legal
authorization for the establishment of the charter school entity
and shall be legally binding on the commission and the charter
school entity's board of trustees.
(d) An approval decision may include, if appropriate,
reasonable conditions, excluding enrollment caps, that the
charter applicant must meet before a charter may be executed. An
initial charter executed under this subsection shall be for a
period of no less than three (3) years and no more than five (5)
years.
(e) For a charter denial, the commission shall clearly state
in the resolution adopted under subsection (c) the commission's
reasons for denial. A denied applicant may reapply to the
commission or appeal the decision to the appeal board for
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consideration under se ction 1717-A(i) or 1746-A .
(f) Within fifteen (15) days of taking action to approve or
deny a charter application, the commission shall provide a copy
of the resolution adopted under subsection (c) to the
department.
(g) The following shall apply to renewals, revocations and
nonrenewals:
(1) A charter may be renewed for five (5) year periods upon
reauthorization by the commission. Notwithstanding this
paragraph, the commission may renew a charter for a period of
one (1) year based on the performance, demonstrated capacities
and particular circumstances of the applicant. The commission
may grant renewal with specific conditions for necessary
improvements to a charter school renewal applicant, except that
the commission may not impose conditions inconsistent with this
article.
(2) By November 1 of the final year of the charter approved
under subsection (c), a charter school entity seeking renewal
shall submit a renewal application to the commission. The
commission shall approve or deny the renewal application by
resolution at a public meeting by March 31 of the ensuing year.
(3) During the term of the charter or at the end of the term
of the charter, the commission may choose to revoke or not to
renew the charter based on any of the following:
(i) A material violation of a condition, standard or
procedure contained in the charter signed under subsection
(c.1).
(ii) A failure to meet or make progress toward the
performance expectations under 22 Pa. Code Ch. 5 (relating to
curriculum) or subsequent regulations promulgated to replace 22
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Pa. Code Ch. 5 or performance standards in an approved charter.
(iii) A failure to meet generally accepted standards of
fiscal management or audit requirements.
(iv) A violation of this article.
(v) A violation of a provision of law from which the charter
school entity has not been exempted, including Federal laws and
regulations governing children with disabilities.
(vi) A conviction of fraud of the charter school entity.
(4) A notice of revocation or nonrenewal of a charter by the
commission shall state the grounds for the action with
reasonable specificity and give reasonable notice to the
governing board of the charter school entity of the date on
which a public hearing concerning the revocation or nonrenewal
shall be held. The commission shall conduct a hearing, present
evidence in support of the grounds for revocation or nonrenewal
stated in its notice and give the charter school entity
reasonable opportunity to offer testimony before taking final
action.
(5) Formal action by the commission to revoke or not renew a
charter shall be adopted by resolution at a public meeting under
65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 after the public has had at least thirty (30)
days to provide comments to the commission.
(6) The commission shall clearly state in the resolution
approved under paragraph (5) the commission's reasons to revoke
or not renew the charter.
(7) The charter school entity may appeal the decision of the
commission to revoke or not renew the charter to the appeal
board under section 1729-A(d).
(8) Within fifteen (15) days of taking action to revoke or
not to renew a charter, the commission shall provide a copy of
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the resolution adopted under paragraph (5) to the department.
(9) If the health or safety of the school's pupils, staff or
both is at serious risk, the commission may take immediate
action to revoke a charter.
(10) If a charter is revoked, not renewed, forfeited,
surrendered or ceases to operate, the charter school entity
shall be dissolved. The following shall apply:
(i) After the disposition of liabilities and obligations of
the charter school or regional charter school, real and personal
remaining assets of the charter school or regional charter
school shall be distributed on a proportional basis to the
school entities with students enrolled in the charter school or
regional charter school for the last full or partial school year
of the charter school or regional charter school. A school
entity or the Commonwealth may not be liable for an outstanding
liability or obligation of the charter school or regional
charter school.
(ii) After the disposition of liabilities and obligations of
the cyber charter school, any remaining assets of the cyber
charter school shall be transferred to the intermediate unit in
which the cyber charter school's administrative office was
located for distribution to the school districts in which the
students enrolled in the cyber charter school reside at the time
of dissolution.
Section 8. Sections 1718-A(b) and (c), 1719-A, 1720-A, 1721-
A, 1722-A, 1723-A, 1724-A and 1725-A of the act are amended to
read:
Section 1718-A. Regional Charter School.--* * *
(b) The commission or boards of school directors of one or
more school districts may act jointly to receive and consider an
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application for a regional charter school, except that any
action to approve an application for a charter or to sign a
written charter of an applicant shall require an affirmative
vote of a majority of all the members of the commission or
directors of each of the school districts involved. The
applicant shall apply for a charter to the commission or board
of directors of any school district in which the charter school
will be located.
(c) The provisions of this article as they pertain to
charter schools and the powers and duties of the local board of
school directors of a school district and the appeal board shall
apply to regional charter schools, except as provided in
subsections (a) and (b) or as otherwise clearly stated in this
article.
Section 1719-A. Contents of Application.--An application to
establish a charter school shall include all of the following
information:
(1) The identification of the charter school entity
applicant.
(2) The name of the proposed charter school entity.
(3) The grade or age levels served by the school.
(4) The proposed governance structure of the charter school,
including a description and method for the appointment or
election of members of the board of trustees.
(5) The mission and education goals of the charter school
entity, the curriculum to be offered and the methods of
assessing whether students are meeting educational goals.
(6) The admission and enrollment policy [and criteria for
evaluating the admission of students] which shall comply with
the requirements of section 1723-A.
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(7) Procedures which will be used regarding the suspension
or expulsion of pupils. Said procedures shall comply with
section 1318.
(8) Information on the manner in which community groups will
be involved in the charter school entity planning process.
(9) The financial plan for the charter school entity and the
provisions which will be made for auditing the school under
[section 437.] sections 437 and 1728-A, including the role of
any charter school foundation.
(10) Procedures which shall be established to review
complaints of parents regarding the operation of the charter
school entity.
(11) A description of and address of the physical facility
in which the charter school entity will be located and the
ownership thereof and any lease arrangements.
(12) Information on the proposed school calendar for the
charter school entity, including the length of the school day
and school year consistent with the provisions of section 1502.
(13) The proposed faculty, if already determined, and a
professional development and continuing education plan for the
faculty [of a charter school.] and professional staff of the
charter school entity.
(14) Whether any agreements have been entered into or plans
developed with the local school district regarding participation
of the charter school entity students in extracurricular
activities within the school district. Notwithstanding any
provision to the contrary, no school district of residence shall
prohibit a student of a charter school entity from participating
in any extracurricular activity of that school district of
residence: Provided, That the student is able to fulfill all of
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the requirements of participation in such activity and the
charter school entity does not provide the same extracurricular
activity.
(15) [A report] Reports of criminal history [record,
pursuant to section 111] records and employment history reviews,
under sections 111 and 111.1, for all individuals who shall have
direct contact with students[.] and a plan for satisfying the
proper criminal history record clearances and employment history
reviews required for all other staff.
(16) An official clearance statement regarding child injury
or abuse from the Department of [Public Welfare] Human Services
as required by 23 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 Subch. [C.2 (relating to
background checks for employment in schools) for all individuals
who shall have direct contact with students.] C (relating to
powers and duties of department) and section 111 for all
individuals identified in the application who shall have direct
contact with students and a plan for satisfying the proper
official clearance statement regarding child injury or abuse
required for all other staff.
(17) How the charter school entity will provide adequate
liability and other appropriate insurance for the charter school
entity, its employes and the board of trustees of the charter
school entity.
Section 1720-A. Term and Form of Charter.--(a) Upon
approval of a charter application under section 1717-A, a
written charter shall be developed which shall contain the
provisions of the charter application and which shall be signed
by the local board of school directors [of a school district],
by the local boards of school directors [of a school district]
in the case of a regional charter school or by the chairman of
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the appeal board pursuant to section [1717-A(i)(5)] 1717-A(i)(9)
and the board of trustees of the charter school[.] or regional
charter school. This written charter may not contain any
provision requiring a charter school or regional charter school
to forfeit the due process rights of the charter school or
regional charter school under this article to appeal with the
appeal board. This written charter, when duly signed by the
local board of school directors [of a school district], or by
the local boards of school directors [of a school district] in
the case of a regional charter school or by the chairman of the
appeal board, and the charter school's or regional charter
school's board of trustees, shall act as legal authorization for
the establishment of a charter school or regional charter
school. This written charter shall be legally binding on both
the local board of school directors [of a school district] and
the charter school's or regional charter school's board of
trustees. [Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b), the
charter shall be for a period of no less than three (3) nor more
than five (5) years and may be renewed for five (5) year periods
upon reauthorization by the local board of school directors of a
school district or the appeal board.] If the charter school or
regional charter school contracts with an educational management
service provider, a contract shall be executed when the charter
is approved. A charter will be granted only for a school
organized as a public, nonprofit corporation.
(b) (1) Notwithstanding subsection [(a)] (c), a governing
board of a school district of the first class may renew a
charter for a period of one (1) year if the board of school
directors determines that there is insufficient data concerning
the charter school's academic performance to adequately assess
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that performance and determines that an additional year of
performance data would yield sufficient data to assist the
governing board in its decision whether to renew the charter for
a period of five (5) years.
(2) A one-year renewal pursuant to paragraph (1) shall not
be considered an adjudication and may not be appealed to the
State Charter School Appeal Board.
(3) A governing board of a school district of the first
class does not have the authority to renew a charter for
successive one (1) year periods.
(c) The following shall apply to each charter granted by a
local board of school directors:
(1) An initial charter executed pursuant to subsection (a)
shall be for a period of no less than three (3) years and no
more than five (5) years.
(2) For charter schools and regional charter schools, a
charter may be renewed for five (5) year periods upon
reauthorization by the local board of school directors or the
appeal board.
(d) (1) A charter school or regional charter school shall
submit a renewal application as provided in section 1719-A(a)
with the local board of school directors by November 1 of the
final year of the charter.
(2) The local board of school directors shall vote to renew
or not renew the charter submitted for renewal under paragraph
(1) by March 31 of the ensuing year.
(3) A decision by the appeal board under this section to
renew a charter shall serve as a requirement for the local board
of school directors of a school district or school districts, as
appropriate, to sign the renewal of the charter for a charter
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school or regional charter school as provided for in subsection
(a). If the local board of school directors fails to sign the
renewal within ten (10) days of notice, the charter shall be
signed by the chairman of the appeal board.
Section 1721-A. State Charter School Appeal Board.--(a) The
State Charter School Appeal Board shall consist of the Secretary
of Education and six (6) members who shall be appointed by the
Governor by and with the consent of a majority of all the
members of the Senate. Appointments by the Governor shall not
occur prior to January 1, 1999. The Governor shall select the
chairman of the appeal board to serve at the pleasure of the
Governor. The members shall include:
(1) A parent of a school-aged child.
(2) A school board member.
(3) A certified teacher actively employed in a public
school.
(4) A faculty member or administrative employe of an
institution of higher education.
(5) A member of the business community.
(6) A member of the State Board of Education.
The term of office of members of the appeal board, other than
the secretary, shall be for a period of four (4) years or until
a successor is appointed and qualified, except that, of the
initial appointees, the Governor shall designate two (2) members
to serve terms of two (2) years, two (2) members to serve terms
of three (3) years and two (2) members to serve terms of four
(4) years. Any appointment to fill any vacancy shall be for the
period of the unexpired term or until a successor is appointed
and qualified.
(b) The appeal board shall meet as needed to fulfill the
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purposes provided in this subsection. A majority of the members
of the appeal board shall constitute a quorum, and a majority of
the members of the appeal board shall have authority to act upon
any matter properly before the appeal board. The appeal board is
authorized to establish rules for its operation.
(c) The members shall receive no payment for their services.
Members who are not employes of State government shall be
reimbursed for expenses incurred in the course of their official
duties from funds appropriated for the general government
operations of the department.
(d) The department shall provide assistance and staffing for
the appeal board. The Governor, through the Governor's General
Counsel, shall provide such legal advice and assistance as the
appeal board may require.
(e) Meetings of the appeal board shall be conducted under
[the act of July 3, 1986 (P.L.388, No.84), known as the
"Sunshine Act."] 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 (relating to open meetings).
Documents of the appeal board shall be subject to the [act of
June 21, 1957 (P.L.390, No.212), referred to as the Right-to-
Know Law.] act of February 14, 2008 (P.L.6, No.3), known as the
Right-to-Know Law.
Section 1722-A. Facilities.--(a) A charter school entity
may be located in an existing public school building, in a part
of an existing public school building, in space provided on a
privately owned site, in a public building or in any other
suitable location.
(b) The charter school entity facility shall be exempt from
public school facility regulations except those pertaining to
the health or safety of the pupils.
(d) Notwithstanding any other provision of this act, a
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