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PRIOR PRINTER'S NO. 1746
PRINTER'S NO. 2108
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE BILL
No.
357
Session of
2019
INTRODUCED BY TOPPER, DOWLING, HICKERNELL, KAIL, MARSHALL,
MASSER, MILLARD, REESE, ROTHMAN AND SAYLOR, MAY 7, 2019
AS AMENDED ON SECOND CONSIDERATION, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
JUNE 11, 2019
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 pupils and attendance, providing
for transfer of attendance records to another school entity
or nonpublic school; in charter schools, further providing
FOR DEFINITIONS, for establishment of charter school, for
contents of application and for term and form of charter,
providing for amendments and further providing for
enrollment, for cyber charter school requirements and
prohibitions, FOR TORT LIABILITY and for establishment of
cyber charter school.
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 a
section to read:
Section 1313.2. Transfer of Attendance Records to Another
School Entity or Nonpublic School.--(a) (1) Whenever 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
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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) In the case of 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.
(c) For purposes of this section, the term "school entity"
means a public school district, charter school, cyber charter
school, regional charter school, intermediate unit or area
vocational-technical school.
Section 2. Sections 1703-A, 1717-A(c), (d), (e) and (f),
1719-A and 1720-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
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;
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(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.
"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
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
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CHARTER SCHOOL ENTITY, EITHER DIRECTLY OR THROUGH AN AFFILIATED
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.
"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.
"EDUCATIONAL MANAGEMENT SERVICE PROVIDER" SHALL MEAN A
NONPROFIT CHARTER MANAGEMENT ORGANIZATION, FOR-PROFIT EDUCATION
MANAGEMENT ORGANIZATION, SCHOOL DESIGN PROVIDER, BUSINESS
MANAGER OR ANY OTHER PARTNER ENTITY 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.
"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.
"REGIONAL CHARTER SCHOOL" SHALL MEAN AN INDEPENDENT PUBLIC
SCHOOL ESTABLISHED AND OPERATED UNDER A CHARTER FROM MORE THAN
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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 VOCATIONAL-TECHNICAL SCHOOL.
"SECRETARY" SHALL MEAN THE SECRETARY OF EDUCATION OF THE
COMMONWEALTH.
"STATE BOARD" SHALL MEAN THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE
COMMONWEALTH.
Section 1717-A. Establishment of Charter School.--* * *
(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.
(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,
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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
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 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 and share best practices.
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(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
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
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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.
* * *
Section 1719-A. Contents of Application.--[An] (a) The
department shall create a standard application form for charter
school applicants seeking to establish a charter school entity
and a standard application form for existing charter school
entities seeking renewal of their charters. The department shall
transmit notice of the forms to the Legislative Reference Bureau
for publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, and the forms
shall be posted on the department's publicly accessible Internet
website. The forms shall include all of the following
information:
(1) The identification of the charter school 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.] An
organization chart clearly presenting the proposed governance
structure of the school, including lines of authority and
reporting between the board of trustees, administrators, staff
and any educational management service provider that will
provide management services to the charter school entity.
(4.1) A clear description of the roles and responsibilities
of the board of trustees, administrators and any other entities,
including a charter school foundation, shown in the organization
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chart.
(4.2) A clear description of the method for the appointment
or election of members of the board of trustees.
(4.3) Standards for board of trustees' performance,
including compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and
terms of the charter.
(4.4) If the charter school entity intends to contract with
an educational management service provider for services, all of
the following shall apply:
(i) Evidence of the educational management service
provider's record in serving student populations, including
demonstrated academic achievement and demonstrated management of
nonacademic school functions, including proficiency with public-
school-based accounting, if applicable.
(ii) A draft contract, if the educational management service
provider has been engaged by the charter school entity, stating
all of the following:
(A) The officers, chief administrator and administrators of
the educational management service provider.
(B) The proposed duration of the service contract.
(C) Roles and responsibilities of the board of trustees, the
school staff and the educational management service provider.
(D) The scope of services, personnel and resources to be
provided by the educational management service provider.
(E) Performance evaluation measures and timelines.
(F) The compensation structure, including clear
identification of all fees to be paid to the educational
management service provider.
(G) Methods of contract oversight and enforcement.
(H) Investment disclosure or the advance of moneys by the
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educational management service provider on behalf of the charter
school entity.
(I) Conditions for renewal and termination of the contract.
(iii) Disclosure and explanation of any existing or
potential conflicts of interest between the members of the board
of trustees and the proposed educational management service
provider or any affiliated business entities, including a
charter school foundation qualified as a support organization
under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (Public Law 99-514, 26
U.S.C. § 1 et seq.).
(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.
(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
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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 and professional staff of [a] 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
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] records
and employment history reviews, pursuant to [section 111]
sections 111 and 111.1, for all individuals identified in the
application 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)] C (relating to
powers and duties of department) and section 111 for all
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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.
(18) Policies regarding truancy, absences and withdrawal of
students, including the manner in which the charter school
entity will monitor attendance consistent with section 1715-A(9)
and the truancy provisions under Article XIII.
(19) Indicate whether the charter school entity will seek
accreditation by a nationally recognized accreditation agency,
including the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
or another regional institutional accrediting agency recognized
by the United States Department of Education or an equivalent
federally recognized body for charter school education.
(b) A local board of school directors may not impose
additional terms, develop its own application or require
additional information outside the standard application forms
required under subsection (a). The department shall review the
REQUIRED UNDER SUBSECTION (A).
(C) THE DEPARTMENT SHALL REVIEW THE standard application
forms every three (3) years and shall submit any recommended
revisions in writing to the Education Committee of the Senate
and the Education Committee of the House of Representatives
STATE BOARD . No such recommended revisions shall be made to the
standard application forms unless the revisions are enacted
APPROVED by the General Assembly. STATE BOARD. REVISIONS UNDER
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THIS SUBSECTION SHALL BE AS FOLLOWS:
(1) THE STATE BOARD SHALL TRANSMIT NOTICE OF THE
DEPARTMENT'S PROPOSED REVISIONS TO THE STANDARD APPLICATION
FORMS TO THE LEGISLATIVE REFERENCE BUREAU FOR PUBLICATION IN THE
PENNSYLVANIA BULLETIN. THE STATE BOARD SHALL GIVE AT LEAST
THIRTY (30) DAYS FOR THE SUBMISSION OF PUBLIC COMMENT AND SHALL
HOLD AT LEAST ONE PUBLIC HEARING ON THE PROPOSED REVISIONS.
(2) AFTER THE CLOSE OF THE PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD AND THE
PUBLIC HEARING, THE STATE BOARD SHALL SUBMIT ALL PUBLIC COMMENTS
AND THE TRANSCRIPT OF THE PUBLIC HEARING TO THE EDUCATION
COMMITTEE OF THE SENATE AND THE EDUCATION C OMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE
OF REPRESENTATIVES.
(3) PRIOR TO THE STATE BOARD APPROVING ANY REVISIONS, TIMELY
AND MEANINGFUL CONSULTATION WITH THE CHAIR AND MINORITY CHAIR OF
THE EDUCATION C OMMITTEE OF THE SENATE AND THE CHAIR AND MINORITY
CHAIR OF THE EDUCATION C OMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES, WITH THE OPPORTUNITY FOR INPUT, MUST BE GIVEN.
THE DEPARTMENT SHALL PRESENT THE PROPOSED REVISIONS AT A JOINT
HEARING OF THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE OF THE SENATE AND THE
EDUCATION COMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, IF
REQUESTED, WITHIN 60 DAYS OF SUBMISSION OF PUBLIC COMMENTS AND
THE TRANSCRIPT OF THE PUBLIC HEARING UNDER PARAGRAPH (2).
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 standard charter application under section
1719-A 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 the appeal board pursuant
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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, 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 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 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
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.
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(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 all charters 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 under section 1719-A(a)
with the local board of school directors by December OCTOBER 1
of the final year of the charter.
(2) Within ninety (90) days of receipt of the ONE HUNDRED
TWENTY (120) DAYS OF THE RECEIPT OF THE COMPLETE renewal
application, the local board of school directors shall vote to
renew or not renew the charter.
(3) A decision by the appeal board under this subsection 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
school or regional charter school as provided for in subsection
(a)(2). If the local board of school directors fails to sign the
renewal within ten (10) days of notice, the charter shall be
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signed by the chairman of the appeal board.
Section 3. The act is amended by adding a section to read:
Section 1720.1-A. Amendments.--(a) Subject to subsection
(a.1) SUBSECTIONS (A.1) AND (A.2) , a charter school or regional
charter school may request amendments to its approved written
charter by filing a written document describing the requested
amendment with the local board of school directors no later than
December OCTOBER 15 of the school year prior to the school year
in which the amendment would take effect.
(a.1) Notwithstanding the notice requirements of subsection
(a), in the event of the impossibility of a charter school's or
regional charter school's compliance with the terms of a charter
due to its inability to acquire services or products outlined in
a charter or facility damage, the charter school or regional
charter school shall immediately notify the local board of
school directors of the necessity for an emergency amendment,
which shall be effective immediately as a temporary amendment
pending completion of the processes set forth in subsections (b)
and (c).
(A.2) FOR A FIVE-YEAR CHARTER, A CHARTER SCHOOL OR REGIONAL
CHARTER SCHOOL MAY ONLY REQUEST AMENDMENTS IN YEAR TWO, THREE OR
FOUR OF THE CHARTER TERM. FOR A THREE-YEAR CHARTER, A CHARTER
SCHOOL OR REGIONAL CHARTER SCHOOL MAY ONLY REQUEST AMENDMENTS IN
YEAR TWO OF THE CHARTER TERM.
(b) Within sixty (60) days of receipt of the charter
amendment request, the local board of school directors shall
hold a public hearing on the requested amendment pursuant to 65
Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 (relating to open meetings).
(c) Within sixty (60) days after the hearing required under
subsection (b), the local board of school directors shall grant
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or deny the requested amendment. Failure by the local board of
school directors to hold a public hearing and to grant or deny
the requested amendment within the time periods specified in
this section shall be deemed an approval, after which the
amended charter shall be legally binding on both the local board
of school directors and the board of trustees of the charter
school or regional charter school.
(d) Notwithstanding subsection (a), a charter school or
regional charter school also may request amendments to its
approved written charter at the time of renewal. Charter
amendment requests made at the time of renewal shall be
considered distinct requests that shall be subject to
independent approval or denial by the local board of school
directors, in accordance with the provisions of this section.
(RESERVED).
(e) An applicant for an amendment may appeal the denial of a
requested amendment under this section to the appeal board
provided for under section 1721-A . EXCEPT THAT AN APPLICANT MAY
NOT APPEAL A DENIAL OF AN AMENDMENT RELATED TO ENROLLMENT GROWTH
OR GRADE EXPANSION.
(f) Except in the case of an emergency, a A charter school
or regional charter school which has no restrictions on
enrollment expansion shall notify the local board of school
directors if it intends to expand enrollment by more than ten
per centum no later than December 15 of the school year prior to
the school year in which enrollment would be expanded . EXCEPT
NOTICE MAY BE GIVEN AT ANY TIME IN THE CASE OF AN EMERGENCY
WHICH REQUIRES INCREASED ENROLLMENT. The notification shall
include the following:
(1) The planned enrollment levels for each grade for the
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following school year.
(2) If applicable, a description of any CHANGES TO AN
EXISTING facility changes needed to accommodate the planned
enrollment levels.
(g) Except in the case of an emergency, a A charter school
or regional charter school which has no OTHER restrictions on
enrollment expansion IN ITS CHARTER shall notify the local board
of school directors if it intends to change the location of a
facility or facilities no later than December 15 of the school
year prior to the school year in which the facility change would
take place EXCEPT NOTICE MAY BE GIVEN AT ANY TIME IN THE CASE OF
AN EMERGENCY RELATED TO THE FACILITY . The notification shall
include the following:
(1) A description of the proposed new facility.
(2) Information showing that the proposed new facility is
suitable in accordance with the applicable school facility
requirements, including zoning, license and certification of
occupancy requirements.
THIS SUBSECTION SHALL NOT APPLY TO A CHARTER SCHOOL OR
REGIONAL CHARTER SCHOOL SEEKING TO OPERATE A SCHOOL AT MORE THAN
ONE LOCATION, WHICH MUST BE REQUESTED THROUGH THE AMENDMENT
PROCESS SET FORTH IN SECTION 1720.1-A. A CHARTER SCHOOL OR
REGIONAL CHARTER SCHOOL MAY OPERATE AT MORE THAN ONE LOCATION
WITHIN THE DISTRICT OR DISTRICTS THAT AUTHORIZED THE CHARTER
WITHOUT REQUESTING AN AMENDMENT IF OPERATION IN MORE THAN ONE
LOCATION IS PERMITTED BY THE TERMS OF THE CHARTER.
FOR PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, AN "EMERGENCY" SHALL MEAN A
MANMADE OR NATURAL DISASTER, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO,
DAMAGE TO A SCHOOL BUILDING, ANOTHER CIRCUMSTANCE RENDERING A
SCHOOL BUILDING UNFIT OR UNSAFE FOR USE, A DISEASE EPIDEMIC OR A
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HAZARDOUS WEATHER CONDITION. IF ANOTHER EMERGENCY ARISES THAT
REQUIRES EXPANDED ENROLLMENT OR A CHANGE IN FACILITY, THE
CHARTER SCHOOL OR REGIONAL CHARTER SCHOOL MUST CONSULT WITH THE
AUTHORIZING SCHOOL DISTRICT OR SCHOOL DISTRICTS.
Section 4. Section 1723-A(a) and (b) of the act are amended
and the section is amended by adding a subsection SUBSECTIONS to
read:
Section 1723-A. [Enrollment] Admission and Enrollment
Requirements.--(a) (1) All resident children in this
Commonwealth who submit a completed enrollment form in
accordance with clause s (3) and (4) qualify for admission to a
charter school entity within the provisions of subsection (b).
[If] In the case of a charter school or regional charter school,
if more students apply to the charter school or regional charter
school than the number of attendance slots available in the
school, then students must be selected on a random basis from a
pool of [qualified applicants meeting the established
eligibility criteria and submitting an application] eligible
applicants who have submitted an enrollment form in accordance
with clause s (3) and (4) by the deadline established by the
charter school or regional charter school, except that the
charter school or regional charter school may give preference in
enrollment to a child of a parent who has actively participated
in the development of the charter school [and] or regional
charter school, to siblings of students presently enrolled in
the charter school or regional charter school and to siblings of
students selected for enrollment during the lottery process.
First preference shall be given to students who reside in the
district or districts[.] in which the charter school is
physically located or in which the regional charter school is
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chartered .
(2) If a charter school or regional charter school has a
waiting list following its initial selection of eligible
applicants under clause (1), the charter school or regional
charter school shall select and enroll eligible applicants from
the waiting list as spaces become available. All children shall
be assigned to the waiting list on a random basis. When
selecting and enrolling eligible applicants from the waiting
list, a charter school or regional charter school shall give
first preference to students as provided under clause (1) and to
those who reside in the district or districts in which the
charter school is physically located or in which the regional
charter school is chartered until the charter school or regional
charter school again reaches its maximum capacity of students.
If a charter school or regional charter school has a waiting
list, once the charter school or regional charter school has
exhausted the waiting list of resident children, it may then
enroll children on the waiting list who reside outside of the
district. Nonresident children shall also be selected and
enrolled on a random basis.
(3) The department, in consultation with representatives of
charter school entities, shall develop a standard enrollment
form in both paper and electronic formats that shall be used by
all eligible applicants to apply to a charter school entity. The
standard enrollment form shall only request information
necessary to allow the charter school entity to identify the
student, grade level and residency, including:
(i) The student's name, physical address, telephone number,
age, birth date and current grade level.
(ii) The name, physical address, telephone number and e-mail
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address of the student's parent or guardian.
(4) The standard enrollment form shall be made physically
available at each charter school entity, in a form that complies
with Federal and State law, and posted on the publicly
accessible Internet website of each charter school entity, if
available. A charter school entity may accept the enrollment
form via paper or electronic means.
(5) When a student applies to a charter school entity, a
charter school entity shall not require or request information
beyond the contents of the standard enrollment form developed by
the department.
(6) Nothing in this section shall prohibit a charter school
entity from requesting the submission of additional records and
information that public schools are entitled to receive after a
student is accepted for admission to, and has indicated an
intent to enroll in, the charter school entity.
(7) As used in this sub section , "eligible applicant" shall
mean a student who is seeking to enter a grade level offered by
the charter school entity and meets the requirements of 22 Pa.
Code §§ 11.12 (relating to school age), 11.13 (relating to
compulsory school age), 11.14 (relating to admission to
kindergarten when provided), 11.15 (relating to admission of
beginners), 11.16 (relating to early admission of beginners) and
12.1 (relating to free education and attendance) and student
residency requirements.
(b) (1) A charter school entity shall not discriminate in
its admission policies or practices on the basis of intellectual
ability, [except as provided in paragraph (2), or] athletic
ability, measures of achievement or aptitude, status as a person
with a disability, proficiency in the English language or any
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other basis that would be illegal if used by a school district.
(2) A charter school entity may limit [admission] its
academic focus to a particular grade level, a targeted
population group composed of at-risk students[, or areas of
concentration of the school such as mathematics, science or the
arts. A charter school may establish reasonable criteria to
evaluate prospective students which shall be outlined in the
school's charter.] or a specialized area or accelerated program
of study, such as mathematics, science or the arts. A PERFORMING
ARTS CHARTER SCHOOL ENTITY MAY ESTABLISH REASONABLE ARTISTIC
CRITERIA FOR ADMISSION FOR GRADES NINE THROUGH TWELVE, WHICH
MUST BE OUTLINED IN THE SCHOOL'S CHARTER TO EVALUATE PROSPECTIVE
STUDENTS FOR ENROLLMENT.
* * *
(e) A school district's obligation to make payments for
students enrolled in a charter school entity shall be governed
by section 1725-A or, in the case of students who are below a
school district's age of enrollment, by the terms of any charter
or service contract between a school district and a charter
school entity. Notwithstanding the above, absent language to the
contrary in a charter or service contract between a school
district and a charter school entity, a school district shall
not be obligated to fund a four-year-old kindergarten program if
the school district has exercised its discretion not to offer
such a program in its own schools.
(F) UPON NOTIFICATION OF THE NONRENEWAL OR TERMINATION OF A
CHARTER UNDER SECTION 1729-A, A CHARTER SCHOOL MAY NOT ENROLL
NEW STUDENTS UNLESS THE CHARTER SCHOOL FILES AN APPEAL TO THE
CHARTER SCHOOL APPEAL BOARD. IF THE CHARTER SCHOOL'S APPEAL IS
DENIED BY THE CHARTER SCHOOL APPEAL BOARD, THE CHARTER SCHOOL
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MUST IMMEDIATELY STOP ENROLLING NEW STUDENTS.
Section 5. Sections 1727-A, 1743-A(e) and 1745-A of the act
are amended to read:
SECTION 1727-A. [TORT LIABILITY] LIABILITY AND SECURITY.--
(A) FOR PURPOSES OF TORT LIABILITY, EMPLOYES OF THE CHARTER
SCHOOL SHALL BE CONSIDERED PUBLIC EMPLOYES AND THE BOARD OF
TRUSTEES SHALL BE CONSIDERED THE PUBLIC EMPLOYER IN THE SAME
MANNER AS POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS AND LOCAL AGENCIES. THE BOARD
OF TRUSTEES OF A CHARTER SCHOOL AND THE CHARTER SCHOOL SHALL BE
SOLELY LIABLE FOR ANY AND ALL DAMAGES OF ANY KIND RESULTING FROM
ANY LEGAL CHALLENGE INVOLVING THE OPERATION OF A CHARTER SCHOOL.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REQUIREMENT, THE LOCAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS
OF A SCHOOL ENTITY SHALL NOT BE HELD LIABLE FOR ANY ACTIVITY OR
OPERATION RELATED TO THE PROGRAM OF THE CHARTER SCHOOL.
(B) (1) A CHARTER SCHOOL SHALL POSSESS AND MAINTAIN
ADEQUATE AND APPROPRIATE INSURANCE, BOND OR OTHER SECURITY AS
PROVIDED UNDER SECTION 1719-A(A)(17). THE INSURANCE, BOND OR
OTHER SECURITY SHALL BE CONTINUOUSLY MAINTAINED AND SHALL
PROVIDE COVERAGE DURING THE TIME THE CHARTER SCHOOL IS IN
OPERATION AND FOR SUFFICIENT TIME FOLLOWING THE CHARTER SCHOOL'S
CLOSURE TO MAKE PAYMENT ON ALL CLAIMS KNOWN OR WHICH COULD HAVE
BEEN KNOWN TO EXIST AT THE TIME OF THE SCHOOL'S CLOSURE.
(2) THE INSURANCE, BOND OR OTHER SECURITY SHALL PROVIDE
COVERAGE FOR EDUCATIONAL SERVICES AND FEES AND COSTS INCURRED BY
A CHARTER SCHOOL AND PREVAILING PARTIES UNDER THE INDIVIDUALS
WITH DISABILITIES EDUCATION ACT (PUBLIC LAW 91-230, 20 U.S.C. §
1400 ET SEQ.), SECTION 504 OF THE REHABILITATION ACT OF 1973
(PUBLIC LAW 93-112, 29 U.S.C. § 701 ET SEQ.) AND RELATED FEDERAL
OR STATE LAWS, SALARY AND WAGE PAYMENTS DUE TO EMPLOYES,
EMPLOYER AND EMPLOYE CONTRIBUTIONS FOR THE PENNSYLVANIA SCHOOL
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EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM AND OTHER RETIREMENT PROGRAMS
OFFERED TO EMPLOYES, MEDICAL AND OTHER HEALTH INSURANCE BENEFITS
OFFERED TO EMPLOYES, WORKERS COMPENSATION, UNEMPLOYMENT
COMPENSATION AND TAXES AND OTHER LIABILITIES TO FEDERAL, STATE
AND LOCAL TAX AGENCIES, SCHOOL DISTRICT OVERPAYMENTS UNDER
SECTION 1725-A AND OTHER LIABILITIES REASONABLY CONNECTED TO THE
CHARTER SCHOOL'S OPERATIONS.
(3) THE INSURANCE, BOND OR OTHER SECURITY SHALL NAME AS
ADDITIONAL INSUREDS, OR OTHERWISE PROVIDE COVERAGE FOR, THE
CHARTER AUTHORIZER AND THE COMMONWEALTH AND ITS AGENCIES AND
OFFICIALS.
(4) EVIDENCE OF ADEQUATE AND APPROPRIATE INSURANCE, BOND OR
OTHER SECURITY AS REQUIRED BY THIS SUBSECTION SHALL BE MADE
AVAILABLE TO THE LOCAL BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS AND THE
DEPARTMENT AT THE TIME OF INITIAL APPLICATION AND AT THE TIME OF
SUBMISSION OF THE CHARTER RENEWAL APPLICATION. THE CHARTER
SCHOOL SHALL ALSO PROVIDE EVIDENCE OF THE INSURANCE, BOND OR
OTHER SECURITY TO PARENTS OR EMPLOYES OF THE CHARTER SCHOOL OR
TO THE LOCAL BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS OR THE DEPARTMENT UPON
REQUEST. THE CHARTER SCHOOL SHALL PROVIDE WRITTEN NOTICE TO THE
LOCAL BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS AND TO THE DEPARTMENT WITHIN TEN
(10) DAYS OF ANY CHANGE TO THE INSURANCE, BOND OR SECURITY.
Section 1743-A. Cyber charter school requirements and
prohibitions.
* * *
(e) Students.--For each student enrolled, a cyber charter
school shall:
(1) provide all instructional materials, which may
include electronic or digital books in place of textbooks;
(2) provide all equipment, including, but not limited
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to, a computer, computer monitor and printer, provided that a
parent or guardian of more than one child who is enrolled in
the same cyber charter school may elect not to receive a
separate computer, computer monitor and printer for each
enrolled child; and
(3) provide or reimburse for all technology and services
necessary for the on-line delivery of the curriculum and
instruction.
The Commonwealth shall not be liable for any reimbursement owed
to students, parents or guardians by a cyber charter school
under paragraph (3).
* * *
Section 1745-A. Establishment of cyber charter school.
(a) Establishment.--A cyber charter school may be
established by an individual; one or more teachers who will
teach at the proposed cyber charter school; parents or guardians
of students who will enroll in the cyber charter school; a
nonsectarian college, university or museum located in this
Commonwealth; a nonsectarian corporation not-for-profit as
defined in 15 Pa.C.S. § 5103 (relating to definitions); a
corporation, association or partnership; or any combination of
the foregoing. Section 1327.1 shall not apply to a cyber charter
school established under this subdivision.
(b) Sectarian entities.--No cyber charter school shall be
established or funded by and no charter shall be granted to a
sectarian school, institution or other entity.
(b.1) Local board of school directors or intermediate
unit.--
(1) Nothing in this article shall be construed to
preclude a school district or an intermediate unit from
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offering instruction via the Internet or other electronic
means, except that the instruction shall not be recognized as
a cyber charter school under this article unless the school
district or intermediate unit establishes a cyber charter
school under subsection (a) and paragraph (2).
(2) A cyber charter school may be established by a local
board of school directors or an intermediate unit if the
procedures and requirements of this article are satisfied.
(c) Attendance.--Attendance at a cyber charter school shall
satisfy requirements for compulsory attendance.
(d) Application.--An application to establish a cyber
charter school shall be submitted to the department by October 1
of the school year preceding the school year in which the cyber
charter school proposes to commence operation.
(e) Grant or denial.--Within 120 days of receipt of an
application, the department shall grant or deny the application.
The department shall review the application and shall hold at
least one public hearing under 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 (relating to
open meetings). At least 30 days prior to the hearing, the
department shall publish in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and on the
department's [World Wide Web site] publicly accessible Internet
website notice of the hearing and the purpose of the
application.
(f) Evaluation criteria.--
(1) A cyber charter school application pursuant to
section 1719-A submitted under this subdivision shall be
evaluated by the department based on the following criteria:
(i) The demonstrated, sustainable support for the
cyber charter school plan by teachers, parents or
guardians and students.
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(ii) The capability of the cyber charter school
applicant, in terms of support and planning, to provide
comprehensive learning experiences to students under the
charter.
(iii) The extent to which the programs outlined in
the application will enable students to meet the academic
standards under 22 Pa. Code Ch. 4 (relating to academic
standards and assessment) or subsequent regulations
promulgated to replace 22 Pa. Code Ch. 4.
(iv) The extent to which the application meets the
requirements of section 1747-A.
(v) The extent to which the cyber charter school may
serve as a model for other public schools.
(2) Written notice of the action of the department shall
be sent by certified mail to the applicant and published on
the department's [World Wide Web site] publicly accessible
Internet website. If the application is denied, the reasons
for denial, including a description of deficiencies in the
application, shall be clearly stated in the notice.
(3) Upon approval of a cyber charter school application,
a written charter shall be developed which shall contain the
provisions of the charter application and be signed by the
secretary and each member of the board of trustees of the
cyber charter school. The charter, when duly signed, shall
act as legal authorization of the establishment of a cyber
charter school. The charter shall be legally binding on the
department, the cyber charter school and its board of
trustees. The charter [shall be for a period of no less than
three years nor more than five years and may be renewed for a
period of five years by the department.] term shall be as
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follows:
(i) An initial charter granted under this section
shall be for a period of no less than three years and no
more than five years.
(ii) For cyber charter schools, a charter may be
renewed for five-year periods upon reauthorization by the
department.
(4) (i) A cyber charter school shall submit a renewal
application as provided under section 1719-A with the
department by December OCTOBER 1 of the final year of the
charter.
(ii) Within 90 120 days of its receipt of the
renewal application, the department shall renew or not
renew the charter.
[(4)] (5) The decision of the department to deny an
application may be appealed to the appeal board.
(6) (i) Subject to subparagraph (ii), a cyber charter
school may request amendments to its approved written
charter by filing with the department a written document
describing the requested amendment no later than December
OCTOBER 15 of the school year prior to the school year in
which the amendment would take effect.
(ii) Notwithstanding the notice requirements of
subparagraph (i), in the event of the impossibility of a
cyber charter school's compliance with the terms of a
charter due to its inability to acquire services or
products outlined in a charter or facility damage, the
cyber charter school shall immediately notify the
department of the necessity for an emergency amendment,
which shall be effective immediately as a temporary
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amendment pending completion of the processes set forth
in paragraphs (7) and (8).
(III) FOR A FIVE-YEAR CHARTER, A CYBER CHARTER
SCHOOL MAY ONLY REQUEST AMENDMENTS IN YEAR TWO, THREE OR
FOUR OF THE CHARTER TERM. FOR A THREE-YEAR CHARTER, A
CYBER CHARTER SCHOOL MAY ONLY REQUEST AMENDMENTS IN YEAR
TWO.
(7) Within 60 days of its receipt of the charter
amendment request, the department shall hold a public hearing
on the requested amendment under 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7.
(8) Within 60 days after the hearing required under
paragraph (7), the department shall grant or deny the
requested amendment. Failure by the department to hold a
public hearing and to grant or deny the requested amendment
within the time periods specified in this section shall be
deemed an approval, after which the amended charter shall be
legally binding on both the department and the board of
trustees of the cyber charter school.
(9) Notwithstanding paragraph (6), a cyber charter
school also may request amendments to its approved written
charter at the time of renewal. Charter amendment requests
made at the time of renewal shall be considered as distinct
requests that shall be subject to independent approval or
denial by the department, in accordance with the provisions
of this section.
(10) (9) An applicant for an amendment may appeal the
denial of a requested amendment under this section to the
appeal board provided for under section 1721-A . EXCEPT THAT
AN APPLICANT MAY NOT APPEAL A DENIAL RELATED TO ENROLLMENT
GROWTH OR GRADE EXPANSION.
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(g) Denied application.--A cyber charter school applicant
may revise and resubmit a denied application to the department.
The department shall grant or deny the revised application
within 60 days after its receipt.
(h) Appeal.--If the department fails to hold the required
public hearing or to approve or disapprove the charter, the
applicant may file its application as an appeal to the appeal
board. The appeal board shall review the application and make a
decision to approve or disapprove the charter based on the
criteria in subsection (f).
Section 6. This act shall take effect in 60 days.
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