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PRINTER'S NO. 530
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
SENATE BILL
No.
497
Session of
2019
INTRODUCED BY BREWSTER, LEACH AND KEARNEY, MARCH 29, 2019
REFERRED TO EDUCATION, MARCH 29, 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," extensively revising provisions
relating to charter schools.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Sections 1702-A, 1703-A, 1714-A, 1715-A, 1716-A,
1717-A and 1719-A of the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14),
known as the Public School Code of 1949, are amended to read:
Section 1702-A. Legislative Intent.--It is the intent of the
General Assembly, in enacting this article, to provide pupils
and community members with the ability to establish and maintain
schools that operate [independently from] under contract to,
collaboratively with and only to the extent established by
contract and by the provisions of this article, the existing
school district structure as a method to accomplish all of the
following:
(1) Improve pupil learning.
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(2) Increase learning opportunities for all pupils.
(3) Encourage the use of different and innovative teaching
methods.
(4) Create new professional opportunities for teachers,
including the opportunity to be responsible for the learning
program at the school site.
(5) Provide parents and pupils with expanded choices in the
types of educational opportunities that are available within the
public school system.
(6) Hold the schools established under this act accountable
for meeting measurable academic standards and provide the school
with a method to establish accountability systems.
(7) Allow school districts to supplement their own and learn
from innovative charter school practices.
Section 1703-A. Definitions.--As used in this article,
"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.
"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.
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"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.
"Auditor" shall mean an independent certified public
accounting firm or individual certified public accountant or a
Federal, State or local government agency or employe, including,
but not limited to, the department, the Department of the
Auditor General, the Philadelphia Office of the Controller or
the United States Department of Education and their employes.
"Charter" shall mean a contract formed between a local board
of school directors and a charter school or between the
department and a cyber charter school.
"Charter school" shall mean [an independent] a 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.
"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, regional charter school or cyber charter school,
either directly or through an affiliated 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
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staff member under this article.
"Contract" shall mean the total legal obligation that results
from the parties' agreement as determined by State contract law
as supplemented by this chapter and any other applicable laws.
"Cyber charter school" shall mean [an independent] a public
school established and operated under a charter from the
Department of Education and in which the school uses technology
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:
(1) an educational management organization, either for
profit or nonprofit;
(2) a school design provider; or
(3) the administrators and executives of the education
management organization, including its chief executive officer,
business manager, board member or founder or any other partner
entity with which a board of trustees of a charter school,
regional charter school or cyber charter school 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:
(1) a grandparent, parent, spouse, former spouse, child,
grandchild, brother, sister or cousin;
(2) a child of a spouse, former spouse, brother, sister or
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cousin; or
(3) a spouse or former spouse of a grandparent, parent,
child, grandchild, brother, sister, cousin, nephew or niece.
Family members in these categories or relationships shall
include first degree, in-law, half, adopted and step relatives.
" Founder " shall mean an individual or entity that may
establish a charter school under section 1717-A, including 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 and any nonsectarian corporation not-for-
profit as defined in 15 Pa.C.S. (relating to corporations and
unincorporated associations).
" Investigator " shall mean any Federal, State or local
government agency or employe, including, but not limited to, the
State Ethics Commission, the Office of Inspector General, the
United States Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau
of Investigation and their employes.
"Local board of school directors" shall mean the board of
directors of a school district in which a proposed or an
approved charter school is located.
"Local industrial development agency" shall mean an
industrial development agency as defined in the act of May 17,
1956 (1955 P.L.1609, No.537), known as the "Pennsylvania
Industrial Development Authority Act."
"Regional charter school" shall mean [an independent] a
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.
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"Related party" shall mean a party that:
(1) has an ownership interest in another party; or
(2) can significantly influence or control, directly or
indirectly, the management of another party,
and as a result of the ownership or significant influence or
control can give rise to a direct or potential conflict of
interest, as defined in 65 Pa.C.S. § 1102 (relating to
definitions). The term includes a relationship between the
charter school and a nonprofit organization, charter school
foundation or educational management service provider that meets
this definition and its administrators, executives, board
members or founders.
"School district of residence" shall mean the school district
in this Commonwealth in which the parents or guardians of a
child reside.
"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 1714-A. Powers of Charter Schools.--(a) A charter
school established under this act is a body corporate and,
subject to its charter and the provisions of this article, 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
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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 facility.
(4) Receive and disburse funds for charter school 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 purposes.
(8) Establish plans, policies and practices, consistent with
its charter, with this article and with Federal and State law
regarding mission, philosophy, long-term strategic planning,
governance, administration, parent engagement, staffing,
professional development for staff, performance evaluation for
staff, facilities, admissions, enrollment, student placement,
recordkeeping, school climate, student discipline, health and
safety, academic standards, curriculum, assessment, student
services, information resources, technology and extracurricular
activities.
(b) A charter school shall, subject to its charter and the
provisions of this article, have such other powers as are
necessary to fulfill its charter and which are not inconsistent
with its charter and the provisions of this article.
(c) Any indebtedness incurred by a charter school 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.
(d) The powers may be limited by the initial contract
between a charter school and a school district that grants the
charter school's charter. An initial limitation of powers, with
the exception of the powers regarding mission, philosophy,
admissions, enrollment, academic standards and curriculum under
subsection (a)(8), shall not be included in the renewal of a
charter by a school district for a period of more than one (1)
year at the end of its initial term.
Section 1715-A. Charter School Requirements.--Charter
schools shall be required to comply with the following
provisions:
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this article or in its
charter, a charter school 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. Charter schools are not exempt from statutes
applicable to public schools other than this act.
(2) A charter school shall be accountable to the local board
of school directors that granted the charter, the local board of
school directors of each school district that has resident
students enrolled in the charter school, 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 shall not unlawfully discriminate in
admissions, hiring or operation.
(4) A charter school shall be nonsectarian in all
operations.
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(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.
(6) A charter school shall not advocate unlawful behavior.
(7) A charter school shall only be subject to the laws and
regulations as provided for in section 1732-A, or as otherwise
provided for in this article or in its charter.
(8) A charter school 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 is located is scheduled to
participate.
(9) A charter school 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 of trustees and contractors of charter schools
shall be subject to the following statutory requirements
governing construction projects and construction-related work:
(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."
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(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.
(13) A person who serves as a founder, administrator or
executive of an educational management service provider or an
administrator, executive, board member or founder for a charter
school shall not receive any payments for approved reimbursable
annual rental for leases of buildings or portions of buildings
for charter school use under section 2574.3.
(14) The charter school record produced, obtained or
maintained by an educational management service provider for a
charter school under a contract or agreement with the charter
school shall be readily available to auditors and investigators
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and shall be subject to disclosure under the act of February 14,
2008 (P.L.6, No.3), known as the "Right-to-Know Law."
Section 1716-A. Powers of Board of Trustees.--(a) The board
of trustees of a charter school 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 and the
provisions of this article. 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 nor a family member of a school director shall
serve on the board of trustees of a charter school that is
located in the member's district.
(c) The board of trustees shall comply with the act of July
3, 1986 (P.L.388, No.84), known as the "Sunshine [Act."] Act,"
and with the act of February 14, 2008 (P.L.6, No.3), known as
the "Right-to-Know Law."
(d) No public official nor public employee, as defined under
65 Pa.C.S. § 1102 (relating to definitions), shall serve on the
board of trustees of a charter school, including the immediate
staff, employees or family members of a public official or
public employee.
(e) No administrator of a charter school nor family member
of the administrator is permitted to serve as a member of the
board of trustees of the charter school where the administrator
is employed.
(f) No member of a board of trustees of a charter school
shall receive any payment for lease arrangements between the
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charter school and a related party or any payment for approved
reimbursable annual rental for leases of buildings or portions
of buildings for use by the charter school under section 2574.3.
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
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support of the school becoming a charter school.
(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) (1) 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
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.
(2) Within ten (10) days of submission of an application
under paragraph (1), a copy of the application to establish a
charter school shall be provided by the applicant to the local
board of school directors of each district with resident
students who are expected to attend or have committed to attend
the proposed charter school. Within fifteen (15) days of the
receipt of the application, the local board of school directors
with resident students who are expected to attend or have
committed to attend the proposed charter school may submit
comments regarding the application to the local board of school
directors of the district where the charter school will be
located for consideration during the review and determination on
the charter application.
(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
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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." 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[:], and specific plans, resources, assigned
responsibilities, time lines and measurable objectives for
meeting the criteria initially and over time shall be included
as provisions in any application to establish or renew a charter
school and in any contract formed between the charter school and
the local board of school directors:
(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[,] and implementation to
provide comprehensive learning experiences to students pursuant
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to the adopted charter[.], using research-based and evidence-
based programs and services, including instruction,
interventions and supports, to meet the academic and behavioral
needs of students.
(iii) The extent to which the application details the
charter school's plans for utilizing and implementing the powers
in section 1714-A, 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[.] regarding innovative practices
for improving student achievement, and the capability of the
charter school for sharing the practices with other public
schools in the school district in which the charter school is
located.
(v) The extent to which the charter school may complement
the educational options and opportunities to learn currently
provided by the local board of school directors and not
duplicate the options and opportunities.
(vi) The charter school enrollment projections and any cap
or limit on enrollment for each grade level and for each year of
the charter contract.
(vii) The projected fiscal impact of the charter school on
each school district with resident students enrolled in the
charter school over the term of the charter contract, including
the projected fiscal impact of the individual charter school
calculated by multiplying the projected charter school
enrollment by the per-student payment under section 1725-A for
the charter school and the projected aggregate impact caused by
addition of the charter school to the total number of charter
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schools operating in the school district.
(viii) The financial sustainability of the charter school
financial plan.
(ix) The capability of the charter school to operate in
collaboration with the local board of school directors,
including collaboration on measuring and monitoring the
operations and performance of the charter school and on forming
and implementing corrective action plans to resolve deficiencies
over time.
(x) The sufficiency of measurements for public reporting and
monitoring the operations and performance of the charter school,
including student academic performance, student enrollment,
retention, discipline and withdrawal, fiscal performance,
student health and safety, teacher qualifications and
effectiveness and facilities. This shall include the method of
disaggregating the measurements for different student groups and
the various levels of each measurement to be used as annual
targets of accomplishment and to be considered as an indication
of deficiency.
(xi) The lawful preferences in student admissions for the
charter school, including whether the charter school will
provide an enrollment preference for students residing in an
attendance zone within the school district.
(xii) The capability of the charter school to ensure that
all children eligible for admission receive an equal opportunity
for admission and equal educational opportunities upon
enrollment, regardless of gender, disability, limited English
proficiency, poverty, community factors, truancy, academic or
behavioral difficulties or economic disadvantage, and the
capability of the charter school to perform outreach in the
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community and to structure its policies, practices and
operations to accomplish the objectives. This shall include a
plan for reaching and maintaining measurable targets for
recruiting, enrolling and retaining a student body that reflects
the diversity in the local school district in which the charter
school is located, including the programs, supports and services
to be provided by the charter school to accomplish the
objectives.
(xiii) The membership of the board of trustees for the
charter school, including whether the membership of the board of
trustees reflects the diversity of the community in which the
charter school will be located, whether the members of the board
of trustees have expertise in the practices and operations
necessary for the charter school to accomplish its objectives
and whether the bylaws of the board of trustees provides for at
least two parents of students enrolled in the school to serve on
the board of trustees when the school is operational.
(xiv) The plans for all members of the board of trustees to
receive annual training to ensure that they are knowledgeable
regarding their duties.
(2.1) The length of an initial charter contract shall not be
less than three (3) years nor more than five (5) years.
(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
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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."
(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." 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
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the time periods specified in subsections (d), (e) and (f) shall
permit the applicant for a charter to file its application as an
appeal to the appeal board. In such case, the appeal board shall
review the application and make a decision to grant or deny a
charter based on the criteria established in subsection (e)(2).
If the appeal board makes a decision to grant the charter under
this subsection, the charter shall be signed by the chairman of
the appeal board.
(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 whether the decision of the
local board of school directors was arbitrary and capricious or
contrary to law, pursuant to the local board's evaluation of
the criteria established in subsection (e)(2). A [decision]
determination by the appeal board under this subsection [or]
that the local board of school directors acted arbitrarily and
capriciously or contrary to law or a decision by the appeal
board under subsection (g) to grant, to renew or not to revoke a
charter shall serve as a requirement for the local board of
directors of a school district or school districts, as
appropriate, to [sign] negotiate with the charter school
applicant to determine the written charter of the charter school
as provided for in section 1720-A. Should the local board of
directors fail to [grant the application and sign] negotiate and
determine the charter within [ten (10)] thirty (30) days of
notice of [reversal of] the decision of the [local board of
directors,] appeal board, the appeal board shall appoint a
neutral mediator to assist the local board of school directors
and the charter school applicant or the board of trustees of the
charter school in determining the contents of the charter. If
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the local board of school directors and the applicant or board
of trustees of the charter school do not agree to the contents
of the charter within fifteen (15) days of the appointment of
the mediator, the mediator shall submit a recommendation for the
contents of the charter to the appeal board within thirty (30)
days of the appointment of the mediator. The mediator shall
provide a copy of the recommendation to the local board of
school directors and the applicant or the board of trustees of
the charter school, which may be provided electronically. The
appeal board shall consider the recommendation and, if the
recommendation receives approval by vote of the appeal board,
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 a
local board of directors not to grant a charter as provided in
this section.
(2) In order for a charter school applicant to be eligible
to appeal the denial of a charter by the local board of
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
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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:
(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
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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.
(6) In any appeal, the decision made by the local board of
directors shall be reviewed by the appeal board on the record as
certified by the local board of directors. The appeal board
shall [give due consideration to] determine whether the findings
of the local board of directors are arbitrary or capricious and
specifically articulate its reasons for [agreeing or disagreeing
with those findings] the determination in its written decision.
The appeal board shall have the discretion to allow the local
board of directors and the charter school applicant to
supplement the record if the supplemental information was
previously unavailable, to submit written briefs, to make oral
argument in person or to provide other relevant information.
(7) Not later than thirty (30) days after the date of notice
of the acceptance of the appeal, the appeal board shall meet to
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officially review the certified record and, if allowed by the
appeal board, to consider any written briefs, oral argument and
other relevant information.
(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 local board of directors,
notice shall be provided to both parties.
(9) A decision of the appeal board to reverse the decision
of the local board of directors shall serve as a requirement for
the local board of directors of a school district or school
districts, as appropriate, to [grant the application and sign]
negotiate with the charter school applicant or board of trustees
of the charter school to determine the contents of the written
charter of the charter school as provided for in section 1720-A.
Should the local board of directors fail to [grant the
application and sign] negotiate with the charter school
applicant or board of trustees of the charter school to
determine the contents of the charter within [ten (10)] thirty
(30) days of notice of the reversal of the decision of the local
board of directors, the appeal board shall appoint a neutral
mediator to assist the local board of school directors and the
charter school applicant or the board of trustees of the charter
school in determining the contents of the charter. If the local
board of school directors and the charter school applicant or
the board of trustees of the charter school do not agree to the
contents of the charter within fifteen (15) days of the
appointment of the mediator, the mediator shall submit a
recommendation for the contents of the charter to the appeal
board within thirty (30) days of the appointment of the
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mediator. The mediator shall provide a copy of the
recommendation to the local board of school directors and the
charter school applicant or the board of trustees of the charter
school, which may be provided electronically. The appeal board
shall consider the recommendation and, if the recommendation
receives approval by vote of the appeal board, 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.
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 applicant.
(2) The name of the proposed charter school.
(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,
the curriculum to be offered and the methods of assessing
whether students are meeting educational goals.
(6) The admission 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 planning process.
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(9) The financial plan for the charter school and the
provisions which will be made for auditing the school under
section 437.
(10) Procedures which shall be established to review
complaints of parents regarding the operation of the charter
school.
(11) A description of and address of the physical facility
in which the charter school will be located and the ownership
thereof and any lease arrangements.
(12) Information on the proposed school calendar for the
charter school, including the length of the school day and
school year consistent with the provisions of section 1502.
(13) The proposed faculty and a professional development
plan for the faculty of a charter school.
(14) Whether any agreements have been entered into or plans
developed with the local school district regarding participation
of the charter school 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 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 does not provide the same extracurricular activity.
(15) A report of criminal history record, pursuant to
section 111, for all individuals who shall have direct contact
with students.
(16) An official clearance statement regarding child injury
or abuse from the Department of Public Welfare as required by 23
Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 Subch. C.2 (relating to background checks for
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employment in schools) for all individuals who shall have direct
contact with students.
(17) How the charter school will provide adequate liability
and other appropriate insurance for the charter school, its
employes and the board of trustees of the charter school.
(18) A written statement on the projected fiscal impact of
the individual charter school on the school district which shall
be calculated by multiplying the projected charter school
enrollment by the applicable per-student payments under section
1725-A.
(19) The projected aggregate impact to the school district
resulting from the addition of the charter school to the total
number of charter schools operating within the school district.
(20) A report on the condition of any existing physical
plant to be conducted and prepared by a department employe
following the employe's inspection of the physical plant at the
location of the proposed charter school. A copy of the report
shall be provided to the charter applicant and a copy of the
report shall be posted on the department's publicly accessible
Internet website. The charter applicant shall provide the
department employe with necessary access to the proposed
physical plant for the inspection. The department may establish
regulations to implement this paragraph.
(21) The written approval from the local board of school
directors of each school district with one (1) or more students
who expressed interest in attending or committed to attend the
charter school.
(22) A detailed report of the financing for the operations
of the charter school, including the contracts and financial
arrangements between the charter school, charter school
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foundation and all educational management service providers.
(23) The arrangements relating to compliance with section
1719.1-A.
(24) Any other information deemed necessary by the local
board of school directors to evaluate the criteria established
by section 1717-A(e)(2).
Section 2. The act is amended by adding a section to read:
Section 1719.1-A. Surety Requirement.--(a) (1) For charter
school applications submitted to a school district after
December 31, 2019, a charter school applicant that receives
approval to operate a charter school shall comply with
subsection (b) within twenty (20) days of the charter school's
receipt of approval to operate.
(2) For charter schools that are operating on December 31,
2019, a charter school operator shall comply with subsection (b)
within twenty (20) days of the effective date of this section.
(b) A charter school shall submit one of the following forms
of surety to the school district where the charter school is
located and shall submit notice of the surety to each school
district that has resident students who are enrolled in the
charter school or who intend to enroll or are committed to
enroll in the newly approved charter school:
(1) An indemnity bond to cover the cost incurred by the
school district where the charter school is located and other
school districts with resident students enrolled in the charter
school for the costs to educate those students in the event of a
default and closure of the charter school as follows:
(i) The bond shall be payable to each school district with
resident students enrolled in the charter school in proportion
to the number of resident students enrolled in the charter
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school.
(ii) The amount of the bond shall be agreed upon by the
local board of school directors of the district where the
charter school is located and the board of trustees of the
charter school.
(iii) The bond shall be executed by the charter school
applicant and a corporate surety licensed to do business in this
Commonwealth and approved by the school district where the
charter school is located.
(iv) The school district where the charter school is located
and the charter school shall agree upon the duration of the
bond, which may not exceed five (5) years.
(2) An escrow account established and maintained on a
current basis with a bank, trust company or other escrow agent
within this Commonwealth, for payment to the school district
where the charter school is located and to each school district
with students enrolled in the charter school for the costs
incurred in educating the students in the event of a default and
closure of the charter school as follows:
(i) A portion of all payments received by the charter school
from all sources in an amount not to exceed twenty per centum of
each amount received shall be paid into the escrow account. The
aggregate amount paid into the escrow account shall not exceed
the total of twenty-five per centum of all payments received by
the charter school from the Commonwealth and the school
districts with resident students enrolled in the charter school
over the next twelve (12) months during the operation of the
charter school.
(ii) Interest earned on the money in the escrow account
shall be credited to and become part of the escrow account.
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(iii) The school district where the charter school is
located and the charter school shall agree upon the duration of
the escrow account, which may not exceed three (3) years.
(3) Other surety in an amount and duration that is agreed
upon by the school district where the charter school is located
and the charter school.
Section 3. Section 1720-A of the act is amended to read:
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 other provisions
related to the operation of the charter school, as amended
through negotiation between the charter school and the local
board of school directors 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 to section 1717-A(i)(5) and the board of trustees of
the 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, and the charter school's
board of trustees, shall act as the contract providing legal
authorization for the establishment and operation of a 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 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] no less than one (1) year nor more
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than ten (10) years upon reauthorization by the local board of
school directors of a school district or the appeal board. A
charter will be granted only for a school organized as a public,
nonprofit corporation.
(b) [(1) Notwithstanding subsection (a), 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.
(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] local board of [a school district of the
first class does] school directors shall not have the authority
to renew a charter for successive one (1) year periods.
(c) The written charter shall include all provisions for the
establishment and operation of the charter school, including
collaboration with and oversight by the local board of school
directors.
(d) A written charter may include an enrollment preference
for students residing in an attendance zone within the school
district.
(e) The charter school shall collaborate with the local
board of school directors for the accurate measurement of its
performance and the sharing of this information in a form and in
a timely manner pursuant to the provisions of the charter,
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including sharing information with the public.
(f) The charter shall include provisions for measuring the
operations and performance of the charter school and identifying
deficiencies, including:
(1) The criteria for evaluating the charter application
under section 1717-A(e)(2) and the contents of the charter
application under section 1719-A, as amended through negotiation
between the charter school and the local board of school
directors.
(2) The success of the charter school in performing outreach
in the community and providing an equal opportunity for
admission to all children eligible for admission, regardless of
disability, limited English proficiency, poverty, community
factors, truancy, academic or behavioral difficulties or
economic disadvantage.
(3) The success of the charter school in providing an equal
opportunity to learn for all children enrolled in the school,
regardless of disability, limited English proficiency, poverty,
community factors, truancy, academic or behavioral difficulties
or economic disadvantage, including how the charter school
provides supports and services to meet the needs of all children
enrolled in the charter school.
(4) The data on the academic performance of the students
enrolled in the charter school.
(5) The data on student discipline at the charter school,
including expulsions and suspensions.
(6) The data on students who withdraw from the charter
school, including the identity of the students and the reason
for the students' withdrawal if known.
(7) The data on the fiscal performance of the charter
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school, including the annual audit required under section 437.
(8) The information on the charter school's health and
safety for the students and staff, including information on the
safety of the charter school facilities.
(g) The written charter shall include provisions for the
formation and implementation of corrective action plans to
resolve the charter school's operational and performance
deficiencies as identified by the local board of school
directors, and for the termination or nonrenewal of the charter
by the local board of school directors when the deficiencies are
substantial and remain unresolved within the time frame of the
corrective action plan.
(h) The written charter shall include duties of the school
district in which the charter school is located regarding the
charter school, including:
(1) Providing sufficient qualified staff to process in a
timely manner charter school inquiries, applications and
requests.
(2) Maintaining official rules and procedures and complying
with the official rules and procedures regarding charter school
operations in the school district.
(3) Providing technical assistance and support to the
charter school.
(4) Providing regular opportunities for feedback and
interaction with the administrators and the board of trustees of
the charter school regarding issues of mutual concern.
(5) Providing regular opportunities for sharing and learning
from successful innovative practices implemented in school
district schools and in charter schools.
(6) Providing regular opportunities for sharing and jointly
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evaluating data regarding charter school operations and
performance, the formation and implementation of corrective
action plans and school district compliance with the provisions
of this act.
Section 4. The act is amended by adding a section to read:
Section 1721.1-A. Oversight.--(a) The board of trustees of
a charter school shall submit a quarterly financial report to
the local board of directors of the school district that grants
the charter school's charter and to the local board of school
directors of each school district with one (1) or more students
enrolled in the charter school. The quarterly financial report
shall be considered a public record.
(b) A local board of school directors that oversees the
operations of a charter school shall provide an annual written
report to the secretary, pursuant to guidelines issued by the
department, including measurements and an evaluation of the
operations and performance of each charter school in the school
district, a description of corrective action taken to resolve
charter school deficiencies, technical assistance provided by
the school district and the status regarding corrective action
plans and decisions by the local board of school directors
regarding the formation, renewal, nonrenewal or termination of
charters. The annual written report shall be posted in a timely
manner on the school district's publicly accessible Internet
website and shall be subject to the act of February 14, 2008
(P.L.6, No.3), known as the "Right-to-Know Law."
(c) The secretary shall review the annual written reports
regarding charter school operations and performance as provided
by the local board of school directors and may identify
operational and performance deficiencies based on these reports.
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The secretary shall have the authority to order a local board of
school directors to collaborate with a charter school located in
its school district to form and implement a corrective action
plan to resolve the charter school's operational and performance
deficiencies as identified by the secretary. The secretary shall
have the authority to order the local board of school directors
to terminate or not renew a charter when the deficiencies are
substantial and remain unresolved within the time frame of a
corrective action plan ordered by the secretary. Pursuant to the
orders and when requested by the secretary, the department shall
provide technical assistance for forming, implementing and
monitoring corrective action plans.
(d) If the charter school and the local board of school
directors fail to form and successfully implement a corrective
action plan in a timely manner under section 1720-A(g), the
secretary shall have the authority to identify the charter
school's operational and performance deficiencies, to form and
implement a corrective action plan to resolve the deficiencies
and to terminate the charter school when the deficiencies are
substantial and remain unresolved within the time frame of the
corrective action plan.
(e) The secretary shall:
(1) Utilize the annual written reports and other sources to
establish and maintain a current database of best practices and
related resources for charter school operations and performance.
(2) Make the database and related resources available to the
public through the department's publicly accessible Internet
website.
(3) Offer technical assistance, training and support to
charter schools and school districts for utilization of the best
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practices and resources.
(4) Feature examples of the effective use of the best
practices by charter schools and school districts within this
Commonwealth.
Section 5. Sections 1722-A, 1723-A and 1724-A(a) of the act
are amended to read:
Section 1722-A. Facilities.--(a) A charter school 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.
(a.1) Regardless of whether an approved reimbursable annual
rental is received under section 2574.3, a charter school may
not be located in a building owned by a related party, including
a charter school or a related nonprofit organization, charter
school foundation or educational management service provider or
its administrators, executives or founders.
(a.2) A project to construct a new charter school facility
that utilizes a financing arrangement with a local industrial
development agency or any other government entity that equals or
exceeds one million dollars ($1,000,000) shall receive the
written approval of the board of directors of the school
district where the proposed facility is located.
(b) The charter school 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
school district of the first class may, in its discretion,
permit a charter school to operate its school at more than one
location.
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(e) (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 204 of
the act of May 22, 1933 (P.L.853, No.155), known as The General
County Assessment Law, all school property, real and personal,
owned by any charter school, cyber charter school or an
associated nonprofit foundation, or owned by a nonprofit
corporation or nonprofit foundation and leased to a charter
school, cyber charter school or associated nonprofit foundation
at or below fair market value, that is occupied and used by any
charter school or cyber charter school for public school,
recreation or any other purposes provided for by this act, shall
be made exempt from every kind of State, county, city, borough,
township or other real estate tax, including payments in lieu of
taxes established through agreement with the Commonwealth or any
local taxing authority, as well as from all costs or expenses
for paving, curbing, sidewalks, sewers or other municipal
improvements, Provided, That any charter school or cyber charter
school or owner of property leased to a charter school or cyber
charter school may make a municipal improvement in a street on
which its school property abuts or may contribute a sum toward
the cost of the improvement.
(2) Any agreement entered into by a charter school, cyber
charter school or associated nonprofit foundation with the
Commonwealth or a local taxing authority for payments in lieu of
taxes prior to December 31, 2009, shall be null and void.
(3) This subsection shall apply retroactively to all charter
schools, cyber charter schools and associated nonprofit
foundations that filed an appeal from an assessment, as provided
in Article V of The General County Assessment Law, prior to the
effective date of this subsection.
(4) For purposes of this subsection, "local taxing
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authority" shall include, but not be limited to, a county, city,
borough, incorporated town, township or school district.
(f) The facilities of a charter school shall be accessible
to students, parents, staff and other individuals with a
disability under Federal law.
Section 1723-A. Enrollment.--(a) All resident children in
this Commonwealth qualify for admission to a charter school
within the provisions of subsection (b). If more students apply
to the 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
by the deadline established by the charter school, except that
the 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 to siblings of students presently
enrolled in the charter school. [First preference shall be
given] Preference shall be given first to students who reside in
any attendance zone established for the charter school within
the school district and second to students who reside in the
district or districts.
(b) (1) A charter school 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
other basis that would be illegal if used by a school district.
(2) A charter school may limit admission to a particular
grade level, a targeted population group composed of at-risk
students, or areas of concentration of the school such as
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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.
(c) If available classroom space permits, a charter school
may enroll nonresident students on a space-available basis, and
the student's district of residence shall permit the student to
attend the charter school. The terms and conditions of the
enrollment shall be outlined in the school's charter.
(d) [(1)] Enrollment of students in a charter school or
cyber charter school [shall not] may be subject to a cap or
otherwise limited [by any past or future action of a board of
school directors, a board of control established under Article
XVII-B, a special board of control established under section 692
or any other governing authority, unless] if agreed to by the
local board of school directors and the charter school or cyber
charter school as part of a written charter pursuant to section
1720-A.
[(2) The provisions of this subsection shall apply to a
charter school or cyber charter school regardless of whether the
charter was approved prior to or is approved subsequent to the
effective date of this subsection.]
(e) A charter school shall enroll new students whenever an
attendance slot is available in the same manner as school
districts.
Section 1724-A. School Staff.--(a) (1) The board of
trustees shall determine the level of compensation and all terms
and conditions of employment of the staff except as may
otherwise be provided in this article. [At] Subject to the
provisions of this article, at least seventy-five per centum of
the professional staff members of a charter school shall hold
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appropriate State certification.
(2) (i) At least ninety per centum of the professional
staff members of a charter school who commence employment after
the effective date of this paragraph shall hold appropriate
State certification.
(ii) Professional staff members of a charter school who are
employed on the effective date of this paragraph and who do not
possess appropriate State certification as of the effective date
of this paragraph shall not be required to obtain appropriate
State certification.
(3) Employes of a charter school may organize under the act
of July 23, 1970 (P.L.563, No.195), known as the "Public Employe
Relations Act." The board of trustees of a charter school shall
be considered an employer for the purposes of Article XI-A. Upon
formation of one or more collective bargaining units at the
school, the board of trustees shall bargain with the employes
based on the provisions of this article, Article XI-A and the
"Public Employe Relations Act." Collective bargaining units at a
charter school shall be separate from any collective bargaining
unit of the school district in which the charter school is
located and shall be separate from any other collective
bargaining unit. A charter school shall be considered a school
entity as provided for in section 1161-A for the purpose of the
secretary seeking an injunction requiring the charter school to
meet the minimum requirements for instruction as provided for in
this article.
* * *
Section 6. The act is amended by adding a section to read:
Section 1725.1-A. Taxpayer protections.--(a) A charter
school or a regional charter school shall not use taxpayer
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dollars to advertise the services provided by the school, the
facilities that are available to prospective students or a
particular educational philosophy.
(b) A charter school or a regional charter school shall not
use taxpayer dollars to pay for membership in an organization or
association of charter schools or a Statewide association,
individual or firm that advocates on behalf of charter schools.
(c) Taxpayer dollars that are invested by a charter school
or a regional charter school and any interest accrued on
investments that are not used to pay the necessary expenses for
the operation of the charter school or regional charter school
shall be returned to the sponsoring school district.
(d) As used in this section, the term "taxpayer dollars"
shall mean any funds appropriated by the General Assembly or by
a political subdivision.
Section 7. Section 1729-A of the act is amended to read:
Section 1729-A. Causes for Nonrenewal or Termination.--(a)
During the term of the charter or at the end of the term of the
charter, the local board of school directors may choose to
revoke or not to renew the charter based on any of the
following:
(1) One or more material violations of any of the
conditions, standards or procedures contained in the written
charter signed pursuant to section 1720-A.
(2) Failure to meet the requirements for student performance
set forth in 22 Pa. Code Ch. 5 (relating to curriculum) or
subsequent regulations promulgated to replace 22 Pa. Code Ch. 5
or failure to meet any performance standard set forth in the
written charter signed pursuant to section 1716-A.
(3) Failure to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal
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management or audit requirements.
(4) Violation of provisions of this article.
(5) Violation of any provision of law from which the charter
school has not been exempted, including Federal laws and
regulations governing children with disabilities.
(6) The charter school has been convicted of fraud.
(7) The local board of school directors where the charter
school is located finds that the charter school has failed to
successfully implement a corrective action plan to resolve the
charter school's operational and performance deficiencies as
identified by the local board of school directors, resulting in
substantial deficiencies that remain unresolved within the time
frame for the corrective action plan or the secretary issues an
order based on the finding of deficiencies as determined by the
local board of school directors.
(a.1) When a charter school located in a school district of
the first class is in corrective action status and seeks renewal
of its charter, if the governing body of the school district of
the first class renews the charter, it may place specific
conditions in the charter that require the charter school to
meet specific student performance targets within stated periods
of time subject to the following:
(i) The performance targets and the periods of time in which
the performance targets must be met shall be reasonable.
(ii) The placement of conditions in a charter as specified
in this subsection shall not be considered an adjudication and
may not be appealed to the State Charter School Appeal Board.
(iii) If the charter school fails to meet the performance
targets within the stated period of time, such failure shall be
sufficient cause for revocation of the charter.
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(b) A member of the board of trustees who is convicted of a
felony or any crime involving moral turpitude shall be
immediately disqualified from serving on the board of trustees.
(c) Any notice of revocation or nonrenewal of a charter
given by the local board of school directors of a school
district shall state the grounds for such action with reasonable
specificity and give reasonable notice to the governing board of
the charter school of the date on which a public hearing
concerning the revocation or nonrenewal will be held. The local
board of school directors shall conduct such hearing, present
evidence in support of the grounds for revocation or nonrenewal
stated in its notice and give the charter school reasonable
opportunity to offer testimony before taking final action.
Formal action revoking or not renewing a charter shall be taken
by the local board of school directors at a public meeting
pursuant to the act of July 3, 1986 (P.L.388, No.84), known as
the "Sunshine Act," after the public has had thirty (30) days to
provide comments to the board. All proceedings of the local
board pursuant to this subsection shall be subject to 2 Pa.C.S.
Ch. 5 Subch. B (relating to practice and procedure of local
agencies). Except as provided in subsection (d), the decision of
the local board shall not be subject to 2 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 Subch. B
(relating to judicial review of local agency action).
(d) Following the appointment and confirmation of the appeal
board, but not before July 1, 1999, the charter school may
appeal the decision of the local board of school directors to
revoke or not renew the charter to the appeal board. The appeal
board shall have the exclusive review of a decision not to renew
or revoke a charter. The appeal board shall review the record
and shall have the discretion to [supplement the record if the
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supplemental information was previously unavailable.] allow the
local board of directors and the charter school to supplement
the record if the supplemental information was previously
unavailable, to submit written briefs, to make oral argument in
person or to provide other relevant information. The appeal
board may consider the charter school plan, annual reports,
student performance and employe and community support for the
charter school in addition to the record. The appeal board shall
[give due consideration to the] determine whether the nonrenewal
or revocation decision and findings of the local board of
directors are arbitrary or capricious and specifically
articulate its reasons for [agreeing or disagreeing with those
findings] the determination in its written decision.
(e) [If the appeal board determines that the charter should
not be revoked or should be renewed, the appeal board shall
order the local board of directors to rescind its revocation or
nonrenewal decision.] 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 and, if
allowed by the appeal board, to consider any written briefs,
oral arguments and other relevant information.
(e.1) Not later than sixty (60) days following the review
conducted under subsection (d), the appeal board shall issue a
written decision affirming or denying the appeal or, only upon a
specific finding of arbitrariness or capriciousness by the local
board of school directors, affirming the appeal. The appeal
board shall provide a written notice explaining its decision to
both parties.
(e.2) A decision of the appeal board to reverse the
nonrenewal decision of the local board of school directors shall
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serve as a requirement for the local board of school directors
to negotiate with the charter school and form and sign a charter
renewal for the charter school. Should the local board of school
directors fail to sign the charter renewal within thirty (30)
days of notice of the reversal of the decision of the local
board of school directors, the appeal board shall appoint a
neutral, unbiased master to recommend the content of the charter
renewal to the appeal board. The master shall submit a
recommendation for the contents of the charter to the appeal
board within thirty (30) days of the appointment of the master.
The master shall provide a copy of the recommendation to the
local board of school directors and the charter school applicant
or the board of trustees of the charter school, which may be
provided electronically. The appeal board shall consider the
recommendation and, if the recommendation receives approval by
vote of the appeal board, the charter shall be deemed to be
approved and shall be signed by the chairman of the appeal
board.
(f) Except as provided in subsection (g), the charter shall
remain in effect until final disposition by the appeal board.
(g) In cases where the health or safety of the school's
pupils, staff or both is at serious risk, the local board of
school directors may take immediate action to revoke a charter.
(h) All decisions of the charter school appeal board shall
be subject to appellate review by the Commonwealth Court.
(i) When a charter is revoked, not renewed, forfeited,
surrendered or otherwise ceases to operate, the charter school
shall be dissolved. After the disposition of any liabilities and
obligations of the charter school, any remaining assets of the
charter school, both real and personal, shall be distributed on
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a proportional basis to the school entities with students
enrolled in the charter school for the last full or partial
school year of the charter school. In no event shall such school
entities or the Commonwealth be liable for any outstanding
liabilities or obligations of the charter school.
(j) When a charter is revoked or is not renewed, a student
who attended the charter school shall apply to another public
school in the student's school district of residence. Normal
application deadlines will be disregarded under these
circumstances. All student records maintained by the charter
school shall be forwarded to the student's district of
residence.
Section 8. The act is amended by adding a section to read:
Section 1745.1-A. Review and moratorium.
(a) Legislative Budget and Finance Committee study.--The
Legislative Budget and Finance Committee shall conduct a study
of all aspects of the funding, operation and performance of all
cyber charter schools in this Commonwealth, including the
potential impact of the approval of new cyber charter schools
and an expansion of existing cyber charter school enrollments on
students attending those cyber charter schools and on students
attending school districts with students enrolled in the new or
expanded cyber charter schools.
(b) Time period for completion of study and dissemination.--
The study under subsection (a) shall be completed by December
31, 2019, and shall be posted by the Legislative Budget and
Finance Committee on its publicly accessible Internet website
and by the department on its publicly accessible Internet
website. The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee shall
provide a copy, which may be in an electronic format, to the
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Governor, the chairperson and minority chairperson of the
Education Committee of the Senate and the chairperson and
minority chairperson of the Education Committee of the House of
Representatives.
(c) Period and effect of moratorium.--Notwithstanding any
provision of law to the contrary, beginning on the effective
date of this section and until June 30, 2021, a moratorium is
established on the formation and approval of new cyber charter
schools and the expansion of existing cyber charter schools in
order to provide the General Assembly with sufficient time to
review the completed study under subsection (a) and to take
appropriate action. During the period of the moratorium, no new
cyber charter school shall be formed or approved and no existing
cyber charter school shall have its enrollment expanded.
Section 9. Section 1749-A(a) of the act is amended to read:
Section 1749-A. Applicability of other provisions of this act
and of other acts and regulations.
(a) General requirements.--Cyber charter schools shall be
subject to the following:
(1) Sections 108, 110, 111, 321, 325, 326, 327, 431,
436, 443, 510, 518, 527, 708, 752, 753, 755, 771, 776, 777,
808, 809, 810, 1109, 1111, 1112(a), 1205.1, 1205.2, 1301,
1302, 1310, 1317.2, 1318, 1326, 1327, 1327.2, 1329, 1330,
1332, 1333, 1333.1, 1333.2, 1333.3, 1303-A, 1518, 1521, 1523,
1531, 1547, 1702-A, 1703-A, 1714-A, 1715-A, 1716-A, 1719-A,
1721-A, 1722-A, 1723-A(a) and (b), 1724-A, 1725-A, 1725.1-A,
1727-A, 1729-A, 1730-A, 1731-A(a)(1) and (b) and 2014-A and
Articles XII-A, XIII-A and XIV.
(2) The act of July 17, 1961 (P.L.776, No.341), known as
the Pennsylvania Fair Educational Opportunities Act.
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(3) The act of July 19, 1965 (P.L.215, No.116), entitled
"An act providing for the use of eye protective devices by
persons engaged in hazardous activities or exposed to known
dangers in schools, colleges and universities."
(4) Section 4 of the act of January 25, 1966 (1965
P.L.1546, No.541), entitled "An act providing scholarships
and providing funds to secure Federal funds for qualified
students of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who need
financial assistance to attend postsecondary institutions of
higher learning, making an appropriation, and providing for
the administration of this act."
(5) The act of July 12, 1972 (P.L.765, No.181) entitled
"An act relating to drugs and alcohol and their abuse,
providing for projects and programs and grants to educational
agencies, other public or private agencies, institutions or
organizations."
(6) The act of December 15, 1986 (P.L.1595, No.175),
known as the Antihazing Law.
* * *
Section 10. Section 2574.3 of the act is amended by adding
subsections to read:
Section 2574.3. Approved Reimbursable Annual Rental for
Leases of Buildings or Portions of Buildings for Charter School
Use.--* * *
(c) In its application for funding under this section, the
charter school shall provide the following documentation:
(1) A copy of the signed lease agreement for the leased
building.
(2) A copy of the deed for the leased building.
(3) The names of the board of trustees and administrators of
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the charter school.
(4) The names of the administrators or executives of the
educational management service provider.
(5) If the owner of the leased building is a nonprofit
organization or a charter school foundation, the names of the
members of its governing board.
(d) A charter school may not apply for, nor may the
department authorize, any charter lease reimbursement if the
reimbursement is for lease payments to the following exclusions
which incorporate terms as defined in 65 Pa.C.S. § 1102
(relating to definitions):
(1) an administrator of the charter school or a member of
the administrator's immediate family, or a business with which
the administrator or a member of the administrator's immediate
family is associated;
(2) a member of the board of trustees of the charter school
or a member of the member's immediate family, or a business with
which the member or a member of the member's immediate family is
associated;
(3) a founder of the charter school or a member of the
founder's immediate family, or a business with which the founder
or a member of the founder's immediate family is associated;
(4) an administrator or executive of the educational
management service provider or a member of the administrator's
or executive's immediate family, or a business with which the
administrator or executive or a member of the administrator's or
executive's immediate family is associated; or
(5) any other entity or individual that has a substantial
financial interest with the charter school, outside of the lease
agreement.
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