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PRINTER'S NO. 1948
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE BILL
No.
1
Session of
2021
INTRODUCED BY LEWIS, KAIL, LEWIS DELROSSO, KAUFFMAN, RYAN,
ZIMMERMAN, OWLETT, ROWE, KEEFER, ORTITAY, PENNYCUICK,
ROTHMAN, M. MACKENZIE, BERNSTINE, DOWLING, METCALFE, JONES
AND GROVE, JULY 19, 2021
REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION, JULY 19, 2021
AN ACT
Amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), entitled "An
act relating to the public school system, including certain
provisions applicable as well to private and parochial
schools; amending, revising, consolidating and changing the
laws relating thereto," in preliminary provisions, providing
for learning pod protection and for advertising; in terms and
courses of study, further providing for agreements with
institutions of higher education; in opportunities for
educational excellence, further providing for definitions,
for responsibilities of school entities and for concurrent
enrollment agreements; in charter schools, further providing
for definitions, providing for ideal charter schools, further
providing for charter school requirements, for powers of
board of trustees and for facilities, providing for fund
balance limits and further providing for school district and
intermediate unit responsibilities; in educational tax
credits, further providing for limitations; and providing for
education opportunity accounts and establishing the Education
Opportunity Account Program.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. The act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known
as the Public School Code of 1949, is amended by adding sections
to read:
Section 129. Learning pod protection.--(a) Notwithstanding
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any other provision of law to the contrary, a learning pod shall
be exempt from the following provisions:
(1) All provisions of this act related to staff ratios,
certifications, background checks and physical accommodations.
(2) All regulatory provisions of the Department of Human
Services related to the operation of a day-care, child-care
center or at home day-care, including staff certifications,
background checks and physical accommodations.
(3) Any State building or fire codes applicable to
educational or child-care facilities.
(4) Any local building or fire codes applicable to an
educational or child-care facility.
(5) Any other State or local statute, rule or code which
would not be applicable to any group, building or facility but
for the operation or presence of a learning pod.
(b) No State, local or school district employe may initiate
or conduct any site inspection or other investigation or visit
that would not have been initiated or made but for the operation
or presence of a learning pod.
(c) No State, local or school district employe may initiate
or conduct any site inspection or other investigation or visit,
that would not have been initiated or made but for the operation
or presence of a learning pod, on the basis of any provision of
Federal code, rule, guideline or any other Federal authority.
(d) No school district may take any action or act in any
manner discriminate against or otherwise distinguish any student
or parent on the basis of participation in a learning pod.
(e) No State agency, local government or school district may
require that any learning pod be in any manner required to
register or otherwise report any information related to the
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operation of the learning pod.
(f) This section shall not alter the regulation of any day-
care center, child-care center or home-day-care center related
to any operations or other matters not directly related to the
operation of a learning pod.
(g) The following shall apply to any administrative,
judicial hearing or other action regarding this section:
(1) Compliance of this section with any State or local law,
regulations, guidelines or school district guideline or other
action shall be a judicial question and determined without
regard to any assertion of compliance with this section.
(2) Any State or local law, regulation, guideline or school
district guidelines or other action shall be required to
establish by clear and convincing evidence that law, regulation,
guideline or action:
(i) Does not unduly impede on the freedom of parents and
guardians to provide care and supervision of their children.
(ii) Does not single out educational activities while
similar gatherings of children for recreational or social
activities remain unregulated.
(iii) Is narrowly tailored to protect the public health and
safety.
(h) As used in this section, the following words and phrases
shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:
"Learning pod." A group of children who otherwise meet the
compulsory attendance requirements under Article XIII and meet
at various times or places to participate in educational
activities. The term shall include payment for any services
provided to the children participating in a learning pod by a
parent.
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"Operation of a learning pod." Any actions taken by a parent
or individual assisting a parent while engaged in any actions
taken to organize, facilitate or operate a learning pod at any
facility, home or other structure utilized by a learning pod.
Section 130. Advertising.--(a) A paid media advertisement
by a public school entity that refers to the cost of tuition or
transportation shall not advertise those expenses as free, and
any reference to tuition or transportation costs must stipulate
that the cost is covered by taxpayer dollars.
(b) As used in this section, the following words and phrases
shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:
"Paid media advertisement." The term includes a television,
radio or movie theater advertisement, billboard, bus poster,
newspaper, magazine, publicly accessible Internet website or any
other commercial method that may promote enrollment in a public
school entity.
"Public school entity." A public school district, charter
school, cyber charter school, regional charter school,
intermediate unit or area vocational-technical career and
technical school.
Section 2. Section 1525 of the act is amended to read:
Section 1525. Agreements with Institutions of Higher
Education.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the
contrary, a school district, charter school, regional charter
school, cyber charter school or area career and technical school
may enter into an agreement with one or more institutions of
higher education approved to operate in this Commonwealth in
order to allow [resident] students to attend such institutions
of higher education while the [resident] students are enrolled
in the school district, charter school, regional charter school,
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cyber charter school or area career and technical school . The
agreement may be structured so that high school students may
receive credits toward completion of courses at the school
district, charter school, regional charter school, cyber charter
school or area career and technical school and at institutions
of higher education approved to operate in this Commonwealth.
Section 3. The definitions of "concurrent student" and
"school entity" in section 1602-B of the act are amended to
read:
Section 1602-B. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this article
shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
context clearly indicates otherwise:
* * *
"Concurrent student." A student who is enrolled in a school
district, a charter school, a regional charter school, a cyber
charter school, an area career and technical school, a nonpublic
school, a private school or a home education program under
section 1327.1 and who takes a concurrent course through a
concurrent enrollment program.
* * *
"School entity." A school district, a charter school, a
regional charter school, a cyber charter school or an area
career and technical school.
* * *
Section 4. Sections 1611-B and 1613-B of the act are amended
by adding subsections to read:
Section 1611-B. Responsibilities of school entities.
* * *
(g) Revenue received by school district.--Notwithstanding
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any provision of law to the contrary, the revenues received by a
school district under section 1603-B shall not be included in
the school district's budgeted total expenditure per average
daily membership used to calculate the amount to be paid to a
charter school entity under section 1725-A(a)(2) and (3).
Section 1613-B. Concurrent enrollment agreements.
* * *
(c) Charter schools, regional charter schools and cyber
charter schools.--Charter schools, regional charter schools and
cyber charter schools shall have the power and authority to
enter into a concurrent enrollment agreement with an institution
of higher education, and appropriate credit shall be awarded to
students concurrently enrolled under the agreement.
Section 5. Section 1703-A of the act is 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;
(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
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charter; or
(3) for a cyber charter school, the aid ratio and market
value/income aid ratio shall be that of the school district in
which the administrative offices of the cyber charter school are
located.
"Appeal board" shall mean the State Charter School Appeal
Board established by this article.
"Assessment" shall mean the Pennsylvania System of School
Assessment test, the Keystone Exam or another test established
or approved by the State board or the General Assembly to meet
the requirements of section 2603-B or 2604-B or 22 Pa. Code §
4.51 (relating to State assessment system) or required under the
Every Student Succeeds Act (Public Law 114-95, 129 Stat. 1802)
or its successor Federal statute.
"At-risk student" shall mean a student at risk of educational
failure because of limited English proficiency, poverty,
community factors, truancy, academic difficulties or economic
disadvantage.
"Charter school" shall mean an independent public school
established and operated under a charter from the local board of
school directors and in which students are enrolled or attend. A
charter school must be organized as a public, nonprofit
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.
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"Charter school foundation" shall mean a nonprofit
organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue
Code of 1986 (Public Law 99-514, 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3)), that
provides funding, resources or otherwise serves to support a
charter school entity, 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.
"Community college" shall mean a community college
established under Article XIX-A.
"Cyber charter school" shall mean an independent public
school established and operated under a charter from the
Department of Education and in which the school uses technology,
including electronic or digital books, in order to provide a
significant portion of its curriculum and to deliver a
significant portion of instruction to its students through the
Internet or other electronic means. A cyber charter school must
be organized as a public, nonprofit corporation. A charter may
not be granted to a for-profit entity.
"Department" shall mean the Department of Education of the
Commonwealth.
"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
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shall not include a charter school foundation.
"Immediate family member" shall mean a parent, spouse, child,
brother, sister, grandparent or grandchild.
"Local board of school directors" shall mean the board of
directors or other governing authority of a school district in
which a proposed or an approved charter school is located.
"Nonrelated" shall mean an individual who is not an immediate
family member.
"Regional charter school" shall mean an independent public
school established and operated under a charter from more than
one local board of school directors and in which students are
enrolled or attend. A regional charter school must be organized
as a public, nonprofit corporation. Charters may not be granted
to any for-profit entity.
"School district of residence" shall mean the school district
in this Commonwealth in which [the parents or guardians of a
child reside.] a child resides as determined under section 1302
and 22 Pa. Code § 11.11(a)(1) (relating to entitlement of
resident children to attend public schools).
"School entity" shall mean a school district, intermediate
unit, joint school or area career and technical school.
"Secretary" shall mean the Secretary of Education of the
Commonwealth.
"State board" shall mean the State Board of Education of the
Commonwealth.
"State System institution" shall mean a member institution of
the State System of Higher Education established under Article
XX-A.
Section 6. The act is amended by adding a section to read:
Section 1714.1-A. Ideal Charter Schools.--(a)
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Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an applicant seeking
to establish a public charter school in this Commonwealth may
submit the charter petition to any of the following:
(1) The elected governing authority of a county
or municipality.
(2) The mayor of a city of the first class.
(3) Any school district located in this Commonwealth.
(4) The State Board of Education .
(5) The board of trustees of a two-year or four-year
institution of higher education as defined by section 2001-A.
(6) The Public Charter School Commission established in
subsection (c).
(b) Public university authorizers are established in this
Commonwealth. A public university authorizer shall be
responsible for sponsoring a charter school. The responsibility
for maintaining sponsorship shall rest with the university's
board of trustees. The university's board of trustees may vote
to assign sponsorship authority and sponsorship responsibilities
to another person or entity that functions under the direction
of the university's board. Prior to a university sponsoring a
charter school, the university must conduct a public meeting
with public notice in the county where the charter school will
be located. A charter authorizer shall:
(1) Receive applications, evaluate applications to ensure
that they meet the minimal requirements set forth by statute,
and make approval and denial decisions.
(2) Execute contracts, incorporating and consistent with
approved applications, between the authorizer and public charter
schools detailing the rights and responsibilities of the
authorizer and the charter school and setting forth the academic
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and operational performance expectations and measures by which
the charter school will be judged. The authorizer may choose to
make the approved application the charter contract.
(3) Monitor, on a regular basis, the performance of the
charter schools it oversees.
(4) Establish, through formal rulemaking, renewal and
revocation criteria and processes for the charter schools it
oversees.
(c) In reviewing and evaluating charter applications,
authorizers shall employ procedures, practices and criteria
consistent with this section. The application review process
shall include thorough evaluation of each written charter
application, an in-person interview with the applicant group and
an opportunity in a public forum for local residents to learn
about and provide input on each application. The authority shall
provide each applicant with a detailed analysis of the
application and grant the applicant a reasonable time to provide
additional materials and amendments to an application to address
any identified deficiencies. In deciding whether to approve
charter applications, an authorizer shall:
(1) Grant charters only to applicants that have demonstrated
competence in each element of the authorizer's published
approval criteria and are likely to open and operate a
successful public charter school.
(2) Base decisions on documented evidence collected through
the application review process.
(3) Follow charter-granting policies and practices that are
transparent, based on merit and avoid conflicts of interest or
any appearance thereof.
(d) No later than thirty (30) days after the filing of a
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charter application, the authorizer shall decide to approve or
deny the charter application. The authorizer shall adopt by
resolution all charter approval or denial decisions in an open
meeting of the authorizer's governing board. An approval
decision may include, if appropriate, reasonable conditions that
the charter applicant must meet before a charter contract may be
executed under this section. Conditions under this subsection
may not include enrollment caps or operational requirements that
in any manner contradict this section. For any charter denial,
the authorizer shall clearly state, for public record, any
reasons for denial. A denied applicant may subsequently reapply
to any authorizer in this Commonwealth.
(e) Within fifteen (15) days of an action to approve or deny
a charter application, the authorizer shall report the action to
the Department of Education. The authorizer shall provide a copy
of the report to the charter applicant at the same time that the
report is submitted to the Department of Education. The report
shall include a copy of the authorizer governing board's
resolution setting forth the action taken and reasons for the
decision and assurances as to compliance with all of the
procedural requirements and application elements set forth in
this section.
(f) A charter may be renewed for successive ten-year terms
of duration, although the authorizer may vary the term based on
the performance, demonstrated capacities and particular
circumstances of each public charter school. An authorizer may
grant renewal with specific conditions for necessary
improvements to a public charter school, but may not impose
conditions inconsistent with this section. No later than July 30
of each year, the authorizer shall issue a public charter school
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performance report and charter renewal application guidance to
any public charter school whose charter will expire the
following year. The performance report shall summarize the
public charter school's performance record to date, based on the
data required by this section and the charter contract, and
shall provide notice of any weaknesses or concerns related to
the public charter school that may jeopardize its position in
seeking renewal if not timely rectified. The public charter
school shall have sixty (60) days to respond to the performance
report and submit any corrections or clarifications for the
report.
(g) The renewal application guidance shall:
(1) Provide an opportunity for the public charter school to:
(i) Present additional evidence, beyond the data contained
in the performance report, supporting its case for
charter renewal.
(ii) Describe improvements undertaken or planned for the
school.
(iii) Detail the school's plans for the next charter term.
(2) Include or refer explicitly to the criteria that will
guide the authorizer's renewal decisions, which shall be based
on the performance framework set forth in the charter contract
and consistent with this section.
(h) No later than April 1 of each year, the governing board
of a public charter school seeking renewal shall submit a
renewal application to the charter authorizer in accordance with
the renewal application guidance issued by the authorizer. The
authorizer shall rule, by resolution, on the renewal application
no later than thirty (30) days after the filing of the renewal
application. In making charter renewal decisions, every
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authorizer shall:
(1) Ground its decisions in evidence of the school's
performance over the term of the charter contract in accordance
with the performance framework set forth in the charter
contract.
(2) Ensure that data used in making renewal decisions are
available to the school and the public.
(3) Provide a public report summarizing the evidence basis
for each decision.
(i) A charter contract may be revoked at any time or not
renewed if the authorizer determines that the public charter
school did any of the following or otherwise failed to comply
with the provisions of this section:
(1) commits a material and substantial violation of any of
the terms, conditions, standards or procedures required under
this section or the charter contract, and has persistently
failed to correct the violation after fair and specific notice
from the authorizer;
(2) fails to meet or make progress toward the performance
expectations set forth in the charter contract;
(3) fails to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal
management, and has failed to correct the violation after fair
and specific notice from the authorizer; or
(4) substantially violates any material provision of law
from which the public charter school was not exempted and has
failed to correct the violation after fair and specific notice
from the authorizer.
(j) In the case of a violation that threatens the health and
safety of the students of any public charter school or if
members of the public charter school committed a material
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violation of the law, the authorizer may take immediate action.
(k) An authorizer must develop revocation and nonrenewal
processes that:
(1) Provide the holders of the charter with a timely
notification of the prospect of revocation or nonrenewal and of
the reasons for possible closure.
(2) Allow the holders of the charter a reasonable amount of
time to prepare a response.
(3) Provide the holders of the charter with an opportunity
to submit documents and give testimony challenging the rationale
for closure and in support of the continuation of the school at
an orderly proceeding held for that purpose.
(4) Allow the holders of the charter access to
representation by counsel and to call witnesses on their behalf.
(5) Permit the recording of proceedings.
(6) After a reasonable period for deliberation, require a
final determination be made and conveyed in writing to the
holders of the charter .
(7) If an authorizer revokes or does not renew a charter,
clearly states, in a resolution of its governing board, the
reasons for the revocation or nonrenewal.
(l) Within thirty (30) days of taking action, the authorizer
shall report to the Department of Education the action taken,
and shall provide a copy of the report to the public charter
school at the same time that the report is submitted to the
Department of Education. The report shall include a copy of the
authorizer governing board's resolution setting forth the action
taken and reasons for the decision and assurances as to
compliance with all of the requirements of this section.
(m) Prior to any public charter school closure decision, an
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authorizer shall have developed a public charter school closure
protocol to ensure timely notification to parents, orderly
transition of students and student records to new schools, and
proper disposition of school funds, property and assets in
accordance with the requirements of this section. The protocol
shall specify tasks, timelines and responsible parties,
including delineating the respective duties of the school and
the authorizer. In the event of a public charter school closure
for any reason, the authorizer shall oversee and work with the
closing school to ensure a smooth and orderly closure and
transition for students and parents, as guided by the closure
protocol. In the event of a public charter school closure for
any reason, the assets of the school shall be distributed first
to satisfy outstanding payroll obligations for employes of the
school, then to creditors of the school, and then to the State
Treasury to the credit of the General Fund. If the assets of the
school are insufficient to pay all parties to whom the school
owes compensation, the prioritization of the distribution of
assets may be determined by decree of a court of law.
(n) The Public Charter School Commission is established in
the Commonwealth. The commission shall authorize high-quality
public charter schools in this Commonwealth consistent with this
section. The commission shall consist of eleven (11)
geographically diverse citizens of this Commonwealth, no more
than six (6) of whom shall be members of the same political
party, who shall be appointed as follows:
(1) Three (3) members shall be appointed by the Governor.
(2) Three (3) members shall be appointed by the President
pro tempore of the Senate and one (1) member by the Minority
Leader of the Senate.
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(3) Three (3) members shall be appointed by the Speaker of
the House of Representatives and one (1) by the Minority Leader
of the House of Representatives.
(o) Members appointed to the commission shall collectively
possess experience and expertise in public and nonprofit
governance, management and finance, public school leadership,
assessment, curriculum and instruction and public education law.
All members of the commission shall have demonstrated
understanding of and commitment to charter schooling as a
strategy for strengthening public education by providing
additional high-quality choices.
(p) The first appointment of the Governor, the first
appointment of the President pro tempore of the Senate and the
first appointment of the Speaker of the House of Representatives
shall serve an initial term of four (4) years. The second
appointment by the Governor and the first appointment of the
Minority Leader of the Senate and the Minority Leader of the
House of Representatives shall serve an initial term of three
(3) years. All remaining appointments shall serve an initial
term of two (2) years. The initial appointments shall be made no
later than thirty (30) days after the effective date of this
section. A member may be reappointed, however no member may be
appointed to a new term after the member has served seven (7)
consecutive years.
(q) A member of the commission may be removed for
any cause that renders the member incapable or unfit to
discharge the duties of the office. If a vacancy on the
commission exists, the original appointing authority shall
appoint a member for the remaining portion of the term.
(r) The members of the commission shall annually elect one
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individual from its membership to serve as chairperson after
members of the commission have been appointed to fill any
vacancies caused by the regular expiration of previous members'
terms, or when requested by a majority vote of the members of
the commission. A majority of the members of the commission
shall constitute a quorum. The commission shall meet at the call
of the chairperson, subject to any hearing requirements of the
commission.
(s) Members of the commission shall serve without pay,
but may receive reimbursement for any reasonable and necessary
expenses incurred by reason of service on the commission.
(t) Subject to any rules as may be promulgated by the
commission, the chairperson shall have the authority to appoint,
terminate and fix the pay of an executive director and other
personnel of the commission as the chairperson deems
necessary. The commission shall be authorized to use the
services, personnel and facilities of the Department of
Education. Any start-up expenses of the commission shall be paid
from funds available to the Department of Education. Within
forty-five (45) days of the effective date of this section, the
Department of Education shall make available no less than
$150,000 to the commission.
(u) The commission shall provide for an audit of the
financial statements of the commission by an independent
certified public accountant in accordance with auditing
standards for financial audits issued by the Comptroller General
of the United States.
(v) The sum of $300,000 may be appropriated to the
commission for fiscal year 2021 and such sums as may be
necessary for each of the three (3) succeeding fiscal years.
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This appropriation shall not lapse.
(w) The Commonwealth shall remit to each authorizer under
subsection (a) an oversight fee for each public charter school
the authorizer approves. The oversight fee shall be drawn from
and calculated as a uniform percentage of the per-student
operational funding allocated to each public charter school, not
to exceed three per centum of each public charter school's per-
student funding in a single school year. The Department of
Education shall establish a Statewide formula for authorizer
funding, which shall apply uniformly to every authorizer in this
Commonwealth. The General Assembly may establish a sliding scale
for authorizer funding, with the funding percentage decreasing
after the authorizer has achieved a threshold determined by the
General Assembly. An authorizer's oversight fee may not include
any costs incurred in delivering services that a public charter
school may purchase at its discretion from the authorizer. The
authorizer shall use funding provided under this section
exclusively for the purpose of fulfilling authorizing
obligations in accordance with this section.
(x) The commission shall operate with dedicated resources
and staff qualified to execute the day-to-day responsibilities
of a public charter school authorized in accordance with this
section.
(y) The commission shall annually submit a report to the
General Assembly summarizing:
(1) The academic and financial performance of all operating
public charter schools overseen by the commission, according to
the performance expectations for public charter schools set
forth in this section.
(2) The status of the commission's public charter school
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portfolio, identifying all public charter schools in each of the
following categories:
(i) approved but not yet open;
(ii) operating;
(iii) renewed;
(iv) transferred;
(v) revoked;
(vi) not renewed;
(vii) voluntarily closed; or
(viii) never opened.
(3) The authorizing functions provided by the commission to
the public charter schools under its purview, including its
operating costs and expenses detailed in annual audited
financial statements that conform with generally accepted
accounting principles.
(z) As used in this section, the term "commission" means the
Public Charter School Commission established under subsection
(c).
Section 7. Section 1715-A of the act is amended to read:
Section 1715-A. Charter School Entity Requirements.--(a)
Charter [schools] school entities shall be required to comply
with the following provisions:
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this article, a charter
school entity is exempt from statutory requirements established
in this act, from regulations of the State board and the
standards of the secretary not specifically applicable to
charter [schools] school entities. Charter [schools] school
entities are not exempt from statutes applicable to public
schools other than this act.
(2) A charter school entity shall be accountable to the
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parents, the public and the Commonwealth, with the delineation
of that accountability reflected in the charter. Strategies for
meaningful parent and community involvement shall be developed
and implemented by each school.
(3) A charter school entity shall not unlawfully
discriminate in admissions, hiring or operation.
(4) A charter school entity shall be nonsectarian in all
operations.
(5) [A] (i) Subject to subparagraph (ii), a charter school
entity shall not provide any religious instruction, nor shall it
display religious objects and symbols on the premises of the
charter school entity.
(ii) It shall not be a violation of this paragraph for a
charter school entity to utilize a sectarian facility:
(A) if the charter school entity provides for discrete and
separate entrances to buildings utilized for school purposes
only;
(B) if the religious objects and symbols within the portions
of the facility utilized by the school are covered or removed to
the extent reasonably feasible; or
(C) in which the unused portion of the facility or its
common areas contain religious symbols and objects.
(6) A charter school entity shall not advocate unlawful
behavior.
(7) A charter school entity shall only be subject to the
laws and regulations as provided for in section 1732-A, or as
otherwise provided for in this article.
(8) A charter school entity shall participate in the
Pennsylvania State Assessment System as provided for in 22 Pa.
Code Ch. 5 (relating to curriculum), or subsequent regulations
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promulgated to replace 22 Pa. Code Ch. 5, in the manner in which
the school district in which the charter school entity is
located is scheduled to participate.
(9) A charter school entity shall provide a minimum of one
hundred eighty (180) days of instruction or nine hundred (900)
hours per year of instruction at the elementary level, or nine
hundred ninety (990) hours per year of instruction at the
secondary level. Nothing in this clause shall preclude the use
of computer and satellite linkages for delivering instruction to
students.
(10) Boards of trustees and contractors of charter [schools]
school entities 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."
(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 entity shall be public
officials[.
(12) A person who serves as an administrator for a charter
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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.] for the purposes
of 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 11 (relating to ethics standards and financial
disclosure) and shall file a statement of financial interests
for the preceding calendar year with the State Ethics Commission
and either the local board of school directors in the case of a
charter school or regional charter school, or the department in
the case of a cyber charter school, not later than May 1 of each
year that members hold the position and of the year after a
member leaves the position. All members of the board of trustees
of a charter school entity shall take the oath of office as
required under section 321 before entering upon the duties of
their office.
(b) An individual who serves as an administrator for a
charter school entity shall be a public employe for the purposes
of 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 11 and shall file a statement of financial
interests for the preceding calendar year with the board of
trustees not later than May 1 of each year that the person holds
the position and of the year after the person leaves the
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position.
(c) (1) No individual who serves as an administrator for a
charter school entity may receive compensation from another
charter school entity or from an educational management service
provider, unless:
(i) The administrator has submitted a sworn statement to the
board of trustees of the charter school entity and the sworn
statement details the work for the other entity and includes the
projected number of hours, rate of compensation and projected
duration.
(ii) The board of trustees of the charter school entity has
reviewed the sworn statement under subclause (i) and agreed, by
resolution, to grant permission to the administrator.
(2) A copy of the sworn statement under clause (1)(i) and
the resolution by the board of trustees granting the permission
under clause (1)(ii) shall be provided to, and kept on file
with, the charter school entity and the local board of school
directors or, in the case of a cyber charter school, the
department.
(3) No administrator of a charter school entity or immediate
family member of the administrator may serve as a voting member
of the board of trustees of the charter school entity that
employs the administrator.
(4) (i) No administrator of a charter school entity may
participate in the selection, award or administration of a
contract if the person has a conflict of interest as that term
is defined in 65 Pa.C.S. § 1102 (relating to definitions).
(ii) An administrator who knowingly violates this clause
commits a violation of 65 Pa.C.S. § 1103(a) (relating to
restricted activities) and shall be subject to the penalties
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imposed under the jurisdiction of the State Ethics Commission.
(iii) Any contract made in violation of this clause shall be
voidable by the board of trustees of the charter school entity.
(5) An administrator shall be immediately dismissed upon
conviction for an offense graded as a felony, an infamous crime,
an offense pertaining to fraud, theft or mismanagement of public
funds or any crime involving moral turpitude.
Section 8. Sections 1716-A(c) and 1722-A(a), (b) and (d) of
the act are amended and the sections are amended by adding
subsections to read:
Section 1716-A. Powers of Board of Trustees.--* * *
(b.1) (1) For a charter school or regional charter school
chartered after the effective date of this subsection, an
individual shall be prohibited from serving as a voting member
of the board of trustees of the charter school or regional
charter school if the individual or an immediate family member
receives compensation from or is employed by or is a member of
the local board of school directors who participated in the
initial review, approval, oversight, evaluation or renewal
process of the charter school or regional charter school
chartered by that board.
(2) An employe of the school district that chartered a
charter school or regional charter school may serve as a member
of the board of trustees of the charter school or regional
charter school without voting privileges.
(b.2) (1) No member of the board of trustees of a charter
school entity may participate in the selection, award or
administration of any contract if the member has a conflict of
interest as that term is defined in 65 Pa.C.S. § 1102 (relating
to definitions).
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(2) Any member of the board of trustees of a charter school
entity who in the discharge of the person's official duties
would be required to vote on a matter that would result in a
conflict of interest shall abstain from voting and follow the
procedures required under 65 Pa.C.S. § 1103(j) (relating to
restricted activities).
(3) A member of the board of trustees of a charter school
entity who knowingly violates this subsection commits a
violation of 65 Pa.C.S. § 1103(a) and shall be subject to the
penalties imposed under the jurisdiction of the State Ethics
Commission.
(4) A contract made in violation of this subsection shall be
voidable by a court of competent jurisdiction if the suit is
commenced within ninety (90) days of the discovery of the
violation.
(5) No member of the board of trustees of a charter school
entity shall be compensated for duties on the board of trustees.
(b.3) A member of the board of trustees of a charter school
entity shall be automatically disqualified and immediately
removed from the board of trustees upon conviction for an
offense graded as a felony, an infamous crime, an offense
pertaining to fraud, theft or mismanagement of public funds, any
offense pertaining to the member's official capacity as a member
of the board of trustees or any crime involving moral turpitude.
(c) The board of trustees shall comply with [the act of July
3, 1986 (P.L.388, No.84), known as the "Sunshine Act."] 65
Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 (relating to open meetings).
(d) (1) (i) The board of trustees of a charter school
entity shall consist of a minimum of five (5) nonrelated voting
members.
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(ii) If a charter school entity has fewer than five (5)
nonrelated voting members serving on its board of trustees on
the effective date of this subsection, the charter school entity
shall, within sixty (60) days, appoint additional members to the
board of trustees to meet the minimum requirements of this
section.
(2) Within one (1) year of the effective date of this
subsection, at least one member of the board of trustees of a
charter school entity shall be a parent of a child currently
attending the charter school entity. The board of trustees
member provided for under this paragraph shall be eligible to
serve only so long as the child attends the charter school
entity. This paragraph shall not apply to a charter school that
primarily serves adjudicated youth.
(e) (1) A majority of the voting members of the board of
trustees shall constitute a quorum. If less than a majority is
present at any meeting, no business may be transacted at the
meeting.
(2) The affirmative vote of a majority of all the voting
members of the board of trustees, duly recorded, shall be
required in order to take official action on the subjects
enumerated under subsection (a).
(f) A charter school entity shall form an independent audit
committee of its board of trustees members which shall review at
the close of each fiscal year a complete certified audit of the
operations of the charter school entity. The audit shall be
conducted by a qualified independent certified public
accountant. The audit shall be conducted under generally
accepted audit standards of the Governmental Accounting
Standards Board and shall include the following:
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(1) An enrollment test to verify the accuracy of student
enrollment and reporting to the Commonwealth.
(2) Full review of expense reimbursements for board of
trustees members and administrators, including sampling of all
reimbursements.
(3) Review of internal controls, including review of
receipts and disbursements.
(4) Review of annual Federal and State tax filings,
including the Internal Revenue Service Form 990, Return of
Organization Exempt from Income Tax and all related schedules
and appendices for the charter school entity and charter school
foundation, if applicable.
(5) Review of the financial statements of any charter school
foundation.
(6) Review of the selection and acceptance process of all
contracts publicly bid pursuant to section 751.
(7) Review of all board policies and procedures with regard
to internal controls, code of ethics, conflicts of interest,
whistle-blower protections, complaints from parents or the
public, compliance with 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 (relating to open
meetings), finances, budgeting, audits, public bidding and
bonding.
(g) The certified audit under subsection (f) and the annual
budget under subsection (i) are public documents and shall be
made available on the charter school entity's publicly
accessible Internet website, if available, and, in the case of a
charter school or regional charter school, on the school
district's publicly accessible Internet website.
(h) A charter school entity may be subject to an annual
audit by the Auditor General, in addition to any other audits
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required by Federal law or this act.
(i) A charter school entity shall annually provide the
department and, in the case of a charter school or regional
charter school, shall annually provide the school district with
a copy of the annual budget for the operation of the charter
school entity that identifies the following:
(1) The source of funding for all expenditures.
(2) Where funding is provided by a charter school
foundation, the amount of funds and a description of the use of
the funds.
(3) The salaries of all administrators of the charter school
entity.
(4) All expenditures to an educational management service
provider.
(j) (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a
charter school entity and any affiliated charter school
foundation shall make copies of its annual Federal and State tax
filings available upon request and on the charter school
entity's or foundation's publicly accessible Internet website,
if available, including Internal Revenue Service Form 990,
Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax and all related
schedules and appendices.
(2) The charter school foundation shall also make copies of
its annual budget available upon request and on the foundation's
or the charter school entity's publicly accessible Internet
website within thirty (30) days of the close of the foundation's
fiscal year.
(3) The annual budget shall include the salaries of all
employes of the charter school foundation.
Section 1722-A. Facilities.--(a) A charter school entity
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may be located in an existing public school building, in a part
of an existing public school building, in space provided on a
privately owned site, in a public building or in any other
suitable location.
(b) The charter school entity facility shall be exempt from
public school facility regulations except those pertaining to
the health or safety of [the pupils.] students.
(b.1) (1) A charter school entity shall have the right of
first refusal to purchase or lease, for educational purposes
only, a public school building or a part of a public school
building that is no longer in use by a school entity which is
the property titleholder, at the price of one of the following:
(i) The last best offer above fair market value received in
the ninety (90) days preceding the charter school entity's
offer.
(ii) Fair market value, if no offer has been received in the
ninety (90) days preceding the charter school entity's offer.
(iii) Below fair market value, upon the mutual agreement of
the school entity and the charter school entity.
(2) A school entity shall accept an offer from a charter
school entity that conforms to the provisions of paragraph (1).
(3) The department shall provide a page on its publicly
accessible Internet website on which school entities are
required to post a notice for each public school building or
part of a public school building that is available for purchase
or lease. A school entity shall submit a notice to the
department on a form developed by the department. The department
shall post the notice within five (5) days of receiving the
form.
(4) The following shall apply to the sale or lease of a
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public school building or a part of a public school building by
a school entity:
(i) A school entity may not enter into a contract to sell or
lease a building or part of a building until at least thirty
(30) days after the posting of a notice as required under
paragraph (3).
(ii) If two or more charter school entities make offers on
the same building or part of a building that conforms to the
provisions of this subsection, the school entity shall:
(A) Accept the first offer, if the offers are equal in
dollar amount.
(B) Accept the best offer, if the offers differ in dollar
amount.
(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.] a charter school or regional charter school that does
not have in the written charter any limits on student enrollment
or caps is permitted to operate the school at more than one
location within the district that authorized the charter.
* * *
(f) School districts, intermediate units, community colleges
and institutions under Article XX-A shall provide a cyber
charter school with reasonable access to their facilities for
the administration of standardized testing as follows:
(1) A cyber charter school shall provide an intermediate
unit, school district, community college or institution under
Article XX-A with at least sixty (60) days' notice of the need
for facilities to be used for the administration of standardized
tests.
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(2) Within thirty (30) days of the cyber charter school's
request, the intermediate unit, school district, community
college or institution under Article XX-A shall notify the cyber
charter school of the location of the facilities that will be
provided, which shall be a quiet, separate location in which
cyber charter school students will not be commingled with
students of the intermediate unit, school district, community
college or institution under Article XX-A.
(3) An intermediate unit, school district of residence,
community college or institution under Article XX-A shall not be
required to make facilities available to a cyber charter school
on dates and at times that may cause undue interference with the
educational programs of the intermediate unit, school district,
community college or institution under Article XX-A.
(4) Any facilities rental fee charged to the cyber charter
school and the payment thereof shall be in compliance with the
facility rental policy of the intermediate unit, school
district, community college or institution under Article XX-A
that applies generally to all organizations and community
groups.
(g) As used in this section, "charter school entity" shall
mean a charter school, regional charter school or cyber charter
school.
Section 9. The act is amended by adding a section to read:
Section 1731.1-A. <