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PRINTER'S NO. 1904
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE BILL
No.
1685
Session of
2021
INTRODUCED BY TOPPER, GLEIM, HAMM, JAMES, PICKETT, RYAN, SMITH
AND THOMAS, JUNE 23, 2021
REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION, JUNE 23, 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 pupils and attendance, providing
for transfer of attendance records to another school entity
or nonpublic school; in charter schools, further providing
for definitions, for powers of charter schools, for charter
school requirements, for powers of board of trustees, for
establishment of charter school, for contents of application,
for term and form of charter, providing for amendments and
further providing for State Charter School Appeal Board, for
facilities, for enrollment, for multiple charter school
organizations, for cyber charter school requirements and
prohibitions, for school district and intermediate unit
responsibilities, for establishment of cyber charter school
and for cyber charter school application; and, in
reimbursements by Commonwealth and between school districts,
further providing for Commonwealth reimbursements for charter
schools and cyber charter schools.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. The act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known
as the Public School Code of 1949, is amended by adding a
section to read:
Section 1313.2. Transfer of Attendance Records to Another
School Entity or Nonpublic School.--(a) (1) Whenever a student
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transfers to another school entity or nonpublic school within
this Commonwealth, a copy of the student's attendance record
shall be transmitted to the school entity or nonpublic school to
which the student has transferred.
(2) The school entity or nonpublic school to which the
student has transferred shall request the attendance record.
(3) The sending school entity or nonpublic school shall have
ten (10) days from the receipt of the request to provide a copy
of the student's attendance record.
(b) In the case of a student transferring during the course
of a school term, the student's unexcused absences shall be
included in the student's attendance record at the school entity
or nonpublic school to which the student has transferred for
that school term.
(c) For purposes of this section, the term "school entity"
means a public school district, charter school, cyber charter
school, regional charter school, intermediate unit or area
vocational-technical school.
Section 2. 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:
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(1) the aid ratio and market value/income aid ratio for the
school district that granted a charter to the charter school;
(2) for a regional charter school, the aid ratio and market
value/income aid ratio shall be a composite, as determined by
the department, based on the school districts that granted the
charter; or
(3) for a cyber charter school, the aid ratio and market
value/income aid ratio shall be that of the school district in
which the administrative offices of the cyber charter school are
located.
"Appeal board" shall mean the State Charter School Appeal
Board established by this article.
"Assessment" shall mean the Pennsylvania System of School
Assessment test, the Keystone Exam or another test established
or approved by the State board or the General Assembly to meet
the requirements of section 2603-B or 2604-B or 22 Pa. Code §
4.51 (relating to State assessment system) or required under t he
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
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by the board of trustees to oversee and manage the operation of
the charter school, but who shall not be deemed a professional
staff member under this article.]
"Charter school entity" shall mean a charter school, regional
charter school or cyber charter school.
"Charter school foundation" shall mean a nonprofit
organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue
Code of 1986 (Public Law 99-514, 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3)), that
provides funding, resources or otherwise serves to support a
charter school entity, 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 or for-profit entity with which a board of trustees of
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a charter school entity contracts to provide management or
operation of all or substantially all of the charter school's
functions, or all or substantially all of the charter school's
instructional, curricular or administrative functions. The term
shall not include a charter school foundation.
"Family member" shall mean a parent, stepparent, child,
stepchild, spouse, domestic partner, brother, sister,
stepbrother, stepsister, grandparent, grandchild, parent-in-law,
brother-in-law, sister-in-law, aunt, uncle or first cousin.
"Local board of school directors" shall mean the board of
directors or other governing authority of a school district in
which a proposed or an approved charter school is located.
"Nonrelated" shall mean an individual who is not a family
member.
"Regional charter school" shall mean an independent public
school established and operated under a charter from more than
one local board of school directors and in which students are
enrolled or attend. A regional charter school must be organized
as a public, nonprofit corporation. Charters may not be granted
to any for-profit entity.
"School district of residence" shall mean the school district
in this Commonwealth in which [the parents or guardians of a
child reside.] a child resides as determined under section 1302
and 22 Pa. Code § 11.11(a)(1) (relating to entitlement of
resident children to attend public schools).
"School entity" shall mean a school district, intermediate
unit, joint school or area career and technical school.
"Secretary" shall mean the Secretary of Education of the
Commonwealth.
"State board" shall mean the State Board of Education of the
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Commonwealth.
Section 3. Section 1714-A(a) of the act is amended by adding
a paragraph to read:
Section 1714-A. Powers of Charter Schools.--(a) A charter
school established under this act is a body corporate and shall
have all powers necessary or desirable for carrying out its
charter, including, but not limited to, the power to:
* * *
(8) Offer instruction via the Internet or other electronic
means, except that the instruction shall not be recognized as a
cyber charter school under this article unless the charter
school or regional charter school establishes a cyber charter
school under section 1745-A. The decision by a charter school to
offer instruction via the Internet or other electronic means
shall not be subject to section 1720.1-A or approval of the
local board of school directors.
* * *
Section 4. Sections 1715-A, 1716-A, 1717-A, 1719-A and 1720-
A of the act are 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] act.
(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 subparagraph (i) and agreed,
by resolution, to grant permission to the administrator.
(2) A copy of the sworn statement under paragraph (1)(i) and
the resolution by the board of trustees granting the permission
under paragraph (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 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 paragraph
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 paragraph 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.
(d) As used in this section, "charter school entity" shall
mean a charter school, regional charter school or cyber charter
school.
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. The board
shall have the authority to employ, discharge and contract with
necessary professional and nonprofessional employes subject to
the school's charter and the provisions of this article.
(b) No member of a local board of school directors of a
school entity shall serve on the board of trustees of a charter
school that is located in the member's district.
(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 a family member receives
compensation from or is employed by or is a member of the local
board of school directors who participated in the initial
review, approval, oversight, evaluation or renewal process of
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the charter school or regional charter school chartered by that
board.
(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).
(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
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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.
(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 one hundred eighty (180) 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
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committee of its board of trustees members which shall review at
the close of each fiscal year a complete certified audit of the
operations of the charter school entity. The audit shall be
conducted by a qualified independent certified public
accountant. The audit shall be conducted under generally
accepted audit standards of the Governmental Accounting
Standards Board and shall include the following:
(1) An enrollment test to verify the accuracy of student
enrollment and reporting to the Commonwealth.
(2) Full review of expense reimbursements for 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, 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
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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
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 the 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
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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 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
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(ii) More than fifty per centum of the parents or guardians
of pupils attending that public school have signed a petition in
support of the school becoming a charter school.
(3) In no event shall the board of school directors serve as
the board of trustees of an existing school which is converted
to a charter school pursuant to this subsection.
(c) An application to establish a charter school shall be
submitted to the local board of school directors of the district
where the charter school will be located by [November 15]
October 1 of the school year preceding the school year in which
the charter school will be established except that for a charter
school beginning in the 1997-1998 school year, an application
must be received by July 15, 1997. In the 1997-1998 school year
only, applications shall be limited to recipients of fiscal year
1996-1997 Department of Education charter school planning
grants.
(d) Within forty-five (45) days of receipt of an
application, the local board of school directors in which the
proposed charter school is to be located shall hold at least one
public hearing on the provisions of the charter application,
under [the act of July 3, 1986 (P.L.388, No.84), known as the
"Sunshine Act."] 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 (relating to open meetings).
At least forty-five (45) days must transpire between the first
public hearing and the final decision of the board on the
charter application except that for a charter school beginning
in the 1997-1998 school year, only thirty (30) days must
transpire between the first public hearing and the final
decision of the board.
(e) (1) Not later than seventy-five (75) days after the
first public hearing on the application, the local board of
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school directors shall grant or deny the application. For a
charter school beginning in the 1997-1998 school year, the local
board of school directors shall grant or deny the application no
later than sixty (60) days after the first public hearing.
(2) A charter school application submitted under this
article shall be evaluated by the local board of school
directors based on criteria, including, but not limited to, the
following:
(i) The demonstrated, sustainable support for the charter
school plan by teachers, parents, other community members and
students, including comments received at the public hearing held
under subsection (d).
(ii) The capability of the charter school applicant, in
terms of support and planning, to provide comprehensive learning
experiences to students pursuant to the adopted charter.
(iii) The extent to which the application considers the
information requested in section 1719-A and conforms to the
legislative intent outlined in section 1702-A.
(iv) The extent to which the charter school may serve as a
model for other public schools and share best practices.
(3) The local board of school directors, in the case of an
existing school being converted to a charter school, shall
establish the alternative arrangements for current students who
choose not to attend the charter school.
(4) A charter application shall be deemed approved by the
local board of school directors [of a school district] upon
affirmative vote by a majority of all the directors. Formal
action approving or denying the application shall be taken by
the local board of school directors at a public meeting, with
notice or consideration of the application given by the board,
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under [the "Sunshine Act."] 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7.
(5) Written notice of the board's action shall be sent to
the applicant, the department and the appeal board. If the
application is denied, the reasons for the denial, including a
description of deficiencies in the application, shall be clearly
stated in the notice sent by the local board of school directors
to the charter school applicant.
(f) At the option of the charter school applicant, a denied
application may be revised and resubmitted to the local board of
school directors. Following the appointment and confirmation of
the Charter School Appeal Board under section 1721-A, the
decision of the local board of school directors may be appealed
to the appeal board pursuant to section 1721-A. When an
application is revised and resubmitted to the local board of
school directors, the board may schedule additional public
hearings on the revised application. The board shall consider
the revised and resubmitted application at the first board
meeting occurring at least forty-five (45) days after receipt of
the revised application by the board. For a revised application
resubmitted for the 1997-1998 school year, the board shall
consider the application at the first board meeting occurring at
least thirty (30) days after its receipt. The board shall
provide notice of consideration of the revised application under
[the "Sunshine Act."] 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7. No appeal from a
decision of a local school board may be taken until July 1,
1999.
(g) (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (e)
(5), failure by the local board of school directors to hold a
public hearing and to grant or deny the application for a
charter school within the time periods specified in subsections
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(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).] shall cause the charter
application to be deemed approved for a term of five (5) years
beginning in the school year proposed in the application, the
school year beginning immediately subsequent to approval or the
following school year, as determined at the charter school's
sole and absolute discretion.
(2) Upon a determination under paragraph (1), the charter
school shall provide written notice of the beginning of the
charter term to the local board of directors of a school
district or school districts, as appropriate. The charter
school's provision of written notice of the beginning of the
charter term to the local board of directors of a school
district or school districts 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 the
written charter of the charter school as provided for in section
1720-A.
(3) If the local board of directors fails to grant the
application and sign the charter within ten (10) days of notice
of the beginning of the charter term, the charter shall be
deemed to be approved and 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 the criteria established in
subsection (e)(2). A decision by the appeal board under this
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subsection or 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 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 the charter
within ten (10) days of notice of reversal of the decision of
the local board of directors, the charter shall be deemed to be
approved and shall be signed by the chairman of the appeal
board.]
(i) (1) The appeal board shall have the exclusive review of
an appeal by a charter school applicant, or by the board of
trustees of an existing charter school, of a decision made by a
local board of directors not to grant a charter as provided in
this section. The appeal process shall be conducted pursuant to
section 1721-A.
(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
local board of directors in accordance with clause (3).
(3) Each person signing a petition to appeal denial of a
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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
the signer's name.
(vii) That to the best of the affiant's knowledge and
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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 the findings of the local board
of directors and specifically articulate its reasons for
agreeing or disagreeing with those findings in its written
decision. The appeal board shall have the discretion to allow
the local board of directors and the charter school applicant to
supplement the record if the supplemental information was
previously unavailable.
(7) Not later than thirty (30) days after the date of notice
of the acceptance of the appeal, the appeal board shall meet to
officially review the certified record.
(8) Not later than sixty (60) days following the review
conducted pursuant to clause (6), the appeal board shall issue a
written decision affirming or denying the appeal. If the appeal
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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 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 the charter within ten (10) days of notice
of the reversal of the decision of the local board of directors,
the charter shall be deemed to be approved and shall be signed
by the chairman of the appeal board.
(10) All decisions of the appeal board shall be subject to
appellate review by the Commonwealth Court.] A charter school
applicant whose charter application has been denied shall file a
notice of appeal to the appeal board within ninety (90) days
after receipt by the application of the written notice of the
local board of school directors action denying the application
and the reasons for the denial. The appeal process shall proceed
pursuant to section 1721-A.
Section 1719-A. Contents of Application.--[An] (a) The
department shall create a standard application form for charter
school applicants seeking to establish a charter school entity
and a standard application form for existing charter school
entities seeking renewal of their charters. The department shall
transmit notice of the forms to the Legislative Reference Bureau
for publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, and the forms
shall be posted on the department's publicly accessible Internet
website.
(b) The standard application shall include [all of] only the
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following information:
(1) The identification of the charter school applicant.
(2) The name of the proposed charter school entity.
(3) The grade or age levels served by the school.
(4) [The proposed governance structure of the charter
school, including a description and method for the appointment
or election of members of the board of trustees.] An
organization chart clearly presenting the proposed governance
structure of the school, including lines of authority and
reporting between the board of trustees, administrators, staff
and any educational management service provider that will
provide management services to the charter school entity.
(4.1) A clear description of the roles and responsibilities
of the board of trustees, administrators and any other entities,
including a charter school foundation, shown in the organization
chart.
(4.2) A clear description of the method for the appointment
or election of members of the board of trustees.
(4.3) Standards for board of trustees' performance,
including compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and
terms of the charter.
(4.4) If the charter school entity intends to contract with
an educational management service provider for services, all of
the following shall apply:
(i) Evidence of the educational management service
provider's record in serving student populations, including
demonstrated academic achievement and demonstrated management of
nonacademic school functions, including proficiency with public
school-based accounting, if applicable.
(ii) A draft contract, if the educational management service
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provider has been engaged by the charter school entity, stating
all of the following:
(A) The officers, chief administrator and administrators of
the educational management service provider.
(B) The proposed duration of the service contract.
(C) Roles and responsibilities of the board of trustees, the
school staff and the educational management service provider.
(D) The scope of services, personnel and resources to be
provided by the educational management service provider.
(E) Performance evaluation measures and timelines.
(F) The compensation structure, including clear
identification of all fees to be paid to the educational
management service provider.
(G) Methods of contract oversight and enforcement.
(H) Investment disclosure or the advance of moneys by the
educational management service provider on behalf of the charter
school entity.
(I) Conditions for renewal and termination of the contract.
(iii) Disclosure and explanation of any existing or
potential conflicts of interest between the members of the board
of trustees and the proposed educational management service
provider or any affiliated business entities, including a
charter school foundation qualified as a support organization
under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (Public Law 99-514, 26
U.S.C. § 1 et seq.).
(5) The mission and education goals of the charter school
entity, the curriculum to be offered and the methods of
assessing whether students are meeting educational goals.
(6) The admission and enrollment policy [and criteria for
evaluating the admission of students] which shall comply with
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the requirements of section 1723-A.
(7) Procedures which will be used regarding the suspension
or expulsion of pupils. Said procedures shall comply with
section 1318.
(8) Information on the manner in which community groups will
be involved in the charter school entity planning process.
(9) The financial plan for the charter school entity and the
provisions which will be made for auditing the school under
[section 437] sections 437, 1716-A and 1728-A, including the
role of any charter school foundation.
(10) Procedures which shall be established to review
complaints of parents regarding the operation of the charter
school entity.
(11) A description of and address of the physical facility
in which the charter school entity will be located and the
ownership thereof and any lease arrangements.
(12) Information on the proposed school calendar for the
charter school entity, including the length of the school day
and school year consistent with the provisions of section 1502.
(13) The proposed faculty, if already determined, and a
professional development and continuing education plan for the
faculty and professional staff of [a] the charter school entity.
(14) Whether any agreements have been entered into or plans
developed with the local school district regarding participation
of the charter school entity students in extracurricular
activities within the school district. Notwithstanding any
provision to the contrary, no school district of residence shall
prohibit a student of a charter school entity from participating
in any extracurricular activity of that school district of
residence: Provided, That the student is able to fulfill all of
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the requirements of participation in such activity and the
charter school entity does not provide the same extracurricular
activity.
(15) [A report] Reports of criminal history [record] records
and employment history reviews, pursuant to [section 111]
sections 111 and 111.1, for all individuals identified in the
application who shall have direct contact with students[.] and a
plan for satisfying the proper criminal history record
clearances and employment history reviews required for all other
staff.
(16) An official clearance statement regarding child injury
or abuse from the Department of [Public Welfare] Human Services
as required by 23 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 Subch. [C.2 (relating to
background checks for employment in schools)] C (relating to
powers and duties of department) and section 111 for all
individuals identified in the application who shall have direct
contact with students[.] and a plan for satisfying the proper
official clearance statement regarding child injury or abuse
required for all other staff.
(17) How the charter school entity will provide adequate
liability and other appropriate insurance for the charter school
entity, its employes and the board of trustees of the charter
school[.] entity.
(18) Policies regarding truancy, absences and withdrawal of
students, including the manner in which the charter school
entity will monitor attendance consistent with section 1715-A(9)
and the truancy provisions under Article XIII.
(19) Indicate whether the charter school entity will seek
accreditation by a nationally recognized accreditation agency,
including the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
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or another regional institutional accrediting agency recognized
by the United States Department of Education or an equivalent
federally recognized body for charter school education.
(c) The renewal application shall include only the following
information:
(1) The name of the charter school entity.
(2) The name and contact information for the chief
administrator.
(3) The grade or age levels served by the charter school
entity.
(4) The physical location of the charter school entity and
the ownership thereof and any lease arrangements.
(5) An organization chart clearly presenting the governance
structure of the charter school entity, including lines of
authority and reporting between the board of trustees,
administrators, staff and any educational management service
provider that will provide management services to the charter
school entity.
(6) A clear description of the roles and responsibilities of
the board of trustees, administrators and any other entities,
including a charter school foundation, shown in the organization
chart.
(7) A clear description of the method for the appointment or
election of members of the board of trustees.
(8) Standards for board of trustees' performance, including
compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and terms of
the charter.
(9) If the charter school entity contracts with an
educational management service provider for services, all of the
following shall apply:
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(i) Evidence of the educational management service
provider's record in serving student populations, including
demonstrated academic achievement and demonstrated management of
nonacademic school functions, including proficiency with public
school-based accounting, if applicable.
(ii) The executed contract between the charter school entity
and the educational management service provider, which shall
include all of the following:
(A) The officers, chief administrator and administrators of
the educational management service provider.
(B) The duration of the service contract.
(C) Roles and responsibilities of the board of trustees, the
school staff and the educational management service provider.
(D) The scope of services, personnel and resources provided
by the educational management service provider.
(E) Performance evaluation measures and timelines.
(F) The compensation structure, including clear
identification of all fees to be paid to the educational
management service provider.
(G) Methods of contract oversight and enforcement.
(H) Investment disclosure or the advance of moneys by the
educational management service provider on behalf of the charter
school entity.
(I) Conditions for renewal and termination of the contract.
(iii) Disclosure and explanation of any existing conflicts
of interest between the members of the board of trustees and the
educational management service provider or any affiliated
business entities, including a charter school foundation
qualified as a support organization under the Internal Revenue
Code of 1986.
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(10) The mission and education goals of the charter school
entity, the curriculum to be offered and the methods of
assessing whether students are meeting educational goals.
(11) The admission and enrollment policy which shall comply
with the requirements of section 1723-A.
(12) Procedures used regarding the suspension or expulsion
of pupils. Said procedures shall comply with section 1318.
(13) Information on the manner in which community groups are
involved in the charter school entity.
(14) The annual audits conducted under section 1716-A(f) and
the annual budget under section 1716-A(i) for the years since
the charter school entity was approved or renewed.
(15) Procedures established to review complaints of parents
regarding the operation of the charter school entity.
(16) Information on the school calendar for the charter
school entity, including the length of the school day and school
year consistent with the provisions of section 1502.
(17) The faculty and the professional development and
continuing education plan for the faculty and professional staff
of the charter school entity.
(18) Whether any agreements have been entered into with the
local school district regarding participation of the charter
school entity students in extracurricular activities within the
school district. Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary,
no school district of residence shall prohibit a student of a
charter school entity from participating in an extracurricular
activity of the school district of residence if:
(i) the student is able to fulfill all of the requirements
of participation in the activity; and
(ii) the charter school entity does not provide the same
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activity.
(19) Reports of criminal history records and employment
history reviews, pursuant to sections 111 and 111.1, for all
individuals who shall have direct contact with students and the
plan for satisfying the proper criminal history record
clearances and employment history reviews required for all other
staff.
(20) An official clearance statement regarding child injury
or abuse from the Department of Human Services as required by 23
Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 Subch. C and section 111 for all individuals who
shall have direct contact with students and a plan for
satisfying the proper official clearance statement regarding
child injury or abuse required for all other staff.
(21) How the charter school entity provides adequate
liability and other appropriate insurance for the charter school
entity, its employes and the board of trustees of the charter
school entity.
(22) Policies regarding truancy, absences and withdrawal of
students, including the manner in which the charter school
entity monitors attendance consistent with section 1715-A(9) and
the truancy provisions under Article XIII.
(23) An indication whether the charter school entity is or
will seek accreditation by a nationally recognized accreditation
agency, including the Middle States Association of Colleges and
Schools or another regional institutional accrediting agency
recognized by the United States Department of Education or an
equivalent federally recognized body for charter school
education.
(d) A local board of school directors shall not impose
additional terms, develop its own application or require
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additional information outside the standard application forms
required under subsection (a).
(e) The department shall review the standard application and
renewal application form every three (3) years and shall submit
any recommended revisions in writing to the Education Committee
of the Senate and the Education Committee of the House of
Representatives. No such recommended revisions shall be made to
the standard application forms unless the revisions are enacted
by the General Assembly.
(f) Pursuant to subsection (a), the department shall post
the standard application and renewal application on its publicly
accessible Internet website no later than August 1, 2021.
(g) The standard application and renewal application shall
be used by charter school applicants and charter school
operators beginning in the 2022-2023 school year.
Section 1720-A. Term and Form of Charter.--(a) Upon
approval of a charter application under section 1717-A, a
written charter shall be developed which shall contain the
provisions of the standard charter application under section
1719-A and which shall be signed by the local board of school
directors [of a school district], by the local boards of school
directors [of a school district] in the case of a regional
charter school or by the chairman of the appeal board pursuant
to [section 1717-A(i)(5)] sections 1717-A(g) and (i)(9) and
1721-A and the board of trustees of the charter school or
regional charter school. This written charter, when duly signed
by the local board of school directors [of a school district,
or], by the local boards of school directors [of a school
district] in the case of a regional charter school or by the
chairman of the appeal board, and the charter school or regional
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charter school's board of trustees, shall act as legal
authorization for the establishment of a charter school or
regional charter school. This written charter shall be legally
binding on both the local board of school directors [of a school
district] and the charter school or regional charter school's
board of trustees. [Except as otherwise provided in subsection
(b), the charter shall be for a period of no less than three (3)
nor more than five (5) years and may be renewed for five (5)
year periods upon reauthorization by the local board of school
directors of a school district or the appeal board.] If the
charter school or regional charter school contracts with an
educational management service provider, a contract shall be
executed when the charter is approved. A charter will be granted
only for a school organized as a public, nonprofit corporation.
(b) (1) Notwithstanding subsection [(a)] (c), a governing
board of a school district of the first class may renew a
charter for a period of one (1) year if the board of school
directors determines that there is insufficient data concerning
the charter school's academic performance to adequately assess
that performance and determines that an additional year of
performance data would yield sufficient data to assist the
governing board in its decision whether to renew the charter for
a period of five (5) years.
(2) A one-year renewal pursuant to paragraph (1) shall not
be considered an adjudication and may not be appealed to the
State Charter School Appeal Board.
(3) A governing board of a school district of the first
class does not have the authority to renew a charter for
successive one (1) year periods.
(c) The following shall apply to all charters granted by a
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local board of school directors and the State Charter School
Appeal Board:
(1) An initial charter executed pursuant to subsection (a)
shall be for a period of five (5) years.
(2) For charter schools and regional charter schools, a
charter may be renewed for ten (10) year periods upon
reauthorization by the local board of school directors or the
appeal board.
(d) (1) A charter school or regional charter school shall
submit a renewal application as provided under section 1719-A(a)
with the local board of school directors by October 1 of the
final year of the charter.
(2) Within one hundred twenty (120) days of the receipt of
the complete renewal application, the local board of school
directors shall vote to renew or not renew the charter.
(3) Failure by the local board of school directors to adhere
to paragraph (2) shall result in the charter being renewed for
ten (10) years, subject to the provisions of section 1723-A
regarding enrollment.
(4) A renewal under this subsection shall serve as a
requirement for the local board of school directors to sign the
written charter of the charter school as provided for in section
1720-A. Should the district fail to sign the charter within ten
(10) days of notice of the renewal, the charter shall be deemed
to be approved and shall be signed by the chairman of the appeal
board.
(5) Unless otherwise provided in this article, for any
period in which the charter school operates without a duly
signed written charter, the terms and conditions contained in
the charter school's most recent written charter shall continue
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in force and in effect.
(e) A written charter shall terminate only in accordance
with the provisions of section 1729-A. Any provision of a
written charter purporting to waive or limit a charter school's
rights of appeal to the appeal board shall be null and void.
Section 5. The act is amended by adding a section to read:
Section 1720.1-A. Amendments.--(a) Subject to subsections
(b) and (c), a charter school or regional charter school may
request amendments to its approved written charter by filing a
standard amendment application describing the requested
amendment with the local board of school directors no later than
October 15 of the school year prior to the school year in which
the amendment would take effect. Approval from the local board
of school directors is required only for material changes to the
written charter.
(b) Notwithstanding the notice requirements of subsection
(a), in the event of the impossibility of a charter school's or
regional charter school's compliance with the terms of a charter
due to its inability to acquire services or products outlined in
a charter or facility damage, the charter school or regional
charter school shall immediately notify the local board of
school directors of the necessity for an emergency amendment,
which shall be effective immediately as a temporary amendment
pending completion of the processes set forth in subsections (f)
and (g).
(c) For a ten-year charter, a charter school or regional
charter school may only request amendments in years two through
nine of the charter term. For a five-year charter, a charter
school or regional charter school may only request amendments in
year two, three or four of the charter term.
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