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A01614
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE BILL
No.
1422
Session of
2023
INTRODUCED BY CIRESI, MADDEN, ISAACSON, SMITH-WADE-EL,
SCHLOSSBERG, HANBIDGE, WEBSTER, GUENST, SANCHEZ, D. WILLIAMS,
HOHENSTEIN, HADDOCK, PROBST, HOWARD, DELLOSO, ADAMS, HILL-
EVANS, KAZEEM, MALAGARI, PIELLI, SALISBURY, BURNS,
SHUSTERMAN, OTTEN, VITALI, RABB, FRIEL, CURRY, KENYATTA,
STURLA, BOROWSKI AND O'MARA, JUNE 22, 2023
REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION, JUNE 22, 2023
AN ACT
Amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), entitled "An
act relating to the public school system, including certain
provisions applicable as well to private and parochial
schools; amending, revising, consolidating and changing the
laws relating thereto," in preliminary provisions, providing
for advertising and sponsorships; in charter schools, further
providing for definitions and for funding for charter
schools, providing for funding for cyber charter schools, for
cyber charter school requirements, for powers and composition
of board of trustees and for educational management service
providers, further providing for powers and duties of
department and for assessment and evaluation, providing for
annual reports and public reporting and for fund balance
limits, further providing for cyber charter school
requirements and prohibitions and for school district and
intermediate unit responsibilities, providing for access to
other schools' facilities, further providing for
establishment of cyber charter school, providing for
renewals, for charter amendments and for causes for
nonrenewal, revocation or termination, further providing for
State Charter School Appeal Board review, for cyber charter
school application and for enrollment and notification,
providing for enrollment parameters and for enrollee wellness
checks and further providing for applicability of other
provisions of this act and of other acts and regulations.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
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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 130. Advertising and Sponsorships.--(a) A paid
media advertisement by a public school entity that refers to the
cost of tuition, technology, transportation or other expenses
shall not advertise those expenses as free, and any reference to
tuition, technology, transportation or other expenses must
indicate that the cost is covered by taxpayer dollars.
(b) A public school entity shall be prohibited from paying
for or utilizing any other form of consideration to sponsor a
public event.
(c) No later than August 1, 2024, each public school entity
shall report to the department of education the entity's total
expenditures for paid media advertisements and sponsorships of
public events for the 2022-2023 school year. The department
shall compile the results of the reporting and make the results
available on the department's publicly accessible Internet
website by December 1, 2024.
(d) For purposes of this section, the following words and
phrases shall have the following meanings:
"Paid media advertisement." The term includes a television,
radio, newspaper, magazine or movie theater advertisement,
billboard, bus poster or Internet-based or other commercial
method that may promote enrollment in a public school entity.
"Public event." An activity, event or gathering that members
of the public may attend, has been publicly announced or
publicized in advance, and for which an admission fee or cost
may be required. The term includes concerts, performances,
sporting events, fairs, festivals, parades, performances and
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other exhibitions.
"Public school entity." A public school district, charter
school entity as defined in section 1703-A, intermediate unit or
area career and technical school.
Section 2. Section 1703-A introductory paragraph and the
definitions of "appeal board," "chief executive officer" and
"school district of residence" of the act are amended and the
section is amended by adding definitions to read:
Section 1703-A. Definitions.--[As used in this article,] 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:
"Administrator" shall include the chief administrator of a
charter school entity and all other employes of a charter school
entity who by virtue of their positions exercise management or
operational oversight responsibilities.
* * *
"Appeal board" shall mean the State Charter School Appeal
Board established [by this article] under section 1721-A.
* * *
"Charter school entity" shall mean a charter school, regional
charter school, cyber charter school or multiple charter school
organization.
"Charter school foundation" shall mean a nonprofit
organization qualified as Federally tax exempt 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 or resources
or otherwise serves to support a charter school entity .
"Chief [executive officer] administrator" shall mean an
individual appointed by the board of trustees to oversee and
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manage the operation of [the] a charter school entity, but who
shall not be deemed a professional staff member under this
article.
* * *
"Compensation" shall include money or other remuneration
received from a charter school entity.
* * *
"Educational management service provider" shall mean a
nonprofit or for-profit charter management organization,
education management organization, school design provider,
business manager or any other entity or individual that enters
into a contract or agreement with a charter school entity to
provide instructional, curricular or educational design,
administrative or business services, comprehensive management or
personnel functions or to implement the charter. The term shall
include the subsidiaries or subcontractors of an individual or
entity. The term shall not include a charter school foundation.
"Eligible applicant" shall mean a student who is seeking to
enter a grade level offered by the charter school entity and
meets the requirements of 22 Pa. Code §§ 11.12 (relating to
school age), 11.13 (relating to compulsory school age), 11.14
(relating to admission to kindergarten when provided), 11.15
(relating to admission of beginners), 11.16 (relating to early
admission of beginners) and 12.1 (relating to free education and
attendance) and student residency requirements.
"Emergency" shall mean a manmade or natural disaster. The
term includes a fire, flood, environmental hazard, damage to a
school building or other circumstance that impacts or could
impact the health or safety of students or staff or renders all
or part of a charter school facility unfit for use or
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occupation.
"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.
* * *
"Multiple charter school organization" shall mean a public,
nonprofit corporation under the oversight of a single board of
trustees and a chief administrator that operates two (2) or more
charter schools under section 1729.1-A.
"Nonrelated" shall mean an individual who is not a family
member.
"Public hearing" shall mean a meeting held pursuant to 65
Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 (relating to open meetings) where the contemplated
action is considered and opportunities for the public to comment
on the contemplated action are provided during the meeting.
* * *
"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).
* * *
Section 3. Section 1725-A(a) introductory paragraph of the
act is amended to read:
Section 1725-A. Funding for Charter Schools.--(a) [Funding]
Except as provided in section 1725.1-A, funding for a charter
school shall be provided in the following manner:
* * *
Section 4. The act is amended by adding sections to read:
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Section 1725.1-A. Funding for Cyber Charter Schools.--(a)
Notwithstanding section 1725-A(a)(2) and (3), per-student
funding amounts for students attending a cyber charter school
shall be calculated in accordance with this section.
(b) A cyber charter school may not charge tuition for a
student attending a cyber charter school. Beginning in the 2024-
2025 school year, a cyber charter school shall be paid by a
student's school district of residence using the Statewide Cyber
Charter School Tuition Rate.
(c) For the 2024-2025, 2025-2026 and 2026-2027 school years,
for non-special education students, a cyber charter school shall
receive for each student enrolled eight thousand dollars
($8,000). This amount shall be the Statewide Cyber Charter
School Tuition Rate.
(d) Beginning in the 2027-2028 school year and every three
(3) years thereafter, the Statewide Cyber Charter School Tuition
Rate shall be adjusted by the average annual property tax rate
increase for all school districts for the most recent three (3)
years. The department shall develop guidelines for determining
the average annual property tax rate increase.
(e) On or before April 30, 2027, and by April 30 of each
third year thereafter, the department shall calculate and post
on its publicly accessible Internet website the Statewide Cyber
Charter School Tuition Rate payable by a student's school
district of residence under subsection (d) for the next school
year.
(f) For special education students, a cyber charter school
shall receive the Statewide Cyber Charter School Tuition Rate
adjusted as follows:
(1) For each special education student enrolled in the cyber
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charter school, multiply the Statewide Cyber Charter School
Tuition Rate by one and sixty-four hundredths (1.64).
(2) If the cyber charter school determines that the annual
expenditure for providing special education specific services
and programs to an enrolled student is likely to meet or exceed
the amount specified under section 1372(8) for Category 2, the
cyber charter school may apply to the department for an increase
in the Statewide Cyber Charter School Tuition Rate for the
student.
(3) If the department determines that the annual expenditure
for providing special education specific services and programs
to an enrolled student is likely to meet or exceed the amount
specified in section 1372(8) for Category 2, the department
shall direct the school district to pay the Statewide Cyber
Charter School Tuition Rate for the student adjusted as follows:
(i) for each special education student enrolled in the cyber
charter school for which the annual expenditure is in Category
2, multiply the Statewide Cyber Charter School Tuition Rate by
three and eight hundredths (3.08); or
(ii) for each special education student enrolled in the
cyber charter school for which the annual expenditure is in
Category 3, multiply the Statewide Cyber Charter School Tuition
Rate by six and thirty-four hundredths (6.34). For purposes of
this subparagraph, Category 3 shall include students in
Categories 3A and 3B under section 1372(8).
(g) The per-student amounts required under subsection (f)
shall be calculated by the department and posted on its publicly
accessible Internet website and shall be paid by the school
district of residence of each student.
(h) In accordance with guidelines developed by the
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department, to be eligible to receive funding for special
education students under subsection (f)(2) and (3), the cyber
charter school shall provide the department with appropriate
documentation on the likely annual expenditure for providing an
education to the student.
(i) The weights provided under subsection (f) shall be
updated whenever the weights under section 2509.5(bbb)(2) for
the respective categories are adjusted for school districts.
(j) The calculation made under subsection (f) may not result
in a payment that exceeds the maximum amount within the
category's dollar range and the calculation under subsection (f)
(3)(ii) may not result in a payment that exceeds the actual
annual expenditure of providing an education to the student. If
the actual annual expenditure of providing special education
specific services and programs to a student in Category 3 is
less than the amount the cyber charter school received for the
student, the cyber charter school shall return to the school
district of residence any overage the cyber charter school
received for the student no later than August 1 of each year.
Section 1740-A. Cyber Charter School Requirements.
(a) General rule.--Cyber charter schools shall be required
to comply with the following provisions:
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this article, a
cyber charter school is exempt from statutory requirements
established in this act, from regulations of the State board
and the standards of the secretary not specifically
applicable to cyber charter schools. Cyber charter schools
are not exempt from statutes applicable to public schools
other than this act.
(2) A cyber charter school shall be accountable to the
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parents, guardians, families, the public, the department and
the Commonwealth, with the delineation of that accountability
reflected in the charter. Strategies for meaningful parent,
guardian, family and community involvement shall be developed
and implemented by each cyber charter school.
(3) A cyber charter school shall not unlawfully
discriminate in admissions, hiring or operation.
(4) A cyber charter school shall be nonsectarian in all
operations.
(5) (i) Subject to subparagraph (ii), a cyber charter
school shall not provide any religious instruction, nor
shall it display religious objects and symbols on the
premises of the cyber charter school.
(ii) It shall not be a violation of this paragraph
for a cyber charter school to utilize a sectarian
facility:
(A) if the cyber charter school provides for
discrete 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 cyber
charter school are covered or removed; or
(C) in which the unused portion of the facility
or its common areas contain religious symbols and
objects.
(6) A cyber charter school shall not advocate unlawful
behavior.
(7) A cyber charter school shall participate in the
Pennsylvania State Assessment System as provided for in 22
Pa. Code Ch. 4 (relating to academic standards and
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assessment), or subsequent regulations promulgated to replace
22 Pa. Code Ch. 4, in the same manner as school districts.
(8) At the elementary level, a cyber charter school
shall provide a minimum of 180 days of instruction or 900
hours per year of instruction. At the secondary level, a
cyber charter school shall provide a minimum of 990 hours per
year of instruction.
(9) Boards of trustees and contractors of cyber charter
schools shall be subject to the following statutory
requirements governing construction projects and
construction-related work:
(i) The following provisions of this act:
(A) Sections 751 and 751.1.
(B) Sections 756 and 757 insofar as they are
consistent with the act of December 20, 1967
(P.L.869, No.385), known as the Public Works
Contractors' Bond Law of 1967.
(ii) Section 1 of the act of May 1, 1913 (P.L.155,
No.104), entitled "An act regulating the letting of
certain contracts for the erection, construction, and
alteration of public buildings."
(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.
(10) Trustees of a cyber charter school shall be public
officials for the purposes of 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 11 (relating
to ethics standards and financial disclosure), and each
trustee shall file a statement of financial interests for
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the preceding calendar year with the secretary of the
board of trustees of the cyber charter school, the State
Ethics Commission and the department not later than May 1
of each year that members hold the position and of the
year after a member leaves the position. In the event
that the trustee was appointed or selected after May 1,
the trustee shall file a statement of financial interests
in accordance with this clause within 30 days of
appointment or selection. All members of the board of
trustees of a cyber charter school shall take the oath of
office as required under section 321 before entering upon
the duties of their office.
(b) Employees.--
(1) An administrator for a cyber charter school shall be
an employee of the cyber charter school and shall not receive
compensation from another charter school entity, from an
educational management service provider, from a charter
school foundation or from a company that provides management
or other services to another charter school entity.
(2) An administrator for a cyber charter school shall be
a public employee under 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 11 and shall file a
statement of financial interest for the preceding calendar
year with the secretary of the board of trustees of the cyber
charter school not later than May 1 of each year that the
person holds the position and of the year after the person
leaves the position. In the event that the administrator was
appointed after May 1, the administrator shall file a
statement of financial interest in accordance with this
clause within 30 days of appointment.
(3) An administrator of a cyber charter school or family
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member of an administrator may not serve as a voting member
of the board of trustees of the cyber charter school that
employs the administrator or of a charter school foundation
that supports the cyber charter school.
(4) An administrator of a cyber charter school may not
participate in the selection, award or administration of a
contract if the administrator has a conflict of interest as
the term is defined in 65 Pa.C.S. § 1102 (relating to
definitions). A contract made in violation of this paragraph
shall be voidable by the board of trustees of the cyber
charter school.
(5) An administrator shall be immediately dismissed upon
conviction or upon a plea of guilty or nolo contendere 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.
(6) Charter school entities shall use the revised rating
system specified in Article XI Subarticle (c.1) to evaluate
employees serving as principals or school leaders, classroom
teachers and nonteaching professional employees.
Section 1740.1-A. Powers and Composition of Board of Trustees.
(a) General rule.--The board of trustees of a cyber 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 employees subject to the school's charter and
the provisions of this article.
(b) Prohibition.--No member of a local board of school
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directors of a school entity shall serve on the board of
trustees of a cyber charter school.
(c) Open meetings.--The board of trustees shall comply with
65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 (relating to open meetings).
(d) Board .--
(1) An individual shall be prohibited from serving as a
voting member of the board of trustees of a cyber charter
school under any of the following conditions:
(i) If the individual or a family member of the
individual is employed by or receives compensation from
the cyber charter school.
(ii) If the individual is employed by either:
(A) the board of trustees or directors of a
charter school foundation that supports the cyber
charter school; or
(B) the board of trustees or directors of an
educational management service provider that
contracts with the cyber charter school.
(iii) The individual serves as a voting member of
the board of trustees of another charter school entity.
(2) A member of the board of trustees of a cyber charter
school may not participate in the selection, award or
administration of any contract if the member has a conflict
of interest as the term is defined in 65 Pa.C.S. § 1102
(relating to definitions).
(3) A member of the board of trustees of a cyber charter
school who in the discharge of the member's official duties
would be required to vote on a matter that would result in a
conflict of interest must abstain from voting and follow the
procedures required under 65 Pa.C.S. § 1103(j) (relating to
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restricted activities).
(4) A member of the board of trustees of a cyber charter
school or family member of a member of a board of trustees of
a cyber charter school shall not, directly or through any
other individual, entity, partnership or corporation in which
the member holds stock or has a financial interest or other
organization, provide a loan, forbearance or forgiveness of a
loan or other debt, service or product or lease property to
the cyber charter school.
(5) A member of the board of trustees of a cyber charter
school who violates the provisions of 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.
(6) A contract made in violation of this subsection
shall be voidable by a court of competent jurisdiction.
(e) Compensation.--A member of the board of trustees of a
cyber charter school shall not be compensated for duties on the
board of trustees, except that the cyber charter school may
reimburse the members for reasonable expenses incurred in the
performance of their duties. A report detailing the reasons for
and amounts of reimbursements paid to each member of the board
of trustees shall be made available upon request of any person,
including in response to a request under the act of February 14,
2008 (P.L.6, No.3), known as the Right-to-Know Law.
(f) Action .--
(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 but the members present may adjourn to some
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stated time.
(2) The affirmative vote of a majority of all the voting
members of the board of trustees, duly recorded, showing how
each member voted, shall be required in order to take
official action.
(g) Composition.--
(1) The board of trustees of a cyber charter school
shall consist of a minimum of seven nonrelated voting
members. If a cyber charter school has fewer than seven
members serving on its board of trustees on the effective
date of this subsection, the cyber charter school shall,
within 60 days, appoint or select additional members to the
board of trustees to meet the minimum requirements of this
section.
(2) Within one year of the effective date of this
subsection, the board of trustees shall include at least one
parent or guardian of a student enrolled in the cyber charter
school. The trustee appointed under this paragraph shall be
eligible to serve only so long as they have at least one
child enrolled in the cyber charter school. This subparagraph
shall not apply to a cyber charter school that serves
primarily adjudicated youth.
(3) A member of the board of trustees of a cyber charter
school shall be automatically disqualified and immediately
removed from the board of trustees upon conviction or upon a
plea of guilty or nolo contendere 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, an offense listed in section 111(e) or
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any crime involving moral turpitude. A member of the board of
trustees may also be removed from the board of trustees for
violation of applicable laws, regulations and terms of the
charter as well as any standards for board of trustees'
performance established by the board of trustees.
(4) In case any vacancy shall occur in any board of
trustees by reason of death, resignation or otherwise, the
vacancy shall be filled within 60 days following the vacancy.
Section 1740.2-A. Educational Management Service Providers.
(a) General rule.--An educational management service
provider that provides a service to a cyber charter school:
(1) Is a local agency for the purpose of the act of
February 14, 2008 (P.L.6, No.3), known as the Right-to-Know
Law.
(2) Shall maintain a publicly accessible Internet
website detailing the salaries and other compensation and
titles of its employees, officers and directors.
(b) Employees.--Employees of an educational management
service provider that provides a service to a cyber charter
school are public employees for the purpose of 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 11
(relating to ethics standards and financial disclosure).
Section 5. Sections 1741-A and 1742-A of the act are amended
to read:
Section 1741-A. Powers and duties of department.
(a) Powers and duties.--The department shall have all powers
necessary to:
(1) Receive, review and act on applications for the
creation of a cyber charter school [and have] including, but
not limited to, the power to request further information from
applicants, obtain input from interested persons or entities
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and hold public hearings regarding applications. At least one
public hearing shall be held prior to granting or denying an
application.
(2) [Renew] Receive, review and act on applications to
amend and renew the charter of a cyber charter school. [and
renew the charter of a charter school approved under section
1717-A or 1718-A which provides instruction through the
Internet or other electronic means. Upon renewal of a charter
of a charter school approved under section 1717-A or 1718-A,
the charter school shall qualify as a cyber charter school
under this subdivision and shall be subject to the provisions
of this subdivision.]
(3) Revoke or deny renewal of a cyber charter school's
charter under the provisions of section [1729-A] 1745.3-A.
[(i) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 1729-
A(i), when the department has revoked or denied renewal
of a charter, the cyber charter school shall be
dissolved. After the disposition of the liabilities and
obligations of the cyber charter school, any remaining
assets of the cyber charter school shall be given over to
the intermediate unit in which the cyber charter school's
administrative office was located for distribution to the
school districts in which the students enrolled in the
cyber charter school reside at the time of dissolution.
(ii) Notwithstanding any laws to the contrary, the
department may, after notice and hearing, take immediate
action to revoke a charter if:
(A) a material component of the student's
education as required under this subdivision is not
being provided; or
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(B) the cyber charter school has failed to
maintain the financial ability to provide services as
required under this subdivision.]
(4) Execute charters after approval.
[(5) Develop forms, including the notification form
under section 1748-A(b), necessary to carry out the
provisions of this subdivision.]
(b) Hearings.--[Hearings] Public hearings conducted by the
department shall be conducted under 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 (relating
to open meetings).
(c) Documents.--Documents of the appeal board shall be
subject to the act of [June 21, 1957 (P.L.390, No.212), referred
to as the Right-to-Know Law.] February 14, 2008 (P.L.6, No.3),
known as the Right-to-Know Law.
(d) Form.--
(1) The department shall develop a standard enrollment
form in both paper and electronic formats that shall be used
by all eligible applicants to apply to a cyber charter
school. The standard enrollment form shall only request
information necessary to allow the cyber charter school to
identify the student, grade level and residency, including:
(i) The student's name, address of residence,
resident school district, telephone number, age, birth
date, current grade level and the grade level in which
the student is being enrolled. The cyber charter school
shall be required to verify the student's residency
within the school district of residence.
(ii) The name, address of residence and telephone
number or e-mail address of the student's parent or
guardian.
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(iii) The date and grade the student will be
enrolled.
(iv) A space for the cyber charter school to include
the name of the cyber charter school and the name,
telephone number and email address of a contact person at
the cyber charter school.
(v) The signature of the parent or guardian and an
authorized representative of the cyber charter school.
(2) The standard enrollment form shall be made
physically available at each cyber charter school location,
in a form that complies with Federal and State law, and
posted on the publicly accessible Internet website of the
cyber charter school. A cyber charter school may accept the
enrollment form via paper or electronic means.
(3) A cyber charter school shall not require or request
information beyond the contents of the standard enrollment
form developed by the department.
(4) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to
prohibit a cyber charter school from requesting the
submission of additional records and information that public
schools are entitled to receive after a student is accepted
for admission to, and has indicated an intent to enroll in,
the cyber charter school.
[Section 1742-A. Assessment and evaluation.
The department shall:
(1) Annually assess whether each cyber charter school is
meeting the goals of its charter and is in compliance with
the provisions of the charter and conduct a comprehensive
review prior to granting a five-year renewal of the charter.
(2) Annually review each cyber charter school's
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performance on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment
test, standardized tests and other performance indicators to
ensure compliance with 22 Pa. Code Ch. 4 (relating to
academic standards and assessment) or subsequent regulations
promulgated to replace 22 Pa. Code Ch. 4.
(3) Have ongoing access to all records, instructional
materials and student and staff records of each cyber charter
school and to every cyber charter school facility to ensure
the cyber charter school is in compliance with its charter
and this subdivision.]
Section 6. The act is amended by adding sections to read:
Section 1742.1-A. Annual Reports and Public Reporting.
(a) Department duties.--The department shall:
(1) Annually assess and evaluate whether each cyber
charter school is meeting the goals of its charter. This may
include, but not be limited to, a review of academic
performance, financial management, audit results, governance
and operation, and compliance with state and federal laws and
regulations.
(2) Conduct a comprehensive review prior to granting a
renewal of the charter. This may include, but not be limited
to, a review of academic performance, financial management,
audit results, governance and operation, and compliance with
state and federal laws and regulations.
(3) Have ongoing access to the records, systems and
facilities of the cyber charter school and any related
charter school foundation or educational management service
provider to facilitate the annual and comprehensive reviews
required in this subsection and to ensure that the cyber
charter school is in compliance with its charter and this
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article and that requirements for testing, civil rights and
student health and safety are being met.
(b) Report.--In order to facilitate the department's review
under subsection (a), each cyber charter school shall submit an
annual report no later than August 1 of each year to the
department and all local boards of school directors that have a
student enrolled in the cyber charter school in the form
prescribed by the department. A copy of the annual report
submitted under this subsection, including all exhibits and
attachments to the report, shall also be maintained at each
facility of the cyber charter school and be made available for
public inspection and copying, and shall be posted on the cyber
charter school's publicly accessible Internet website.
(c) Compliance.--Cyber charter schools shall comply fully
with the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and
Privacy Act of 1974 (Public Law 90-247, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g) and
associated regulations in all public reporting.
(d) Annual audit.--A cyber charter school 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 cyber charter school.
The audit shall be conducted by a qualified independent
certified public accountant. The audit shall be presented at a
public meeting of the board of trustees. The audit shall be
conducted under generally accepted audit standards of the
Governmental Accounting Standards Board and shall at a minimum
include the following:
(1) An enrollment audit to verify the accuracy of
student enrollment, including the enrollment, withdrawal and
residency of students and the reporting of the enrollment
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information to the department and the school district of
residence.
(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 cyber charter school, the educational
management service provider and the 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 sections 751 and
807.1.
(7) Review of all board policies and procedures with
regard to internal controls, codes of ethics, conflicts of
interest, whistle-blower protections; complaints from
parents, guardians or the public; compliance with 65 Pa.C.S.
Ch. 7 (relating to open meetings); finances; budgeting;
audits; public bidding; and bonding.
(e) Audit.--A cyber charter school may be subject to an
annual audit by the Auditor General, the department, or any
other entity granted authority to audit cyber charter schools in
addition to any other audits required by Federal or State law or
this act.
(f) Budget .--
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(1) A cyber charter school shall annually, not later
than June 30 of each year, adopt and provide the department
and any school district which has a student enrolled with a
copy of the annual budget on a form prepared by the
department, which shall require that the cyber charter school
provide no more information than that provided by school
districts pursuant to section 687.
(2) The cyber charter school shall print or otherwise
make available for public inspection a copy of the proposed
annual budget to all persons at least 20 days prior to the
date set for the adoption of the final budget. A copy of the
annual budget shall also be posted on the cyber charter
school's publicly accessible Internet website.
(3) On the date of adoption of the proposed budget
required under this subsection, the president or chair of the
cyber charter school's board of trustees shall certify to the
department that the proposed budget has been prepared,
presented and made available for public inspection using the
uniform form prepared and furnished by the department. The
certification shall be in a form and manner as required by
the department. Final action shall not be taken on a proposed
budget that has not been prepared, presented and made
available for public inspection using the uniform form
prepared and furnished by the department.
(4) The annual budget adopted and submitted under this
subsection shall not exceed the amount of funds available to
the cyber charter school.
(g) Accessibility.--Notwithstanding any other provision of
law, a cyber charter school and an affiliated charter school
foundation shall make copies of the following available upon
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request and on the cyber charter school's or charter school
foundation's publicly accessible Internet website, if one is
maintained:
(1) Annual budgets for the cyber charter school, as
provided for in subsection (f), and charter school foundation
for the most recent five school years, as available. A
charter school foundation shall include in its annual budget
the salaries of all employees of the charter school
foundation.
(2) Annual Federal and State tax filings, including
Internal Revenue Service Form 990, Return of Organization
Exempt from Income Tax and all related schedules and
appendices for the cyber charter school and charter school
foundation for the previous five school years.
(3) Certified audits under subsection (d) and any
Federal and State audits provided under subsection (e) for
the cyber charter school and charter school foundation for
the previous five school years, as available.
(4) Annual reports filed by the cyber charter school
under subsection (b) for the previous five school years, as
available.
Section 1742.2-A. Fund Balance Limits.
(a) Limitation.--For the 2024-2025 school year and each
school year thereafter a cyber charter school shall not
accumulate an unassigned fund balance greater than 10% of its
total budgeted expenditures.
(b) Refund.--Any unassigned fund balance in place on June
30, 2024, and on June 30 of each year thereafter in excess of
the fund balance limit established in subsection (a) shall be
refunded on a pro rata basis within 90 days to all school
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districts that paid tuition to the cyber charter school in the
prior school year, based upon the number of students for whom
each school district paid tuition to the cyber charter school
multiplied by the Statewide Cyber Charter School Tuition Rate
under section 1725.1-A.
(c) Information.--By October 31, 2024, and by October 31 of
each year thereafter, each cyber charter school shall provide
the department and all school districts that paid tuition to the
cyber charter school in the prior school year with information
certifying compliance with this section. The information shall
be provided in a form and manner prescribed by the department
and shall include information on the cyber charter school's
estimated ending unassigned fund balance expressed as a dollar
amount and as a percentage of the cyber charter school's total
budgeted expenditures for that school year.
(d) Prohibition.--Unassigned funds of the cyber charter
school in excess of the unassigned fund balance limit may not be
used to pay bonuses to an administrator, a board of trustees
member, an employee, a staff member or a contractor and may not
be transferred to a charter school foundation. If a cyber
charter school uses funds in excess of the unassigned fund
balance limit to pay bonuses to an administrator, a board of
trustees member, an employee, a staff member or a contractor or
transfers the funds to a charter school foundation, the value of
the bonus payment or fund transfer shall be refunded on a pro
rata basis to all school districts that paid tuition to the
cyber charter school in the prior school year, based upon the
number of students for whom each school district paid tuition to
the cyber charter school multiplied by the Statewide Cyber
Charter School Tuition Rate under section 1725.1-A.
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(e) Definition.--As used in this section, the term
"unassigned fund balance" shall mean that portion of the fund
balance of a cyber charter school that is appropriable for
expenditure or not legally or otherwise segregated for a
specific or tentative future use, projected for the close of the
school year for which a cyber charter school's budget was
adopted and held in the General Fund accounts of the cyber
charter school.
Section 7. Sections 1743-A and 1744-A of the act are amended
to read:
Section 1743-A. Cyber charter school requirements and
prohibitions.
(a) Special financial requirements prohibited.--A cyber
charter school shall not:
(1) provide discounts to a school district or waive
payments under section [1725-A] 1725.1-A for any student;
(2) [except as provided for in subsection (e),] provide
payments or reimbursements to parents or guardians for the
purchase of instructional materials[; or], for educational or
field trips or for any other reason not expressly provided
for in subsection (e);
(3) offer or provide parents or guardians or students
cash, gifts or other incentives having more than a de minimus
value for enrolling in, attending or considering enrollment
or attendance in the school; or
(4) except as compensation for the provision of specific
services, enter into agreements to provide funds to a school
entity.
(b) Enrollment.--A cyber charter school shall report to the
department an increase or a decrease of 30% or more in its
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anticipated enrollment set forth in the application under
section [1747-A(11)] 1747-A(3).
(c) School district.--A cyber charter school shall make
available upon request, either in writing or electronically, to
each student's school district of residence the following:
(1) A copy of the charter.
(2) A copy of the cyber charter school application.
(3) A copy of all annual reports prepared by the cyber
charter school under this article.
(4) A list of all students from that school district
enrolled in the cyber charter school.
(5) Information required under section 1725.1-A.
(d) Parent or guardian.--Upon request and prior to the
student's first day in a cyber charter school, the cyber charter
school shall, either in writing or electronically, provide to
the parent or guardian of a student the following:
(1) A current list and brief description of the courses
of instruction the student will receive. The list shall be
updated annually for each grade level in which the student is
enrolled.
(2) A description of the lessons and activities to be
offered both online and offline.
(3) The manner in which attendance will be reported and
work will be authenticated.
(4) A list of all standardized tests the student will be
required to take during the school year and the place where
the test will be administered, if available.
(5) The meetings to be held during the school year
between a parent or guardian and a teacher and among other
school officials or parents or guardians and the manner in
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which the parent or guardian will be notified of the time and
place for the meeting.
(6) The address of the cyber charter school and the
name, telephone number and e-mail address of the school
administrator and other school personnel.
(7) A list of any extracurricular activities provided by
the cyber charter school.
(8) The names of the student's teachers, if available,
and the manner in which each teacher can be contacted by the
student or the parent or guardian.
(9) A list of all services that will be provided to the
student by the cyber charter school.
(10) Copies of policies relating to computer security
and privacy, truancy, absences, discipline and withdrawal or
expulsion of students.
(11) Information on:
(i) The cyber charter school's professional staff,
including the number of staff personnel, their education
level and experience.
(ii) The cyber charter school's performance on the
PSSA and other standardized test scores.
(iii) The cyber charter school's graduation rate, if
applicable.
(iv) The cyber charter school's designation as a
Comprehensive Support and Improvement school, Targeted
Support and Improvement School or an Additional Targeted
Support and Improvement School under the Every Student
Succeeds Act (Public Law 114-95, 129 Stat.1802) or an
equivalent building level designation under its successor
Federal statute along with a description of the
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designation, if applicable.
(12) Information regarding the proper usage of equipment
and materials and the process for returning equipment and
materials supplied to the students by the cyber charter
school. A parent or guardian shall acknowledge, either in
writing or electronically, the receipt of this information.
(13) A description of the school calendar, including,
but not limited to, the time frame that will constitute a
school year and a school week, holidays and term breaks.
(e) Students.--For each student enrolled, a cyber charter
school shall:
(1) provide all instructional materials, which may
include electronic or digital books in place of paper books;
(2) provide all equipment, including, but not limited
to, a computer, computer monitor and printer, provided that a
parent or guardian of an enrolled child may elect not to
receive a computer monitor and printer; and
(3) provide or reimburse for [all] technology and
services necessary for the [on-line] online delivery of the
curriculum and instruction. The department shall establish a
maximum allowable reimbursement rate for the technology and
services required under this paragraph.
(e.1) The Commonwealth and school district of residence
shall not be liable for any reimbursement owed to students,
parents or guardians by a cyber charter school under [paragraph
(3)] subsection (e)(3).
[(f) Annual report.--A cyber charter school shall submit an
annual report no later than August 1 of each year to the
department in the form prescribed by the department.
(g) Records and facilities.--A cyber charter school shall
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provide the department with ongoing access to all records and
facilities necessary for the department to assess the cyber
charter school in accordance with the provisions of this
subdivision.]
(h) Offices and facilities.--A cyber charter school shall
maintain an administrative office within this Commonwealth where
all student records shall be maintained at all times and shall
provide the department with the addresses of all offices and
facilities of the cyber charter school, the ownership thereof
and any lease arrangements. The administrative office of the
cyber charter school shall be considered as the principal place
of business for service of process for any action brought
against the cyber charter school or cyber charter school staff
members. The cyber charter school shall notify the department of
any changes in this information within [ten] 10 days of the
change.
(i) Applicable law.--Any action taken against the cyber
charter school, its successors or assigns or its employees,
including any cyber charter school staff member as defined in
the act of December 12, 1973 (P.L.397, No.141), known as the
Professional Educator Discipline Act, shall be governed by the
laws of this Commonwealth. If the department initiates an
investigation or pursues an action pursuant to the Professional
Educator Discipline Act involving any current or former charter
school staff member outside this Commonwealth, any reasonable
expenses incurred by the department in such investigation or
action shall be paid by the cyber charter school which employed
that staff member at the time of the alleged misconduct.
(j) Agreements.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law,
a cyber charter school may enter into agreements with school
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districts, intermediate units, career and technical centers or
any other public or private school entities located within this
Commonwealth for the provision of programs, courses or other
educational services.
Section 1744-A. School district and intermediate unit
responsibilities.
(a) General rule.--An intermediate unit or a school district
in which a student enrolled in a cyber charter school resides
shall do all of the following:
(1) Provide the cyber charter school within [ten] 10
days of receipt of the notice of the admission of the student
under section 1748-A(a) with all records relating to the
student, including transcripts, test scores and a copy of any
individualized education program for that student.
[(2) Provide the cyber charter school with reasonable
access to its facilities for the administration of
standardized tests required under this subdivision.]
(3) Upon request, provide assistance to the cyber
charter school in the delivery of services to a student with
disabilities. The school district or intermediate unit shall
not charge the cyber charter school more for a service than
it charges a school district.
(4) Make payments to the cyber charter school under
section [1725-A] 1725.1-A.
(b) Transportation.--A school district in which a student
enrolled in a cyber charter school resides shall provide
transportation to students with an individualized education
program to the extent required by the individualized education
program.
(c) Services.--An intermediate unit in which a student
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enrolled in a cyber charter school resides may not refuse to
provide any service to a cyber charter school that requests
services for a student.
Section 8. The act is amended by adding a section to read:
Section 1744.1-A. Access to other schools' facilities.
(a) Access.--A school district, intermediate unit, community
college under Article XIX-A or institution under Article XX-A
shall provide a cyber charter school with reasonable access to
facilities of the school district, intermediate unit, community
college or institution for the administration of standardized
testing. The following shall apply:
(1) The cyber charter school shall provide the school
district, intermediate unit, community college or institution
with at least 60 days notice of the need for facilities to be
used for the administration of standardized tests.
(2) Within 30 days of the cyber charter school's
request, the school district, intermediate unit, community
college or institution 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 school district, intermediate unit, community college
or institution.
(3) The school district, intermediate unit, community
college or institution 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 or assessment schedule of the school
district, intermediate unit, community college or
institution.
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(4) Any rental fee for the facilities charged to the
cyber charter school and the payment of the fee shall be in
compliance with the rental policy of the school district,
intermediate unit, community college or institution that
applies generally to other organizations and community
groups.
(b) Computers or other devices.--Nothing in this section
shall require a school district, intermediate unit, community
college or institution to provide a cyber charter school with
computers or any other devices which will be used by students to
take standardized tests.
Section 9. Section 1745-A of the act is amended to read:
Section 1745-A. Establishment of cyber charter school.
(a) Establishment.--A cyber charter school may be
established by an individual; one or more teachers who will
teach at the proposed cyber charter school; parents or guardians
of students who will enroll in the cyber charter school; a
nonsectarian college, university or museum located in this
Commonwealth; a nonsectarian corporation not-for-profit as
defined in 15 Pa.C.S. § 5103 (relating to definitions); a
corporation, association or partnership; or any combination of
the foregoing. Section 1327.1 shall not apply to a cyber charter
school established under this subdivision.
(b) Sectarian entities.--No cyber charter school shall be
established or funded by and no charter shall be granted to a
sectarian school, institution or other entity.
(c) Attendance.--Attendance at a cyber charter school shall
satisfy requirements for compulsory attendance.
(d) Application.--An application to establish a cyber
charter school shall be submitted to the department by October 1
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of the school year preceding the school year in which the cyber
charter school proposes to commence operation.
(e) Grant or denial.--Within 120 days of receipt of an
application, the department shall grant or deny the application.
The department shall review the application and shall hold at
least one public hearing [under 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 (relating to
open meetings)]. At least 30 days prior to the hearing, the
department shall publish in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and on the
department's [World Wide Web site] publicly accessible Internet
website notice of the hearing and the purpose of the
application.
(f) Evaluation criteria.--
(1) A cyber charter school application submitted under
this subdivision shall be evaluated by the department based
on the following criteria:
(i) The demonstrated, sustainable support for the
cyber charter school plan by teachers, parents or
guardians and students.
(ii) The capability of the cyber charter school
applicant, in terms of support and planning, to provide
comprehensive learning experiences to students under the
charter.
(iii) The extent to which the programs outlined in
the application will enable students to meet the academic
standards under 22 Pa. Code Ch. 4 (relating to academic
standards and assessment) or subsequent regulations
promulgated to replace 22 Pa. Code Ch. 4.
(iv) The extent to which the application meets the
requirements of section 1747-A.
(v) The extent to which the cyber charter school may
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serve as a model for other public schools, including
other cyber charter schools.