Charter School Closure Requirements and Recommendations
The following provides guidance on charter school closures, including the handling of:
- Documentation and notification of the closure
- Record transfer and retention
- Student transfers
- Financial closeout
A charter school may close voluntarily, through non-renewal, or through revocation. The procedures for charter school closure are guided by California Education Code sections 47604.32, 47605, 47605.6, and 47607 as well as California Code of Regulations, Title 5 (5 CCR), sections 11962 and 11962.1. California law requires that closure procedures are stated through an agreement between the authorizing entity and charter school before the charter school begins operation. These procedures must designate a responsible entity to conduct closure activities and identify how these activities will be funded.
Documentation of Closure Action
The revocation or non-renewal of a charter school must be documented by an official action of the authorizing entity. Notice of a charter school’s closure for any reason must be provided by the authorizing entity to the California Department of Education (CDE). In addition, the charter school must send notice of its closure to:
- Parents or guardians of students
- The authorizing entity
- The county office of education (if the county board of education is not the authorizing entity)
- The special education local plan area in which the school participates
- The retirement systems in which the school’s employees participate
- The CDE
Notice must be received by the CDE within ten calendar days of any official action taken by the chartering authority. Notification of all the parties above must include at least the following:
- The effective date of the closure
- The name(s) of and contact information for the person(s) handling inquiries regarding the closure
- The students’ school districts of residence
- How parents or guardians may obtain copies of student records, including specific information on completed courses and credits that meet graduation requirements
In addition to the four required items above, notification to the CDE must also include:
- A description of the circumstances of the closure
- The location of student and personnel records
In addition to the four required items above, notification to parents, guardians, and students should also include:
- Information on how to transfer the student to an appropriate school
- A certified packet of student information that may include grade reports, discipline records, immunization records, and any other appropriate information
- Information on student completion of college entrance requirements for all high school students affected by the closure
The charter school or authorizing entity should announce the closure to any school districts that may be responsible for providing education services to the former students of the charter school. These districts can then assist in facilitating student transfers. Charter school closures should occur at the end of an academic year if it is feasible to maintain a legally compliant program until then. If a conversion charter school is reverting to non-charter status, notification of this change should be made to all parties listed in this section.
School and Student Records Retention and Transfer
Closure procedures included in the charter must include the following plans for the transfer and maintenance of school and student records:
- Transfer and maintenance of personnel records in accordance with applicable law
- Provision of a list of students in each grade level and the classes they have completed to the entity responsible for conducting the closure
- Provision of the students’ districts of residence to the entity responsible for conducting the closure
- Transfer and maintenance of all student records, state assessment results, and any special education records to the custody of the entity responsible for conducting the closure
- Transfer and maintenance of records or assessment results required to be transferred to a different entity are excluded from requirement (4) above
Submission of personnel records must include any employee records the charter school has. These include, but are not limited to, records related to performance and grievance.
The charter school and the authorizing entity should establish a process for student record transfer to the students' home district or other school to which the student will transfer. The charter school and/or authorizing entity should assist parents in student transfers. The authorizing entity and the charter school should agree to a plan allowing the authorizing entity to accept charter school records in the event the charter school is unable to maintain them. Provisions for the authorizing entity to maintain all school records, including financial and attendance records, should reflect the timelines stated in 5 CCR, sections 16023-16026.
After receiving notification of closure, the CDE will notify the charter school and the authorizing entity if it is aware of any liabilities the charter school owes the state. These may include overpayment of apportionments, unpaid revolving fund loans or grants, or other liabilities. The CDE may ask the county office of education to conduct an audit of the charter school if it has reason to believe that the school received state funding for which it was not eligible.
Charter school closure procedures must ensure completion of an independent final audit within six months after the closure of the school that includes:
- An accounting of all financial assets. These may include cash and accounts receivable and an inventory of property, equipment, and other items of material value.
- An accounting of all liabilities. These may include accounts payable or reduction in apportionments due to loans, unpaid staff compensation, audit findings, or other investigations.
- An assessment of the disposition of any restricted funds received by or due to the charter school.
This audit may serve as the school’s annual audit.
Charter school closure procedures must include a plan for completion and filing of any annual reports required. This includes:
- Preliminary budgets
- Interim financial reports
- Second interim financial reports
- Final unaudited reports
These reports must be submitted to the CDE and the authorizing entity in the form required. If the charter school chooses to submit this information before the forms and software are available for the fiscal year, alternative forms can be used if they are approved in advance by the CDE. These reports should be submitted as soon as possible after the closure action, but no later than the required deadline for reporting for the fiscal year.For apportionment of categorical programs, the CDE will count the prior year average daily attendance (ADA) or enrollment data of the closed charter school with the data of the authorizing entity. This practice will occur in the first year after the closure and will continue until CDE data collection processes reflect ADA or enrollment adjustments for all affected LEAs due to the charter closure.
Disposition of Liabilities and Assets
The closeout audit must determine the disposition of all liabilities of the charter school. Charter school closure procedures must also ensure disposal of any net assets remaining after all liabilities of the charter school have been paid or otherwise addressed. Such disposal includes, but is not limited to:
- The return of any donated materials and property according to any conditions set when the donations were accepted.
- The return of any grant and restricted categorical funds to their source according to the terms of the grant or state and federal law.
- The submission of final expenditure reports for any entitlement grants and the filing of Final Expenditure Reports and Final Performance Reports, as appropriate.
Net assets of the charter school may be transferred to the authorizing entity. However, net assets may be transferred to another public agency such as another public charter school if stated in the corporation's bylaws or through an agreement between the authorizing entity and the charter school.If the charter school is a nonprofit corporation and the corporation does not have any other functions than operation of the charter school, the corporation should be dissolved according to its bylaws. The corporation's bylaws should address how assets are to be distributed at the closure of the corporation.