Charter School Closure ProcessGuidance on charter school closures including documentation, notifications, record retention, transfer, and financial closeout.
Charter Schools Closure - Requirements and Recommendations
A charter school may close voluntarily, through non-renewal, or through revocation. The procedures for charter school closure are guided by California Education Code (EC) 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 charter law requires that closure procedures are stated under the approved charter petition designating the responsibilities of 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 and Notifications of Closure Action
The revocation or non-renewal of a charter school must be documented by an official action (board minutes, board resolution, signed letter from superintendent, etc.) of the authorizing entity. Notice of a charter school’s closure for any reason must be submitted electronically by the authorizing entity to the CDE by email to CHARTERRENEWALS@cde.ca.gov.
Per 5 CCR Section 11962, the charter school is required to provide notification of the closure to the following:
- The 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 must be notified within ten calendar days of any official action taken by the chartering authority. The notice must include at least the following:
- Effective date and circumstances of the closure
- Name(s) of and contact information for the person(s) handling inquiries regarding the closure
- Location of student and personnel records
- Projected submission date to CDE of the completed independent final audit required within six months after the closure of the school
Retention and Transfer of Records
Closure procedures included in the charter petition 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 maintained. 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, other school to which the student will transfer, or responsible entity designated to conduct closure activities. 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 the records. 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 may notify the charter school and the authorizing entity of any liabilities the charter school owes the state. These may include overpayment of Local Control Funding Formula and select apportionments, start up 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 "closeout audit" within six months after the closure of the school that includes the following:
- 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.
The annual audit required by EC Section 41020 must be submitted per Local Education Agency (LEA) Audit Guidelines. The closeout audit required pursuant to 5 CCR Section 11962 may be included with the school’s annual audit provided it meets the requirements of both EC Section 41020 and 5 CCR Section 11962. If the closeout audit is conducted separately from the annual audit, the closeout audit should be submitted to the chartering authority and the county superintendent of schools, or only to the county superintendent of schools if the county board of education is the chartering authority.
Charter school closure procedures must include a plan for completion and filing of any annual reports required per EC Section 47604.33 in addition to the closeout audit, which includes the following:
- Preliminary budget for a charter school in its first year of operation on or before July 1st
- Local control and accountability plan and annual updates due on or before July 1st
- Interim financial report reflecting changes through October 31st due on or before December 15th
- Second interim financial report reflecting changes through January 31st due on or before March 15th
- Final unaudited report for the full prior year due on or before September 15th
These reports are submitted to its chartering authority and the county superintendent of schools, or only to the county superintendent of schools if the county board of education is the chartering authority.
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, including but not limited to the following:
- 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.
Any net assets of the charter school may be transferred to the authorizing entity after all liabilities of the charter school have been paid. Also, 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.
Responsibilities of Charter Authorizer
The charter entity has the responsibility of proving timely notification to CDE when the charter school will cease operation for any reason per EC 47604.32. In addition, the charter entity is responsible to ensure the charter school has complied with the closure procedures outlined under the terms of its charter petition and all applicable laws.