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Charter School Oversight and Monitoring

Guidance from the California Department of Education Charter Schools Division for charter school authorizers regarding Renewal, Revocation and Closure.

This page is the transcript for the Charter School Authorization - Charter School Renewal, Revocation and Closure. See the Charter School Authorization - Charter School Renewal, Revocation and Closure (PDF) presentation slides for more information.

Slide 1 Charter School Authorization: Charter School Renewal, Revocation, and Closure

Welcome to the third in a series of webinars for Charter School Authorizers.

Our primary audience for this presentation is current charter school authorizers – county and district governing board members, and county and district staff. However, prospective authorizers, considering approving new petitions, may find the information presented helpful in understanding the importance of clarity in the charter petition and memorandum of understanding.

Today, we will cover the following topics:

  • Preparing for renewal
  • Procedures for revocation, and
  • Promising practices to support authorizers

Two previous webinars for Charter Authorizers are posted on this Website are:

  • Guidance and Technical Assistance for Prospective Charter School Authorizers
  • Charter School Oversight and Monitoring
Slide 2 Academic Achievement Above All

Academic achievement for all pupils is the first priority of California charter schools and is the most important factor in renewal, non-renewal, and revocation of a charter petition.

Slide 3 Legislative Intent: Charter School Expectations

In 1992, when California’s Charter Schools Act was enacted, California was the second state in the nation to pass legislation authorizing charter schools. This slide shows the five tenets envisioned by the Legislature for charter schools. These expectations are operationalized in the statutes and regulations for charter schools and their authorizers. You will note that some of the slides presented today reference applicable code sections.

Currently, California has over 1,100 charter schools operating throughout the state and over 300 charter authorizers. Most authorizers oversee between 1 and 10 charter schools.

Slide 4 Charter Authorizing

The Charter Authorizer Toolkit, available on the Digital Chalkboard and created by a group of county level charter school authorizers, captures the essence of authorizing as a partnership with schools in providing a quality education for all students.

In the next few slides, we will take a look at some suggestions of national and state organizations around renewal, revocation, and closure. Then we will focus on California’s specific requirements.

Slide 5 Charter Authorizer Transparency

“Transparency” is a theme that is often referenced in studies when identifying positive practices among charter school operators and charter authorizers. 

This quote is from NACSA’s School Closure Guide entitled “Accountability in Action.” NACSA is a national organization of charter school authorizers. They have created manuals useful for charter school authorizers.

The Guide suggests that for the renewal policy to be clearly understood and equitably applied it must be well-documented, highly visible, and distributed early, even to charter school applicants, or at a minimum at the outset of the charter school’s operation. The renewal policy should ensure that no school is ever surprised by a non-renewal recommendation.

You will note the Gold Star on this slide and some of the other slides in this presentation. The stars signify what might be considered professionally-accepted standards, suggestions, and opinions rather than what is explicitly required in California statutes or regulations.

Slide 6 Charter Authorizer Transparency (cont.)

“Transparency in the charter renewal process can protect the authorizer from political pressure. A transparent charter renewal process can ease the school closure process when a charter fails to meet academic or fiscal performance standards.”

This quote is from a 2012 report on California charter school authorizers conducted by the California Research Bureau, a division of the California State Library.       

Slide 7 Charter School Accountability and Non-Renewal

The California Charter Schools Association is a strong advocate for quality charter schools. They raise awareness about charter schools that are not fulfilling minimum standards for renewal.

Slide 8 NACSA: High Standards

Maintaining high standards for schools is one of NACSA’s core principles.                                 

Slide 9 NACSA: Performance Standards

NACSA recommends academic, financial and organizational performance standards that are clearly defined and hold schools accountable.

Slide 10 NACSA Essential Practices for Charter School Renewal

We present three of NACSA’s 12 Essential Practices, or professionally-accepted standards, in this presentation as they relate to renewal and revocation.

Practice 10 is Renewal Criteria – Have established renewal criteria and a transparent and rigorous process for merit-based renewal decisions. These can be clearly laid out in a memorandum of understanding with the charter school.

Slide 11 NACSA Essential Practices for Charter School Renewal (cont.)

NACSA suggests the authorizer provide a cumulative performance report on the school that summarizes its performance over the charter term and includes the authorizer’s findings concerning the school’s performance and its prospects for renewal. It is given to the school prior to renewal.

Slide 12 NACSA Essential Practices for Charter School Renewal

Practice 12 is an Annual Report – Provide an annual report to each school on its performance. These reports are part of the supporting documentation for the renewal decision.

Slide 13 Governing Board Policies for Charter Authorizers: CSBA

The California School Boards Association (CSBA) develops sample board policies and sample administrative regulations for governing boards, including those related to charter renewal, revocation and school closure. These important tools can be particularly helpful to authorizers establishing policies and administrative regulations and for those updating their policies and regulations to reflect current law.

Slide 14 Governing Board Policies for Charter Authorizers: CSBA

CSBA’s samples address how to incorporate statutory requirements and district practice.

Slide 15 NACSA: Charter Renewal

While many low-performing charter schools have closed, others remain open. The reasons they remain open can be generalized into four primary reasons: lack of performance criteria, lack of evidence gathered over the charter term, lack of better alternatives in the surrounding community, and support for the failing school.

Now let’s take a look at state requirements for renewal.                                                   

Slide 16 Charter Petition Renewals                                                          

This slide presents the basics of charter renewals. They are for a 5 year period – no more, no less. Renewals are governed by the same standards and criteria as charter petition approval. The petition must be updated to reflect any changes in law since the last approval. The school must meet pupil achievement goals.

Slide 17 Charter Petition Renewal

The law requires the charter authorizer to consider increases in pupil academic achievement for all significant groups as the most important factor in granting a renewal.

Slide 18 Academic Achievement Through Measurable Pupil Outcomes

Charter renewals must include measure able pupil outcomes. With enactment of the Local Control Funding Formula and Local Control and Accountability Plans, the last three areas on this slide are new or further defined descriptions for pupil outcomes that must be contained in a petition. They address subgroups, alignment with the eight state priorities, and aligning measures with how information is reported on the SARC.

Slide 19 Academic Performance Index (API) Changes

Important changes to assessment and accountability will have an impact on charter school renewal determinations by authorizers. This slide captures the changes in suspension of the API calculation and school rankings. The State Board approved alternatives for the annual API calculation due to state assessment results not being available during field testing in 2014. Districts and schools may use those alternatives to meet legislative or programmatic requirements until the API is reestablished in 2016.

Those alternatives are: the most recent API, an average of the three most recent APIs, or alternative measures that show increases in pupil academic achievement for all groups of pupils (schoolwide and significant student groups).

Slide 20 Academic Achievement Determination Data for Renewal

With suspension of the API and elimination of school rankings after 2013, authorizers and their charter schools will need to consider which criteria will be available over the next couple of years for renewal. Available state data for renewals in the next three years are displayed in this chart.

Slide 21 Academic Achievement Determination for Renewal

These are the five criteria in statute for pupil academic achievement, of which the charter school must meet at least one of the criteria for renewal.

Slide 22 Academic Achievement Determination for Renewal (cont.)

When selecting criterion #4, comparing academic performance with local schools, the determination must be based on all three elements shown on this slide.

Slide 23 Charter Petition Renewals: CDE Notification Process

If alternative measures are used, the authorizer completes a CDE Renewal Form upon renewal action and submits the required supporting documentation electronically. If meeting criteria other than #4, a copy of minutes of the Board’s action will suffice.

Slide 24 Evidence to Support Renewal

In preparing for renewal action, the local board has a number of reports and information available to consider: fiscal reports and audits; compliance with laws and terms of the charter; academic performance data and LCAP annual updates; annual visits, reports, and remedies; and results of inspections and observations, if any.

The local board will also have benefit of a public hearing in considering the renewal. This may provide feedback from the community, teachers, and parents/legal guardians.              

Slide 25 Timeline for Authorizer Actions – Renewal

Timelines for action on renewals are stipulated in statute. Most renewals are submitted to school districts, a small number are submitted to counties directly. 

Slide 26 Timeline for Appeal to County -  District Non-Renewal

An appeal of non-renewal must be received by the county board of education within 30 days of non-renewal by a school district.

Slide 27 Timeline for Appeal to State Board – District Non-Renewal

Appeals of non-renewals by either a district or county board also have statutory timelines. The State Board must receive the appeal within 180 days of non-renewal.

The next few slides focus on revocations and closures of charter schools, starting first with a national perspective and then California specific requirements.

Slide 28 NACSA and Charter School Accountability

NACSA identifies four areas that would flag a charter school for consideration of closure. These areas are: Academic Underperformance; Financial Mismanagement; Organizational Incompetence; Non-compliance.

Slide 29 Charter Revocation

Pupil academic achievement for all groups of students is the most important factor in deciding to revoke a charter and close the school.

Slide 30 NACSA Practices for Charter School Revocation

Practice 11 is Revocation Criteria - Having established revocation criteria that guide revocation decisions. An authorizer revokes a charter when necessary to protect student and public interests. Charter revocation criteria should be communicated publicly and to the charter school early, prior to school operations commencing.

Slide 31 Reasons for Revocation

A charter may be revoked by the authorizer if there is substantial evidence of any of the following: violation of terms of the charter; failure to meet or pursue pupil outcomes; fiscal mismanagement or failure to engage in accepted accounting principles; violation of law; or failure to show increases in pupil achievement for all groups of students.

Slide 32 Authorizer Oversight of Academic Achievement

With enactment of the Local Control Funding Formula and Local Control and Accountability Plans, authorizers have new guidance and responsibilities in assisting charter schools improve pupil outcomes. New laws provide for intervention assistance from the new California Collaborative for Educational Excellence when a school fails to meet pupil progress outcomes over a period of years.

Slide 33 Additional Basis for Revocation

The authorizing authority may revoke a charter if pupil progress is not met over several years and the school fails, or is unable, to implement recommendations provided by the Collaborative. Revocation under this new provision cannot be appealed.

Slide 34 Steps for the Authorizer to Revoke

The law contains very specific steps and timelines that an authorizer must follow when pursuing revocation of a charter. Regulations specify the manner and content of written findings and notices to be issued by the authorizer.

Slide 35 Steps After Authorizer Acts to Revoke

There are specific steps and timelines for appealing an action to revoke, all the way through to the State Board as needed.

Slide 36 Steps After Authorizer Acts to Revoke (cont.)

A final decision to revoke or on an appeal of a revocation is reported to the charter authorizer, the county board of education and the California Department of Education.

Slide 37 Sources of School Closures

There are three sources of school closures: voluntary, non-renewal, and revocation.

In 2013-14, out of over 1,100 authorized charter schools there were 39 voluntary school closures, 8 non-renewals, and 3 revocations. In the first 9 months of 2013-14, there were 8 voluntary closures plus 4 pending, and 1 non-renewal with 3 pending.

Slide 38 School Closure Procedures

In the event of closure, authorizers and the school follow school closure procedures, available on the CDE website. CDE’s information on charter school closures includes:

  • handling of documents and notification
  • school and student record transfer and retention
  • recommended procedures for financial close-out
  • disposition of liabilities and assets
Slide 39 School Closure Authorizer Responsibilities

This slide conveys the details of the notification required of the authorizer within 10 calendar days of an authorizer’s action to close a charter school.

While notification is a requirement of the charter authorizer, the terms of the charter may identify some or all of the closure duties to be performed by the charter school, authorizer, or another entity.

Slide 40 Authorizer Provides Timely Notifications

Charter authorizers are required to provide notifications to the California Department of Education regarding charter renewal, denial, revocation, and school closure.

Slide 41 Web Resources

This final slide displays the Web locations for many of the resources referenced throughout this presentation. Also included is the Digital Chalkboard Web site where authorizers and charter schools can access resources and participate in communities of practice with other authorizers or other charter schools. 

We would like to thank the California School Boards Association staff for their review and contributions to the materials contained in this presentation. 

We hope you find this information helpful and useful in supporting quality charter schools.

Questions: Charter Schools Division | Charters@cde.ca.gov | 916-322-6029 
Last Reviewed: Monday, May 8, 2017
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