Sec. 126-79-7 - Responsibilities of Parties to a Charter Contract

§ 126-79-7. Responsibilities of Parties to a Charter Contract

7.1. Authorizer Responsibilities.

7.1.a. Authorizers are responsible for ensuring the conditions necessary for charter schools to offer diverse educational options not available in non-charter public schools and to help improve student outcomes in the community served. To fulfill its duty, an authorizer shall carry out its duties and responsibilities with an aim to achieve the following goals and objectives:

7.1.a.1. Tailor charter school flexibility outlined in W. Va. Code § 18-5G-1 et seq. appropriately to the educational mission of the charter school and needs of the students and community it aims to serve;

7.1.a.2. Provide adequate accountability to require that charter schools it oversees are making reasonable progress towards achieving their educational mission;

7.1.a.3. Conduct necessary oversight to ensure students in charter schools it oversees receive legally required services in a safe and healthy learning environment, including, but not limited to, oversight of special education services, school nutrition, ADA compliance, etc.

7.1.a.4. Consider how charter schools enrich and otherwise impact the educational opportunities in its jurisdiction in present and future years.

7.1.b. In addition to any duties and responsibilities outlined in the charter contract, an authorizer is responsible, in part pursuant to W. Va. Code § 18-5G-6, for adhering to the following duties and responsibilities. Unless specifically addressed in state law, this policy, or the charter contract, the authorizer is responsible for determining the appropriate method for carrying out its duties and responsibilities.

7.1.b.1. Demonstration of public accountability and transparency. Authorizers must earn and maintain public trust around the operation of charter schools. Therefore, authorizers shall conduct meetings and business in an open and transparent manner consistent with the rules for conducting other business of county boards of education in West Virginia (or the WVBE in the case that the WVBE is acting as the authorizer).

7.1.b.2. Establishment of Authorizing Policies and Practices. Each authorizer shall affirmatively establish the written, nationally-benchmarked oversight policies and practices it will follow in its role. Policies and practices adopted by authorizers shall not contradict federal or state law or this policy. Authorizers that do not adopt a local policy relating to charter schools shall follow this policy. Authorizers may rely on processes (including deadlines) and systems (including electronic forms or other tools) established by the WVDE for the implementation of charter schools unless required by W. Va. Code § 18-5G-1 et seq. or this policy to establish and publicize specific practices, processes, or systems.

7.1.b.3. Solicitation of High-Quality Charter School Applications. Authorizers have the responsibility to solicit high-quality charter school applications as outlined in section 5 of this policy.

7.1.b.4. Approval of Satisfactory Charter School Applications. Authorizers shall evaluate applications in accordance with the state law and this policy to create charter schools likely to improve student outcomes in West Virginia by expanding the educational options available to students. To promote transparency, in deciding on charter school applications, authorizers shall use the evaluation criteria set forth in this policy or the evaluation criteria set forth in a properly adopted county board policy.

7.1.b.5. Denial of Unsatisfactory Charter School Applications. Authorizers shall deny applications for charter schools that do not meet specified criteria as outlined above. To promote transparency, in deciding on charter school applications, authorizers shall use the evaluation criteria set forth in this policy or the evaluation criteria set forth in a properly adopted county board policy.

7.1.b.6. Negotiation of Charter School Contracts. Authorizers shall negotiate and execute charter contracts with approved applications in good faith. In such negotiations, authorizers shall adhere to the requirements of W. Va. Code § 18-5G-9 and section 6 of this policy. In doing so, they shall aim to provide the charter school with the conditions necessary to succeed while safeguarding students under their jurisdictions.

7.1.b.7. Monitoring of Charter School Performance and Compliance. Authorizers shall ensure that charter schools comply with the terms of the charter contract and applicable federal law, state code, and WVBE policies. In performing its monitoring duties, the authorizer shall not unnecessarily inhibit the instructional and educational flexibility provided to charter schools by W. Va. Code § 18-5G-1 et seq. and this policy.

7.1.b.7.A. In executing monitoring duties, authorizers will focus on whether the charter school is delivering on the spirit and intent of the educational plan and other components defined in the charter contract. These efforts will focus primarily on whether charter schools are meeting the goals set forth in the Accountability Plan. While authorizers must monitor the compliance of charter schools with federal and state law and policy, authorizers are not expected to undertake the same level of monitoring and compliance support they provide to non-charter public schools. Instead, authorizers are expected to safeguard students through more limited monitoring that may occur less frequently and rely more heavily on data reporting and review, though relying solely on annual reporting to ensure compliance with legal requirements will likely be insufficient. Authorizer monitoring stands in contrast to management by the charter school governing board, which maintains responsibility for personnel, curriculum, calendar, finances, and other decisions as outlined below and throughout this policy.

7.1.b.7.B. When authorizers identify instances where a charter school is not complying with the terms of the charter contract or applicable federal law, state code, and/or this policy, authorizers shall notify the governing board of the identified issues and provide reasonable opportunity for remediation as set forth in the charter contract. To avoid unduly inhibiting charter school autonomy, authorizers shall not require charter schools to take specific remediation as the result of performance monitoring, unless outlined otherwise in the charter contract. Authorizers may provide specific remediation if necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of authorizers under federal law, state code, and/or this policy such as when failing to provide specific steps would violate the authorizers' obligations under IDEA. However, authorizers may require charter schools to develop and execute a corrective action plan (CAP), pursuant to W. Va. Code § 18-5G-6(g).

7.1.b.7.C. The above notwithstanding, if charter schools fail to comply with legal requirements or fails to adhere to the CAP, authorizers may intervene directly and prescribe specific action and/or require representatives of the charter school and its governing board to appear before the WVBE.

7.1.b.7.D. Pursuant to W. Va. Code § 18-5G-5(b), authorizers are responsible for continually monitoring adherence to the charter school's Accountability Plan. Authorizers must ensure that standards and goals included in the Accountability Plan are met by each charter school along with other performance measures agreed upon in the charter contract. If monitoring activities reveal performance deficiencies, the authorizer may require charter schools to develop and execute a CAP. If charter schools do not execute the agreed upon CAP or the CAP provides insufficient to address the deficiencies, authorizers may require representatives of the charter school and its governing board to appear before the WVBE.

7.1.b.7.E. If an authorizer fails to take appropriate action in response to a charter school that does not meet the standards, including but not limited to issuing CAPs, denying a renewal application, and/or suspending or revoking a charter contract, the authorizer shall appear before the WVBE to justify its actions. The WVBE may uphold or overturn the authorizer's decision and may revoke the authority of the authorizer to authorize charter schools. When the WVBE revokes the authorizing authority of a county board, the WVBE shall serve as the authorizer for all charter schools previously authorized by that county board. The county board with revoked authorizing authority may only renew its authorizing authority by action of the WVBE, which shall review whether the efforts to address authorizing deficiencies are sufficient to warrant renewed authorizing authority at the request of the county board.

7.1.b.8. Determination of Charter Renewal or Revocation. As set forth in W. Va. Code § 18-5G-1 et seq. and section 8 of this policy, authorizers shall perform a comprehensive review of charter school performance against the expectations set out in the charter contract to determine whether to renew the contract, or whether the current situation is such that immediate suspension or revocation of the charter contract is warranted.

7.1.b.9. Authorizers are the primary liaison between the WVDE and charter schools they authorize. While governing boards are ultimately responsible for complying with state reporting requirements, the authorizer shall facilitate reporting and other communication upon the request of the charter school. In this spirit, authorizers shall provide support to start-up charter schools in using WVEIS and other state or countywide reporting systems that the charter schools are required to use (e.g., online individualized education plan) upon request of the charter school. The authorizer shall also regularly update the WVDE with contact information for the governing board and key administrators of charter schools it authorizes.

7.1.b.10. Upon request of the charter school, authorizers shall provide additional support and oversight to help charter schools comply with state and federal laws in the first year of operation. Such help does not need to be explicitly negotiated as part of the charter contract. Authorizers are not required to complete compliance activities or reporting for charter schools, with the exception of responsibilities outlined in subsection 7.1.b.12 of this policy. Help from its authorizer(s) notwithstanding, the charter school has an affirmative duty to become familiar with its duties and responsibilities under state and federal law.

7.1.b.11. Authorizers shall timely adhere to all reporting requirements outlined in federal law, state code, or this policy.

7.1.b.12. Authorizers have the authority and responsibility to engage in oversight of charter school special education practices and to coordinate with the WVDE in order to ensure equitable access in these schools and compliance with applicable law. If an authorizer determines that a charter school is not ensuring that students with disabilities are receiving the benefits provided by IDEA, such as FAPE in the LRE, the authorizer shall work with the charter school to create a publicly available CAP that will modify practices and expand access and services on a specific timeframe. Creation and implementation of the CAP may inform expansion, replication, or renewal decisions. Authorizers shall be primarily responsible for requiring and overseeing such corrective steps, and failure on the part of the charter school to make progress toward goals articulated in the CAP could result in charter revocation.

7.1.b.13. Pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1413(a)(5) and 34 CFR §§ 300.241, authorizers must provide information to the WVDE demonstrating that they will:

7.1.b.13.A. Serve students with disabilities attending charter schools in the same manner as the authorizer serves students with disabilities in non-charter public schools; and

7.1.b.13.B. Provide IDEA Part B funds to charter schools on the same basis and timeline as it provides Part B funds to its non-public charter schools.

7.1.b.14. Upon request of the governing board, an authorizer shall allow facilities within its control, in whole or in part, to be used by the charter school either under long-term occupancy lease agreements or rental agreements for individual events, subject to the following:

7.1.b.14.A. The facility being requested for use is safe and habitable for the purpose in which the charter school seeks to use the facility.

7.1.b.14.B. The facility is not being used by the authorizer for any non-charter public school at the time the charter school seeks to use or lease the facility, pursuant to W. Va. Code § 18-5G-12(a).

7.1.b.14.C. If a charter school seeks to lease the whole or part of a public facility, the cost of the lease must be at or under the current market value, pursuant to W. Va. Code § 18-5G-12(a).

7.1.b.14.D. If a charter school seeks to rent the whole or part of a public facility for an individual event, including, but not limited to, athletic events, theater performances, etc., the cost of the rental must be at or below the cost to the authorizer of making the facility available to the charter school.

7.1.b.15. The authorizer may lease or rent equipment (including athletic or information technology equipment) to a charter school. The parties must agree to standard lease or rental terms prior to lease or rental. The rental or lease rate may include additional costs borne by the authorizer due to increase usage of said equipment.

7.1.b.16. Pursuant to W. Va. Code § 18-5G-3(b)(7), authorizers shall not harass, threaten, discipline, discharge, retaliate, or in any manner discriminate against any of its employees involved directly or indirectly with an application to establish a charter school.

7.1.b.17. Pursuant to W. Va. Code § 18-5G-3(b)(7), authorizers shall ensure all personnel in a charter school who were previously employed by the county board of education shall continue to accrue seniority with the county board in the same manner that they would accrue seniority if employed in a non-charter public school in the county. County boards of education shall adapt their current processes and systems to allow for the proper maintenance of seniority for former county board of education personnel who move to a charter school authorized by the county.

7.1.c. County boards of education have an affirmative responsibility to develop their internal capacity to act as authorizers. The WVDE will provide training to help county boards accomplish this end. County boards may also engage in additional capacity building as necessary. If a county board wants to forgo the WVDE training to use alternate organizations, trainings, or resources to build their authorizing capacity, they must demonstrate how their plan will adequately prepare them to act as authorizers.

7.1.d. In the case that an authorizer approves a charter school application but lacks the capacity to fulfill its ongoing authorizing duties and responsibilities, it may request that the WVBE act as authorizer, pursuant to W. Va. Code § 18-5G-4(c). The WVBE shall only act as authorizer after the requesting county board of education has demonstrated its lack of capacity to fulfill the responsibilities of charter school authorizing to the satisfaction of the WVBE. In cases when the WVBE acts as authorizer, the county board of education that approved the application remains the LEA for the charter school and must make every effort possible to assist the WVBE with monitoring and oversight activities, especially those activities for which local knowledge or physical proximity are particularly advantageous.

7.1.e. Pursuant to W. Va. Code § 18-5G-6(k), no civil liability shall attach to an authorizer or to any of its members or employees for any acts or omissions of the charter public school. Neither the county board of education nor the State of West Virginia shall be liable for the debts or financial obligations of a charter public school or any person or entity that operates a charter public school.

7.2. Governing Board/Charter School Responsibilities.

7.2.a. Pursuant to W. Va. Code § 18-5G-5, the governing board is ultimately accountable and responsible for the actions of the charter school, the safety and security of enrolled students, and its ability to deliver the educational options and outcomes specified in the charter contract.

7.2.b. In addition to any duties and responsibilities outlined in the charter contract, a charter school and its governing board are responsible for adhering to the following duties and responsibilities:

7.2.b.1. Ensuring all instructional personnel employed at the charter school hold a valid and appropriate certification, as specified in the charter school application and contract.

7.2.b.2. Providing the information on personnel employed by the charter school to enable the WVDE and county boards of education to comply with the requirements of state code and this policy, specifically:

7.2.b.2.A. Adequate information for the WVDE to certify such individuals pursuant to the charter certification provided for in W. Va. 126CSR136, Policy 5202, Minimum Requirements for the Licensure of Professional/Paraprofessional Personnel and Advanced Salary Classifications, and the criteria agreed upon in the charter school application and/or contract as outlined in subsection 4.3.i of this policy; and

7.2.b.2.B. Sufficient information for county boards of education to track the seniority of former employees of the county board of education now employed by the charter school who continue to accrue seniority for the purpose of employment at non-charter public schools, pursuant to W. Va. Code § 18-5G-3(b)(7) and subsection 7.1.b.15 of this policy.

7.2.b.3. The charter school is responsible for documenting its students' progress towards achieving the defined graduation requirements and certifying completion of requirements for the purpose of reporting graduation outcomes to the authorizer and the WVDE. Charter schools will have the ability to use the same electronic course scheduling and transcript platforms provided by the WVDE as non-charter schools.

7.2.b.4. Pursuant to W. Va. Code § 18-5G-7(c), the governing board shall operate the charter school in accordance with the charter contract and under the oversight of the authorizer. To execute the educational mission and operational plans of the charter contract, the governing board holds powers as a public corporate body including, but not limited to those outlined in W. Va. Code § 18-5G-7(c)(2):

7.2.b.4.A. Receive and disburse funds for school purposes;

7.2.b.4.B. Secure appropriate insurance and enter into contracts and leases;

7.2.b.4.C. Contract with an ESP, so long as the governing board retains final oversight and authority over the school;

7.2.b.4.D. Pledge, assign, or encumber its assets to be used as collateral for loans or extensions of credit.

7.2.b.4.E. Solicit and accept any gifts or grants for school purposes, subject to applicable laws and the terms of its charter.

7.2.b.4.F. Apply for federal funds that may be available for the implementation of charter school programs; and

7.2.b.4.G. Acquire real property for use as its facilities or facilities from public or private sources.

7.2.b.5. Pursuant to W. Va. Code § 18-5G-7(c)(3), the governing board shall enroll students in the charter school pursuant to W. Va. Code § 18-5G-11 and section 9 of this policy.

7.2.b.6. Pursuant to W. Va. Code § 18-5G-7(c)(4), the governing board shall require any ESP the governing board is contracting with to timely provide a monthly detailed budget to the governing board.

7.2.b.7. Pursuant to W. Va. Code § 18-5G-4(b)(6)(ix), require any ESP the governing board is contracting with to provide an annual review of educational and operational practices that the ESP found particularly effective for delivering improved student outcomes. The governing board shall report these practices to its authorizer and the state as part of annual reporting on successful innovations as required by state code.

7.2.b.8. Pursuant to W. Va. Code § 18-5G-7(c)(5), the governing board is required to comply with all federal and state laws, rules, and regulations, including Policy 2419. The precise responsibilities of the charter school are subject to the required section of the charter contract that outlines roles, responsibilities, and funding related to special education and related services as described in section 6 of this policy.

7.2.b.9. The governing board must timely provide information and data upon request by the authorizer or the WVDE so that those entities may fulfill federal and statutory reporting requirements. Such requests must give charter schools at least 14 days to fulfill such requests, except when such time period would cause non-compliance with legally required reporting or when standard reporting schedules allow charter schools to be aware of upcoming reporting requirements.

7.2.b.10. The governing board must timely respond and take appropriate action to correct any deficiencies identified by the authorizer.

7.2.b.11. The governing board must remit to the authorizer an oversight fee in accordance with W. Va. Code § 18-5G-6(i) and section 12 of this policy.

7.2.b.12. The governing board must ensure that the primary financial official, the principal, and the governing board president are appropriately bonded using the requirements for equivalent positions at the county board of education level, which are contained in W. Va. 126CSR200, Policy 8100, Public School Finance.

7.2.b.13. The governing board shall hold an open public meeting at least once quarterly.

7.2.c. The charter school is responsible for facilities it uses during periods it is the primary user.

7.2.c.1. Pursuant to W. Va. Code § 18-5G-12(c), if the charter school enters into a lease of public facilities, in part or in whole, the charter school is solely responsible for the direct expenses related to the public facility lease, including utilities, insurance, maintenance, repairs, and remodeling. The county board is responsible for any debt incurred or liens that are attached to the school building before the charter school leases the public facility.

7.2.c.2. If the charter school uses public facilities for individual events, the rental agreement shall define the responsibilities of each party and the costs to be reimbursed by the charter school.

7.2.c.3. Each charter school must, consistent with the requirements of the ADA and Section 504, ensure that individuals with disabilities are not excluded from programs, activities, or services at the school, even if their facility is not fully accessible. Each charter school shall make its program accessible to students with disabilities, as well as to parents and guardians, to school personnel, and to members of the public in accordance with Section 504. If the school has obtained a waiver from the authorizer due to undue burden or fundamental alteration, this information should be publicly available.

7.2.d. Governing boards and charter schools shall not harass, threaten, discipline, discharge, retaliate, or in any manner discriminate against any of its employees for participation or affiliation in a union or teacher organization.

The following state regulations pages link to this page.