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CHARTER SCHOOLS and small group discussion Brette Kaplan, Esq. Julia Martin, Esq. Steven Spillan, Esq.

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Presentation on theme: "CHARTER SCHOOLS and small group discussion Brette Kaplan, Esq. Julia Martin, Esq. Steven Spillan, Esq."— Presentation transcript:

1 CHARTER SCHOOLS and small group discussion Brette Kaplan, Esq. Julia Martin, Esq. Steven Spillan, Esq. Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC Fall Forum 2013

2 Agenda Introduction Charter Schools: Background and Policy Trends Special issues for charters Funding allocations CSGP Assurances Demographics Facilities Operator Fraud Group discussion 2 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

3 CHARTER SCHOOLS Background and Policy Trends 3 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

4 What is a Charter School? Generally: A non-sectarian, publicly funded, independent public school of choice Operates under a contract or charter from the State’s chartering agency Exempt from certain State and local regulations But not civil rights, audit, health and safety, or charter requirements Admits students based on parent choice and/or lottery May operate as its own LEA, or as part of another LEA Governed by ESEA Sec. 5210(1) 4 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

5 Who are Key Parties for Charters? Authorizer Created/assigned by State charter school laws Tasks: Approve charter applications and renewals Set requirements of charter Oversee schools and monitor compliance Close schools if needed Types: IHEs Independent boards Non-for-profit organizations Mayors or municipalities LEAs SEAs 5 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

6 Who are Key Parties for Charters? Operator May be group of parents/teachers/community members, may be a Charter Management Organization (CMO) or Educational Management Organization (EMO) May be for-profit or non-profit Teachers May be unionized or non-unionized Depending on status, charter may contract separately with teachers Students Enroll based on choice or lottery system Charter may not be selective 6 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

7 How are Charter Schools Autonomous? May develop and set own policies regarding: Length of school day, week, or year Amount of instructional time for individual subjects Use of specific curricula, materials, or instructional methods Use of tutoring programs Budget decisions Staffing decisions and policies May offer pay-for-performance, other incentives 7 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

8 How are Charters Held Accountable? Required to meet ALL federal and State education standards, including: Academic achievement standards Health and safety requirements Civil Rights requirements (ADA, Title VI, Title IX, Section 504, IDEA, etc.) Federal and State audit and fiscal requirements Other requirements as outlined in chartering document 8 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

9 National Trend: Growth First charters in Minnesota in 1992 As of 2012 elections, operate in 42 States and DC Latest additions: Georgia and Washington Only eight States don’t have charters (AL, KY, MT, NE, ND, SD, VT, WY) More than 5,000 charter schools nationwide In school year alone, over 500 new charter schools 80% increase in number of students since Charters serve about 2.3 million students (3% of total) In 100 cities, charters serve 10% of students or more 9 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

10 Policy Trend: Push to Remove Caps Currently 25 States (including DC) limit number of charters Some States considering increasing/lifting caps Federal legislative proposals offer grant preference to States with no caps Different types of caps: Number of schools/charters Number or share of students Limit to annual growth in number of schools/students Why remove caps? Allows growth to meet demand Allows competition in charter “market” Why keep caps? Incentivize closure of unsuccessful models/schools 10 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

11 Policy Trend: Push for More Authorizers More than 1,000 chartering authorities nationally 850 are LEAs, authorizing 52% of charters Why add authorizers? Process moves more quickly, creates more charters Removes bias (?) Why limit authorizers? Simplifies process Allows for more quality control 11 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

12 Policy Trend: Parent Trigger Laws Generally: Allow parents to petition to transform a failing public school Transformation usually involves transition to charters Rarely used Seven States have parent trigger laws (LA, MS, CT, TX, IN, OH, CA) Has only been successfully used in CA LAUSD, April 2013 Follows two blocked attempts Why use parent triggers? Gives parents a voice Why restrict? “Triggered” schools often taken over by for-profit CMOs Have high failure rates Can allow schools to circumvent teachers unions Disruption for students 12 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

13 Policy Trend: Unionization Staff at most charter schools not currently unionized About 12% of charters have union presence In four States (AK, HI, IA, MD), 100% of charter schools are unionized Nine States have no unionized charters: NC, NH, NV, OK, SC, TN, UT, VA Nineteen States require some or all charter school teachers to be bound by the district collective bargaining agreements or personnel policies BUT push from unions to get charter teachers to join Staff at organization running 13 charters in Chicago voted earlier this year to unionize 13 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

14 Federal Policy Trends Democrats See charters as an option in healthy school ecosystem Generally supportive of charters But not a solution for all students (especially rural students) Republicans Charters as part of “school choice” system (along with vouchers, home-schooling) Market-based: competition from charters drives improvement in other schools Money should “follow the child” 14 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

15 Federal Policy Trends Empowering Parents through Quality Charter Schools Act (H.R. 2218, 112 th Congress) Consolidates existing funding streams for “flexibility” States must detail how they will ensure equity for students with disabilities Gives priority in funding to States that: Repeal charter caps Increase number of authorizers Support online and hybrid charters Provide funding for charters comparable to other public schools Use charter transformation as option in interventions New money for charter school facilities Passed House of Representatives in Sept with bipartisan support Likely model for future legislation 15 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

16 SPECIAL ISSUES For Charter Schools 16 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

17 FUNDING ALLOCATIONS For Charter Schools 17 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

18 ESEA Allocations Charter as an LEA vs. Charter as part of a larger LEA Either way, subject to Title I funding formula Title I funding based on poverty and enrollment data from previous years What about new or expanding charters? NCLB included provisions (§5206), clarified in recent guidance (September 23, 2013) 18 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

19 ESEA Allocations §5206: Charters in their first year of operation; or Charters undergoing significant expansion Must receive full amount to which it is entitled within 5 months of Opening; or When the expansions began 19 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

20 ESEA Allocations Determining “prior-year” base amount and hold harmless for newly opened charters: Calculate initial allocation under each formula BEFORE application of hold harmless This becomes “prior year” Based on derived formula count compared to population data, determine hold harmless percentage Multiply initial allocation for each formula by hold harmless percentage to determine hold harmless amount 20 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

21 ESEA Allocations Determining “prior year” and hold harmless for significantly expanding charters Compare current year formula count with prior year formula count and calculate the percentage increase Increase prior year allocation under each formula by that percentage to determine “prior year” base amount 21 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

22 ESEA Allocations To qualify for §5206 allocations: 120-day notice Establish eligibility Provide data needed to reasonably estimate allocation amount Provide actual enrollment data 22 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

23 IDEA Allocations Charters as LEAs vs. Charters within larger LEA Entitled to same IDEA funds as other LEAs and public schools LEA Charters must: Establish eligibility Submit local plan to SEA Develop appropriate policies and procedures Have sufficient capacity and resources to provide FAPE 23 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

24 IDEA Allocations Charters within an LEA must: Fit within ESEA definition of a charter school Be a non-profit entity Comply with any federal enrollment data requirements Submit to LEA: Eligibility information Enrollment data Other necessary documentation 24 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

25 ASSURANCES In the Charter School Grant Program 25 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

26 CSP Assurance New assurances added to CSP application Language in FY 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act Issues for FY 2010 Grant Recipients Possible problems for future applicants 26 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

27 CSP Assurance 3A Each authorized charter school in the State operates under a legally binding charter or performance contract between itself and the school’s authorized public chartering agency which must: Describe the obligations and responsibilities of the school and the public chartering agency; Conduct annual, timely, and independent audits of the school’s financial statements that are filed with the school’s authorized public chartering agency; and Demonstrate improved student academic achievement. 27 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

28 CSP Assurance 3B Authorized public chartering agencies use increases in student academic achievement for all groups of students as the most important factor when determining to renew or revoke a school’s charter 28 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

29 CSP Assurance 3B Increased student achievement across all subgroups : Economically disadvantaged students; Students from major racial and ethnic groups; Students with disabilities; and Students with limited English proficiency 29 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

30 CSP Assurances: Common Problems State policymaking/approval procedures Process vs. speed Internal political obstacles Charter school authorizers vs. CMOs 30 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

31 DEMOGRAPHIC ISSUES For Charter Schools 31 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

32 GAO Report: Students with Disabilities Attend charter schools at much lower rates GAO Report: Additional Federal Attention Needed to Protect Access for Students with Disabilities (June 2012) GAO Report to Congress found that in , students with disabilities made up: 11.1% of total school-age population 11.2% of traditional public school population 8.2% of charter school population Up from 7.7% in Varies by State In NH, students with disabilities made up 6% of charter school population; 13% overall In IA, MN, NV, NM, OH, PA, VA, WY – about the same as % of total population 32 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

33 GAO Report: Students with Disabilities Why? GAO doesn’t know Possible explanations: Placement by charter/LEA Location of schools Parent preference/student need School capacity/resources Funding 33 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

34 Special Education – CRPE Report Why the Gap? Special Education and New York City Charter Schools September 2013 CRPE Report Examined why the disparity in special education enrollment rates in traditional public and charter schools exist 3-4% enrollment gap 34 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

35 Special Education – CRPE Report Findings Students with disabilities (especially those with autism and speech or language impairment) are likely to apply to charter schools in kindergarten Gap grows considerably from K-3 rd grade Charters less likely to classify students Students transferring between charter and district schools Charters not refusing to admit or pushing out students with special needs Gap occurs mostly with subjective categories of student disabilities Emotional disability and special learning disability Mobility among special education students regardless of attending a charter or traditional public school 35 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

36 English Language Learners GAO: Education Needs to Further Examine Data Collection on English Language Learners in Charter Schools (July 17, 2013) Goal: Compare ELL enrollment in charter schools and traditional public schools Looked at ED’s data from school year GAO Report to Congress addressed: ① Quality of ED’s data on ELLs in charter schools; and ② Efforts taken by ED to improve collection of ELL data from charter school 36 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

37 English Language Learners GAO unable to compare ELL enrollment in charter schools and traditional public schools Unreliable & incomplete data For over 1/3 of charter schools, field reporting ELLs enrolled in ELL programs left blank 37 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

38 English Language Learners Problems: ① No “data steward” Office responsible for overseeing data quality ② Definitional issue Dataset is count of ELLs enrolled in “English language instruction educational programs” Not a simple count of all ELLs ③ Charter Schools may have not submitted data to states States have difficulty obtaining data from charter schools Some charters missing other data suggesting boarder problem with charter school reporting 38 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

39 39 Source: Education Needs to Further Examine Data Collection on English Language Learners in Charter Schools, GAO (July 2013) Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

40 English Language Learners 40 Planned Fixes Beginning in school year , ED plans to collect new school-level data on all ELLs regardless of enrollment in a “program” New school-level data will have a “data steward” and will receive regular data quality reviews Guidance for Reporting Charter School Entities (July 2013) workbook.doc workbook.doc Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

41 English Language Learners GAO’s Recommendations ① ED conduct a systematic evaluation of other important datasets to determine the extent of charter school non- reporting ② ED explore whether collecting LEA-level and SEA-level counts for ELLs enrolled in “English language instruction educational programs” can be phased out if the data quality problems are not addressed. 41 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

42 FACILITIES And Issues for Charter Schools 42 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

43 Facilities Generally Charters sometimes struggle to find appropriate facilities Traditional public schools built with local tax and bond revenues Charters often lack access to some or all of those sources of funds or significant “start-up” money Varies by State – some have dedicated grant or bond programs for charter school facilities Increased facilities costs Have to retrofit existing buildings Money on rent/renovations takes funds away from instruction On average, charters spend 10% of operating budget on facilities Banks reluctant to lend money to schools with 3- or 5-year charters If they can get loans, interest rates are high 43 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

44 Facilities Generally Charters face several practical and compliance problems with their facilities: No gym or library Lack of properly outfitted computer/science labs No kitchens to serve free or reduced-price school lunch program meals Not accessible for students with disabilities Money for rent/renovations takes away funds intended for instruction Charters often occupy less desirable/purpose-built facilities  equity issues 44 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

45 Sharing District Facilities Some States have “right of first refusal” policy (like DC) Charters can request any vacant or underused public buildings, allowed to occupy unless district has a valid reason to say no Small charters sometimes share space with traditional public schools (“co-location”) E.g. one floor or a set of classrooms Allows use of otherwise empty space BUT creates conflict/confusion between schools’ staff over: Use of common areas Shared utility/maintenance costs Responsibilities for supervising students in common areas Other areas where schools’ policies/practices differ 45 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

46 Charters and Church Space More common in some States than others TX: 23 new charters in past 3 years, 16 to charters with religious ties Compliance issues: Is church directly benefiting from taxpayer dollars? Outside of rent agreements Through in-kind benefits or use of charter facilities/equipment Is the charter engaging in faith-based instruction? Are faculty/staff shared with church? Is the school part of the church? May need a separate, non-profit entity to operate school Requires explicit guidelines for use of funds, frequent monitoring 46 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

47 Facilities Fraud Usually involve “circular lease agreements” San Antonio, TX Charter superintendent used school facilities grant to buy a building (former church) Then leased building back to school Chester, PA Charter school founder bought school buildings Sold them to non-profit charter “support” organization for $50.7 million Leased from organization to school, school received rent reimbursement from State 47 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

48 Facilities Fraud Oakland, CA Charter director owned building, charged rent to charter school Director was both “lessor” and “lessee” on lease Earned $280,000 annually in State-reimbursable rent for facility Moral of the story: include facility/rent arrangement in monitoring protocols! 48 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

49 OPERATOR FRAUD In Charter Schools 49 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

50 Recent Charter “Bad Actors” Pennsylvania Auditor General: August 2013: State’s largest charter school pocketed $1.2 million “in improper lease-reimbursement payments.” Found similar problems at six other charter schools in March area schools were not complying with state laws and regulations 50 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

51 Recent Charter “Bad Actors” Four charter schools in a Pennsylvania network: Loaned $3.3 million to CMO Made $1.5 million in lease payments to CMO and CMO- controlled property-management entities $6.3 million in administrative fees paid to CMO in 2012 The network’s combined real-estate holdings increased from $13.34 million in 2011 to $23.15 million in Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

52 Recent Charter “Bad Actors” Texas charter school recently accused of: Funneling of $5.3 million in federal funds to questionable destinations, including “hotels, cruises and travel packages” Six-figure salaries Real estate scheme involving a management company and the charter school NYC Charter Network Zero tolerance policy for children with “special needs or behavior problems” Suspended 22% of its students at least once during the school year – “far above the 3% average” of other elementary schools in the district 52 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

53 Disclaimer This presentation is intended solely to provide general information and does not constitute legal advice. Attendance at the presentation or later review of these printed materials does not create an attorney-client relationship with Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC. You should not take any action based upon any information in this presentation without first consulting legal counsel familiar with your particular circumstances. 53 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC

54 GROUP DISCUSSION 54 Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC


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