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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Board Policy Charter Schools

The Atlanta Board of Education (ABE) supports student success and school choice by authorizing charter schools that provide innovative, high quality learning opportunities for students who reside in the City of Atlanta. It is the Board's intent that by authorizing high quality charter schools, the district can learn from innovative and unique programs that advance student achievement.

In keeping with state statutes (O.C.G.A. §20-2-2060 through §20-2-2071) and subsequent legislation, the ABE may approve a petition from:

  • An existing local school in the Atlanta Independent School System to convert to a charter school.
  • A Georgia non-profit corporation that submits a petition to establish a local start-up charter school.
  • An existing Atlanta Public Schools charter school for a renewal term.
  • A district-sponsored start-up charter school.

The petition must contain a detailed plan that demonstrates all of the following information:
 

  1. A distinctive element or a unique program that is research-based and standards driven.
  2. An instructional program that will enable students to meet or exceed state standards for Adequate Yearly Progress pursuant to the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and charter school performance goals as described in the petition.
  3. Securing and adhering to accreditation from an agency recognized by the Georgia Student Finance Commission for HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) scholarship eligibility. This requirement applies only to schools that offer grades 9, 10, 11, and/or 12.
  4. Financial independence from the school system using state and local funds and a feasible plan to supplement those funds with other funding sources on a yearly basis as required.
  5. Compliance with all local, state, and federal legal, regulatory and insurance requirements.
  6. Organizational viability including, but not limited to, action plans for governance, substantive initial and ongoing board training, staff recruitment and retention, student enrollment and attendance, student discipline, safety, appropriate facilities, and insurance.
  7. Organization and operation of the charter school as a Georgia non-profit entity.
  8. Evidence of community and/or parental involvement and support, including letters of support from the NPU in which the charter school shall be located and the neighborhood association(s) active in the area(s) from which the school plans to draw the majority of its students.
  9. Evidence that the petition is in the public interest.

 
If the charter petitioner intends to contract or has contracted for the services of another entity to manage the school or any of its operations, this information shall be included in the charter petition, including a copy of the contract. Employees or members of any entity supplying services to the school and immediate relatives of such employees and members may not sit on the governing board of the charter school. The charter petitioner may not through any contract abrogate its responsibility as a charter holder or otherwise limit its obligation to be subject to the management and control of the ABE.

The ABE shall consider petitions for approval once each calendar year in accordance with state timelines. The ABE shall approve or deny all properly submitted petitions within sixty (60) days after the petitioner's submission. After an initial review, applications found to be incomplete will be returned to the petitioner with instructions for resubmission in a subsequent petition cycle if desired.
 
Petitions that are approved by the ABE for a conversion, local start-up charter school, LEA start-up, or renewal term will be delivered to the Georgia Department of Education for review by the State Board of Education. Petitioners whose petitions are denied by the ABE will be provided a written statement of the reasons for denial within sixty (60) days of the ABE action. A denial of the petition by the ABE does not preclude the submission to the ABE of a new or revised petition by the petitioner during a subsequent petition submission cycle.

For each locally approved start-up or renewal petition receiving approval from the State Board of Education, the ABE and the petitioner will execute a legal agreement to operate the charter school. The agreement will incorporate, but not be limited to, the entire content of the approved petition.

The ABE may terminate a charter legal agreement if the charter school does not meet one or more of the following requirements during the charter term:
 

  1. Offer a distinctive or unique instructional program that is research-based and standards driven.
  2. Meet or exceed academic performance goals including state standards for Adequate Yearly Progress as required by NCLB and charter school performance goals described in the petition.
  3. Obtain and maintain appropriate accreditation for HOPE scholarship eligibility (for schools containing grades 9, 10, 11, and/or 12).
  4. Sustain financial solvency and independence from the school system.
  5. Comply with all legal, regulatory, and insurance requirements.
  6. Exhibit documented evidence of organizational viability as proposed in the petition.
  7. Operate as a Georgia non-profit entity.
  8. Demonstrate non-discriminatory practices in hiring and enrollment.
  9. Meet and sustain annual enrollment goals proposed in the petition (within 20 percent). The charter school may not exceed maximum stated enrollment goals.
  10. Remain in the public interest.
  11. Comply with all other material terms of the charter legal agreement.

Termination requests originating with the local board will be in accordance with local hearing procedures, State Board of Education rules, and applicable state law.
 
This amended policy applies to all new charter petitions and existing charter schools as of the start of the 2008 - 2009 school year.
 
The Superintendent is authorized to develop regulations to implement this policy.