§ 501 § 502 § 503 § 504 § 504A § 505 § 506 § 507 § 508 § 509 § 510 § 511 § 512 § 513 § 514 § 515 § 516 § 517 § 518
§ 501. Legislative intent.
The purpose of this chapter is to create an alternative to traditional public schools operated by school districts and improve public education overall by establishing a system of independent "charter" schools throughout the State.
To that end, this chapter offers members of the community a charter to organize and run independent public schools, free of most state and school district rules and regulations governing public education, as long as they meet the requirements of this chapter, and particularly the obligation to meet measurable standards of student performance. Schools established under this chapter shall be known as "charter schools."
This chapter is intended to improve student learning; encourage the use of different and innovative or proven school environments and teaching and learning methods; provide parents and students with measures of improved school and student performance and greater opportunities in choosing public schools within and outside their school districts; and to provide for a well-educated community.
There shall be no limit to the number of charter schools that may be established in the State; provided, however, that no more than 5 such schools may be established to operate in the 1996-1997 school year, and that no more than 5 additional charter schools may be established to operate in the 1997-1998 school year, and that no more than 5 additional charter schools may be established to operate in the 1998-1999 school years. If for any school year more charters are awarded than are permitted to operate by this section, the Department of Education shall hold a lottery to decide which charters are permitted to operate in such school year and charter applicants who lose such lottery shall be given a right of refusal for a charter for the subsequent school year.
70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 2; 71 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 23; 73 Del. Laws, c. 164, § 23.;
§ 502. Potential charter organizers.
This legislation is intended to encourage any person, university, college, or nonreligious, non-home-based, nonsectarian entity that can meet the requirements of this chapter to form a charter school. No private or religiously affiliated school may apply to become a charter school.
70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 2.;
§ 503. Legal status.
A charter school is a public school including 2 or more of grade kindergarten through 12 and having at least 200 students (provided, however, that a charter school may enroll fewer than 200 but no less than 100 students in its first 2 years of operation or for a charter school serving at-risk or special education students), managed by a board of directors, which operates independently of any school board, under a charter granted for an initial period of 4 school years of operation and renewable every 5 school years thereafter by a public school district or the State Department of Education (hereinafter in this chapter, "Department") with the approval of the State Board of Education (hereinafter in this chapter, "State Board"), pursuant to this chapter. For purposes of this chapter as it relates to the management of a charter school, the board of directors of a charter school shall be a public body subject to the requirements of Chapter 100 of Title 29 and shall have the same standing and authority as a Reorganized School District Board of Education, except the power to tax. The Department with the approval of the State Board of Education may also approve a charter school which plans to enroll fewer than 200 students in special circumstances, such as an on-site charter school proposed by a business as an extension of an on-site early learning or day care center.
70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 2; 71 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 24; 73 Del. Laws, c. 164, § 1; 74 Del. Laws, c. 360, § 1.;
§ 504. Corporate status.
(a) A charter school shall be organized and managed under the Delaware General Corporation Law.
(b) The board of directors of a charter school shall be deemed public agents authorized by a public school district or the Department with the approval of the State Board to control the charter school. No person shall serve as a member of a charter school board of directors who is an elected member of a local school board of education.
(c) A charter school shall be considered a public school for all purposes.
(d) A charter school may sue or be sued to the same extent and on the same conditions as a public school district, and its employees, directors and officers shall enjoy the same immunities as employees, directors and officers of public school districts and other public schools. The approving authority of a charter school shall have no liability for the actions or inaction of a charter school.
70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 2; 71 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 25; 72 Del. Laws, c. 118, § 4.;
§ 504A. Powers.
Consistent with its charter and the provisions of its certificate of incorporation, bylaws or membership agreements, the board of directors of a charter school or schools shall, as to each charter that the board holds, have the power to:
(1) Manage the implementation of its approved education program;
(2) Determine its own budget and operating procedures;
(3) Acquire and convey interests in real property, subject to rules and regulations established by the Department with the approval of the State Board with respect to real property acquired by charter schools using state funds;
(4) Incur debt;
(5) Accept gifts;
(6) Contract with any school district, or any other public school or private nonsectarian, nonreligious entity also empowered to enter into contracts, for any and all real property, equipment, goods, supplies and services; provided, that a school district must make unused buildings or space (defined as space no longer needed, permanently or temporarily, for non-charter school purposes) buildings or space in buildings available to a charter school, and shall bargain in good faith over the cost of rent, services and maintenance related to such space; provided further, that a charter school may, with the approval of the Secretary and the State Board for the sole purpose of determining compliance with this proviso, contract with a sectarian or religious college or university incorporated in the State and operating a program or programs for teacher education within the State empowered to enter into contracts for such property and services, so long as the property contracted for is used in a nonreligious and nonsectarian manner and the services contracted for are provided in a nonreligious and nonsectarian manner and are of a nonreligious and nonsectarian type. A charter school's continued use of school district space shall be subject to review at least on a 5-year basis, and may be terminated by the district with 1 year's notice, if the district's non-charter school capacity requirements warrant. Charter schools shall have preference over state agencies for purposes of § 1057(b) of this title except that nothing in this section shall require the displacement of any tenant either during the term of its current lease or any renewal thereof;
(7) Hire, manage, and terminate any school employee in accordance with the terms of its personnel policies or any collective bargaining agreement it negotiates with its employees;
(8) Establish reasonable academic and disciplinary standards specifically related to the missions, goals and educational objectives for the charter school as set forth in its charter for students to continue enrollment in the charter school; provided, however, that an expulsion from a charter school shall have the same effect for the purposes of § 4130 of this title as expulsion from a school district. Charter schools may refer students to the alternative programs operated pursuant to the provision of Chapter 16 of this title subject to the following conditions:
a. A student may only be referred to a program which serves that student's district of residence and only if there is space available in such program to serve the student;
b. The student otherwise meets eligibility criteria for students who may be enrolled in such program; and
c. The student's district of residence and the charter school in which the student is enrolled agree to a proration of student funding between or among the charter school and the school district in which the student resides, in which case the district of residence shall become liable for any cost associated with the placement of the student in the alternative program;
(9) Establish an application and admissions process which shall enable the charter school to provide the local districts in which its students reside with a preliminary roster of its students for the subsequent school year on or before May 1 of each year. To the extent practicable, each charter school shall make the timetable for its application and admissions process identical to any such timetable set forth by this Code for the operation of a public school choice program.
70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 2; 71 Del. Laws, c. 82, §§ 1, 2; 71 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 25; 73 Del. Laws, c. 164, § 2; 78 Del. Laws, c. 187, § 1.;
§ 505. Exemptions; rules and regulations.
(a) Except as otherwise specified in this chapter and title, a charter school is exempt from all provisions of this title except the provisions of Chapter 31 of this title, and all regulations of any board of education of a reorganized school district, although a charter school may elect to comply with 1 or more such provisions.
(b) The Department of Education shall have the authority to promulgate rules and regulations that would further define the application, approval criteria and processes.
70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 2; 72 Del. Laws, c. 118, § 1; 73 Del. Laws, c. 164, § 6; 73 Del. Laws, c. 313, § 3.;
§ 506. Restrictions.
(a) A charter school shall not:
(1) Charge tuition, except in accordance with Chapter 6 of this title, or collect fees not permitted to be assessed by other school districts;
(2) Be home-based nor engage in any sectarian or religious practices in its educational program, admissions policies, employment policies or operations;
(3) Restrict student admissions except:
a. By age and grade;
b. By lottery in the case of over-enrollment;
c. By gender in the case of a same-gender school. Notwithstanding any provisions to the contrary, the Department of Education, with approval of the State Board of Education, shall be considered the approving authorizer of Prestige Academy, a same-gender school, and shall provide oversight to such school. The Department of Education, with the approval of the State Board, may waive any provisions in this Chapter that would limit the school from opening for the 2008-2009 school year. Any subsequent same-gender charter school shall make its application to the Department of Education and the State Board of Education.
d. Within a reasonable amount of time as determined by the Department of Education, but no longer than 2 years after commencement of operations of any same-gender charter school in the State, there shall be approved and operating a same-gender charter school of the opposite gender, substantially equal to the prior-approved, same-gender charter school, matching in grade level and marketed towards similar demographics of the prior-approved, same-gender charter school. The Department of Education shall work with the education community on a plan for recruitment and technical assistance for applicants of a same-gender charter school of the opposite gender. The Department of Education shall provide such report regarding the recruitment plan to the General Assembly on an annual basis.
e. The same-gender charter school provisions shall sunset, for any new charter applications, on June 30, 2013, unless the General Assembly has otherwise acted to extend such date prior to its expiration.
f. The Department of Education shall provide a written report to the Governor and the respective Education Committees of the state House of Representatives and Senate with a proposal for an experienced research and evaluation entity to conduct an evaluation of single-gender charter schools in the State. The study proposal shall cause to be examined factors including, but not limited to, academic results, social factors, and psychological factors. The cost of the evaluation shall be included in the Department of Education's proposal and provided to the Governor for consideration for inclusion in the FY 2010 state budget. The Department of Education is encouraged also to seek grant funding for the evaluation.
g. A single-gender charter school shall report on an annual basis, with the first report to be provided to the Department of Education and the respective Education Committee of the state House of Representatives and the Senate within 1 calendar year after commencement of operations by the charter school, and such report shall include, among other things, the efforts made by the charter school to further advancement of its students' education, as well as quantitative analysis of its efforts and results in recruiting and retaining economically-disadvantaged students, regardless of race.
(4) Discriminate against any student in the admissions process because of race, creed, color, sex (except in the case of a same-gender school), handicap, or national origin, or because the student's school district of residence has a per student local expenditure lower than another student seeking admission; or
(5) Be formed to circumvent a court-ordered desegregation plan.
(b) Preferences in student admissions may be given to:
(1) Siblings of students enrolled at the school;
(2) Students attending an existing public school converted to charter status. Parents of students at a school converted to charter status shall be provided with a plan the district will use to address the educational needs of students who will not be attending the charter school;
(3) Students enrolling in a new (nonconverted) charter school may be given preference under the following circumstances as long as the school has described its preferences in the school's charter:
a. Students residing within a 5-mile radius of the school;
b. Students residing within the regular school district in which the school is located;
c. Students who have a specific interest in the school's teaching methods, philosophy, or educational focus;
d. Students who are at risk of academic failure;
e. Children of persons employed on a permanent basis for at least 30.0 hours per week during the school year by the charter school.
(4) Children of a school's founders, so long as they constitute no more than 5% of the school's total student population. For the purposes of this paragraph "founder" shall not include anyone whose sole significant contribution to the school was monetary, but otherwise shall be determined by the founding Board of Directors subject to Department of Education regulations.
(c)(1) On or before April 1 of each school year, a charter school shall have enrolled, at a minimum, 80% of its total authorized number of students, and the administrator of each charter school shall, pursuant to the requirements below, provide a written certification of that enrollment to the Department of Education and to the superintendent of each public school district in which 1 or more of the charter school's students reside.
(2) The certification from the charter school's administrator shall contain an updated roster of students who are enrolled at the charter school, together with their home address and district of residence.
(3) A charter school shall obtain a written confirmation, signed by a parent or guardian of each student in that student's initial year of attendance at the charter school, that the student will remain in the charter school for at least 1 school year. That confirmation shall include a statement reading:
"I understand that my child is required to remain in this charter school, in the absence of any condition constituting good cause, for at least 1 school year"
and shall be kept on file at the school and made available for inspection to Department of Education officials or representatives from the public school district in which the student resides. After a student's initial year of enrollment, it shall be presumed for school district planning purposes only that the student will continue to attend the charter school until completion of the school's highest grade level and no further written confirmation need be obtained by the charter school.
(d) A pupil accepted for enrollment in a charter school pursuant to this chapter shall remain enrolled therein for a minimum of 1 year unless, during that 1-year period, good cause exists for the failure to meet this requirement. For purposes of this section only, "good cause" shall be defined as a change in a child's residence due to a change in family residence, a change in the state in which the family residence is located, a change in the marital status of the child's parents, a change caused by a guardianship proceeding, placement of a child in foster care, adoption, participation by a child in a foreign exchange program, participation by a child in a substance abuse or mental health treatment program, mutual agreement by the board of directors of the charter school, the board of the receiving district and the parent or parents or guardian of such child to the termination of such enrollment, or a set of circumstances consistent with this definition of "good cause."
(e) If at any time during any fiscal year of its existence, a charter school knows or reasonably should know that it has or will become unable to pay in full its projected expenses as they fall due, the school shall immediately so advise the Department of Education, and shall provide the Department with all financial information relating to revenues and expenses of the school necessary for the Department to determine the extent and cause of any potential operating deficit. If a charter school should fail to provide the notice to the Department of Education required by this subsection or shall fail to cooperate with the Department in the production of financial information pursuant to this subsection, the Department shall subject the school's charter to formal review pursuant to the provisions of § 515 of this title in order to determine whether grounds exist to take remedial measures.
70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 2; 71 Del. Laws, c. 367, § 1; 72 Del. Laws, c. 118, § 2; 72 Del. Laws, c. 312, § 1; 72 Del. Laws, c. 316, §§ 1, 2; 73 Del. Laws, c. 164, § 24; 73 Del. Laws, c. 313, §§ 2, 7, 11; 74 Del. Laws, c. 327, § 1; 76 Del. Laws, c. 202, §§ 1-6.;
§ 507. Labor relations.
(a) A public school may only be converted to a charter school by approval of the board of the school district in which it is located and that the charter application received the approval of over 50% of the teachers and over 50% of the parents residing in the attendance area of the school with a child or children under the age of 18 years, who, after 30 days prior written notice to all teachers and parents eligible to vote, attend a public meeting held for the specific purpose of voting on the proposed conversion; provided, however, that such approval shall not be required where a district school board converts a choice school or program with a specific career or academic subject matter focus already approved as of the effective date of this chapter to a charter school with the same focus. The employees of a school converted to a charter school who are not employed by the charter school shall be accorded the rights available to them under the provisions of their collective bargaining agreement and shall, to the extent permissible under their collective bargaining agreement, be given preference in filling positions in the school district.
(b) The employees of a school converted to charter status and who are employed by the charter school shall not be part of any bargaining unit which represented employees of the school while it was still part of the school district. Employees of charter schools shall have the same right to organize and bargain collectively as employees of other public schools. A bargaining unit shall not be deemed inappropriate under Chapter 40 of this title, simply because said unit is comprised of professional and non-professional positions within a charter school. A teacher may be a member of a bargaining unit and serve as a director of a charter school provided; however, that any teacher who is a director of a charter school shall recuse himself or herself from any board meeting, discussion or decision relating to the bargaining unit of which such teacher is a member.
(c) Labor relations between the charter school and its employees shall be governed by Chapter 40 of this title, and a charter school and its employees may agree through the collective bargaining process to abide by other provisions of this title or Code. Except as otherwise provided in this section, all teachers working in charter schools shall hold an appropriate teaching certificate and license. Notwithstanding the foregoing, for any school year with respect to which there is no "qualified alternative certification," as hereinafter defined, in effect, a charter school may, where it deems it beneficial to the success of its educational program, hire teachers that are not fully certified and licensed so long as such teachers have at least a bachelor's degree in the content area in which they are teaching and comprise no more than 35 percent of the teachers at the school. If teaching 1 or primarily 1 specific content area, a teacher shall have a bachelor's degree in that content area.
For purposes of this section, a "qualified alternative certification program" shall be one which:
(1) Establishes alternative routes of certification available for candidates at all grade levels 7-12 inclusive, and in all disciplines (except special education);
(2) Allows a candidate, under the supervision of a mentor teacher, to commence employment as a teacher holding a limited standard certificate with:
a. A bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university appropriate to the instructional field;
b. Completion of a full-time seminar/practicum of no less than 20 days duration which takes place prior to the time the candidate takes full responsibility for a classroom; and
c. A passing score on the prescribed state certification exam applicable for the candidate seeking to teach in the field and at the grade level sought by the candidate;
(3) Requires that the candidate participate in a period of intensive, on-the-job supervision -- requiring that the candidate be visited and critiqued no less than one time every 2 weeks by a certified teacher -- beginning the 1st day on which the candidate assumes full responsibility for a classroom and continuing for a period of at least 10 weeks;
(4) Requires that the candidate participate in a period of continued supervision and evaluation of no less than 20 weeks duration -- requiring that the candidate be visited and critiqued at least 4 times;
(5) Requires of the candidate satisfactory completion of at least 200 hours of formal instruction in the areas of curriculum, student development and learning, and classroom management; and
(6) Allows for the candidate to become fully certified upon:
a. Successful completion of 1 year of employment as a teacher holding a limited standard certificate; and
b. Receipt of a satisfactory performance evaluation from a review committee consisting of teachers and administrators within the school where such provisional teaching employment has occurred.
(d) At their request, teachers employed by any school district in the State, but not teachers employed by another charter school, shall be granted a 1-year leave of absence to teach in a charter school during the charter school's first year of operation only or such leave as is provided in the collective bargaining agreement of the school district. At the end of that period, they shall be allowed to return to the school district with the same level of seniority as when they left to take the leave of absence, provided that they have not been terminated for cause while at the charter school, that they have given the school district notice of their intent to return on or before the April 15 preceding the school year in which they intend to return, and according to the provisions of their collective bargaining agreement in effect in the school district. This level of seniority shall also be used for determination of their tenure in accordance with Chapter 14 of this title. Notwithstanding any of the foregoing to the contrary, teachers who, prior to June 20, 2002, were granted a leave of absence to teach in a charter school shall be permitted to complete the full period of leave then granted. Effective March 15, 2002, and each succeeding year thereafter, teachers desiring to return to the local school district on a valid leave of absence shall notify such district of that teacher's own intent in writing no later than March 15 of any year for the succeeding school year.
(e) A charter school may choose to be covered by the state retirement system established by Chapter 55 of Title 29 or choose another retirement system in lieu of the state retirement system. If the charter school chooses a retirement system other than the state retirement system, a memorandum of understanding must be executed as required by § 512(9) of this title.
(f) Effective March 1, 2002, and each succeeding year thereafter, charter school boards that desire to dispense with the services of any teacher on leave from a Delaware public school district shall give notice in writing to such teacher on or before March 1 of any year of its intent to terminate said teacher's services at the end of such school year.
70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 2; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 71 Del. Laws, c. 354, § 385; 73 Del. Laws, c. 164, §§ 7, 8, 25; 73 Del. Laws, c. 292, §§ 1-3.;
§ 508. Responsibility for student transportation.
The charter school may request to have the school district where the charter school is located transport students residing in that district to and from the charter school on the same basis offered to other students attending schools operated by the district, or to receive from the State a payment equal to 70% of the average cost per student of transportation within the vocational district in which the charter school is located and become responsible for the transportation of those students to and from the charter school. In the case of students not residing in the district where the charter school is located, the parents of such students shall be responsible for transporting the child without reimbursement to and from a point on a regular bus route of the charter school. In lieu of the payment from the State specified above, if a charter school utilizes a contractor for student transportation the charter school shall publicly bid the routes, and the State shall reimburse the charter school for the actual bid costs only if lower than the payment specified above. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a student at a charter school shall receive such transportation assistance as is made available to students pursuant to a public school choice program established by this Code provided that such student otherwise meets the eligibility requirements for such assistance. In the event a charter school chooses to transport students itself, it shall do so in accordance with all public school transportation safety regulations. Local school districts and charter schools shall cooperate to ensure that the implementation of this chapter does not result in inefficient use of state appropriations for public school transportation and the State Board shall exercise its authority to approve bus routes so as to avoid such waste.
70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 2; 71 Del. Laws, c. 132, § 373; 73 Del. Laws, c. 312, § 314; 75 Del. Laws, c. 89, § 407; 76 Del. Laws, c. 280, § 405; 78 Del. Laws, c. 290, § 334.;
§ 509. School financing.
(a) Charter schools shall be eligible for public funds under procedures established by this section. Notwithstanding that this Code may establish procedures for the funding of a public school choice program and that such program may include charter schools among those schools which students may choose, funding for charter schools shall be as provided in this section.
(b) A charter school shall receive a payment with respect to each of its students equal to:
(1) From the State on or before November 30, the funding equivalent to the Division I staffing, including fractional funding of partial units, excluding funding for a Superintendent, Division II -- All Other Costs and Energy funding, minor capital improvements and school building maintenance funded generated by the annual student unit count conducted on September 30 of each year in accordance with Department of Education regulations. In the case of Division III -- Equalization, a charter school shall receive from the State an amount that is determined by weighting the Division III per unit values that would have been generated by its students had they been counted in their district of residence. In addition, a charter school shall receive a pro-rated portion of any other funds appropriated to the Department of Education that are intended to be allocated on a student, employee or school state share. For the purposes of calculating such funding, each charter school student shall be counted in a separately reported unit count of the charter school, and not counted for any purposes in the student's district of residence. For any partially funded unit generated at a charter school, the charter school is free to negotiate the use of such unit with the chartering district, and other public school districts, in order to purchase central custodial, administrative, clerical, direct teaching or educationally related services. If such an agreement is not negotiated, a payment based on the average State cost per unit shall be payable to both the charter school and the district issuing the charter, provided that the sum of both fractions justifies an additional unit. The State shall advance 75% of the anticipated funding pursuant to this subsection at the beginning of each fiscal year, provided that the charter school has provided the Department of Education with a preliminary roster of its students on or before May 1 of such year, and does not maintain the status of formal review or probation. The status of formal review or probation shall prompt the Department of Education to advance a level of funding appropriate to pending administrative action. A final roster shall be due September 30. Notwithstanding the above, a charter school in its first year of operation shall receive 50% of the anticipated funding pursuant to this subsection at the beginning of the fiscal year, provided that the charter school has provided the Department of Education with a preliminary roster of its students on or before May 1 of such year. The charter school shall receive an additional 25% of the funding due pursuant to this subsection on October 1 of its first year in operation and shall receive the remaining 25% on February 1 of its first year in operation, provided that the school has completed and posted the required standardized financial report forms and the Department has reviewed those forms and determined that the school's finances will not at that time lead the Department to submit the school for formal review pursuant to § 515 of this title. A determination that the school will be submitted for formal review shall prompt the Department of Education to advance a level of funding appropriate to pending administrative action. The percentage of funding to be provided to charter schools on July 1 and October 1 pursuant to the above may be increased in the Secretary's discretion.
(2) From the school districts in which its students reside on or before November 30 of each year, the local cost per student (regular or special education, as the case may be), net of transportation expenses provided for pursuant to § 508 of this title. The school districts in which its students reside shall advance at least 35% of the anticipated funding pursuant to this subsection at the beginning of each fiscal year provided that the charter school has provided the school districts of residence with a preliminary roster of its students on or before May 1 of such year. This advance may be paid from Division III -- Equalization funds if the district's prior fiscal year current expense local funds balance was 20% or less pursuant to § 1507 of this title. A final roster shall be due September 30.
(c) If a parent or legal guardian of a student enrolled outside the district pursuant to this chapter moves during the school year to a district different from the district in which that parent's or legal guardian's child resided at the time of the annual unit count, the child's first district of residence shall continue to be responsible for payments to the charter school for the balance of the school year pursuant to paragraph (b)(2) of this section. The child's new district of residence shall be responsible for all such payments during succeeding years.
(d) The Department of Education shall annually calculate the local cost per student expended by each school district for each type of student for the year immediately preceding based on the formula set forth in subsection (e) of this section, adjusted by a factor necessary to fund the charter school on a basis reasonably equivalent to the current year local cost per student, which factor shall be established in the annual Appropriations Act. The Department shall annually certify each local district's local cost per student expenditure by September 1st of each year.
(e) Local cost per student as used in this section shall be calculated as follows:
Total Local Operating Expenditure in Preceding Fiscal Year
________ Total Division I Units minus Spec School Units
________ Number of Pupils per Unit
Total Local Operating = Sum of all expenditures
Expenditure in from local sources minus
Preceding FY local expenditures for
tuition minus local expendi-
tures for debt service minus
local expenditures for
Minor Capital Improvement
minus local cafeteria expendi-
tures minus any other local
expenditures deemed by the
Secretary of Education to be
inappropriate for inclusion
for the purpose of this chapter.
Division I Units = Division I Units certified by
For each District the Department of Education
or Special School as of September 30th of each
Pupils per Unit = Number of Pupils required for
particular unit of funding as
specified in § 1703 of this
(f) For any student, who because of educational need requires services that are appropriately financed pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 6 of this title, either at the outset or subsequent to a decision to enroll in a charter school, the student's district of residence shall remain financially responsible for such student and the charter school shall receive from such district a payment determined in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 6 of this title.
(g) Any payment received by a charter school pursuant to this section may be used for current operations, minor capital improvements, debt service payments or tuition payments.
(h) The Department of Education, in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget, shall annually publish a list of vacant and unused buildings and vacant and unused portions of buildings that are owned by this State or by school districts in this State and that may be suitable for the operation of a charter school. The Department of Education, in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget, shall make the list available to applicants for charter schools and to existing charter schools. The list shall include the address of each building, a short description of the building and the name of the owner of the building.
(i) In return for the receipt by a charter school of state funds allocated directly to the school for extra time, professional development, driver education or disciplinary programs, the school shall provide such programs.
(j) If after September 30, a pupil ceases to be enrolled in a charter school and is thereafter enrolled in a reorganized school district for the balance of the fiscal year, nothing contained in this section shall prevent a charter school which has received any funding for the student and the school district in which the student is subsequently enrolled from entering into an agreement providing for the proration of student funding between or among the charter school and the school district in which the student is subsequently enrolled. Funding in any subsequent fiscal year shall be as otherwise provided in this Code.
(k) A charter school shall display on its website all standardized financial report forms for the current fiscal year and the final monthly standardized financial report forms for each previous fiscal year of operation. Charter schools that are required to file Internal Revenue Service Form 990 shall post the current and prior year Form 990 on the website as well.
70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 2; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 71 Del. Laws, c. 132, §§ 360, 361; 71 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 26; 71 Del. Laws, c. 354, § 383; 72 Del. Laws, c. 395, § 351; 73 Del. Laws, c. 164, §§ 9, 10; 75 Del. Laws, c. 88, § 16(2); 75 Del. Laws, c. 89, § 425; 78 Del. Laws, c. 77, § 33(b); 78 Del. Laws, c. 187, §§ 2, 3.;
§ 510. State assistance.
(a) The Department of Education shall distribute information announcing the availability of the charter school program, explaining the powers and responsibilities of a charter school contained in this chapter, and describing the application process to each school district and public post-secondary educational institution, and through press releases to each major newspaper in the State.
(b) The Department of Education shall provide technical assistance to potential charter school applicants upon request.
(c) The Department of Education shall provide technical and other forms of assistance to charter schools on the same basis as to school districts.
(d) The Department of Education shall, in concert with the approving authority and the applicant, apply for available federal or foundation grants providing funding for the planning and start-up of charter schools and the Department of Education shall administer such funds as may be appropriated by the General Assembly for the purpose of assisting in the planning and start-up of charter schools.
70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 2; 71 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 27.;
§ 511. Approval procedure.
(a) An approved charter school application, together with such conditions imposed pursuant to subsection (j) of this section, shall constitute a charter granted to the charter school by the approving authority pursuant to this chapter and shall be governed by the terms of this chapter. Notwithstanding anything in this chapter to the contrary, the initial term of a newly approved charter shall expire at the end of the 5th fiscal year following the fiscal year in which the charter was initially approved, and any subsequent charter renewal term shall expire at the end of each successive 5th fiscal year thereafter. If an approved charter is modified to delay the initial opening of the school, then the expiration date of the initial term of the charter shall be adjusted accordingly.
(b)(1) Charters shall be modified by the same procedure and based on the same criteria as they are approved. When the approving authority is the Department of Education, minor modifications to a charter that are requested by the charter school only may be approved by the Secretary, subject to rules and regulations established by the Department with the approval of the State Board. Modifications associated with the provision of student transportation services as a result of changes to the Annual Appropriations Act to § 508 of this title shall be considered a minor modification.
(2) A request for modification to increase a charter school's total authorized enrollment by more than 15% shall be considered a major modification, regardless of whether the additional students will attend school at the current location or at a separate location.
(3) In addition to meeting the approval criteria established in § 512 of this title, an authorizer considering an application for a modification as described in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, in which the increased enrollment will occur less than 18 months from the date of application, shall also consider the impact of the proposed increase on the schools from which the charter school's new students will likely be drawn. In reviewing the impact, the authorizer shall consider factors to be established by Department regulation.
(4) Information regarding impact shall be considered in conjunction with the factors in § 512 of this title and shall not alone provide the basis for approval or disapproval of an application for a modification as described in paragraph (b)(2) of this section. The information regarding impact may, however, by itself or in combination with other factors, form the basis for conditions being placed on the approval.
(c) Charter school applications shall be submitted to a local school board or the Department for approval as an approving authority. Whenever a charter school seeks a charter from the Department as approving authority, such approval shall require the assent of both the Secretary and the State Board, as shall any action pursuant to §§ 515 and 516 of this title. The approving authority shall be responsible for approval of the charter school pursuant to this section and for continuing oversight of each charter school it approves.
(d) Potential charter school applicants may engage in discussions with a potential approving authority before submitting an application for approval to establish a charter school.
(e)(1) Except as noted in paragraph (e)(2) of this section, new charter school applications shall be submitted to an approving authority between November 1 and December 31 for schools to be established and prepared to admit students on or after the second August 1 thereafter.
(2) Applications by a highly successful charter school operator as described in subsection (n) of this section shall be submitted to an approving authority between November 1 and December 31 for schools to be established and prepared to admit students on or after the August 1 thereafter. The application submission dates in this subsection may be amended by agreement of the authorizer and the applicant if necessary to allow the applicant to serve students who would otherwise be displaced due to the closure of an existing charter school.
(3) Applications to renew a charter shall be submitted to the approving authority on or before September 1 of the year immediately preceding the calendar year in which the school's current charter term will expire, except that all applications to renew a charter that expires on or before December 31, 2012, shall be submitted to the approving authority on or before October 15, 2011.
(4) Charter school applications which propose the conversion of an existing public school, or a part thereof to charter school status must be submitted to an approving authority on or before October 30 if the application proposes that the newly converted charter school is to be established and prepared to admit students for the next ensuing school year.
(5) If the date for submitting an application or commencing the school's instructional program shall fall on a weekend or state holiday, the time for such shall be continued to the first working day thereafter.
(f) Any local school board or the Department with the approval of the State Board may limit the number of new charter school applications it will consider in any year or the number of charters it will grant, but within 20 working days after December 31 must hold a public meeting to decide whether or not to consider it. A local school board shall not be required to accept any new charter school applications for a charter school unless, by September 1 of each year the school board shall affirmatively vote to accept such applications. The Department of Education with the consent of the State Board of Education may also decide that it will not accept any new charter school applications under this chapter provided that it does so annually upon affirmative vote of its board at a public meeting on or before October 1.
(g) If an approving authority decides to consider a charter application, the approving authority must rule on whether to approve the application at a public meeting within 90 working days after December 31.
(h) Within 5 days of deciding to consider an application, the approving authority shall form an accountability committee to review the charter school application. The accountability committee's report to the local school board shall address the approval criteria set forth in § 512 of this title. The committee shall meet with the applicant in the course of its investigation and provide the applicant the opportunity to review and comment on the committee's report 15 days before it is issued to the approving authority. The committee's final report shall be provided to the applicant and be made available to the public.
(i) After giving 15 days public notice, the approving authority shall hold public hearings to assist in its decision whether to approve a charter application.
(j) Subject to any limitations imposed by the approving authority pursuant to subsection (f) of this section, if the application is found by the approving authority to meet the criteria set forth in § 512 of this title, it shall approve the application. The approving authority may approve an application subject to such conditions as the approving authority, in its sole discretion, may deem appropriate to ensure the applicant's continuing compliance with the approval criteria.
(k) If an application is made to the Department or a local board as an approving authority and the charter application is not approved, such decision shall be final and not subject to judicial review.
(l) All applications for a charter shall contain an affirmative representation by the applicant that no later than June 15 immediately preceding the authorized opening date of the school, the applicant shall secure a certificate of occupancy, either temporary or final, for the premises in which the school is to be located, provided that any temporary certificate of occupancy must permit occupancy at the premises by school staff and students for school purposes. If the charter is approved and the charter holder shall subsequently fail to obtain the necessary certificate of occupancy as required by this section, the opening of the school shall be delayed by 1 year from the date previously authorized by the approving authority and the charter shall be placed on probation subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the Department of Education with the consent of the State Board of Education. No waivers are available for this requirement.
(m) A local school board that approves an application for a charter school may do so only on the condition that the charter school is located in and provides all educational and related services, with the exception of transportation services and other K-12 noninstructional services and activities, within the boundaries of the approving local school board's district lines. Once approved, the charter school may not subsequently change its location from the school district specified in its originally approved charter.
(n) "Highly successful charter school operator" means an entity that currently operates or whose principals currently operate 1 or more highly successful charter schools showing sustained high levels of student achievement and sustained fiscal stewardship, as further defined by Department regulation. Notwithstanding the provisions of this chapter, for purposes of this definition the phrase "charter school" shall include public schools operated under a charter regardless of whether the schools are located or organized in Delaware. A highly successful charter school operator may be authorized to operate a charter school in the timeframe provided by paragraph (e)(2) of this section provided that the application is submitted for the purpose of operating a charter school at the site of and serving students currently attending a charter school whose charter has been revoked, has not been renewed, or whose charter is on formal review and whose board has agreed to abandon their charter.
(o) The charter school application shall include a disclosure of any ownership or financial interest in the charter school, including but not limited to the building and real property to be used in the operation of the charter school, by the charter school founders and the board of directors of the proposed charter school. If the building and real property to be used in operation of the charter school are not known at the time of application, disclosures pertaining to those interests shall be made once the building and real property to be used in operation of the charter school become known. In addition, the board of directors of the charter school shall have a continuing duty to disclose such interests to the approving authority pursuant to this chapter during the terms of any charter. The charter school and the Department shall promptly disclose the information required by this subsection to any member of the public upon request.
(p) Charter school board members and founders shall be required to complete the criminal background checks in the same manner as persons seeking employment with a public school pursuant to § 8571(a) of Title 11. In addition, the authorizer shall complete a check of the Child Protection Registry established by § 921 of Title 16 for charter school founders and board members. The results of said background and Child Protection Registry checks shall be provided to the authorizer for review as part of the application process and on an ongoing basis if new board members are seated or current board members are convicted of a crime or placed on the Child Protection Registry. Any person convicted of a felony offense or of any crime against a child in this State or any other jurisdiction shall not be permitted to serve as a founder or member of a charter school board of directors. No individual shall be permitted to serve as a charter school founder or board member if the individual would not be permitted to be employed in a public school pursuant to § 8563 of Title 11 regarding the Child Protection Registry. Other crimes may be considered disqualifying, in the discretion of the authorizer. The State Bureau of Identification may release any subsequent criminal history to the authorizer. Individuals currently serving as board members of a charter school must complete a criminal background check and the Department shall complete a Child Protection Registry check for such members on or before February 1, 2012.
(q) The founder or board member shall be provided with a copy of all information forwarded to the authorizer pursuant to subsection (p) of this section. Information obtained under subsection (p) of this section is confidential and may only be disclosed to the chief officer and one additional person in each authorizing body.
(r) Costs associated with obtaining criminal history information and child protection registry checks shall be paid by the applicant.
70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 2; 70 Del. Laws, c. 425, § 346; 71 Del. Laws, c. 132, §§ 357-359, 371, 372; 71 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 28; 72 Del. Laws, c. 118, § 3; 72 Del. Laws, c. 473, § 1; 73 Del. Laws, c. 164, §§ 11-14; 73 Del. Laws, c. 313, §§ 1, 8; 74 Del. Laws, c. 360, §§ 2, 3, 6; 75 Del. Laws, c. 112, § 1; 76 Del. Laws, c. 79, § 140; 76 Del. Laws, c. 280, § 395; 78 Del. Laws, c. 187, §§ 4-7.;
§ 512. Approval criteria.
Charter school applications shall be in the form established by the approving authority and shall be approved if, after the exercise of due diligence and good faith, the approving authority finds that the proposed charter demonstrates that:
(1) The individuals and entities submitting the application are experienced and qualified to start and operate a charter school, and to implement the school's proposed educational program. Certified teachers, parents and members of the community in which the school is to be located must be involved in the development of the proposed charter school. At the time at which the school commences its instructional program and at all times thereafter, the board of directors must include a teacher from at least 1 of the charter schools operated by the board and at least 1 parent of a student enrolled in a charter school operated by the board;
(2) The chosen form of organization, identified in the articles of incorporation and by-laws, or the membership agreement, conforms with the Delaware General Corporation Law;
(3) The mission statement, goals and educational objectives are consistent with the description of legislative intent set forth in § 501 of this title and the restrictions on charter school operations set forth in § 506 in this title;
(4) The school has set goals for student performance and will utilize satisfactory indicators to determine whether its students meet or exceed such goals and the academic standards set by the State. The indicators shall include the assessments required for students in other public schools, although the charter school may adopt additional performance standards or assessment requirements, and shall include timelines for the achievement of student performance goals and the assessment of such performance;
(5) The school proposes a satisfactory plan for evaluating student performance and procedures for taking corrective action in the event that student performance at the charter school falls below such standards which are reasonably likely to succeed;
(6) The school's educational program, including curriculum and instructional strategies, has the potential to improve student performance; and must be aligned to meet the Delaware Content Standards and state program requirements, and in the case of a charter high school, state graduation requirements. High school programs must provide driver education. The educational program at all charter schools must include the provision by the school of extra instructional time for at-risk students, summer school and other services required to be provided by school districts pursuant to the provisions of § 153 of this title. A previously approved charter school may continue to operate in compliance with the terms of its current approval, but its charter shall not be renewed unless the school shall submit an application for renewal in full compliance with the requirements of this subsection;
(7) The school's educational program sets forth appropriate strategies to be employed to accommodate the needs of at-risk students and those needing special education services;
(8) The plan for the school is economically viable, based on a review of the school's proposed budget of projected revenues and expenditures for the first 3 years, the plan for starting the school, and the major contracts planned for equipment and services, leases, improvements, purchases of real property and insurance;
(9) The school's financial and administrative operations meet or exceed the same standards, procedures and requirements as a school district. If a charter school proposes to operate outside the State's pension and/or benefits systems, a specific memorandum of understanding shall be developed and executed by the charter school, the approving authority, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Controller General and the Secretary of Finance to assure that the State's fiduciary duties and interests in the proper use of appropriated funds and as a benefits and pension trustee are fulfilled and protected, the State's financial reporting requirements are satisfied, and the interests of charter school employees are protected. All charter schools shall operate within the Delaware Financial Management System (DFMS) and be subject to all of the same policies and procedures which govern other agencies operating within such system, except that any charter school previously approved to operate outside of the DFMS may continue to so operate subject to the terms of its memorandum of understanding until such time as the school's charter is renewed pursuant to this chapter;
(10) The assessment of the school's potential legal liability, and the types and limits of insurance coverage the school plans to obtain, are adequate;
(11) The procedures the school plans to follow to discipline students and ensure its students' adherence to school attendance requirements comply with state and federal law;
(12) The procedures the school plans to follow to assure the health and safety of students, employees and guests of the school while they are on school property are adequate and that the charter school will comply with applicable provisions of local, state and federal law, including the provisions of Chapter 85 of Title 11;
(13) The school shall have a satisfactory plan for timely transferring student data and records to the Department of Education; and
(14) The school's board of directors shall annually certify to the Department, on a form to be provided by the Department, that prior to the payment of any fees or other sums to any management company employed by the board, the board will insure that sufficient revenues of the school are devoted to adequately support the school's proposed educational program. Such form of certification may require documentation of all actual or proposed expenditures by the school. Failure to provide sufficient funds to adequately support the school's proposed education program shall be grounds for revocation of the school's charter.
70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 2; 71 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 29; 71 Del. Laws, c. 354, § 386; 73 Del. Laws, c. 164, §§ 15-21; 73 Del. Laws, c. 313, §§ 9, 10; 75 Del. Laws, c. 88, § 21(7); 78 Del. Laws, c. 187, § 8.;
§ 513. Reporting and oversight.
(a) On or before November 1, each charter school shall produce an annual report for the school year ending the previous June, which shall discuss the school's progress in meeting overall student performance goals and standards and contain a financial statement setting forth by appropriate categories the school's revenues and expenditures and assets and liabilities. To ensure that such reports provide parents and approving authorities with clear and comparable information about the performance of charter schools, the Department of Education shall prescribe a uniform format for such reports, which may be supplemented by requirements set by the approving authority for schools it has chartered. The charter school shall contract to have an audit of the business and financial transactions, records, and accounts after July 1 for the prior fiscal year. The results of the audit shall be shared with the Department of Education. A charter school shall display on its website the annual report including financial statement and audit required by this subsection.
(b) The annual report shall be submitted to the approving authority, the Department and the State Board. Employees of the school and parents of students attending the school shall receive a copy free of charge, upon request. The reports shall be public records pursuant to Chapter 100 of Title 29.
(c) The Department of Education, the State Board, and the approving authority may conduct financial, programmatic, or compliance audits of a charter school. In cooperation with the Department, the approving authority shall conduct such audits no less often than every 3 years. The State Auditor shall conduct an audit of all charter school funds annually on the same basis as applied to regular school districts.
(d) The Department of Education shall notify the superintendents of all reorganized and vocational-technical school districts of receipt of new charter school applications within 30 days of the close of the application deadline. The Department of Education shall also notify the superintendent of a reorganized school district of any applications for a major charter modification submitted by a charter school with a facility located within their district.
(e) Local school boards shall notify the superintendents of all reorganized and vocational-technical school districts of receipt of new charter school applications within 30 days of the close of the application deadline.
70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 2; 71 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 30; 73 Del. Laws, c. 313, §§ 4, 12; 78 Del. Laws, c. 187, § 9.;
§ 514. State reports on the charter school program.
Annually, the Department shall prepare a report for the Governor and the General Assembly on the success or failure of charter schools and propose changes in state law necessary to improve or change the charter school program. Such report shall contain a section comparing the per student expenditures of charter schools, considering all sources of such expenditures, with those of other public schools.
70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 2; 71 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 31.;
§ 515. Oversight and revocation process.
(a) The approving authority shall be responsible for oversight of the charter schools it approves.
(b) Four years after a charter school has commenced its instructional program pursuant to this chapter and not later than every 5 years thereafter, the approving authority shall, upon notice to the charter school, review the performance of the charter school to determine its compliance with its charter and its satisfaction of the criteria set forth in § 512 of this title.
(c) In addition to the review required by subsection (b) of this section, the approving authority may notify a charter school of potential violations of its charter and submit the charter to formal review to determine whether the charter school is violating the terms of its charter and whether to order remedial measures pursuant to subsection (g) of this section.
(d) The approving authority shall issue its decision within 90 working days of giving the charter school notice pursuant to subsection (b) or (c). An accountability committee appointed by the approving authority shall conduct the initial review pursuant to subsection (b) or (c). The accountability committee's report to the approving authority shall address the relevant criteria set forth in §§ 512 and 516 of this title. The committee shall meet with the applicant in the course of its investigation and provide the applicant the opportunity to review and comment on the committee's report 15 days before it is issued to the approving authority. The committee's final report shall be provided to the applicant and made available to the public.
(e) If the accountability committee reports probable grounds for remedial measures pursuant to subsection (g) of this section, the approving authority shall hold public hearings to assist in its decision whether the criteria set forth for remedial action in § 516 of this title have been satisfied, after giving the charter school 30 days notice. The school shall be given the opportunity to respond to the accountability committee's report at the meeting. Members of the public shall be given the opportunity to comment at the meeting.
(f) If the accountability committee reports that the school has complied with its charter and the criteria set forth in § 512 of this title, the approving authority shall approve or disapprove its report at a public meeting after giving the charter school 30 days notice. If the approving authority disapproves the report, it shall identify the reasons for that decision with particularity. Thereafter, the approving authority shall hold a hearing, within 30 days, to decide the appropriate remedy pursuant to subsection (g) of this section.
(g) If the approving authority determines that the criteria for remedial action set forth in § 516 of this title have been satisfied, it may revoke the charter and manage the school directly until alternative arrangements can be made for students at the school or place the school on a probationary status subject to terms determined by the approving authority which are directly relevant to the violation or violations.
(h) If a local school district which is an approving authority decides to revoke the school's charter or place the school on probationary status, the applicant may file for arbitration in writing with the American Arbitration Association in Philadelphia within 20 days of the local board's decision stating the reasons why it believes the local board decision was in error. A copy of said filing shall be provided simultaneously with the approving authority. The parties shall select an arbitrator in accordance with the American Arbitration Association's procedure for voluntary labor disputes, provided, however, that such arbitration shall occur in this State. The arbitrator's fees and costs shall be borne equally by the parties. The arbitrator shall convene a hearing and determine whether the local board's decision was in error. The arbitrator shall have 30 days to render a decision following the close of the hearing. The arbitrator's decision shall be final and binding upon the parties.
(i) If the approving authority is the Department and it decides to revoke the school's charter or place the school on probationary status, its decision shall be final and not subject to arbitration or judicial review.
70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 2; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 71 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 31; 73 Del. Laws, c. 164, §§ 22, 26; 74 Del. Laws, c. 360, § 4.;
§ 516. Revocation criteria.
Approved charters shall be subject to revocation or probation, after the exercise of due diligence and good faith, only for the following reasons:
(1) The school, or its representatives, has committed a material fraud on the approving authority or misappropriated federal, state or local funds; or
(2) The school fails to comply with its charter or to satisfy, in its operation of the school, the criteria set forth in § 512 of this title.
70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 2.;
§ 517. Charter transfer to different authorizer.
Transfer of a charter, and of oversight of that public charter school, from 1 authorizer to another before the expiration of the charter term shall require a petition by the public charter school or its authorizer to the new authorizer. A petition to transfer is considered a major modification and will follow the same timelines and hearing process as a major modification.
78 Del. Laws, c. 187, § 10.;
§ 518. Oversight and revocation for multiple charter holders.
For purposes of §§ 515 and 516 of this title, each charter held by a common board of directors shall be treated separately and individually.
78 Del. Laws, c. 187, § 11.;