Read 1st time February 2, 2000, and 1000 copies ordered printed.
ANNE C. WALKER, Chief Clerk
To repeal sections 160.400, 160.405 and 160.420, RSMo Supp. 1999, relating to charter schools, and to enact in lieu thereof three new sections relating to the same subject.
Section A. Sections 160.400, 160.405 and 160.420, RSMo Supp. 1999, are repealed and three new sections enacted in lieu thereof, to be known as sections 160.400, 160.405 and 160.420, to read as follows:
160.400. 1. A charter school is an independent, publicly supported school.
2. Charter schools may be operated only in a metropolitan school district or in an urban school district containing most or all of a city with a population greater than three hundred fifty thousand inhabitants or any school district created entirely from territory formerly contained in any school district in which charter schools were authorized to be established pursuant to this section and may be sponsored by any of the following:
(1) The school board of the district;
(2) A public four-year college or university with its primary campus in the school district or in a county adjacent to the county in which the district is located, with an approved teacher education program that meets regional or national standards of accreditation; or
(3) A community college located in the district.
3. A maximum of five percent of the school buildings currently in use for instructional purposes in a district may be converted to charter schools. This limitation does not apply to vacant buildings or buildings not used for instructional purposes.
4. No sponsor shall receive from an applicant for a charter school any fee of any type for the consideration of a charter, nor may a sponsor condition its consideration of a charter on the promise of future payment of any kind.
5. The charter school shall be a Missouri nonprofit corporation incorporated pursuant to chapter 355, RSMo. The charter provided for herein shall constitute a contract between the sponsor and the charter school.
6. As a nonprofit corporation incorporated pursuant to chapter 355, RSMo, the charter school shall select the method for election of officers pursuant to section 355.326, RSMo, based on the class of corporation selected. Meetings of the governing board of the charter school shall be subject to the provisions of sections 610.010 to 610.030, RSMo, the open meetings law.
7. A sponsor of a charter school, its agents and employees are not liable for any acts or omissions of a charter school that it sponsors, including acts or omissions relating to the charter submitted by the charter school, the operation of the charter school and the performance of the charter school.
8. A charter school may affiliate with a four-year college or university, including a private college or university, or a community college as otherwise specified in subsection 2 of this section when its charter is granted by a sponsor other than such college, university or community college. Affiliation status recognizes a relationship between the charter school and the college or university for purposes of teacher training and staff development, curriculum and assessment development, use of physical facilities owned by or rented on behalf of the college or university, and other similar purposes. The primary campus of the college or university must be located within the county in which the school district lies wherein the charter school is located or in a county adjacent to the county in which the district is located. A university, college or community college may not charge or accept a fee for affiliation status.
9. No university, college or community college shall grant a charter to a nonprofit corporation if an employee of the university, college or community college is a member of the corporation's board of directors.
160.405. 1. A person, group or organization seeking to establish a charter school shall submit the proposed charter, as provided in this section, to a sponsor. If the sponsor is not a school board, the applicant shall give a copy of its application to the school board of the district in which the charter school is to be located, when the application is filed with the proposed sponsor. The school board may file objections with the proposed sponsor, and, if a charter is granted, the school board may file objections with the state board of education. The charter shall include a mission statement for the charter school, a description of the charter school's organizational structure and bylaws of the governing body, which will be responsible for the policy and operational decisions of the charter school, a financial plan for the first three years of operation of the charter school including provisions for annual audits, a description of the charter school's policy for securing personnel services, its personnel policies, personnel qualifications, and professional development plan, a description of the grades or ages of students being served, the school's calendar of operation, which shall include at least the equivalent of a full school term as defined in section 160.011, and an outline of criteria specified in this section designed to measure the effectiveness of the school. The charter shall also state:
(1) The educational goals and objectives to be achieved by the charter school;
(2) A description of the charter school's educational program and curriculum;
(3) The term of the charter, which shall be not less than five years, nor greater than ten years and shall be renewable;
(4) A description of the charter school's pupil performance standards, which must meet the requirements of subdivision (6) of subsection 5 of this section. The charter school program must be designed to enable each pupil to achieve such standards; [and]
(5) A description of the governance and operation of the charter school, including the nature and extent of parental, professional educator, and community involvement in the governance and operation of the charter school; and
(6) A description of the charter school's policies on student admission and school discipline.
2. Proposed charters shall be subject to the following requirements:
(1) A charter may be approved when the sponsor determines that the requirements of this section are met and determines that the applicant is sufficiently qualified to operate a charter school. The sponsor's decision shall be made within sixty days of the filing of the proposed charter;
(2) If the charter is denied, the proposed sponsor shall notify the applicant in writing as to the reasons for its denial;
(3) If a proposed charter is denied by a sponsor, the proposed charter may be submitted to the state board of education, along with the sponsor's written reasons for its denial. If the state board determines that the applicant meets the requirements of this section, that the applicant is sufficiently qualified to operate a charter school and that granting a charter to the applicant would be likely to provide educational benefit to the children of the district, the state board may grant a charter and act as sponsor of the charter school, but no charter school shall be considered by the state board of education after the first day of April for any charter school that will commence classes from the thirty-first day of July of that same year until the first day of August of the succeeding year; and
(4) The sponsor of a charter school shall give priority to charter school applicants that propose a school oriented to high-risk students and to the reentry of dropouts into the school system. If a sponsor grants three or more charters, at least one-third of the charters granted by the sponsor shall be to schools that actively recruit dropouts or high-risk students as their student body and address the needs of dropouts or high-risk students through their proposed mission, curriculum, teaching methods, and services. For purposes of this subsection, a "high-risk" student is one who is at least one year behind in satisfactory completion of course work or obtaining credits for graduation, pregnant or a parent, homeless or has been homeless sometime within the preceding six months, has limited English proficiency, has been suspended from school three or more times, or has been referred by the school district for enrollment in an alternative program. "Dropout" shall be defined through the guidelines of the school core data report. The provisions of this subsection do not apply to charters sponsored by the state board of education.
3. If a charter is approved by a sponsor, it shall be submitted to the state board of education which may, within [forty-five] ninety days, disapprove the granting of the charter, but no charter school shall be considered by the state board of education after the first day of April for any charter school that will commence classes from the thirty-first day of July of that same year until the first day of August of the succeeding year. The state board of education may disapprove a charter only on grounds that the application fails to meet the requirements of sections 160.400 to 160.420 or based upon a finding that the applicant is not sufficiently qualified to operate a charter school.
4. Any disapproval of a charter pursuant to subsection 3 of this section shall be subject to judicial review pursuant to chapter 536, RSMo.
5. A charter school shall, as provided in its charter:
(1) Be nonsectarian in its programs, governance, admission policies, employment practices, and all other operations;
(2) Comply with laws and regulations of the state relating to health, safety, and state minimum educational standards, including the requirements relating to student discipline pursuant to sections 160.261, and sections 167.161 and 167.164, RSMo, academic assessment pursuant to section 160.518, transmittal of school records pursuant to section 167.020, RSMo, and school term as defined in section 160.011, and comply with the ordinances and assessments of a municipality, county, political subdivision or public corporation of this state pursuant to section 177.021, RSMo;
(3) Except as provided in sections 160.400 to 160.420, be exempt from all laws and rules relating to schools, governing boards and school districts;
(4) Be financially accountable, use practices consistent with the Missouri financial accounting manual, provide for an annual audit by a certified public accountant, and provide liability insurance to indemnify the school, its board, staff and teachers against tort claims. For the purposes of securing such insurance, a charter school shall be eligible for the Missouri public entity risk management fund pursuant to section 537.700, RSMo. A charter school that incurs debt must include a repayment plan in its financial plan;
(5) Provide a comprehensive program of instruction for at least one grade or age group from kindergarten through grade twelve, which may include early childhood education if funding for such programs is established by statute, as specified in its charter;
(6) Design a method to measure pupil progress toward the pupil academic standards adopted by the state board of education pursuant to section 160.514, collect baseline data during at least the first three years for determining how the charter school is performing and to the extent applicable, participate in the statewide system of assessments, comprised of the essential skills tests and the nationally standardized norm-referenced achievement tests, as designated by the state board pursuant to section 160.518, complete and distribute an annual report card as prescribed in section 160.522, report to its sponsor, the local school district, and the state board of education as to its teaching methods and any educational innovations and the results thereof, and provide data required for the study of charter schools pursuant to subsection 3 of section 160.410. No charter school will be considered in the Missouri school improvement program review of the district in which it is located for the resource or process standards of the program. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed as permitting a charter school to be held to lower performance standards than other public schools within a district; however, the charter of a charter school may permit students to meet performance standards on a different time frame as specified in its charter;
(7) Assure that the needs of special education children are met in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations[.]; and
(8) Provide the following upon review or appeal to the state board of education:
(a) Six copies of the completed charter;
(b) A description of the person, group or organization seeking to establish the charter school;
(c) A statement linking the elements of the charter application to the requirements of sections 160.400 to 160.420;
(d) If the sponsor is not a school board, documentation that the applicant has provided a copy of the application to the school board of the district in which the charter school is to be located;
(e) If the application has been approved by the sponsor, a statement of finding by the sponsor that the application meets the requirements of sections 160.400 to 160.420; and
(f) A monitoring plan under which the charter sponsor will evaluate the academic performance of students enrolled in the charter school, and an assurance that a criminal background check has been completed relating to the person or persons making application for the charter.
6. The charter of a charter school may be amended at the request of the governing body of the charter school and on the approval of the sponsor. The sponsor and the governing board and staff of the charter school shall jointly review the school's performance, management and operations at least once every two years.
7. (1) A sponsor may revoke a charter at any time if the charter school commits a serious breach of one or more provisions of its charter or on any of the following grounds: failure to meet academic performance standards as set forth in its charter, failure to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management, or violation of law.
(2) The sponsor may place the charter school on probationary status to allow the implementation of a remedial plan, after which, if such plan is unsuccessful, the charter may be revoked.
(3) At least sixty days before acting to revoke a charter, the sponsor shall notify the board of directors of the charter school of the proposed action in writing. The notice shall state the grounds for the proposed action. The school's board of directors may request in writing a hearing before the sponsor within two weeks of receiving the notice.
(4) The sponsor of a charter school shall establish procedures to conduct administrative hearings upon determination by the sponsor that grounds exist to revoke a charter. Final decisions of a sponsor from hearings conducted pursuant to this subsection are subject to judicial review pursuant to chapter 536, RSMo.
(5) A termination shall be effective only at the conclusion of the school year, unless the sponsor determines that continued operation of the school presents a clear and immediate threat to the health and safety of the children.
(6) The charter sponsor shall report annually to the state board of education on the academic performance of students enrolled in the sponsored schools, and the results of monitoring required pursuant to paragraph (f) of subdivision (8) of subsection 5 of this section.
8. A school district may enter into a lease with a charter school for physical facilities. A charter school may not be located on the property of a school district unless the district governing board agrees.
9. A governing board or a school district employee who has control over personnel actions shall not take unlawful reprisal against another employee at the school district because the employee is directly or indirectly involved in an application to establish a charter school. A governing board or a school district employee shall not take unlawful reprisal against an educational program of the school or the school district because an application to establish a charter school proposes the conversion of all or a portion of the educational program to a charter school. As used in this subsection, "unlawful reprisal" means an action that is taken by a governing board or a school district employee as a direct result of a lawful application to establish a charter school and that is adverse to another employee or an educational program.
160.420. 1. If a charter school offers to retain the services of an employee of a school district, and the employee accepts a position at the charter school, the contract between the charter school and the school district may provide that an employee at the employee's option may remain an employee of the district and the charter school shall pay to the district the district's full costs of salary and benefits provided to the employee. A teacher who accepts a position at a charter school and opts to remain an employee of the district retains such teacher's permanent teacher status and seniority rights in the district. The school district shall not be liable for any such employee's acts while an employee of the charter school.
2. A charter school may employ noncertificated instructional personnel; provided that no more than twenty percent of the full-time equivalent instructional staff positions at the school are filled by noncertificated personnel. All noncertified instructional personnel shall be supervised by certified instructional personnel. The charter school shall ensure that all instructional employees of the charter school have experience, training and skills appropriate to the instructional duties of the employee, and the charter school shall ensure that a criminal background check and child abuse registry check are conducted for each employee of the charter school prior to the hiring of the employee. Appropriate experience, training and skills of noncertificated instructional personnel shall be determined considering:
(1) Teaching certificates issued by another state or states;
(2) Certification by the National Standards Board;
(3) College degrees in the appropriate field;
(4) Evidence of technical training and competence when such is appropriate; and
(5) Level of supervision and coordination with certificated instructional staff.
3. Personnel employed by the charter school shall participate in the retirement system of the school district in which the
charter school is located, subject to the same terms, conditions, requirements and other provisions applicable to
personnel employed by the school district, except that any employee of an entity providing services to a charter
school pursuant to subsection 4 of section 160.415 may elect to participate in the retirement program provided by
that employer or elect to participate in the retirement system of the school district.