THE SENATE

S.B. NO.

959

THIRTY-FIRST LEGISLATURE, 2021

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

relating to charter schools.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. Section 302D-3, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended as follows:

1. By amending subsections (c) and (d) to read:

"(c) The commission shall consist of nine members [to be appointed by the board. The board]. Three members shall be appointed by the governor, two members shall be appointed by the president of the senate, one member shall be appointed by the senate minority leader, two members shall be appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives, and one member shall be appointed by the minority leader of the house of representatives. The appointing authorities shall appoint members who will be tasked with authorizing public charter schools that serve the unique and diverse needs of public school students. The chair of the commission shall be designated by the members of the commission for each school year beginning July 1, and whenever there is a vacancy. The [board] appointing authorities shall consider the combination of abilities, breadth of experiences, and characteristics of the commission, including but not limited to reflecting the diversity of the student population, geographical representation, and a broad representation of education-related stakeholders. Members of the commission shall collectively possess strong experience and expertise in public and nonprofit organization governance, management, finance, public school leadership assessment, curriculum, instruction, and public education law. The commission shall be exempt from sections 26‑34 and 26-36.

(d) Understanding that the role of the commission is to ensure a long-term strategic vision for Hawaii's public charter schools, each nominee to the commission shall meet the following minimum qualifications:

(1) Commitment to [education.] charter schooling. Each nominee's record should demonstrate a deep and abiding interest in education, and a dedication to the social, academic, and character development of young people through the administration of a high performing charter school system;

(2) Record of integrity, civic virtue, and high ethical standards. Each nominee shall demonstrate integrity, civic virtue, and high ethical standards and be willing to hold fellow commission members to the same;

(3) Availability for constructive engagement. Each nominee shall commit to being a conscientious and attentive commission member; and

(4) Knowledge of best practices. Each nominee shall have an understanding of best practices in charter school educational governance or shall be willing to be trained in such."

2. By amending subsections (g) and (h) to read:

"(g) Commission members shall serve not more than three consecutive three-year terms, with each term beginning on July 1[; provided that the initial terms that commence after June 30, 2012, shall be staggered as follows:

(1) Three members, including the chairperson, to serve three-year terms;

(2) Three members to serve two-year terms; and

(3) Three members to serve one-year terms].

Beginning July 1, 2021, as the terms of existing members expire, each new appointee shall be appointed by the respective appointing authorities in the following order: governor, president of the senate, senate minority leader, speaker of the house of representatives, minority leader of the house of representatives, governor, president of the senate, speaker of the house of representatives, and governor. The seats shall retain their current term expirations.

(h) Notwithstanding the terms of the members, [the board] an appointing authority may fill vacancies [in] on the commission of any seat for which the appointing authority is responsible at any time when a vacancy occurs due to resignation, non-participation, the request of a majority of the commission members, or termination by the [board] responsible appointing authority for cause."

SECTION 2. Section 302D-4, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended as follows:

1. By amending subsections (b) and (c) to read:

"(b) Governing boards of accredited public and private postsecondary institutions, including community colleges, technical colleges, and four-year universities may [apply to the board, pursuant to this section, for statewide, regional, or local chartering authority,] authorize public charter schools anywhere in the State, in accordance with each institution's regular operating jurisdiction.

(c) A county or state agency may [apply to the board, pursuant to this section, for chartering authority.] authorize public charter schools."

2. By amending subsection (h) to read:

"(h) This section shall not apply to the [commission.] entities listed in subsections (a), (b), and (c)."

SECTION 3. Section 302D-5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"302D-5 Authorizer powers, duties, and liabilities. (a) Authorizers are responsible for executing the following essential powers and duties:

(1) Soliciting and evaluating charter applications;

(2) Approving quality charter applications that meet identified educational needs and promote a diversity of educational choices;

(3) Declining to approve weak or inadequate charter applications;

(4) Negotiating and executing sound charter contracts with each approved charter applicant and with existing public charter schools;

(5) Monitoring, in accordance with charter contract terms, the performance and legal compliance of public charter schools; and

(6) Determining whether each charter contract merits renewal, nonrenewal, or revocation.

(b) An authorizer shall:

(1) Act as a point of contact between the department and a public charter school it authorizes;

(2) Be responsible for and ensure the compliance of a public charter school it authorizes with all applicable state and federal laws, including reporting requirements;

(3) Be responsible for the receipt of applicable federal funds from the department and the distribution of funds to the public charter school it authorizes; and

(4) Be responsible for the receipt of per-pupil funding from the department of budget and finance and distribution of the funding to the public charter school it authorizes.

(c) An authorizer shall have the power to make and execute contracts and all other instruments necessary or convenient for the exercise of its duties and functions under this chapter.

(d) An authorizer may delegate its duties to officers, employees, and contractors.

(e) Regulation by authorizers shall be limited to the powers and duties set forth in this section, and shall be consistent with the spirit and intent of this chapter.

(f) An authorizer, members of the board of an authorizer acting in their official capacity, and employees or agents of an authorizer are immune from civil and criminal liability with respect to all activities related to a public charter school authorized by that authorizer, except for any acts or omissions constituting wilful misconduct. Members of the commission shall be afforded the same protection afforded the members of the board pursuant to section 26-35.5.

[(g) An authorizer shall not provide technical support to a prospective charter school applicant, an applicant governing board, or a charter school it authorizes in cases in which the technical support will directly and substantially impact any authorizer decision related to the approval or denial of the charter application or the renewal, revocation, or nonrenewal of the charter contract. This subsection shall not apply to technical support that an authorizer is required to provide to a charter school pursuant to federal law.]"

SECTION 4. Section 302D-13, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"302D-13 Start-up and conversion charter schools; establishment. (a) New start-up and conversion charter schools may be established pursuant to this section.

(b) Any community, department school, school community council, group of teachers, group of teachers and administrators, or nonprofit organization may submit a letter of intent to an authorizer to form a charter school and establish an applicant governing board. The letter of intent shall be a notice provided by the applicant to the authorizer to advise the authorizer that the applicant intends to complete an application. All applicants who submit a letter of intent may later submit an application. An applicant governing board may develop a charter application pursuant to this section; provided that:

(1) An applicant governing board established by a community may develop a charter application for a start-up charter school;

(2) An applicant governing board established by a department school or a school community council may develop a charter application for a conversion charter school;

(3) An applicant governing board established by a group of teachers or a group of administrators may develop a charter application for a start-up or conversion charter school; and

(4) A nonprofit organization may:

(A) Establish an applicant governing board that [is separate from the] operates separately from its nonprofit organization and develop a charter application for a start-up or conversion charter school; provided that the members of the applicant governing board shall not constitute the majority of the members from the nonprofit organization; or

(B) Establish an applicant governing board that shall be the board of directors of the nonprofit organization and may develop a charter application for a conversion charter school; provided that any nonprofit organization that seeks to manage and operate a conversion charter school shall:

(i) Submit to the authorizer at the time of the charter application bylaws or policies that describe the manner in which business is conducted and policies that relate to the management of potential conflict of interest situations;

(ii) Have experience in the management and operation of public or private schools or, to the extent necessary, agree to obtain appropriate services from another entity or entities possessing such experience;

(iii) Not interfere in the operations of the department school to be converted until otherwise authorized by the authorizer in consultation with the department; and

(iv) Have the same protections that are afforded to all other governing boards in its role as the conversion charter school governing board.

(c) The charter school application process and schedule shall be determined by the authorizer[,] and shall provide for and include, at a minimum, the following elements:

(1) The issuance and publication of [a request for proposals] an application process by the authorizer on the authorizer's internet website that, at a minimum:

(A) Solicits charter applications and presents the authorizer's strategic vision for chartering;

(B) Includes or directs applicant governing boards to the performance framework developed by the authorizer in accordance with section 302D-16;

(C) Includes statutory criteria that will guide the authorizer's decision to approve or deny a charter application;

(D) States clear, appropriately detailed questions and provides guidelines concerning the format and content essential for applicant governing boards to demonstrate the capacities necessary to establish and operate a successful charter school; and

(E) Requires charter applications to provide or describe all essential elements, as determined by the authorizer, of proposed school plans;

(2) The submission of a letter of intent to notify the authorizer of the applicant's intent to apply to open and operate a start-up charter school or to convert a department school to a conversion charter school; provided that a letter of intent shall not be used as a basis for the denial of the right to submit an application;

(3) The timely submission of a completed charter application to the authorizer; provided that a charter application for a conversion charter school shall include certification and documentation that the charter application was approved by a majority of the votes cast by existing administrative, support, and teacher personnel, and parents of students at the existing department school; provided that:

(A) This vote shall be considered by the authorizer to be the primary indication of the existing administrative, support, and teaching personnel, and parents' approval to convert to a charter school;

(B) The balance of stakeholders represented in the vote and the extent of support received in support of the conversion shall be key factors, along with the applicant's proposed plans, to be considered by the authorizer when deciding whether to award a charter; and

(C) A breakdown of the number of administrative, support, and teaching personnel, and parents of students who constitute the existing department school and the number who actually participated in the vote shall be provided to the authorizer;

(4) The timely review of the charter application by the authorizer for completeness, and notification by the authorizer to the applicant governing board that the charter application is complete; provided that, if the authorizer determines that the application is incomplete, notification by the authorizer to the applicant governing board that the application is incomplete, providing a detailed listing of any missing elements of the application and providing a reasonable opportunity for the applicant governing board to cure any deficiency by providing any missing elements to the authorizer;

(5) Upon receipt of a completed charter application, the review and evaluation of the charter application by qualified persons including but not limited to:

(A) An in-person interview with representatives from the applicant governing board; and

(B) An opportunity in a public forum for the public to provide input on each charter application;

(6) Following the review and evaluation of a charter application, approval or denial of the charter application by the authorizer in a meeting open to the public[;] and subsequent written notice to the applicant; provided that, if a denial occurs, the notice shall provide specific information to the applicant on its appeal rights to the board, including the number of days in which the applicant must file an appeal with the board and where to file an appeal;

(7) A provision for a final date by which a written decision to approve or deny a charter application must be made by the authorizer, upon receipt of a complete charter application[;], to the applicant; provided that, if no written decision is provided by that date, the application shall be deemed approved; and

(8) A provision that no charter school may begin operation before obtaining authorizer approval of its charter application and charter contract and fulfilling pre-opening requirements that may be imposed by the authorizer, pursuant to section 302D-14.5.

(d) A charter application to become a start-up or conversion charter school shall meet the requirements of this subsection, section 302D-25, and any other requirements set by the authorizer. The charter application shall, at a minimum:

(1) Include plans for a charter school that are likely to satisfactorily meet the academic, financial, organizational, and operational performance indicators, measures, and metrics set forth in the authorizer's performance framework, pursuant to section 302D-16;

(2) Include plans for a charter school that is in compliance with applicable laws; and

(3) [[]Recognize[]] the interests of the general public.

(e) In reviewing a charter application under this section, an authorizer shall take into consideration the constitution of the applicant governing board, terms of applicant governing board members, and the process by which applicant governing board members were selected.

(f) In reviewing charter applications under this section, an authorizer shall develop a schedule to approve or deny a charter application by the end of the calendar year prior to the opening year of the proposed charter school for purposes of meeting any deadlines to request funding from the legislature; provided that nothing in this section shall be construed as requiring an authorizer to accept and review charter applications annually.

(g) If a conflict between the provisions in this section and other provisions in this chapter occurs, this section shall control.

(h) If an authorizer takes any action that prohibits an applicant from proceeding with an application for any reason, that action shall be deemed a denial and may be appealed pursuant to section 302D-15."

SECTION 5. Section 302D-15, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"302D-15 Appeals; charter applications, renewals, or revocations. (a) The board shall have the power to decide appeals of decisions by an authorizer to deny the approval of a charter application, deny renewal of a charter contract, or revoke a charter school's charter contract. An appeal shall be filed with the board within twenty-one calendar days of the receipt of the notification of denial or revocation. Only a party whose charter application has been denied, whose charter contract renewal has been denied, or whose charter contract has been revoked may initiate an appeal under this section for cause. The board shall review an appeal and issue a final decision within sixty calendar days of the filing of the appeal.

(b) The board shall serve as the final arbitrator of appeals authorized by subsection (a)[.], and the authorizer shall act in accordance with the board's decision within the timeframe stated by the board or, in the absence of a timeframe, a reasonable amount of time needed to comply. If an authorizer fails to timely comply with the final decision of the board, the board may impose a penalty on the authorizer, including imposing a fine on the authorizer for every day that the authorizer is not in compliance, implementing the decision and binding the authorizer to the final decision, or revoking the authorizer's charter authority pursuant to section 302D-ll(e).

(c) A party shall not be entitled to a hearing before the board under this section until it has exhausted all available administrative remedies.

(d) The board shall adopt rules pursuant to chapter 91 to implement this section.

(e) If the board overrules a denial or revocation by an authorizer, at the option of the charter school, another eligible authorizer shall be designated as the authorizer for ongoing operations of the charter school, with the acceptance of the charter school by the new authorizer."

SECTION 6. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 7. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

_____________________________

 

 


 


 

Report Title:

Public Charter Schools

 

Description:

Requires that members of the public charter school commission be appointed by the governor or various members of the legislature. Automatically allows public and private postsecondary institutions and county and state agencies to authorize public charter schools. Clarifies the procedures for establishment of a new start-up and conversion charter school. Repeals language prohibiting authorizers from providing technical support to prospective charter school applicants. Provides the board of education with the power to penalize public charter school authorizers.

 

 

 

The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.