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Massachusetts Charter Schools

Complaint Process

Charter schools are required to operate in a manner consistent with federal and state laws and regulations including MGL c. 71 §89 and 603 CMR 1.00.

Filing a Complaint

Important Note: A concern regarding special education or student safety may be filed directly with the Department's Program Quality Assurances (PQA) unit or by calling 781-338-3700. You do not need to follow any of the steps below.

Step 1
In the event that a charter school is not operating in compliance with legal requirements, you should first contact the school's administrators, as they are in the best position to immediately address your concerns.

Step 2
If contacting the school administration does not result in a resolution, then a complaint should be filed with the school's Board of Trustees (Board), which is the governing body of the school. Complaints can be filed with the Board either verbally or in writing, but we recommend that complaints be filed in writing, be signed, dated, and contain a specific statement of your issue and the desired outcome. The Board must respond in writing to your complaint within 45 days.

Step 3
If the Board's response does not adequately address your concerns, the complaint may be submitted in writing to the Commissioner of Education at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, who will conduct an investigation and respond in writing. Please use the following form to file a complaint about a charter school after following the steps above.

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Charter School Complaint Form
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The regulations regarding charter school complaints

To ask a question about charter schools contact the Charter School Office:

Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148
Telephone: 781-338-3227
Fax: 781-338-3220


Resources and Helpful Information

Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign the unit at the Department that supports and oversees the creation and sustainability of a variety of high quality public school options-including those that innovate in the areas of instructional practice, time, resources, and technology-to ensure that all students in the Commonwealth have equitable access to a pathway to success after high school.

Access Charter School Questions and Answers

Program Quality Assurance (PQA) the unit at the department that is responsible for conducting investigations of alleged violations of non-charter school federal or state education-related laws or regulations, often involving special education. See link, above.

Access the Program Quality Assurance Services Problem Resolution System

Bureau of Special Education Appeals ("BSEA") conducts mediations, advisory opinions and hearings to resolve disputes among parents, school districts, private schools and state agencies concerning eligibility, evaluation, placement, individualized education programs (IEPs), special education services and procedural protections for students with disabilities.

Access the Bureau of Special Education Appeals

Office of Civil Rights (OCR) The mission of the Office for Civil Rights is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights. If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of your race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex or religion by a health care or human services provider (such as a hospital, nursing home, social service agency) or by a State or local government health or human services agency, you may file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). You may file a complaint for yourself or for someone else.

Access the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights

Attorney General's Office (AG) Responsible for oversight of all state laws including open meeting law and student records law and criminal records check requirements. You can file a complaint with the Attorney General in regards to Open Meeting laws and civil rights violations.

Access the Office of the Attorney General

State Ethics Commission Responsible for the oversight of conflict of interest and financial disclosure laws. MA laws state that: "Members of boards of trustees of charter schools operating under the provisions of this section shall file a disclosure annually with the state ethics commission, the department, and the city or town clerk wherein such charter school is located. The form of the disclosure shall be prescribed by the ethics commission and shall be signed under penalty of perjury. Such form shall be limited to a statement in which members of the board of trustees shall disclose any financial interest that they or a member of their immediate families, as defined by section one of chapter 268A, have in any charter school located in the commonwealth or in any other state or with a person doing business with a charter school." If you believe that a state, county or municipal employee has violated the conflict of interest or financial disclosure law, you can file a complaint with the Commission's Enforcement Division.

Access the State Ethics Commission

Office of the Inspector General Oversees procurement for schools as well as construction for public facilities. You may file a complaint with this office in regards to fraud, waste, or abuse.

Access the Office of the Inspector General

Last Updated: October 22, 2013
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