Most Recently Amended by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education: September 22, 2015
As used in 603 CMR 1.00, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, terms shall have the following meanings:
Accountability Plan: A charter school creates an Accountability plan by the end of its first year of operation in accordance with guidelines issued by the Department. An Accountability Plan articulates the goals the school has set to measure its success.
Administrator: Any individual duly authorized by a charter school's board of trustees to manage the programs and operations of the charter school, or a network of schools, in accordance with its charter as well as federal and state laws and regulations.
Application Cycle: The period beginning with the availability of application information for charter schools and extending through the receipt of final charter school applications for review, ending no later than the following February when the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education makes final decisions on awarding new charters. The various stages of the application cycle occur in accordance with the schedule established by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Board: The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education or a person duly authorized by the Board.
Board of Trustees: Public agents authorized by the state to supervise and oversee a charter school or a network of charter schools. The boards of trustees shall be considered public employers for purposes of tort liability under M.G.L. c. 258. Boards of trustees of Commonwealth charter schools shall be considered public employers for collective bargaining purposes under M.G.L. c. 150E. In the case of Horace Mann charter schools, the school committee shall be considered the public employer for purposes of collective bargaining under M.G.L. c. 150E. A board of trustees may be authorized to hold more than one charter.
Campus: The location at which a charter school educates students. A charter school may have multiple locations under one charter.
Charter: A license issued by the Board under the provisions of M.G.L. c. 71, § 89, and 603 CMR 1.00, allowing the grantee to operate a charter school for a period of five years.
Charter Applicant: As defined in M.G.L. c. 71, § 89(d), a charter applicant shall include but is not limited to: (a) a non-profit business or corporate entity; (b) two or more certified teachers; or (c) ten or more parents/guardians; provided, however, that for profit business or corporate entities shall be prohibited from applying for a charter. The charter school application may be filed in conjunction with a college, university, museum, or other similar non-profit entity, or any combination.
Charter School: A public school operated under a charter granted by the Board and refers to both Commonwealth and Horace Mann charter schools unless otherwise specified. A charter school is managed by a board of trustees and operates independent of any school committee. A Commonwealth charter school is considered a local education agency for all purposes. A Horace Mann charter school is a school or part of a school that operates under a charter approved and granted pursuant to 603 CMR 1.04. A Horace Mann charter school is considered a local education agency except for purposes of state aid, certain state and federal grant programs, collective bargaining, and any other purposes where such designation would conflict with law or regulation.
Commissioner: The Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education or the Commissioner's designee.
Department: The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
District: A city, town, or regional school district.
Memorandum of Understanding: A written agreement or agreements between or among a Horace Mann charter school, the school committee of the district in which the charter school is located, and the collective bargaining unit for the district that, at a minimum, defines any modifications of the relevant collective bargaining agreement(s), services, and facilities provided by the district to the charter school, and funding of the charter school by the district The Memorandum of Understanding is a material term of the charter. The charter school must submit the Memorandum of Understanding to the Department for approval.
Network: Multiple charter schools overseen by a single board of trustees. Each charter school is granted its own charter.
Proven Provider: A Proven Provider is:
- (a) two or more persons who had primary or significant responsibility serving, for at least five years, in a leadership role in a school or similar program that has a record of academic success and organizational viability;
- (b) a non-profit education management organization or non-profit charter management organization, in operation for at least five years, that has a record of academic success and organizational viability;
- (c) the board of trustees of an existing charter school that has a record of academic success and organizational viability; or
- (d) an education management organization, charter management organization, or school support organization that has a record of academic success and organizational viability in operating or starting public schools with which an applicant proposes to contract.
Qualifications for Proven Providers are described in 603 CMR 1.04(4).
Recruitment and Retention Plan: A charter school's written plan to recruit and retain diverse students under the provisions of M.G.L. c. 71, § 89, and 603 CMR 1.00. For the purposes of a Recruitment and Retention plan, retention shall be defined as the charter school's ability to maintain enrollment of its students with low turnover and limited attrition.
Regional Charter School: A charter school with a charter designating it as "regional" is required to give preference in enrollment to students residing in a specified region containing more than one district.
Sending District: A Massachusetts city, town, or regional school district in which a charter school student resides and where the student would otherwise attend a public school. If a charter school has a residential component, the sending district is the city, town, or regional school district in which the parent or legal guardian of the charter school student resides or, if no parent or legal guardian can be identified, the school district in which the student last attended school.
Sibling: Persons who have a common parent, either biologically or legally through adoption.
(1) Charter Application Process: Applicants shall submit to the Department application materials in accordance with the schedule, application form, and guidelines established by the Department for each type of charter school. Each applicant submitting application materials for a Commonwealth charter school shall also send a copy of the application to the superintendent of the school district(s) from which the applicant is expected to enroll students.
- (a) Horace Mann applications shall be accepted in three categories with the corresponding district approvals:
- A Horace Mann I application may be submitted to create a new school, provided the application is submitted with the approval of the local collective bargaining unit and the school committee in the district in which it is located. All Horace Mann charters granted before January 2010 are considered Horace Mann I.
- A Horace Mann II application may be submitted as a conversion of an existing public school provided the application is submitted with the approval of the school committee. Horace Mann II applications may be submitted at any time but shall participate in the application process in accordance with guidelines issued by the Department, with similar periods of time for review and charter granting. Horace Mann II charter schools may not open until completion of the opening procedures process.
- A Horace Mann III application may be submitted to create a new school provided the application is submitted with the approval of the school committee. An agreement with the local collective bargaining unit is not required prior to Board approval of a Horace Mann III charter school.
- (b) All Horace Mann charter schools may be exempt from specified provisions of local collective bargaining agreements, provided that employees of the school will continue:
- to be members of the local collective bargaining unit;
- to accrue seniority; and
- to receive at minimum, the salary and benefits established by the local collective bargaining agreement. Consistent with M.G.L. c. 71, § 89, Horace Mann charter school employees will be exempt from all agreed-upon provisions of the collective bargaining agreement and school committee policies to the extent provided by their charter and the Memorandum of Understanding with the local district or collective bargaining unit or as voted by teachers as defined in M.G.L. c. 71, § 89.
- (c) Applications for Horace Mann charter schools shall describe in the charter school application:
- the type of Horace Mann charter the applicant seeks (I, II, III);
- the proposed opening date of the charter school;
- the elements of the local collective bargaining agreement that apply to employees of the school; and
- the Memorandum of Understanding under which the charter school proposes to operate.
- (d) The Memorandum or Memoranda of Understanding must be consistent with M.G.L. c. 71, § 89; 603 CMR 1.00; and any guidelines issued by the Department and must include at a minimum:
- the services, both instructional and non-instructional, that the local school district will provide to the charter school;
- the facilities provided by the district;
- any waivers to applicable collective bargaining agreements; and
- financial information, including, but not limited to:
- the basis for calculating tuition;
- a method for determining the arrangements between the charter school and the district regarding costs of services;
- the date of the charter school's first annual budget allocation from the district, consistent with the allocation for other public schools in the district and the basis on which future tuition allocations will be made;
- the schedule for school district funds to be transferred into the charter school's bank account;
- responsibility for securing federal and state entitlement grants for the charter school; and
- the procedures to be used for resolving disputes.
(2) Review Process: The Department shall review application materials submitted in accordance with deadlines established by the Department. The role of any reviewer is solely advisory. Application materials will be reviewed and evaluated in accordance with criteria outlined in 603 CMR 1.04 and the charter school application itself. In addition, the Department will conduct interviews with all final applicants in order to better assess their qualifications and capacity to start and operate a charter school.
(3) Evaluation and Approval of Charter Applications. The Department reviews applications to ensure that the applicant has, at a minimum, demonstrated the capacity:
- (a) to further the purposes for establishment of charter schools specified in M.G.L. c. 71, § 89;
- (b) to conform with M.G.L. c. 71, § 89, and all other applicable laws and regulations, including any guidelines the Board may issue, and including those related to English language learners and students with disabilities;
- (c) to meet its enrollment projections through demonstration of support for the proposed charter school in the communities from which students would be likely to enroll;
- (d) to implement its recruitment and retention plan;
- (e) to involve parents and guardians as partners in the education of their children;
- (f) to develop a proposed program that enhances options for students in the district(s) served;
- (g) to collaborate with and disseminate innovative practices to the school districts from which it draws students, if a Commonwealth charter, and with other schools in its district, if a Horace Mann charter;
- (h) to develop a management structure and plan which enables the charter school to achieve the goals and mission set forth in its charter, including information about proposed board members and the selection, roles, and responsibilities of the board of trustees;
- (i) to develop bylaws that govern the board of trustees consistent with M.G.L. c. 71, § 89; 603 CMR 1.00; and guidelines issued by the Department;
- (j) to develop a management structure and plan that enables the board of trustees to oversee a network of charter schools, including the roles and responsibilities of school leaders and administrators, if applicable;
- (k) to assure that students will meet the same performance standards and assessment requirements set by the Board for students in other public schools;
- (l) to develop an accountability plan that meets criteria established by the Department, at the end of the first year of the school's charter, establishing five-year performance objectives to help measure the school's progress and success in fulfilling the terms of its charter;
- (m) to administer its educational programs, school operations, and finances effectively;
- (n) to establish a process to provide to students, parents/guardians, the Board, other interested parties, and the public all information required by law and regulation, as well as to provide other information the Board may request;
- (o) to develop an enrollment policy consistent with M.G.L. c. 71, § 89, and 603 CMR 1.05;
- (p) to develop a recruitment and retention plan consistent with M.G.L. c. 71, § 89, and 603 CMR 1.05;
- (q) to ensure the thoroughness and accuracy of the charter school application;
- (r) to provide school facilities that comply with municipal building codes and other applicable laws and that are adequate to meet the school's program requirements;
- (s) to develop a board of trustees with the capacity to effectively govern the school and to effectively govern more than one school, if applicable; and
- (t) to build a network of charter schools, if applicable.
If a charter is granted, the drafts of documents submitted during the application process are subject to Department review and approval during the opening procedures process, and the additional requirements in 603 CMR 1.04(7).
(4) Qualifications to Achieve Proven Provider Status: In school districts performing in the lowest 10% statewide and in which the 9% net school spending cap is or would be exceeded, applications will be considered only from Proven Providers. The Commissioner will determine and grant proven provider status.
Applicants for Proven Provider status must meet the requirements in 603 CMR 1.02. The applicant must submit evidence, satisfactory to the Commissioner, to demonstrate a significant management or leadership role at a school or similar program that is an academic success, a viable organization, and relevant to the proposed charter school.
- (a) The applicant shall submit a detailed description of role(s) and responsibilities at the successful school(s) or program(s).
- (b) The applicant shall submit data demonstrating success in student academic performance and evidence of academic program success, including but not limited to:
- Proficiency levels and growth measures on the Massachusetts comprehensive assessment system or equivalent assessments for all students and for one or more targeted subgroups as defined in M.G.L. c. 71, § 89(i)(3), which are similar to statewide averages in English Language Arts and mathematics for all students in Massachusetts in comparable grades, over no less than a three-year period for cohorts of students;
- Student performance on other standardized tests over no less than a three-year period for cohorts of students, if available, which demonstrates student achievement levels that are similar to statewide averages in English Language Arts and mathematics for all students in Massachusetts in comparable grades;
- attendance, retention, and attrition data;
- graduation and dropout data, if applicable; and
- in-school and out-of-school suspension rates.
- (c) The applicant shall submit evidence of organizational viability, which shall include but not be limited to effective governance, effective financial management, effective implementation of recruitment and retention plans, if applicable, and compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
- (d) The applicant shall provide evidence to demonstrate that the successful school serves student population(s) similar to the population(s) to be served by the proposed charter, and that the program to be offered at the proposed charter is similar to, or represents a reasonable modification of the successful school.
- (e) Applicants shall provide any other information as required by the Department.
For applicants with a current or previous relationship to a Massachusetts charter school, the Commissioner may consider all information related to such school's performance, including his evaluation in connection with each renewal of its charter.
(5) Public Comment: The Board and the Department shall hold a public hearing for final applications in the school district in which a proposed charter school is to be located in order to solicit and review comments on the application from the school committees of the school district(s) from which the applicant is expected to enroll students and the public at large. At least one member of the Board shall attend each public hearing soliciting comments on the merits of pending charter school applications and shall report to the Board on the public hearing.
(6) Granting of Charters:
- (a) The Board shall grant charters to charter boards of trustees under M.G.L. c. 71, § 89, and under such conditions and at such time as the Board specifies under 603 CMR 1.04.
- (b) The Board shall grant new charters in the month of February, except that for Horace Mann II schools as described in 603 CMR 1.04(1)(a)2., the Board may grant such charters at such other times as designated, dependent upon the intended opening date.
- (c) A charter granted by the Board shall be effective for five years, beginning July 1st of the first fiscal year in which the charter school enrolls students, unless revoked pursuant to M.G.L. c. 71, § 89, and 603 CMR 1.12. If no students are attending a charter school within 19 months from the date the charter was granted, the charter will be null and void, unless a waiver and extension is granted by the Board according to the process outlined in 603 CMR 1.03 (2).
- (d) Should the Board elect to award fewer than the number of charters specified under M.G.L. c. 71, § 89 in any given cycle, the Board may grant those charters not awarded in subsequent application cycles in addition to the number of charters scheduled to be awarded and notwithstanding any limitations on the number of new charters authorized in such year.
- (e) The Board may award any charter revoked or returned to the Board in subsequent application cycles in addition to the number of charters scheduled to be awarded and notwithstanding any limitations on the number of new charters authorized in such year.
- (f) The Board will use the most recent United States Census estimate to determine the population of a city or town proposed as the location for a charter school.
- (g) Private and parochial schools shall not be eligible for charter school status. If members of a charter applicant group are on the governing board or management of a private or parochial school that plans to close or closes around the time of seeking a charter, it creates a rebuttable presumption that the private or parochial school seeks charter status for the purpose of securing public funding. To rebut this presumption, the applicant group must establish facts sufficient for the Department to determine that funding is not the primary reason they are seeking a charter while the private or parochial school is closing. In making a determination, the Department will compare the governance, management, and other characteristics of the private or parochial school and the governance, management, and other characteristics of the charter school, including but not limited to curriculum, student body, staff, leadership, location, and the financial plan for the school.
(7) Conditions for Opening New Charter Schools: Charters shall be awarded subject to the conditions listed in 1.04 (3) and (7) and any additional conditions that the Board or Department may specify. The Board may temporarily waive such conditions and award a charter, provided that the applicant submits adequate written assurance that all such conditions will be met prior to the opening of the charter school. If a new charter school fails to comply with any such specified condition, the Commissioner may prohibit the school from opening.
Upon receiving a charter, the charter school must successfully complete the opening procedures process specified by the Department. This process begins with the awarding of a new charter by the Board and ends in the following June when the school submits a draft Accountability Plan to the Department. Opening procedures requirements include, but are not limited to, provision of the following:
- (a) the terms of the proposed contract, for review and approval, in such cases where the board of trustees intends to procure substantially all educational services from another person or organization;
- (b) policies and procedures including, but not be limited to, approved bylaws, an enrollment policy, and a recruitment and retention plan;
- (c) criteria and procedures for suspension and expulsion of students;
- (d) written documentation that criminal background checks have been performed as required by state law;
- (e) written documentation that the facilities to be used by the charter school are approved for use as a school by the building inspector in the municipality in which the building is located;
- (f) written documentation that the facilities occupied by the charter school have been inspected by the Fire Department of the municipality in which the facilities are located;
- (g) written documentation that approval under M.G.L. c. 148 has been secured from the licensing authority of the municipality in which the building is located if explosives or flammable compounds or liquids are used in connection with courses taught at the school; and
- (h) written documentation that the school is in compliance with all other applicable federal and state health and safety laws and regulations, including evidence of compliance with any required insurance coverage.
(8) Information for Distribution of Public Funds: Upon receiving a charter, all charter schools shall provide the Department with a federal tax identification number issued solely to the charter school, and banking information regarding a bank account solely in the name of the charter school, as required by the State Treasurer for the transfer of public funds.
(9) Lowest 10 %: The Commissioner shall annually publish a ranking of all districts that are subject to charter school tuition charges, for the purpose of determining the lowest 10% as specified in M.G.L. c. 71, § 89(i)(2), and (i)(3). Such ranking shall be calculated by determining the average ranks for each district's English language arts, mathematics, and science composite performance index; the percentage of students scoring warning or failing in English language arts, mathematics, and science; the percentage of students scoring advanced in English language arts, mathematics, and science; and student growth percentiles for English language arts and mathematics, using statewide student performance scores released in the two consecutive school years immediately preceding the school year in which applications are submitted. These calculations shall use weighting consistent with the Department's approved methodology for the state accountability system. Districts without data for each component of the calculation will not be included. Additional charter school seats resulting from a district's designation in the lowest 10% may be awarded by the Board to a new charter applicant, to existing charter schools, or to any combination thereof. The Board may provisionally award seats to new charter applicants and to existing charter schools that will become available in future years pursuant to the schedule set forth in St. 2010, c. 12, § 9, provided, that if a district is no longer in the lowest 10%, any remaining provisional seats may not be used.
(10) Seat Availability: In considering an application for the creation or expansion of a regional charter school, the board shall independently assess the availability of seats for each sending district within the proposed region, and may limit the number of students who may be enrolled from each such district.
(1) Recruitment and Retention Plan: A charter school must develop a plan that includes deliberate, specific strategies the school will use to attract, to enroll, and to retain a student population that is demographically comparable to similar grades in schools from which the charter school enrolls students. Charter schools shall submit recruitment and retention plans for approval by the Department that meet the requirements of M.G.L. c. 71, § 89; 603 CMR 1.05; and any guidelines issued by the Department.
(2) Non-Discrimination: Charter schools shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, creed, sex, gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, age, ancestry, athletic performance, special need, proficiency in the English language or a foreign language, or prior academic achievement. For purposes of 603 CMR 1.05, gender identity shall mean a person's gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's physiology or assigned sex at birth. Gender-related identity may be shown by providing evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity, or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held as part of a person's core identity; provided, however, that gender-related identity shall not be asserted for any improper purpose.
(3) Enrollment Process and Applications for Admission:
- (a) Enrollment Process. Charter schools may not administer tests to potential applicants or predicate enrollment on results from any test of ability or achievement. Charter schools may not use financial incentives to recruit students. Requirements for enrollment in a charter school, including but not limited to attendance at informational meetings and interviews, shall not be designed, intended, or used to discriminate. Charter schools may not require potential students and their families to attend interviews or informational meetings as a condition of enrollment.
- (b) Application for Admission. Every charter school must submit its proposed application for admission, and any subsequent revisions, beyond changing dates indicated and correcting minor grammatical errors, to the Department for approval.
- (c) Principal Application Deadlines. Charter schools may not set any principal application deadlines or hold any enrollment lotteries for student admissions for the upcoming school year until after January 1st. Every charter school shall conclude its principal enrollment process no later than March 15th of each year.
(4) Written Notice: Charter schools shall notify all applicants in writing of the rights of students with diverse learning needs to attend the charter school and to receive accommodations and support services, including students who may have disabilities, require special education, or are English language learners. Charter schools must include this notice as part of the school's application and enrollment materials. Every charter school must make information regarding the availability of services for students generally available in the school's outreach materials, through the student handbook, and on the school's website.
(5) Application Deadlines: Charter schools shall give reasonable public notice, of at least one month, of all application deadlines.
(6) Enrollment in Commonwealth Charter Schools: In conformance with M.G.L. c. 71, § 89, enrollment in Commonwealth charter schools shall be conducted as follows:
- (a) In such cases where there are fewer spaces than eligible applicants, students shall be accepted for admission by a lottery process.
- (b) A Commonwealth charter school shall provide an enrollment preference to:
- Siblings of students already attending the school; and
- Students who reside in the city or town in which a Commonwealth charter school is located or, in the case of a regional charter school, to students who reside within the charter school's region.
- (c) If there are fewer spaces for admission to the charter school than eligible applicants, the charter school shall hold an enrollment lottery for all such applicants.
- (d) The Department shall notify each Commonwealth charter school no later than February 15th of any limitation(s) on the number of students from a district that may be enrolled in charter schools for the upcoming school year.
- (e) A charter school may initiate a request once a year for a mailing to the students enrolled in each district specified in the school's charter, and a district may initiate a request once a year for a mailing to the students enrolled in any charter school serving that district. When such a request is made, the district or school, as the case may be, shall provide the names and addresses of students within 30 days, in electronic format, to an approved third party mailing service. Any vendor listed on the statewide procurement or master services agreement for mailing services shall be deemed approved for the purposes of 603 CMR 1.05(6)(e). The district or school must provide parents or guardians with the opportunity to request that such information be withheld. The cost of copying and mailing shall be borne by the charter school or district requesting the mailing. Neither school districts nor charter schools shall charge for the provision of the required names and addresses. Charter schools shall provide any such mailing in the prevalent languages of the district. A language shall be deemed a prevalent language if it is the primary language of 1% or more of the district's total enrollment.
(7) Enrollment in Horace Mann Charter Schools: In conformance with M.G.L. c. 71, § 89, enrollment in a Horace Mann charter school shall be conducted as follows:
- (a) In such cases where there are fewer spaces for admission than eligible applicants, students shall be accepted for admission from among applicants by lottery.
- (b) In order of priorities, a Horace Mann charter school shall provide an enrollment preference to:
- for the initial lottery, any students attending said school, or attending school in the school building previously occupied by said school, on the date that the final application is filed with the Board;
- for the initial lottery, siblings, of any students attending said school, or attending school in the school building previously occupied by said school, on the date that the final application is filed with the Board;
- in all subsequent lotteries, siblings of students currently attending the school;
- students who are currently enrolled in the public schools of the district in which the Horace Mann charter school is located; and
- students who reside in the city or town in which the Horace Mann charter school is located.
(8) Repeat Enrollment Process: If the principal enrollment process fails to fill the available admission spaces, a school may repeat the process more than once, providing such process is fair and open and the school gives reasonable public notice at least one month prior to the application deadline. As spaces become available during the school year, a school may repeat the enrollment process to fill these openings and to meet the requirements of M.G.L. c. 70, § 89(n). No student entering an enrollment process may be admitted ahead of other eligible students who were previously placed on a wait list during a prior enrollment process, except in cases where enrollment preferences change or as described in to 603 CMR 1.05(10)(b). The total number of students attending a charter school in a given school year cannot exceed the total number of students reported to the Department in the previous spring in accordance with 603 CMR 1.08(5).
(9) Public Lotteries: All lotteries for charter school seats shall be conducted in a public place with a neutral party drawing names and with reasonable public notice given at least one week prior to the lottery. Such lotteries may be conducted electronically; in such cases a neutral party shall certify that the process is fair and that selection is random.
(10) Waitlist: Charter schools shall place the names of students not selected in an enrollment lottery on a wait list in the order the names are drawn.
- (a) Schools shall maintain waitlists only for the school year for which the students applied, provided that a charter school may choose to maintain any waitlists that were established prior to March 31, 2014 until such waitlists are exhausted, provided that such maintenance is clearly articulated in the school's enrollment policy approved by the Department. Charter schools must keep accurate records of their wait list containing students' names (first, middle, last), dates of birth, cities or towns of residence, and grades levels of students who entered the lottery but did not gain admission. When an offer of admission is made, reasonable proof of current residency or sibling status may be required at the time an offer of admission is made.
- (b) In cases where the enrollment of a student, who is not a sibling of another currently enrolled student, from the waitlist would exceed the district charter tuition cap, the student should be skipped over but kept on the waitlist. In cases where the enrollment of a student who is a sibling of a student already attending a charter school would exceed the district charter school tuition cap, the sibling may be enrolled with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts providing tuition for the sibling, subject to appropriation.
- (c) In conformance with M.G.L. c. 71, § 89, charter schools shall, when a student stops attending the school for any reason, fill vacant seats up to February 15th, excluding seats in the last half of the grades offered and grades 10, 11, and 12 . If a school has an odd number of grades, more than half of grades offered shall be included in grades for which the school must fill vacant seats. A vacancy not filled after February 15th moves into the subsequent grade, to be filled the following September if such grade is not in the last half of the grades offered and is not grades 10, 11, or 12. Seats for students who have accepted an offer of admission in the charter school but have never attended are exempt from 603 CMR 1.05(10)(c). .
(11) Integrated Enrollment Process: A school may integrate its enrollment process with that of the school district(s).
(12) Maximum Age and Thresholds: Each charter school shall specify age thresholds for kindergarten and maximum ages for high school programs, consistent with state and federal law.
(13) Multiple Campuses Under Single Charter: A charter school that operates multiple campuses under a single charter may assign students, in accordance with the charter school's enrollment policy, to a specific campus for reasons of geographic proximity, student safety, or program delivery.
(1) Annual Report: A charter school shall submit an annual report to the Board and the local school committee and make available to every parent or guardian of its enrolled students and to every parent or guardian who expresses interest in enrolling in that charter school. Each charter school shall make the annual report available on its website. A network, as defined by 603 CMR 1.00, may submit a combined annual report provided that information for each school is reported discretely within the annual report to ensure that it complies with M.G.L. c. 71, § 89; 603 CMR 1.00; and any guidelines issued by the Department. The annual report shall be issued no later than August 1st of each year for the preceding school year. The annual report shall include the following information:
- (a) a financial statement setting forth by appropriate categories the unaudited revenue and expenditures for the year just ended, and a balance sheet setting forth the charter school's assets, liabilities, and fund balances or equities;
- (b) a capital plan identifying future planned capital projects and the amounts held in reserve for such projects;
- (c) a report on the school's implementation of its recruitment and retention plan for the relevant year;
- (d) an updated recruitment and retention plan for the upcoming school year that complies with guidelines issued by the Department;
- (e) projections of income and expenses for the upcoming school year;
- (f) discussion of progress made toward achievement of the goals of the charter and accountability plan;
- (g) evidence that the charter school is developing or has provided models for replication and best practices in education; and
- (h) such other information as the Board may require in guidelines.
(2) Site Visits: The Department may send evaluation teams to visit each charter school on an annual or on an as-needed basis to corroborate and augment the information provided in the annual report. The Department may conduct other site visits as necessary. Site visit teams may also gather any other evidence relevant to the school's performance. The written reports from these site visits shall become part of the charter school's record, along with any response that the school submits.
(3) Financial Audits: In accordance with M.G.L. c. 71, § 89, every charter school shall have an independent audit conducted of its accounts, consistent with generally accepted government auditing standards and any guidelines issued by the Department. Audits shall be filed annually by November 1st with the Department and the Office of the State Auditor. Districts are required to assist Horace Mann charter schools to the fullest extent possible in providing them in a timely fashion with the financial, payroll, and personnel records required for a complete audit. A network, as defined by 603 CMR 1.00, may submit a combined annual independent audit report, provided that each entities' financials are discretely presented within the audit report to ensure that it complies with M.G.L. c. 71, § 89; 603 CMR 1.00; and any guidelines issued by the Department.
(4) End of Year Financial Report: Every charter school shall submit an end of year financial report based on audited financial figures in accordance with guidelines issued by the Department.
(5) Enrollment Reports: Every charter school shall file a pre-enrollment report annually in accordance with deadlines established by the Department. Every charter school must keep accurate records related to enrollment including, but not limited to, applications for admission, the lottery process, and wait lists. The Department will report to districts the aggregate number of students who are selected for admission for the upcoming school year from their districts and the total enrollment for each charter school. No charter school shall receive tuition payments that exceed the total enrollment for that charter school as it was reported to the Department in the school's pre-enrollment report. In their pre-enrollment reports, charter schools must notify the Department of:
- (a) the school's total enrollment for the subsequent academic year; and
- (b) the projected number of students selected for admission, by grade and district of residence, for the subsequent academic year.
(6) Waitlist Reports: In accordance with M.G.L. c. 71, § 89 (n); 603 CMR 1.05; and any guidelines established by the Department, every charter school shall submit to the Department, no later than June 1st, the list of students who entered the lottery but did not gain admission. The information provided must include, but is not limited to, students' names (first, middle, last), dates of birth, towns of residence, and grades. Every charter school must update this waitlist data as required by the Department.
(7) Enrollment Claim Forms: Each charter school shall submit reports of actual enrollment as of October 1st and March 1st. The reports shall be filed in accordance with guidelines and deadlines established by the Department.
(8) Additional Information and Reports: In addition to the requisite submissions as articulated in 603 CMR 1.00, charter schools must supply any additional information, data, or reports required by the Department or Board.
(9) Compliance: Every charter school shall submit written documentation related to compliance with building, health, safety, and insurance requirements and related to all such inspections and approvals are current.
(10) Investigations: Every charter school shall notify the Department in writing of all significant matters within two business days. Significant matters include, but are not limited to, all communications made or received by or on behalf of the school with any government audit, investigative, or law enforcement agency.
(11) Notification of New Circumstances: The charter school shall notify the Department in writing immediately of any change in circumstances that may have a significant impact on a charter school's ability to fulfill its goals or mission as stated in its charter. These include, but are not limited to:
- (a) changes in individuals holding school leadership positions, such as an executive director or principal;
- (b) a delay in implementing a minor or major amendment;
- (c) changes in location of the school's facilities within the same municipality and documentation of the school's compliance with state and federal laws, including, but not limited to, all fire, health, and safety laws and accessibility requirements for new facilities or renovations to existing facilities;
- (d) changes in officers of the school's board of trustees;
- (e) individuals resigning from the board of trustees;
- (f) changes in general contact information (phone number, mailing address, and email) for the school and the school's board of trustees; and
- (g) significant decreases in enrollment (more than 10% lower than any previously reported figure).
(12) Signatory Authorization: All information supplied to the Board, the Commissioner, or the Department by the charter school shall be signed by an individual with signatory authority. All such information is submitted under penalty of perjury.
Requests to amend the material terms of a school's charter must be voted on by the board of trustees and approved by the Commissioner or the Board before change is implemented.
(1) Conditions: The Board or Commissioner may impose conditions on a school's charter for violations of law or failure to make progress with student achievement, failure to adhere to and enhance its recruitment and retention plan, failure to comply with the terms of its charter, or failure to remain viable.
(2) Probation: The Board may place a charter school on probation if in its judgment the imposition of a condition alone would be insufficient to remediate the problem. The Board may impose conditions on the school's charter that require the school to address specific areas of concern. Placing a school on probation signals concern about the school's viability and permits the Board to suspend a school's charter immediately if the school fails to remedy the causes of its probation. The Department may require a charter school on probation to establish an escrow account in an amount determined by the Department in consultation with the charter school to pay for closing, legal, and audit expenses associated with closure should that occur.
(3) Suspension or Revocation: The Board may suspend or revoke a charter for cause including, but not limited to:
- (a) lack of evidence of academic success;
- (b) failure to comply substantially with the terms of the charter, with any of the applicable provisions of M.G.L. c. 71, § 89, or with any other applicable law or regulation;
- (c) a material misrepresentation in the application for approval or renewal of the charter;
- (d) financial insolvency;
- (e) misappropriation, conversion, mismanagement, or illegal withholding of funds or refusal to pay any funds that belong to any person otherwise entitled thereto and that have been entrusted to the charter school or its administrators in their fiduciary capacities;
- (f) fraud or gross mismanagement on the part of charter school administrators or board of trustees, including but not limited to, mismanagement of the educational program and failure to provide a healthy and safe environment for students;
- (g) criminal convictions on the part of the charter school administration or members of its board of trustees; or
- (h) failure to fulfill any conditions imposed by the Board in connection with the grant or renewal of a charter.
(4) Notification: Before the Board revokes a charter, it shall notify the charter school in writing that the Board intends to revoke the charter. A vote of intent to revoke or a vote to not renew a charter shall operate as a notice of the action and does not operate as an order to show cause. In the case of a Horace Mann charter, the Board shall also notify the district in which the school is located. Except in the case of an immediate suspension, the Board shall send the notice 60 days before the revocation takes effect.
(5) Hearing: Upon receiving a notice of intent to revoke a charter, notice of non-renewal, or notice of suspension where the health, safety, or education of the school's students is at immediate risk, the school shall have the rights provided in M.G.L. c. 30A, § 13, and 801 CMR 1.00: Standard Adjudicatory Rules of Practice and Procedure. Where hearings are provided by statutes, all requests for hearings shall be in writing, addressed to the Board, and must be received within 15 days of receipt by the charter school of notice. At such hearing, the school shall bear the burden of proof and present its case first.
(6) Withhold Payment: The Board may withhold payments to any charter school that fails to comply with conditions imposed on its charter, that has been placed on probation, or whose charter has been suspended, revoked, or not renewed.
(7) General Fund: Upon the revocation, non-renewal, or voluntary return of a Commonwealth charter, title to all of the property of the charter school shall immediately vest in the Commonwealth, subject to the rights of any secured party holding a perfected security interest in the property of such charter school. Any funds remaining after the satisfaction of the charter school's obligations shall be deposited in the General Fund.
(8) Closing Procedures: Charter schools must comply with the closing procedures established by the Department. Charter schools must begin planning for closure and compliance with closing procedures immediately upon issuance of a notice of intent to revoke the school's charter, a notice of non-renewal, or a notice of suspension.
If the Commissioner determines that the board of trustees of a charter school needs additional expertise in fulfilling, or it fails to fulfill, its obligations under the closing procedures established by the Department, the Commissioner may appoint an individual or entity to assist with an orderly closure of the charter school. Such individual or entity may be paid out of the school's remaining funds, including the escrow account specified in 603 CMR 1.12.
(9) Debts and Liabilities: Upon closure of a charter school, the Commonwealth, the Board, and the Department assume no liability for any portion of any obligations, debts, or loans, or other liabilities of the board of trustees or of the charter school.
(10) Property: Upon the revocation, non-renewal, or voluntary return of a Horace Mann charter, title to all of the property of the charter school shall immediately vest in the school district in which the school is located, subject to the rights of any secured party holding a perfected security interest in the property of such charter school.
If any section or portion of a section of 603 CMR 1.00, or the applicability of 603 CMR 1.00 to any person, entity or circumstance is held invalid by a court, the remainder of 603 CMR 1.00 or the applicability of such provisions to other persons, entities or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.