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Massachusetts Charter Schools

Board Governance and Charter Amendments

Board Governance

Notification and Amendments


Significant Matters and New Circumstances at a Charter School that Require Notification to the Department

Charter schools are required to report certain types of significant matters and new circumstances to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) in a timely fashion. Notification requires an individual authorized by the board, usually the school leader or a member of the school's administration, to notify the Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign informing the Department of the significant matter or new circumstance. Notification may be submitted via email to charterschools@doe.mass.edu, with the exception of updates that can occur through the Board Member Management System. Information regarding the board of trustees is updated within the Board Member Management System and also recorded in the school's annual report.

The Department requires notification of any significant matters related to an investigation, which 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. Pursuant to 603 CMR 1.08 (10), every charter school shall notify the Department in writing of all significant matters within two business days.

Pursuant to 603 CMR 1.08 (11), the Department requires notification when schools experience changes in:

  • individuals holding school leadership positions, such as an executive director or principal [whether interim or permanent capacity];
  • the delay of implementation of a granted amendment*;
  • 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 the new facility or renovations to the current facility;
  • information regarding the board of trustees, including officers of the school's board of trustees, individuals resigning from the board of trustees, and general contact information for members of the school's board of trustees;
  • general contact information (phone number, mailing address, and email) for the school; or
  • significant decreases in enrollment (more than 10% lower than any previously reported figure).

*Note: If the delay of an amendment request includes a change to the roll out of a grade span change or maximum enrollment increase, the change will require approval of the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education and requires consultation with the Department.

In addition to notifying the Department of changes in leadership and contact information, charter schools must also update the Department's central Directory Administration system as needed. This is an online system used by all public schools and districts to identify key personnel and contact information. The Directory Administration database is used by many different offices in the Department to distribute important information, and some of the information is also made available to the public on the School Profiles page of the Department's website. Therefore, it is essential that this information be kept current. Charter schools can view, add, update, and delete their own information in the Directory Administration database through the Department's security portal. Schools should contact the Department's data collection unit at 781-338-DATA or data@doe.mass.edu with any questions about this process.

Amendments of Board and School Policies, such as Bylaws and Enrollment Policy, and Mission-related Elements

Subject to Approval of the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education

All amendments to board approved policies that require alignment to published Department guidance require provisional approval by the Department prior to Commissioner approval. Provisional approval ensures that all changes align to current Department guidance and requirements. Please refer to the table below to determine the staff member who will review and provide provisional approval to the type of document the school seeks to amend. Prior to submission, any specific questions regarding Department guidance or the review process should be directed to the individual named below. Please submit the draft document directly to the individual via email.

Preliminary approval is required for changes to:

DocumentLiaisonResource
Accountability Plan Patrick Buckwalter
Download Word Document
Accountability Plan Guidelines
Bylaws Alyssa Hopkins
Download Word Document
Criteria for Bylaws Checklist
Enrollment policy & application for admission Brenton Stewart
View HTML Page
Charter School Technical Advisory 16-3: Enrollment Processes and FAQ's
View HTML Page
Enrollment Policy and Practice Frequently Asked Questions
Download Word Document
Criteria for Enrollment Policy and Application for Admission Checklist
Expulsion policy Melissa Gordon
Download Word Document
Criteria for Expulsion Policy Checklist
Memorandum of understanding for Horace Mann charter schools Alyssa Hopkins
Download Word Document
Required and Recommended Elements of a Memorandum of Understanding

All other amendments to terms of the school's charter may be voted upon by the board and submitted directly to the Department via csamendments@doe.mass.edu for Commissioner approval without consultation with the Department.

Consultation with Department staff is not required prior to submission for changes to:

  • School name;
  • Mission;
  • Governance or leadership structure;
  • Educational programs, curriculum models, or whole-school designs that are inconsistent with those specified in the school's charter;
  • Membership of the board of trustees;
  • Schedule (e.g. length of school year, school week, or school day); and
  • Location of facilities, if such change involves relocating or expanding to another municipality within the charter region.

If a school is proposing to permanently change its schedule, length of school year, school week, or school day), the school must also submit a completed School Schedule Template with the request.

Download Word Document
School Schedule Template

For information on how to complete an amendment request, please refer to the Amendment Guidelines below:

Download Word Document
Charter Amendment Guidelines

All amendment requests shall include a Charter Amendment Cover Sheet and a Charter Amendment Request Letter for Commissioner Approval. Charter Amendment Request Letters should briefly describe how the board came to decide to submit the charter amendment, why the amendment should be granted, and indicate specific concerns if the request is not granted, as applicable.

Templates for both documents can be found below.

Download Word Document
Charter Amendment Cover Sheet
Download Word Document
Template of Request Letter for Charter Amendment Subject to Commissioner Approval

Amendment Requests to Change Charter Region, Maximum Enrollment, Grades Served, and new or existing Management Contracts

Subject to Approval of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

When a school receives its original charter and any subsequent renewals of that charter from the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board), the state approves the charter school's broad academic and organizational plans for the next five years. Any substantive changes to those plans require the approval of the Board for an amendment to the school's charter before the changes are implemented. Charter amendments requiring approval by the Board before they can be implemented include:

  • District(s) specified in a school's charter;
  • Maximum enrollment;
  • Grades served; or
  • Contractual relationship with an education management organization that is providing or planning to provide substantially all the school's educational services.

Deadline for 2020-2021 Requests

All schools who seek to amend their charter through an expansion must submit a detailed request letter by 12:00 noon on July 30, 2020 to csamendments@doe.mass.edu in order to be considered and to initiate the Department's review process.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these estimates may change significantly

Download Excel Document
Enrollment Projections by District for New Applications and Expansion Amendments
These projections are made available to assist applicants in planning for the submission of a charter application or charter expansion but do not guarantee the number of seats available for award in any district in FY2021. The actual number of seats that may be available for award in any district in any particular year cannot be predicted with certainty and is dependent on several factors, including district enrollment, district spending levels, student enrollment for existing charter schools, and changes in the net school spending (NSS) caps of individual districts. The availability of seats in any district is subject to change and, in this year, we anticipate those changes may be significant. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, applicants should expect significant variation in the number of projected seats available for award once state and local budgets are finalized, which may not be until well into FY2021. The Department will discuss adjustments to projections with applicant groups when updated FY2021 net school spending is available.

Resources

For information on how to complete an amendment request under the new process, please refer to the Amendment Guidelines below:

Download Word Document
Charter Amendment Guidelines

All amendment requests shall include a Charter Amendment Cover Sheet and a Charter Amendment Request Letter for Board Approval. Charter Amendment Request Letters should briefly describe how the board came to decide to submit the charter amendment, why the amendment should be granted, and indicate specific concerns if the request is not granted, as applicable. Templates for both documents can be found below:

Download Word Document
Charter Amendment Cover Sheet
Download Word Document
Template of Request Letter for Charter Amendment Subject to Board Approval
Download Word Document
Statement of Assurances for the Federal Charter School Program Grant

If a school is intending to pursue a charter amendment involving a management contract that is a new contract or the revision of an existing contract, the school must consult with the Department prior to submission of a signed agreement between the board and management organization. Please review the required elements of contracts for education services provided below.

Download Word Document
Required Elements of Contract for Educational Services

Last Updated: May 20, 2020

 
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