As public agents authorized by the state, the members of the board of trustees (board) of a charter school are responsible for governing the school and hold the charter for the school, as it is granted by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). A strong board defines the mission of the school, develops school policies and changes them when appropriate, hires qualified personnel to manage the school's day-to-day operations and holds them accountable for meeting established goals, and formulates a long-range plan and charter school accountability plan that will ensure the school's continued stability.
In addition to its many other responsibilities, the board must ensure that the school is complying with all of the state and federal laws that apply to the school and that the school is operating in accordance with its charter and with any approved amendments to its charter.
Finally, the board itself must operate in accordance with Massachusetts laws and regulations. Upon beginning service on a board and each year thereafter, each trustee must meet a number of legal requirements set forth by the Commonwealth. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) has developed an online management system (Board Member Management System) to distribute, collect, and maintain records of the completion of these requirements by active board members. The requirements are explained in the chart below.
For questions concerning Massachusetts' Open Meeting Law, you may contact the Division of Open Government, within the Office of the Attorney General, at (617) 963-2540 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
For questions concerning Conflict of Interest Law, you may contact the State Ethics Commission at (617) 371-9500 or you may electronically request an Informal Written Opinion.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has developed a new online governance training for all members of Massachusetts charter school boards of trustees.
This is a supplemental tool designed to support and reinforce your success. This governance training will help define the roles and responsibilities of charter school boards of trustees and explain the standards by which the Department assesses charter school governance in order to better promote effective charter school governance.
Charter School Board of Trustees Training
As entities of the state, charter schools must meet a number of legal requirements set forth by the Commonwealth. Many of these requirements are outlined in The Charter School Administrative and Governance Guide: An Overview of the Laws and Regulations that Boards of Trustees and School Leaders Need to Know. The Charter School Administrative and Governance Guide, developed in November 2007, has been archived. A new guide will be available shortly.
The Charter School Administrative and Governance Guide, November 2007
When a charter school's board of trustees votes to accept new members, and before those individuals may take official action, the following steps must be taken through the Board Member Management System to receive approval of the new members from the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education (Commissioner):
The chairperson of the board, or an individual authorized by the board, must submit a letter to the Department to request approval of the new member(s) from the Commissioner. The letter should include a statement that the charter school's board of trustees voted to accept the new board member(s) at a meeting held in compliance with the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law.
Request Letter Template for Approval of New Board Members
A copy of each proposed board member's resume must be submitted along with the letter requesting approval.
New board members must also comply with all legal requirements regarding Open Meeting Law, Conflict of Interest Law, and financial disclosure. Completed disclosure of financial interest forms must be submitted with the letter requesting approval.
Each school has one or more authorized system users with access to the Board Member Management System. Please contact our office directly at 781-338-3227 if your school encounters problems accessing the system.
In the event of a resignation or removal of a trustee, a charter school may have to appoint a new board member unexpectedly. If this occurs, the school should supply the Department with all required information about the new board member as soon as possible. The new board member must wait for approval from the Department before serving.
Note: Board members who have previously been approved by the Commissioner for service on a specific charter school board of trustees do not require Commissioner approval for additional terms of service on the same charter school board of trustees if there is no gap in service between terms. Boards of trustees are required to adhere to the term limits described in their board bylaws.
Schools are required to notify the Department via the Board Member Management System when individuals occupying officer positions change, and when members leave the school's Board of Trustees, whether it is a resignation, the expiration of a term, or a removal.
Last Updated: November 10, 2023
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906
Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370
Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.