Board Governance and Charter Amendments
Notification and Amendments
Obligations and Responsibilities of Boards of Trustees
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.
|Open Meeting Law
||Upon joining a board of trustees, new members must review and complete a certification of receipt of three Open Meeting Law materials:
||Trustees must certify receipt of Open Meeting Law materials within two weeks of joining the board.
||Trustees must file a financial disclosure form annually with (1) the State Ethics Commission, (2) the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and (3) the city or town clerk wherein the charter school is located.
Statute: M.G.L. Chapter 71, §89(u)
|Trustees must file the disclosure within 30 days of becoming a member of the board of trustees, by September 1 of each year thereafter that the person is a member of the board and by September 1 of the year after the person ceases to be a member of the board.
|Conflict of Interest — Summary
||As special state employees, trustees must annually review and provide written acknowledgment of a summary of the Commonwealth's Conflict of Interest Law:
Summary of Conflict of Interest Law for State Employees
Statute: M.G.L. Chapter 268A §27
|Trustees must review and provide written acknowledgment within 30 days of becoming a member of the board and on an annual basis thereafter.
|Conflict of Interest — Training
||Every two years, trustees must complete an online training program on the Commonwealth's Conflict of Interest Law:
Conflict of Interest Law Online Training Program
Statute: M.G.L. Chapter 268A §28
|Trustees must complete the training within 30 days of becoming a member of the board and every 2 years thereafter.
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.
Summary of Charter School Board of Trustees Training
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.
Administrative and Governance Guide (Archived)
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
Use of Board Member Management System
Addition of New Board Members
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.
For additional information on how to request board member approval, please refer to the Amendment Guidelines.
Charter Amendment Guidelines
Last Updated: May 20, 2020