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  • Massachusetts Charter Schools

    Board Governance and Charter Amendments

    Board Governance

    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.

    AreaRequirementTimeline
    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.
    Financial disclosure 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 openmeeting@state.ma.us .

    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.

    Last Updated: May 17, 2022

     
    Contact Us

    Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
    75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

    Voice: (781) 338-3000
    TTY: (800) 439-2370

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