Most Recently Amended by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education: June 22, 2021
(1) Purpose: The purpose of 603 CMR 1.00 is to provide uniform rules and procedures governing the establishment and operation of charter schools.
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:
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) Administrative Bulletins: The Board and the Department may issue advisories to interpret, implement, and provide guidance to charter schools.
(2) Waivers: The Board may waive provisions of 603 CMR 1.00 for good cause. If a charter applicant or charter school board of trustees makes a written request for a waiver, the Board may waive the applicability of one or more provisions of 603 CMR 1.00. These waivers shall be granted only under circumstances the Board deems exceptional and such waivers shall be granted only to the extent allowed by law. All such requests from the charter applicant or a board of trustees must:
If the granting of a waiver would have an impact on sending districts or the district of the town or city in which the charter school is located, the Commissioner shall provide the superintendent of each district notice and an opportunity to comment.
(3) Prohibitions: Private and parochial schools are not eligible for charter school status. Charter schools shall not charge students an application fee or tuition. Charter schools shall not charge their students any fee related to the provision of required educational programs. Charter schools shall not charge any public school or public school district for the use of their curriculum, subject to the restrictions contained in any contract between charter schools and third party providers. For-profit businesses or corporate entities may not apply for a charter.
(4) Immediate Closure: The Commissioner may order immediate closure of a charter school facility where the health, safety, or education of the school's students is at risk. Additionally, the Commissioner may order immediate closure of a charter school facility where fire, health, or safety codes, regulations, laws, or accessibility requirements are not met.
(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.
(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:
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.
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:
(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:
(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. In the event that all statewide student performance scores were not released in the two consecutive school years immediately preceding the school year in which applications are submitted, such ranking shall be calculated for districts, including those that may lack data for some components, using the two most recent years in which statewide student performance scores were released. 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:
(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:
(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:
(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. 71, § 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.
(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) Responsibilities of Board of Trustees: The board of trustees of a charter school holds the charter of the school and governs the school. Every board of trustees shall have a least five members. Boards of trustees are state governmental bodies. Boards of trustees must fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities, including but not limited to, the duty of loyalty and duty of care, as well as the obligation to oversee the school's budget. Boards of trustees shall not exercise managerial powers over the day-to-day operations of the school. Boards of trustees must ensure that schools operate in accordance with their charter, including any approved amendments. Boards of trustees must ensure that schools operate in compliance with all applicable state and federal laws. The responsibilities of boards of trustees shall include, but are not limited to the following:
(2) Bylaws: The bylaws of every board of trustees must comply with state and federal laws and contain provisions including, but not limited to:
(3) Board of Trustees Training: Every member of the board of trustees shall, within one year of appointment, complete orientation concerning the responsibilities of their office, as determined by the Commissioner, and any other training required by other state agencies.
(4) Charter School Staff: Charter school teachers hired after August 10, 2000 must either:
(1) Horace Mann Charter Schools: Horace Mann charter schools shall be funded through the local school district under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding. A Horace Mann charter school shall submit a budget request to the local school district annually, in accordance with the budget schedule of the local school district and no later than April 1st. Such budget request shall be submitted to the superintendent and school committee of the district in which the charter school is located. The school committee shall act on the charter school budget request in conjunction with its approval of the district's overall budget. The board of trustees of the Horace Mann charter school may expend such allocation as it sees fit without any further approval by the superintendent or school committee. A Horace Mann charter school's budget allocation shall be consistent with the allocation of other public schools in the district. In the case of budget reductions in the school district, a Horace Mann charter school's budget may not be reduced disproportionately to other schools in the district. The Horace Mann charter school board of trustees shall follow the dispute resolution procedures outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding. The board of trustees may appeal a disproportionate budget allocation to the Commissioner. The Commissioner then shall determine an equitable funding level for the charter school and, if appropriate, shall require the school committee to provide such funding.
(2) Commonwealth Charter Schools: Every operating Commonwealth charter school shall receive tuition payments from each school district whose students attend the charter school. Such tuition payments shall be equal to the appropriate charter school tuition rate, as determined in accordance with 603 CMR 1.07(2)(a), multiplied by the number of students attending the charter school from the sending district in the current year. If any students attend the charter school for less than the full school year, the tuition payment shall be reduced based on the number of days of enrollment. Such tuition payments shall be paid in accordance with 603 CMR 1.07(2)(d).
(4) Surplus Determination: Every Commonwealth charter school shall maintain a separate fund on its books of account for tuition revenue. The Commissioner, in consultation with the State Auditor, shall prescribe supplemental reports for the purpose of calculating the school's cumulative unspent tuition revenue, and such reports shall be submitted as part of the school's audited financial statements. Commonwealth charter schools are permitted to retain a reasonable surplus as working capital for the upcoming fiscal year equal to no more than 25% of the prior year's tuition payments plus 20% of the budgeted operating and capital expenses for the upcoming year. Payments of excess cumulative tuition revenue due to sending districts and the Commonwealth shall be made by the Commissioner through adjustments to monthly tuition payments and monthly distribution of charter 70 aid.
(5) Capital Plan and Reserves: A charter school may establish and periodically update a capital plan identifying current and future capital projects. The Commissioner shall prescribe the information to be reported for each such project as part of the school's annual report. A charter school may establish a separate capital reserve account for each project identified in its capital plan, and may make payments into said accounts. Funds in a capital reserve account may only be used for the project or purpose for which the account was established, provided, that such funds may be transferred to another capital reserve account or to the school's operating fund with the prior approval of the Commissioner.
(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:
(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:
(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:
(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.
(1) A parent, guardian, or other individuals or groups who believe that a charter school has violated or is violating any provision of M.G.L. c. 71, § 89, or 603 CMR 1.00 may file a complaint with the charter school's board of trustees.
(2) The board of trustees shall respond in writing to the complaining party no later than 45 days from receipt of the complaint.
(3) The board of trustees shall, pursuant to a complaint received under 603 CMR 1.09, or on its own initiative, conduct reviews to ensure compliance with M.G.L. c. 71, § 89, and 603 CMR 1.00. The charter school and the specific individuals involved shall cooperate to the fullest extent with such review.
(4) A complaining party who believes a complaint pursuant to 603 CMR 1.09(1) has not been adequately addressed by the charter school board of trustees may submit the complaint in writing to the Commissioner, who shall investigate such complaint and make a written response.
(5) In the event the charter school is found in violation of M.G.L. c. 71, § 89, or 603 CMR 1.00, the Commissioner or Board may take such action deemed appropriate including, but not limited to, suspension or revocation of the charter, or referral of the matter to the District Attorney, the Office of the Attorney General, or other appropriate agencies for action.
(6) A parent, guardian, or other individuals or groups who believe that a charter school has violated or is violating any state or federal law or regulation regarding special education may file a complaint directly with the Department.
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) Amendments Requiring Board Approval: If a charter school plans to change the terms of its charter, the school's board of trustees shall vote on and submit to the Board a request in writing to amend its charter. Changes requiring approval by the Board before they can be implemented include:
(2) Amendments Requiring Commissioner Approval: If a charter school plans to change the terms of its charter, the school's board of trustees shall vote on and submit to the Commissioner a request in writing to amend its charter. Changes requiring approval by the Commissioner before they can be implemented include:
(3) Consideration of Amendment Requests: The Commissioner and the Board may consider a charter school's compliance with applicable state, federal, and local law and evidence regarding the three areas set forth in 603 CMR 1.11(2) in reaching a determination regarding a school's request to amend its charter.
(4) Horace Mann Charter Schools:
(5) Comment: If a Commonwealth charter school seeks an amendment to change its maximum enrollment, grades served, the municipality or school district of its location, or the districts specified in its region, the school shall send a copy of its amendment materials to the superintendent of the school districts from which the school enrolls or is expected to enroll students and certify to the Department that it has done so. The Department will solicit and review comments on the amendment request from the superintendents of the affected districts.
(6) Proven Provider: Boards of trustees seeking amendment requests to increase maximum enrollment in districts performing in the lowest 10% statewide, under M.G.L. c. 71, § 89, and in which the 9% t net school spending cap is or would be exceeded, must meet the performance criteria described in 603 CMR 1.04(4).
(7) More than 20%: In accordance with M.G.L. c. 71 § 89(n), if more than 20% of the school's total enrollment for two consecutive years comes from school districts not included in its original charter, the school's board of trustees must file an amendment request to reflect its actual enrollment patterns.
(8) Review: Should the Commissioner deny an amendment request, the charter school's board of trustees may seek review of the Commissioner's decision by the Board.
A charter school seeking renewal of its charter shall proceed as follows:
(1) Renewal Application: The charter school shall submit its application for renewal of a charter under 603 CMR 1.00 no earlier than March 1st of the third school year of the relevant charter and no later than August 1 after the end of the fourth school year of the relevant charter. The Board will review renewal applications pursuant to the criteria set forth below and in and M.G.L. c. 71, § 89. For renewal applications received on or before August 1st , the Department shall notify the charter applicant of the decision to renew or not to renew the charter and the reasons therefore no later than March 1st following receipt of the renewal application.
The charter school may apply for renewal of its charter under renewal application guidelines issued by the Department. Applications for the renewal of Horace Mann charters must be submitted with the certification of a majority vote of the school committee and local collective bargaining unit.
(2) Renewal Guidelines: The Department shall issue guidelines describing the evaluation process to be followed in reviewing applications for charter renewal, including protocols for renewal inspections and performance criteria. The decision by the Board to renew a charter shall be based upon the presentation of affirmative evidence regarding the faithfulness of the school to the terms of its charter, including the extent to which the school has followed its recruitment and retention plan and has disseminated best practices in accordance with M.G.L. c. 71, § 89(dd); the success of the school's academic program; and the viability of the school as an organization. The Department will gather evidence regarding these issues from the renewal application and from other information, including but not limited to, a school's annual reports, financial audits, test results, site visit reports, and the renewal inspection report. All charter schools will be evaluated on the same performance criteria as provided in the guidelines, provided, however, that the criteria will take into account each school's charter and accountability plan. Evidence of academic success for all students is essential for charter renewal.
(3) Term of Charter: Charters that are renewed shall be for five years from the expiration of the previous charter under such conditions as the Board may establish under 603 CMR 1.04(7) and any additional conditions that the Board or Commissioner may specify. If a school fails to comply with any specified conditions, the Commissioner may recommend to the Board that the school be placed on probation or that the charter be revoked as described in 603 CMR 1.12. Charters of schools that do not file renewal applications shall expire at the end of the fifth year of the charter school's operation, subject to 603 CMR 1.12.
(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:
(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.
M.G.L. c. 69, § 1B; c. 71, § 89
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Last Updated: April 26, 2022
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