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Public Charter Schools in Kentucky
 
Kentucky School Advocate
September 2017
Whitney A. Crowe
By Whitney A. Crowe
KSBA Staff Attorney
 
Public charter schools became a reality when House Bill 520 became effective on June 29, 2017; however, the earliest a public charter school can open is in 2018-2019. The delay is because the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) needs time to finalize administrative regulations that will cover student applications and enrollment; evaluating charter school authorizers; revoking or non-renewing a charter school; and conversion charter schools.

KBE discussed and made public four charter school-related regulations on Aug. 2. While these regulations are not final, it is important for education stakeholders to understand what has been proposed to effectively provide input during the regulatory process and to prepare for their implementation.

Evaluation of Charter School Authorizers
701 KAR 8:020 pertains to the evaluation of charter school authorizers, which by law are local boards of education, a collaborative of local boards of education, and the mayors of Lexington and Louisville.

The draft regulation requires each authorizer to complete annual training on topics such as charter school applications, contracting, monitoring, and closure. New authorizers must complete an additional training. For local boards of education, this required training would be in addition to the already mandated training.

701 KAR 8:020 also requires authorizers to comply with the Open Meetings Act in reviewing applications and allow comments at a public hearing prior to approving or renewing a charter contract. Further, the education commissioner must sign off on charter contracts before they can be finalized.

The regulation does provide some flexibility by tasking an authorizer with creating policies governing its own performance; however, the policies must contain specific components and, at KBE’s discretion, an authorizer can be placed on probation and required, for example, to complete additional training.

Conversion Charter School Petition, Conversion and Operation
The new charter school law permits an existing public school to be converted into a public charter school under certain circumstances. KBE will establish procedures for the conversion petition, the conversion process, and the operation of the conversion public charter school, which are all covered in 701 KAR 8:040.

The regulation also requires the Department of Education to publish annually a list of traditional public schools that are eligible for charter school conversion through the petition process.

Once a conversion charter school is established, a superintendent is tasked with several responsibilities, including but not limited to notifying resident students and establishing a conversion plan with the charter board of directors.

Charter School Student Application, Lottery and Enrollment
The student lottery process mandated by the charter law is expanded upon in 701 KAR 8:010, which requires a charter school board of directors to adopt and publish lottery policies that prevent interference and demonstrate impartiality. Further, per the regulation, lotteries must be held in compliance with the Open Meetings Act.

701 KAR 8:010 also prohibits a charter school from limiting the number of applications accepted based on, for example, a student’s ethnicity, income level, or academic or athletic ability. Further, charter schools can only require proof of a student’s age, current grade level, and residency in the district, as well as immunization records and a home language survey for enrollment purposes. Any additional information requested must be approved by the authorizer and must not penalize applicants.

Charter School Revocation and Nonrenewal Process
701 KAR 8:030 requires authorizers to publish a rubric for evaluating a charter school’s performance as well as the grounds for automatic revocation or nonrenewal of a charter contract. The regulation also provides for an appeal to KBE when a charter contract is revoked or nonrenewed.

The proposed charter regulations are likely to be given a second reading at KBE’s October meeting and could be finalized as early as January 2018. A new funding mechanism for public charter schools is expected to be enacted during the 2018 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly, where a new biennial budget will be adopted. KSBA will continue to monitor these and other actions that impact Kentucky’s public schools. g

See the online version of this story at www.ksba.org/17SeptemberAdvocate.aspx for links to House Bill 520, the charter school law, and to all Kentucky Board of Education agenda items, including the regulations summarized above.

For more information:
House Bill 520, the charter school bill:
http://www.lrc.ky.gov/recorddocuments/bill/17RS/HB520/bill.pdf

Charter school law (scroll down to Public Charter Schools)
http://www.lrc.ky.gov/Statutes/chapter.aspx?id=37868

Proposed regulations (scroll down to Administrative Regulations Related to Charter Schools)
https://portal.ksba.org/public/Meeting.aspx?PublicAgencyID=4388&PublicMeetingID=20544&AgencyTypeID
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