Boards of Education Need to Consider Soon How They’ll Address Charter School Applications

April 9, 2020Legal Alerts

Boards of Education Need to Consider Soon How They’ll Address Charter School Applications

Boards of education should be aware of some upcoming deadlines regarding new WV State Department Policy 3300 and the introduction of the possibility of charter schools in West Virginia.

As you may recall, new WV Code Sections 18-5G-1 through 18-5G-12 establish the process by which West Virginia will consider public charter schools. The Code Sections limit the number of new schools to three until July 1, 2023. Beginning then and every three years thereafter, the state may approve up to three new schools. The State Department recently released Policy 3300 to comply with the new Code Sections; Policy 3300 became effective March 16, 2020.

Briefly, the policy establishes guidelines and criteria by which boards of education may evaluate applications to establish a charter school within their county. The State Department has established a website to provide details about the authorization process and where it will post the standard application that a charter school may use to apply to the local board of education.

A board of education may use the standard application the State Department has created for a charter school to apply to it to establish a school, or the board may adopt its own addendum to that standard application. If the county is not going to use only the standard application and instead will require an addendum to the standard application, it must be created and posted on the board’s website by May 31, 2020. The board must also adopt any criteria that will be used to evaluate charter school applications by May 31, 2020, and it must notify potential applicants of the request to apply by the same date.

Other deadlines will follow later this summer and throughout the next school year. For example, any proposed charter school must apply to the board of education by Aug. 31, 2020. The board will have to provide notice of any deficiencies in the application by Oct. 31, 2020, and the applicant has until Nov. 15, 2020 to revise the application. The board will have to issue a preliminary decision on approval by Nov. 30, 2020. If there are more than three applications statewide, an impartial panel will rank them by Dec. 15, 2020, and those ranked the highest may begin negotiating a contract. By March 15, 2021, the board and the school must have entered into a contract (or March 1, 2021 if there are fewer than three applications statewide). In future years, these timelines vary.

Should you have any questions on this issue or others, please contact a member of Dinsmore & Shohl's Education practice group.