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HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 2063         FILED ON: 1/17/2013

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 468

 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

_________________

PRESENTED BY:

Denise Provost

_______________

To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General
              Court assembled:

              The undersigned legislators and/or citizens respectfully petition for the adoption of the accompanying bill:

An Act to improve student retention in charter schools.

_______________

PETITION OF:

 

Name:

District/Address:

Denise Provost

27th Middlesex

James B. Eldridge

Middlesex and Worcester

Elizabeth A. Malia

11th Suffolk

Carl M. Sciortino, Jr.

34th Middlesex

Frank I. Smizik

15th Norfolk

Cleon H. Turner

1st Barnstable

Benjamin Swan

11th Hampden

David M. Rogers

24th Middlesex

Danielle W. Gregoire

4th Middlesex

Cory Atkins

14th Middlesex

Carlos Henriquez

5th Suffolk

John J. Lawn, Jr.

10th Middlesex

Kay Khan

11th Middlesex

Marjorie C. Decker

25th Middlesex


HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 2063        FILED ON: 1/17/2013

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 468

By Ms. Provost of Somerville, a petition (accompanied by bill, House, No. 468) of Denise Provost and others relative to the enrollment of students in charter schools.  Education. 

 

[SIMILAR MATTER FILED IN PREVIOUS SESSION
SEE HOUSE, NO. 2722 OF 2011-2012.]


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
 

_______________

In the Year Two Thousand Thirteen

_______________

 

An Act to improve student retention in charter schools.
 

              Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
 

              SECTION 1. Section 89 of Chapter 71 of the General Laws, as most recently amended by chapter 199 of the acts of 2011, is hereby amended by striking out subsection (m) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:- (m) Charter schools shall be open to all students, on a space available basis, and 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, family income, past behavior or conduct or academic achievement. Charter schools may limit enrollment to specific grade levels and may structure curriculum around particular areas of focus such as mathematics, science or the arts. There shall be no application fee for admission to a charter school. There shall be no tuition charge for students attending charter schools. Entry into a charter school shall not be based upon parent or student interviews. Acceptance or retention of any student shall not be based upon parent or student contracts or any other practices designed to exclude students who do not commit to or meet certain requirements that would not be the basis to exclude or expel a student from a district public school.

              SECTION 2. Section 89 of Chapter 71, as so amended, is hereby further amended by striking out subsection (p) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:- (p) A student may withdraw voluntarily from a charter school at any time and enroll in another public school where the student resides; provided, however, that the charter shall not advise or counsel students to withdraw from the school for minor behavioral infractions or for poor academic performance; and, provided further, the charter shall keep a written record of every student who withdraws from the charter including the name, address, grade level, age, race, gender, language, special needs, poverty status and academic record, and the specific reason or reasons that the student withdrew from the charter school; and, provided further, that this information for all such students shall be reported annually to the Board. A student may be expelled or suspended from a charter school based on criteria determined by the board of trustees, and approved by the board, with the advice of the principal and teachers; provided, however, that charter school policies shall be consistent with sections 37H and 37H1/2 and shall not provide that students may be suspended or expelled for minor behavioral infractions or poor academic performance; and, provided further, that any such expulsion, or suspension longer than 10 days, shall be reported to the Board within 10 days of such expulsion and suspension, which report shall contain specific information regarding the student, including the name, address, grade level, age, race, gender, language, special needs, poverty status and academic record, as well as the reason for the expulsion or suspension.

              SECTION 3. Section 89 of Chapter 71, as so amended, is hereby further amended by striking out subsection (dd) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:- (dd) A charter granted by the board shall be for any period up to 5 years. The board shall develop procedures and guidelines for revocation and renewal of a school's charter; provided, however, that a charter for a Horace Mann charter school shall not be renewed by the board without a majority vote of the school committee and local collective bargaining unit in the district where said charter school is located; provided, however, that a commonwealth charter shall not be renewed unless the board of trustees of the charter school has documented in a manner approved by the board that said commonwealth charter school has provided models for replication and best practices to the commissioner and to other public schools in the district where the charter school is located; and, provided further, that a commonwealth charter shall not be renewed if student attrition rates match or exceed the dropout rates in the district where the charter is located or the sending district of a majority of its students. When deciding on charter renewal, the board shall consider progress made in student academic achievement, whether the school has met its obligations and commitments under the charter, the extent to which the school has followed its recruitment and retention plan by using deliberate, specific strategies towards recruiting and retaining the categories of students enumerated in paragraph (3) of subsection (i) and the extent to which the school has enhanced its plan as necessary. The board may impose conditions on the charter school upon renewal if it fails to adhere to and enhance its recruitment and retention plan as required. When deciding on charter renewal, the board shall take into account the annual attrition of students. The board shall also consider innovations that have been successfully implemented by the charter school and the evidence that supports the effectiveness of these practices. Upon renewal of its charter, a school shall update and enhance its recruitment and retention plan as necessary to account for changes in enrollment.

              SECTION 4. Section 89 of Chapter 71, as so amended, is hereby further amended by striking out subsection (jj) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:- (jj) Each charter school shall submit an annual report, no later than August 1, to the board, the local school committee, each parent or guardian of its enrolled students and each parent or guardian contemplating enrollment in that charter school. The annual report shall be in such form as may be prescribed by the board and shall include, but not be limited to: (i) discussion of progress made toward the achievement of the goals set forth in the charter; and (ii) a financial statement setting forth by appropriate categories the revenue and expenditures for the year just ended and a balance sheet setting forth the charter school's assets, liabilities and fund balances or equities. Each commonwealth charter school, in addition to the information provided in the first paragraph of this subsection, shall provide in its annual report to the board and to the local school committee the total number of students in each grade by race, gender, language, special needs and poverty status, as well as the total number of students who exited the school within the past year, by race, gender, language, special needs and poverty status, and the specific reason for each departure. The department shall promulgate regulations creating a reporting requirement for a charter school's net asset balance at the end of the fiscal year; provided, however, that said regulations shall require, without limitation, the following: the revenue and expenditures for the year just ended with a specific accounting of the amount and uses of all public and private dollars; how the capital needs component of the charter school's tuition was spent; the compensation and benefits for all teachers, staff, administrators, managers, executives, and members of the board of trustees; the amount of any and all funds transferred to a management company and for what purpose; the sources of any surplus funds, specifically whether they are private or public; how any surplus funds were used in the previous fiscal year; and the planned use of any surplus funds in the upcoming fiscal year on in future fiscal years. Each charter school shall keep an accurate account of all its activities and all its receipts and expenditures and shall annually cause an independent audit to be made of its accounts. Such audit shall be filed annually on or before January 1 with the department and the state auditor and shall be in a form prescribed by the state auditor. The state auditor may investigate the budget and finances of charter schools and their financial dealings, the compensation packages to school managers and administrators and board members, transactions and relationships, and shall have the power to examine the records of charter schools and to prescribe methods of accounting and the rendering of periodic reports.

              SECTION 4. Section 89 of Chapter 71, as so amended, is hereby further amended by striking out subsection (kk) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:- (kk) The commissioner shall collect data on the racial, ethnic and socio-economic make-up of the student enrollment of each charter school in the commonwealth, including the total number of students in each grade by race, gender, language, and poverty status, as well as the total number of students who exited the school by race, gender, language, and poverty status, within the past year and the specific reason for each departure. The commissioner shall also collect data on the number of students enrolled in each charter school who have individual education plans pursuant to chapter 71B and those requiring English language learners programs under chapter 71A , as well as the number of such students who exited the school within the past year and the specific reason for each departure. The commissioner shall file all said data annually with the clerks of the house and senate and the joint committee on education not later than December 1.

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