CHARTERED PUBLIC SCHOOLS
194-B:3 Chartered Public Schools; Establishment; Application; Amendment; Procedure.
I. (a) Except as otherwise provided in law, chartered public schools shall be fully exempt from state laws and rules which otherwise apply to public or nonpublic schools, or local school boards or districts. Notwithstanding the foregoing, chartered public schools shall have all the rights and privileges of other public schools.
(b) A chartered public school's board of trustees shall have full authority to determine the chartered public school's organization, methods, and goals.
II. Except as expressly provided in this chapter, the duty and role of the local school board relative to the establishment of a chartered public school shall be to approve or disapprove the proposed chartered public school application based upon whether or not the proposed application contains in specific detail the following required elements:
(a) Educational mission.
(b) Governance and organizational structure and plan.
(c) Methods by which trustees and their terms are determined.
(d) General description and proposed or potential location of facilities to be used, if such information is available.
(e) Maximum number, grade or age levels, and, as applicable, other information about pupils to be served.
(f) Curriculum that meets or exceeds state standards in the subject areas offered.
(g) Academic and other learning goals and objectives.
(h) Achievement tests to be used to measure pupil academic and other goal achievement including, but not limited to, objective and age-appropriate measures of literacy and numeracy skills, including spelling, reading, expository writing, history, geography, science, and mathematics.
(i) For schools offering high school grade levels, graduation requirements sufficient to ensure that the school has provided an adequate education for its pupils.
(j) Staffing overview, including qualifications sought for professionals and paraprofessionals.
(k) Personnel compensation plan, including provisions for leaves and other benefits, if any.
(l) Pupil transportation plan, including reasonable provision from the chartered public school's own resources for transportation of pupils residing outside the district in which the chartered public school is physically located.
(m) Statement of assurances related to nondiscrimination according to relevant state and federal laws.
(n) Method of coordinating with a pupil's local education agency (LEA) responsible for matters pertaining to any required special education programs or services including method of compliance with all federal and state laws pertaining to children with disabilities.
(o) Admission procedures.
(p) Philosophy of pupil governance and discipline, and age-appropriate due process procedures to be used for disciplinary matters including suspension and expulsion.
(q) Method of administering fiscal accounts and reporting, including a provision requiring fiscal audits and reports to be performed by an independent certified public accountant.
(r) Annual budget, including all sources of funding, and a projected budget for the next 2 years.
(s) School calendar arrangement and the number and duration of days pupils are to be served pursuant to RSA 194-B:8, III.
(t) Provision for providing continuing evidence of adequate insurance coverage.
(u) Identity of consultants to be used for various services, if known, or the qualifications or certifications of consultants not identified by name.
(v) Philosophy of parent involvement and related plans and procedures.
(w) A plan to develop and disseminate information to assist parents and pupils with decision-making about their choice of school.
(x) A global hold-harmless clause which states:
The chartered public school, its successors and assigns, covenants and agrees at all times to indemnify and hold harmless the (school district), any other school district which sends its students to the chartered public school, and their school boards, officers, directors, agents, employees, all funding districts and sources, and their successors and assigns, (the "indemnified parties") from any and all claims, demands, actions and causes of action, whether in law or in equity, and all damages, costs, losses, and expenses, including but not limited to reasonable attorneys' fees and legal costs, for any action or inaction of the chartered public school, its board, officers, employees, agents, representatives, contractors, guests and invitees, or pupils.
(y) Severability provisions and statement of assurance that any provision of the chartered public school contract found by competent authority to be contrary to applicable law, rule, or regulation shall not be enforceable.
(z) Provision for dissolution of the chartered public school including disposition of its assets or amendment of its program plan.
(aa) In the case of the conversion of a public school to a charter conversion school, provision for alternative arrangements for pupils who choose not to attend and teachers who choose not to teach at the chartered public school.
(bb) A plan for the education of the school's pupils after the chartered public school may cease operation.
(cc) In addition to an application, each chartered public school applicant, in consultation with the local school board, shall prepare a proposed contract. The contract shall include, but shall not be limited to, the following elements:
(2) Written policies.
(3) Authority of trustees.
(4) Reporting, fiscal accounting and fiscal audits to be performed by a certified public accountant.
(5) Contract agreements.
(7) Secular orientation.
(9) Health and safety.
(12) Availability of services.
(13) Assessment of pupils.
(14) Tuition and funding.
(15) Property ownership.
(17) Severability in accordance with subparagraph (y) above.
(18) Assignment of contract.
(23) Entire agreement.
(24) Location, which shall be identified prior to submission to the legislative body.
(dd) An outline of the proposed accountability plan which clarifies expectations for evaluating the school's program and which contains an acknowledgement that a full accountability plan shall be developed and ready to implement prior to the date of opening.
(ee) A proposed policy to adopt and implement the code of conduct for New Hampshire educators as adopted by the department in administrative rule. Failure to adopt and implement the code of conduct could result in the probation or revocation of the school's charter as governed by RSA 194-B:16.
III. (a) [Repealed.]
(b) Proposed applications and contracts to establish a chartered public school shall be presented by July 1 of the year preceding intended operation of the chartered public school by its prospective board of trustees to the school board of the district in which the chartered public school intends to be located. The school board shall hold at least one public hearing on the application prior to September 15.
(c) By September 15 of the given year, the school board shall have completed its review of the proposed application and shall have granted or denied its approval. In its review the school board shall grant or deny the proposed application, using as its criteria whether or not the proposed application and contract contain and address the elements required under RSA 194-B:3, II. The school board reserves the right to suggest amendments or additions to the proposed application as it deems necessary to assure its completeness and compliance with this chapter. The school board shall forward the proposed application and contract, along with its approval or denial and a written statement specifying any areas deemed deficient, to the state board and to the applicant's prospective board of trustees.
(d) By December 31 of the given year, the state board shall have reviewed the proposed application and shall grant or deny the proposed application, using as its criteria whether or not the proposed application contains and addresses the elements required under RSA 194-B:3, II. The state board reserves the right to suggest amendments or additions to the proposed application as it deems necessary to assure its completeness and compliance with this chapter. Application disapprovals shall include a written statement specifying areas deemed deficient. The state board shall promptly notify the prospective board of trustees and the school board of its decision in writing. For any applicant chartered public school whose proposed application is deemed complete and is approved by the state board, the state board shall issue a charter enabling the formation and operation of the chartered public school.
(e) The state board shall submit 2 copies of the approved contract to the clerk of the school district who shall make the contract available for inspection by the voters of the school district. The school board shall submit a warrant article to the school district legislative body for ratification or denial without amendment. The ratification question shall be placed on the warrant of the next special or annual school district meeting and shall take the following form:
"Shall the district raise and appropriate the necessary funds and ratify the proposed contract between the __________ chartered public school and the __________ school district, for a period of 5 years for initial adoption or for a period of 7 years for renewal, with a first year annual appropriation of $___ per student not to exceed $___ which shall be approved by the voters in the district operating budget? The first year total financial impact of a 'yes' vote on this question is estimated by the school board at $___.
_________ Yes _________ No"
In districts without annual meetings, the legislative body shall have final authority to ratify or deny the state board approved contract. A ratified contract grants final authority for the chartered public school to operate for the life of its contract and to receive school district funds.
(f) The school's contract shall become effective July 1 immediately following ratification by the legislative body. Upon approval by the legislative body, contracts shall be for a 5-year term beginning on July 1 immediately following ratification by the legislative body.
IV. (a) The chartered public school's prospective board of trustees may appeal a denial by a school board under RSA 194-B:3, III(c) to the state board by September 30 of the given year.
(b) The state board shall conduct a review of the proposed chartered public school application, using review standards as specified under RSA 194-B:3, II. The state board shall be authorized to suggest amendments or additions to the proposed application to both parties including, but not limited to, deficiencies identified by the local school board and the trustees, as the state board deems necessary to assure its completeness and compliance with this chapter. Application disapprovals by the state board shall include a written statement specifying areas deemed deficient or in the case of approval on appeal, the reasons for such action to both parties. The state board shall promptly notify the prospective board of trustees and the school board of its decision in writing.
(c) For any applicant chartered public school whose entire proposal is complete and is approved by the state board on appeal from denial by a school board, the state board shall issue a charter enabling the formation and operation of the chartered public school.
(d) To complete the process by which an applicant chartered public school may be approved on appeal from a school board denial, RSA 194-B:3, III(e), (f) and (g) must also be followed.
V. Persons or entities eligible to submit an application to establish a chartered public school shall include:
(a) A nonprofit organization including, but not limited to, a college, university, museum, service club, or similar entity.
(b) A group of 2 or more New Hampshire certified teachers.
(c) A group of 10 or more parents.
VI. (a) Any existing public school may by a vote of the school board become a charter conversion school, provided that, in addition to all other requirements of this chapter for establishment of a chartered public school:
(1) A majority of its prospective teachers vote by ballot to approve such conversion in a district with more than one school, or 2/3 of the teachers so vote in a single school district.
(2) The school superintendent and principal both provide their approval in writing.
(b) All pupils attending a school which successfully converts to charter status shall be eligible for admission to such chartered public school.
VII. Neither a school board nor the state board shall accept an application to form a chartered public school from state approved nonpublic schools, including those which may reorganize in any form.
VIII. Home education programs established pursuant to RSA 193-A shall not be eligible to be a chartered public school.
IX. A chartered public school which has not initiated operation within 2 years of the issuance of its charter shall submit a progress report to the state board and school board. The state board may withdraw its approved charter if substantial progress has not been made toward opening the chartered public school.
X. A school's charter may be renewed in the same manner that a new chartered public school is formed, except that a school's renewal term shall be for a period of 5 years.
XI. (a) A charter grantee may apply to the school board for amendment to its application and contract, which shall be granted or denied within 30 days at the school board's discretion. The school board shall notify the school in writing of the decision to grant or deny the proposed amendment, providing reasons for the decision. An approved amended contract shall be promptly signed by the school board within one month of approval.
(b) A charter grantee may appeal the denial of a proposed application and contract amendment to the state board. The state board shall review the proposed amendment and within 30 days shall notify the school and the school board in writing of the decision to grant or deny the amendment, providing reasons for the decision.
(c) Within one month of receipt of a notice of approval from the state board on appeal from a school board denial, the school board shall promptly execute the proposed amended contract.
(d) When executed by the school board, an appealed amended application and contract shall be submitted promptly to the school district legislative body for subsequent ratification or denial without amendment, which decision shall be final. The ratification question shall be placed on the warrant of the next special or annual school district meeting. In districts without annual meetings, the legislative body shall have final authority to ratify or deny the proposed amended application and contract.
XII. For specific periods of time and for good cause shown, a school board and the state board may waive any deadlines applying in this section to their respective actions. A school board and the state board may provide technical assistance to improve a chartered public school's application or to speed the approval process. An applicant whose proposed application is not approved by a school board or by the state board shall be granted the opportunity to present a revised application for reconsideration.
XIII. The board of trustees of a chartered public school may acquire real property by lease, purchase, lease with purchase option, gift, or otherwise at any time prior to receiving a charter.
Source. 1995, 260:6. 1997, 334:2-9. 1998, 268:1. 1999, 101:1-5. 2004, 222:2, 3, 6. 2005, 257:15. 2007, 270:3. 2008, 274:24, 31; 354:1. 2009, 241:15, 16, II, III. 2010, 265:2. 2012, 199:5, eff. Aug. 12, 2012. 2021, 142:2, eff. Sept. 21, 2021.