skip to main content

Policy 10040 - Charter Schools

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines and procedures by which public charter schools may be established under the supervision of the Board of Education of Howard County, in accordance with federal, state, and local laws and regulations.

Policy Document

I. Policy Statement

The Board of Education of Howard County is committed to maintaining an educational system that delivers exemplary curriculum and instruction as well as rigorous and innovative programs. The Board of Education of Howard County recognizes that public charter schools may be established in Howard County as an alternative means of providing innovative learning opportunities and creative educational approaches to enhance the education of students.

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines and procedures by which public charter schools may be established under the supervision of the Board of Education of Howard County, in accordance with federal, state, and local laws and regulations.

III. Definitions

Within the context of this policy, the following definitions apply:

  1. Charter – A formal contract entered into by the Board of Education of Howard County and the Charter School Governing Board that specifies the terms and conditions under which a charter school is authorized to operate.

  2. Charter School Governing Board – A group of officers or persons having control over a public charter school.

  3. Public Charter School – A public school that is created in accordance with state laws and regulations, operates under a charter, and is under the supervision of and is accountable to the Board of Education of Howard County. It:

    1. Is nonsectarian in all its programs, policies, and operations.

    2. Is a school to which parents choose to send their children.

    3. Focuses on improving student performance through a specific set of educational objectives.

    4. Maintains high academic standards consistent with Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) expectations for academic achievement.

    5. Is innovative.

    6. Is a new public school or a converted existing public school.

    7. Provides a program of elementary and/or secondary education.

    8. Is tuition-free for all students who are eligible to attend any other Howard County public school tuition-free.

    9. Is subject to federal and state laws, including those prohibiting discrimination.

    10. Is in compliance with all applicable health and safety laws.

    11. Requires students to be physically present on school premises for a period of time substantially similar to that which other HCPSS students spend on school premises.

IV. Standards

  1. The Board of Education of Howard County is the only entity authorized to grant a charter (contract) in Howard County.

  2. A public charter school must abide by the provisions of all laws, policies, and regulations governing other public schools, except as provided by law or waiver.

  3. A public charter school operates under the authority of the Board of Education of Howard County.

  4. To establish a public charter school in Howard County, a completed formal Application to Form a Public Charter School within the Howard County Public School System (Application) may be submitted to the Board of Education of Howard County by:

    1. The staff of a public school.

    2. A parent or guardian of a student who attends a public school in the county.

    3. A nonsectarian, nonprofit entity.

    4. A nonsectarian institution of higher education in the state.

    5. Any combination of the above.

  5. The Board of Education of Howard County will not grant a charter to:

    1. A private school.

    2. A parochial school.

    3. A home school.

    4. A school that operates fully online.

    5. Any school whose operation would be inconsistent with any public policy initiative, court order, or federal improvement plan governing special education that is applicable to Maryland.

  6. Applications will be submitted and reviewed in accordance with procedures established by the HCPSS.

  7. A decision will be rendered by the Board of Education of Howard County with regards to a public charter school’s Application within the period provided by state law.

  8. An applicant may appeal an Application denial decision to the State Board of Education.

  9. The Application of an approved public charter school will be incorporated into its Charter which may be approved for no more than four years.

  10. A public charter school is open to all eligible students. If more students apply than can be accommodated, a lottery selection process will be used as specified in the Charter, consistent with state law.

  11. The Board of Education of Howard County will approve the amount of local, state and federal funding to be distributed to a public charter school in accordance with current state guidelines for determining allocations commensurate with the amounts disbursed to other public schools in the school system. In addition, the Board of Education of Howard County may appropriate surplus items to a public charter school.

  12. Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and Section 504 Accommodations Plans for students with disabilities will be implemented in a public charter school, and all state and federal procedural safeguards followed, in accordance with the Charter.

  13. For a public charter school to remain in operation, it will meet the needs of its students in order to obtain a high level of achievement, maintain a specified level of student enrollment, achieve a high degree of parent involvement, and remain accountable under the terms of the Charter.

  14. An annual status report on each public charter school will be presented to the Board of Education of Howard County by the Charter School Governing Board.

  15. Charters will be reviewed annually.

  16. A public charter school may be placed on probationary status by the Board of Education of Howard County if provisions of the Charter are not met or if it does not meet HCPSS standards.

  17. A public charter school’s charter may be revoked by the Board of Education of Howard County if provisions of the Charter are not met or if it does not meet HCPSS standards.

  18. Employees at a public charter school are public school employees and will have all rights and responsibilities as other HCPSS employees.

  19. Subject to the approval of the Board of Education of Howard County, existing employee organizations and the public charter school may mutually agree to negotiate amendments to an existing agreement to address the needs of the particular public charter school.

  20. A public charter school requesting to use existing HCPSS buildings or a portion thereof must negotiate such use with the Board of Education of Howard County.

  21. The Board of Education of Howard County will require the public charter school to participate in financial, programmatic, and compliance audits consistent with federal, state, and local laws and procedures. The public charter school will make available all required financial records and other material necessary to conduct an audit.

  22. A public charter school will immediately notify the Superintendent/Designee if at any time during the year it forecasts that the school may not be able to meet its financial obligations. The public charter school will provide the school system with the necessary details and will work with the school system to resolve the financial situation.

V. Responsibilities

  1. General

    1. The Board of Education of Howard County will be the chartering authority for public charter schools in Howard County.

    2. A public charter school will comply with all provisions of laws and regulations governing other public schools, unless the State and/or Board of Education of Howard County grants a waiver.

    3. The Superintendent/Designee will ensure that prior to opening a public charter school, the operators of the school are informed of and address the human, fiscal, and organizational capacity needed to fulfill the school’s responsibilities related to children with disabilities.

  2. Evaluation of Public Charter Schools

    1. The Superintendent/Designee will evaluate a public charter school annually to ensure a high level of student achievement, fiscal management, ethical integrity, and other criteria pursuant to its approved Application and the terms and conditions of its Charter.

    2. For a public charter school to remain in operation, it must be able to meet the needs of its students in order to obtain a high level of achievement, maintain a specified level of student enrollment, achieve a high degree of parent involvement, and remain accountable under the terms of the Charter.

    3. The Board of Education of Howard County will require financial, programmatic, and compliance audits consistent with federal, state, and local laws and procedures.

    4. The public charter school will ensure the availability of all required financial records and other material necessary to conduct an audit.

  3. Renewal or Revocation of a Charter

    1. The Board of Education of Howard County may revoke a public charter school’s charter or place the public charter school on probationary status when operators lack the capacity to fulfill their obligations according to federal, state, and local laws and policies and the Charter.

    2. The Charter School Governing Board will provide notice of its intent to renew a charter or to close the public charter school in accordance with the Charter.

  4. Reporting Requirements

    The Charter School Governing Board will present an annual status report to the Board of Education of Howard County.

VI. Delegation of Authority

The Superintendent is directed to develop a process for accepting and evaluating applications for public charter schools, for developing recommendations to the Board of Education of Howard County and for otherwise implementing this policy.

VII. References

  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. §§1400 et seq.

  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §794

  • Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, Section 4-205, Powers and duties of county superintendent

  • Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, § 6-401(d), §6-501(f), §6-501(g) Organizations of certificated and noncertificated employees

  • Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, Title 9, Maryland Public Charter School Program

  • Public Charter School Improvement Act of 2015

C. Relevant Data Sources

D. Other

VIII. History

ADOPTED: October 23, 2003

REVIEWED:

MODIFIED:

REVISED: April 10, 2008, April 14 2016

EFFECTIVE: July 1, 2016