On The Level?
Policy, Law and the Charter School Movement
Frequently Asked Questions
A. Are personnel resources allocated to public schools and charter schools in the same manner? What is the likely effect of this?
No. The allocation of full-time equivalent positions to public schools allows principals to hire teachers without regard to the teachers' salaries and the schools' budgets. The new century charter school law, however, creates school-level salary caps for each school calculated by multiplying the average per pupil expenditure by the number of students enrolled.
B. Will charter school and public school teachers be treated alike for purposes of tenure and service credit? What is the likely effect of this?
Probably not. The inability to earn any probationary credit toward tenure affects all probationary public school teachers who plan to eventually teach in a public school: tenured teachers have greater job security than probationary teachers, who are often displaced by tenured teachers during the department's annual transfer period. In addition, the inability to continually earn and accrue service credits affects all tenured public school teachers because a staff reduction caused by a drop in enrollment is based primarily on service time: tenured teachers with the least number of years of service are staff reduced first.
C. Can new century charter schools sue and be sued?
As discussed by the Attorney General in its letter to the Bureau (Appendix D of this report), there is no provision in the charter school law that directly addresses how charter schools and local school boards are expected to deal with lawsuits, for example, whether charter schools may use state funds to initiate or defend against a lawsuit, or whether the Legislature intended that charter schools be able to sue the State. If charter schools are to be treated on the same basis as non-charter public schools, they should not be able to initiate litigation against the State, since individual non-charter public schools have never been able to sue the Superintendent or Board of Education. These policy issues must be resolved by the Legislature.
D. Who is liable for charter school debts?
If the charter school incurs debts, it would appear that the school is in violation of both the charter school law and its written performance contract with the Board of Education, and is subject to one year of probation to improve its fiscal accountability. If it fails to improve, it may be closed down upon a two-thirds majority vote of the Board.