Fourteen Public Charter Schools Under Evaluation this School Year
Every public charter school in Washington, DC gets a 15-year contract, called a “charter,” that holds the school accountable to applicable law and performance standards.
The DC Public Charter School Board (DC PCSB) reviews all Local Education Agencies (LEAs) every five years of operation to determine if they are meeting the goals outlined in their charter. Schools in their fifth and tenth year of operation have their charter reviewed, while schools in their fifteenth year have their charter renewed.
Public Charter Schools in 5th and 10th year of Operation
Schools in their fifth and tenth year of operation undergo a charter review, as required by the School Reform Act (SRA). A charter review assesses the school’s academic performance, legal compliance, and fiscal management. DC PCSB staff produce a review report that details the school’s progress in each area.
What DC PCSB assesses to decide whether to renew a school’s charter
|Areas Assessed During the Charter Renewal||Documents DC PCSB will review to assess each area|
|Whether the school has met the goals and student academic achievement expectations detailed in its charter||
- The school’s PMF report (to the extent it corresponds with the school’s goals)
- Other supporting data and evidence (as requested by DC PCSB) regarding certain goals and expectations that cannot be captured using publicly available data
|The school’s legal compliance, including compliance with special education laws||
- Annual compliance reports produced by DC PCSB
|The school’s fiscal management, adherence to generally accepted accounting principles, and economic viability||
- Annual audits
The SRA allows the DC PCSB Board some discretion when a school is in their fifth or tenth years of operation. If the Board finds that the school has not fully met its goals or determines that a school has committed a material legal violation, it may elect to revoke the school’s charter or grant it charter continuance with conditions.
However, if the Board finds the school to have a material financial insufficiency (specifically, if the school: (1) did not adhere to generally accepted accounting principles; (2) engaged in a pattern of fiscal mismanagement; or (3) is not economically viable), the Board is required to revoke the school’s charter.
Public Charter Schools in 15th year of Operation
Schools in their fifteenth year of operation go through a charter renewal. A charter renewal is the process schools undergo to continue to operate their schools. Every DC public charter school gets a 15-year “charter.” If a school wants to continue operating beyond the 15 years, it is required by the School Reform Act (SRA) to submit an application to DC PCSB to renew its charter for another 15-year term.
Here are the steps in a school’s renewal process:
|Pre-Renewal Meeting||DC PCSB meets with schools preparing for renewal to discuss the process||Spring of the school’s 14th year in operation|
|Qualitative Site Review (QSR)||- DC PCSB visits every school campus to observe the school’s instructional program
- DC PCSB publishes a QSR report of its findings and issues it to the school
- QSR report findings can be referenced by DC PCSB as evidence that the school has met its goals and expectations
|Any time during two years before the school’s charter expires|
|Submission of renewal application||Schools will submit applications and supporting documentation electronically to Epicenter.||DC PCSB requests schools to submit it in the fall of their 15th year in operation|
|DC PCSB informs the school of its right to an informal renewal hearing||The SRA affords schools the right to request an informal, public renewal hearing before the DC PCSB Board.||DC PCSB must send this notice not later than 15 days after receipt of a school’s renewal application.|
|DC PCSB provides a preliminary charter renewal report to the school||This report includes an assessment of the school’s academic performance, legal compliance, and fiscal management, and a recommendation to the DC PCSB Board regarding whether it should renew the school’s charter.||Contemporaneous with the notice of right to a renewal hearing|
|School elects whether to request a hearing||Schools can submit their request for a hearing via email.||The school must request a hearing within 15 days of receiving notice of its right to a hearing from DC PCSB|
|DC PCSB Board conducts the informal renewal hearing (if requested)||School leaders and board members may present any information they wish to the DC PCSB Board and should be prepared to answer questions the DC PCSB Board may have regarding their school’s performance and proposed renewal.||DC PCSB Board must hold the informal hearing no later than 30 days after the school requests it.|
|DC PCSB Board votes whether to renew the school’s charter||If possible, the DC PCSB Board will vote on the school’s renewal during a regularly scheduled board meeting.||
If the school does not request a hearing, the vote must occur no later than 30 days after DC PCSB informed the school of its right to such a hearing. If the school requests a hearing, the vote must occur no later than 30 days after the date of the hearing.
The DC PCSB Board may vote to:
- Renew the school’s charter for another fifteen-year term;
- Renew the school’s charter but (in the event that the performance of one or more of a school’s campuses is negatively affecting the performance of the Local Education Agency) under the condition that one or more of the school’s campuses that do not meet the standard for renewal be closed; or
- Not renew the school’s charter. Per the SRA, schools have the right to appeal a nonrenewal decision to “an appropriate court of the District of Columbia.”
A school may prepare for the renewal process in several ways. The first is to ensure that the school’s charter is up-to-date, particularly its goals and academic achievement expectations. The school should also begin drafting the charter renewal application. Lastly the school should ensure that the school has cured any points of legal noncompliance identified by DC PCSB or The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).
Schools Currently Under Review
There are several schools undergoing the review or renewal process in school year 2018-19.
|Five Year Review||Ten Year Review||Fifteen Year Renewal||Twenty Year Review||Twenty-Five Year Review|
|2018-19||- Academy of Hope
- Democracy Prep
- Lee Montessori
- National Collegiate
|- DC Bilingual
- Two Rivers
- City Arts & Prep
- Perry Street Prep
|No Schools Undergoing Twenty-Five Year review|
These schools will be reviewed, and our board will vote on whether to continue or renew the school’s charter.