Petitioners: Frequently Asked Questions
What law governs charter schools in Georgia?
The Charter Schools Act of 1998, which is located in Title 20 of Georgia Code, is the law that governs charter schools.
What is a “broad flexibility waiver”?
A broad flexibility waiver (formerly called a “full flexibility waiver”) allows a charter school or system to implement academic and organizational innovations by waiving certain educational state rules and regulations contained in Title 20 in exchange for increased accountability for student achievement.
Which laws, rules and regulations cannot be waived by charter schools?
Charter schools and systems are subject to all provisions outlined in O.C.G.A. 20-2-2065(b). In particular, charter schools may not waive state laws or State Board of Education rules pertaining to health and safety, funding formulas, or accountability provisions. In addition, charter schools may not waive any aspect of federal law. This includes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as No Child Left Behind), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and all applicable civil rights legislation.
May a charter school focus on a special population of students?
Provided that a school adheres to the laws regarding open admissions, a charter school may, through its educational focus, target a particular population of students with a specific need, such as students with disabilities, English language learners, or students at risk for dropping out of school. Petitioners considering such a model are advised take the necessary precautions and to work closely with their authorizer to ensure compliance with state and federal laws.
Are start-up charter schools required to organize and operate as a non-profit organization?
Yes. Georgia law requires that charter schools are governed by a non-profit board of directors.
Who runs a charter school?
A non-profit governing board holds the charter for the school. The governing board is responsible for ensuring that academic performance measures set forth in the charter are met. The governing board’s duties and responsibilities include school-level decision making, fiscal management, and a variety of school operations such as personnel decisions.
How do charter schools choose a governing board?
Charter schools typically select governing board members who have expertise in areas that would enable them to make informed decisions on all aspects of operating a school, such as education, law, finance, marketing, non-profit management or any other background that is critical to the vision of the school.
How many members are on a charter school governing board?
There is not an exact number; however the typical charter school governing board has between seven and fifteen members.
How is the governing board run?
Each governing board is unique. However, a governing board typically has by-laws that determine the composition of the board, general operations, as well as elections, terminations, vacancies and conflicts of interest. Governing boards should meet regularly throughout the school year.
What authority does the board have if the school contracts with an educational management organization (EMO)?
The charter school governing board may contract with an EMO to provide services for the school, however, the governing board cannot contract away its decision-making authority as the oversight body for the school. EMO representatives cannot sit on the governing board of a charter school, as this presents a conflict of interest.
How does the principal fit into the charter school governance structure?
The principal oversees the school's daily operations and reports issues to the governing board regarding areas identified in the charter contract. The principal may also serve as an ex-officio member of the board. As an ex-officio member of the board, the principal shall not participate in voting.