Charter School Law (24 P.S. §17-1701-A)
A "Charter School" is an independent public school established and operated under a charter from the local board of school directors in which students are enrolled or attend. A charter school must be organized as a public, nonprofit corporation. 24 P.S. § 1703-A
A "Regional Charter School" is an independent public school established and operated under a charter from more than one local board of school directors in which students are enrolled or attend. A regional charter school must be organized as a public, nonprofit corporation. 24 P.S. § 1703-A
Powers of the Board of Trustees(24 P.S. § 1716-A)
The board of trustees of a charter school must comply with the Sunshine Act.
Establishment of a Charter School (24 P.S. § 1717-A)
Any application to establish a charter school must be submitted to the local board of school directors where the charter school will be located by November 15 of the school year before the year in which the charter school will be established.
The local board of directors must hold at least one (1) public hearing at least 45 days after receipt of an application to establish a charter school. The local board of directors must either grant or deny the application not less than 45 days or more than 75 days of the date of the first public hearing. This final decision of the board must be made at a public meeting with proper notice under the provisions of the Sunshine Act.
If an application is denied by the local school board, it may be revised and resubmitted. The board must then consider this revised application at the first board meeting occurring at least 45 days after receipt of the revised application, with proper notice under the Sunshine Act.
Any appeals from a decision of the local school board must be taken to the Charter School Appeal Board, but no appeals will be heard by the Appeal Board until July 1, 1999. To appeal a decision, a petition must be singed by at least two percent of the residents or 1,000 residents (18 years or older) whichever is less. For a regional charter school, the petition must be signed by at least two percent of the residents or 1,000 residents of each school district granting the charter. These signatures must be obtained within 60 days of the denial of a charter school application.
Such a petition must be presented to the court of common pleas which will then hold a hearing only on the sufficiency of the petition. The applicant and the local school board must be given seven (7) days notice of this hearing. If the court finds the petition to be sufficient, the matter will be referred to the State Charter School Appeal Board for review.
The Appeal Board must meet to review the matter within 30 days after the date of the notice of acceptance of the appeal. Within 60 days of the Appeal Board's review, the board must issue a written decision. If the board affirms the decision of the local school board, notice must be given to both the parties. If the Appeal Board reverses the decision, the local school board has 10 days to grant the application and sign the charter. If the local school board fails to do so, the application is deemed approved and is signed by the chairman of the Appeal Board.
Any meetings of the Appeal Board must be held in accordance with the Sunshine Act and documents of the Appeal Board are subject to the Right to Know Law.