Thursday, May 22, 2008

Laws of New York

Laws of New York
This section focuses on charter schools and their operations. I'm pasting the whole section in below; please look at the sections I've highlighted, because those are areas that have raised questions and friction with the PAVE Academy. I've inserted my questions right below key areas and put the questions in italics.

§ 2851. Eligible applicants; applications; submission. 1. An
application to establish a charter school may be submitted by teachers,
parents, school administrators, community residents or any combination
thereof. Such application may be filed in conjunction with a college,
university, museum, educational institution, not-for-profit corporation
exempt from taxation under paragraph 3 of subsection (c) of section 501
of the internal revenue code or for-profit business or corporate entity
authorized to do business in New York state. For charter schools
established in conjunction with a for-profit business or corporate
entity, the charter shall specify the extent of the entity's
participation in the management and operation of the school.
2. The information provided on the application shall be consistent
with the provisions of this article and other applicable laws, rules and
regulations. Such information shall include:
(a) A mission statement for the school and a description of an
educational program that implements one or more of the purposes
described in subdivision two of section twenty-eight hundred fifty of
this article.
(b) A description of student achievement goals for the school's
educational program and the chosen methods of evaluating that students
have attained the skills and knowledge specified for those goals. Such
educational program shall meet or exceed the student performance
standards adopted by the board of regents for other public schools.
(c) The proposed governance structure of the school, including a list
of members of the initial board of trustees, a description of the
qualifications, terms and method of appointment or election of trustees,
the organizational structure of the school, and the processes to be
followed by the school to promote parental and staff involvement in
school governance.
(d) Admission policies and procedures for the school, which shall be
consistent with the requirements of subdivision two of section
twenty-eight hundred fifty-four of this article.

(In their original proposal, the PAVE Academy stated that the ratio of students would be 50% African American, 50% Hispanic, and that the focus of the school would be on student in Red Hook. Then they used a lottery to enroll students, and expanded the eligibility to all of District 15 (and I've heard that some of the students actually come from outside of District 15).

(e) A proposed budget and fiscal plan for the school, including
supporting evidence that the fiscal plan is sound and that sufficient
start-up funds will be available to the charter school.
(f) Requirements and procedures for programmatic and independent
fiscal audits at least once annually, with such audits being comparable
in scope to those required of other public schools.
(g) The hiring and personnel policies and procedures of the school,
including the qualifications to be used in the hiring of teachers,
school administrators and other school employees, and a description of
staff responsibilities.
(h) The rules and procedures by which students may be disciplined,
including but not limited to expulsion or suspension from the school,
which shall be consistent with the requirements of due process and with
federal laws and regulations governing the placement of students with
(i) The number of students to be served by the school, which number
shall be at least fifty at a single site and the minimum number of
teachers to be employed at the school, which shall be at least three.
Provided, however, that a charter school may serve fewer than fifty
students or employ fewer than three teachers in the school's first year
of operation or if the applicant presents a compelling justification,
such as the school would serve a geographically remote region.
(j) Information regarding the facilities to be used by the school,
including the location of the school, if known, and the means by which
pupils will be transported to and from the school. If the facilities to
be used by the proposed school are not known at the time the application
is submitted, the applicant shall notify the charter entity and, if
applicable, the board of regents within ten business days of acquiring
facilities for such school; provided, however, that the charter school
must obtain a certificate of occupancy for such facilities prior to the
date on which instruction is to commence at the school.

(I find this bizarre - why does the law have what seems like such a huge loophole? How can you start a legitimate business without specific facilities lined up ahead of time? Also, does the PAVE Academy have to obtain a certificate of occupancy if it uses PS15's building?)

(k) The name of the proposed charter school, which shall include the
words "charter school" and which shall not include the name or
identification of a for-profit business or corporate entity.
(l) A description of the ages and grade levels to be served by the
(m) Identification and background information on all applicants and
proposed members of the board of trustees.(O
(n) The school calendar and school day schedule, which shall provide
at least as much instruction time during a school year as required of
other public schools.
(o) Types and amounts of insurance coverage to be obtained by the
school, which shall include adequate insurance for liability, property
loss and the personal injury of students. The commissioner and the
superintendent of insurance may jointly promulgate regulations to
implement the provisions of this paragraph.
(p) The term of the proposed charter, which shall not exceed five
(q) Evidence of adequate community support for and interest in the
charter school sufficient to allow the school to reach its anticipated
enrollment, and an assessment of the projected programmatic and fiscal
impact of the school on other public and nonpublic schools in the area.

(Ok: what happens when there's substantial community resistance to the siting of the charter school? Why isn't there a legal provision for ensuring that a charter school doesn't have a negative impact on the public school(s) in the area affecting class size?)

(r) A description of the health and food services to be provided to
students attending the school.

(If they have this in place, why hasn't it been shared with the public yet? Was it an oversight, or did they assume they could just "share" PS15's accommodations all across the board?)

(s) Methods and strategies for serving students with disabilities in
compliance with all federal laws and regulations relating thereto.
(t) Procedures to be followed in the case of the closure or
dissolution of the charter school, including provisions for the transfer
of students and student records to the school district in which the
charter school is located and for the disposition of the school's assets
to the school district in which the charter school is located or another
charter school located within the school district.
(u) Requirements for the grant of a diploma, if the school serves the
twelfth grade.
(v) A code of ethics for the charter school, setting forth for the
guidance of its trustees, officers and employees the standards of
conduct expected of them.
(w) A description of the residential facilities, if any, provided by
the charter school.
(x) Any other information relevant to the issuance of a charter
required by the charter entity.
3. An applicant shall submit the application to a charter entity for
approval. For purposes of this article, a charter entity shall be:
(a) The board of education of a school district eligible for an
apportionment of aid under subdivision four of section thirty-six
hundred two of this chapter, provided that a board of education shall
not approve an application for a school to be operated outside the
school district's geographic boundaries and further provided that in a
city having a population of one million or more, the chancellor of any
such city school district shall be the charter entity established by
this paragraph;
(b) The board of trustees of the state university of New York; or
(c) The board of regents.
The board of regents shall be the only entity authorized to issue a
charter pursuant to this article. Notwithstanding any provision of this
subdivision to the contrary, an application for the conversion of an
existing public school to a charter school shall be submitted to, and
may only be approved by, the charter entity set forth in paragraph (a)
of this subdivision. Any such application for conversion shall be
consistent with this section, and the charter entity shall require that
the parents or guardians of a majority of the students then enrolled in
the existing public school vote in favor of converting the school to a
charter school.

(Ok, this is the first I've heard of this particularly creepy possibility, and I don't like it at all. Something needs to be done. I'd say "there oughta be a law" - except that this IS the law. This is exactly why some people have voiced concern that PAVE might take over if they don't move on within two years.)

4. Charters may be renewed, upon application, for a term of up to five
years in accordance with the provisions of this article for the issuance
of such charters pursuant to section twenty-eight hundred fifty-two of
this article; provided, however, that a renewal application shall
(a) A report of the progress of the charter school in achieving the
educational objectives set forth in the charter.
(b) A detailed financial statement that discloses the cost of
administration, instruction and other spending categories for the
charter school that will allow a comparison of such costs to other
schools, both public and private. Such statement shall be in a form
prescribed by the board of regents.
(c) Copies of each of the annual reports of the charter school
required by subdivision two of section twenty-eight hundred fifty-seven
of this article, including the charter school report cards and the
certified financial statements.
(d) Indications of parent and student satisfaction.
Such renewal application shall be submitted to the charter entity no
later than six months prior to the expiration of the charter; provided,
however, that the charter entity may waive such deadline for good cause

Is any of the financial information mentioned in the last few paragraphs accessible to the public, or do people have to apply to see it under the Freedom of Information laws?

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