For Potential Operators
An individual, a group of parents or teachers, a business, or a municipality may apply for a charter.
The principal, teachers, parents and/or the school advisory council at an existing public school, which has been in operation for at least two years, may submit a proposal for converting the school to a charter school. An application submitted proposing to convert an existing public school to a charter school shall demonstrate the support of at least 50 percent of the teachers employed at the school and 50 percent of the parents voting whose children are enrolled at the school.
A private school, parochial school, or home education program is not eligible for charter status.
Applications must be submitted prior to August 1st of each calendar year for charter schools to be opened at the beginning of the school district's next school year.
The school board is authorized to sponsor a charter school in Miami-Dade County. The school board must receive and review all charter school applications. The School Board of Miami-Dade County, Florida shall by a majority vote approve or deny an application no later than 60 calendar days after the application is received, unless the district school board and the applicant mutually agree to temporarily postpone the vote to a specific date, at which time the district school board shall by a majority vote approve or deny the application.
A Technical Assistance Team (TAT) shall review all applications and make recommendations to the District Review Committee. The TAT shall be comprised of at least one representative from each of the school district offices that have responsibility for an aspect of a school's operation. After review by TAT the applicant is given the opportunity to review the areas of concern within the application and make recommended changes.
Next, the District Review Committee (DRC), represented by senior staff from the district and one representative from the Diversity, Equity and Excellence Advisory Committee; two members of the United Teachers of Dade, selected by the Executive Vice President of the United Teachers of Dade; President, or designee of the County Council of PTA/PTSA; and one member of the Schools of Choice Advisory Committee reviews all applications, and by majority vote, makes a recommendation for acceptance or denial of each application to the Superintendent of Schools. At least one representative of the charter school must be available to answer questions from the DRC when the application is reviewed.
All applications will be submitted to the Sponsor by the Superintendent with a recommendation for acceptance or denial. The Sponsor will vote on all applications. The Sponsor must, by a majority vote, approve or deny each application no later than sixty calendar days after the application is received.
If an application is denied, the district school board shall, within 10 calendar days, articulate in writing the specific reasons based upon good cause supporting its denial of the charter application. A charter school applicant has 30 calendar days to appeal to the State Board of Education if:
- the school board denies the charter school application; or
- the school board fails to render a decision on the charter school application by the specified time.
Subsequent to a charter school applicant filing an appeal, the Commissioner of Education shall convene a meeting of the Charter School Appeal Commission (comprised of an equal number of members representing charter schools and school districts) to study and make recommendations to the State Board of Education regarding its pending decision about the appeal. The commission shall forward its recommendation to the state board no later than 7 calendar days prior to the date on which the appeal is to be heard. The State Board of Education shall by majority vote accept or reject the decision of the district school board no later than 90 calendar days after an appeal is filed in accordance with State Board of Education rule. The district school board shall implement the decision of the State Board of Education.
A charter school is statutorily required to:
- be nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and operations;
- be accountable to its sponsor for its performance;
- not charge tuition and fees;
- comply with all applicable state and local health, safety, and civil rights requirements;
- not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, sex, handicap, or marital status;
- subject itself to an annual financial audit;
- maintain all financial records that constitute its accounting system in accordance with current law;
- annually adopt and maintain an operating budget;
- provide an annual financial report and program cost report information;
- the governing body of the charter school shall exercise continuing oversight over charter school operations;
- the governing body of the charter school shall report its progress annually to its sponsor;
- not levy taxes or issue bonds secured by tax revenues; and
- provide instruction for at least the number of days required by law for other public schools, and may provide instruction for additional days.
Current law specifies that criteria be used to approve a charter based on the following:
- the charter school's mission, the students and the ages of students who will be served, and the grades that will be included in the charter;
- the focus of the charter school's curriculum, the instructional methods to be used, any distinctive instructional techniques to be employed, and identification and acquisition of appropriate technologies needed to improve educational and administrative performance which include a means for promoting safe, ethical, and appropriate uses of technology which comply with legal and professional standards;
- the charter school shall ensure that reading is a primary focus of the curriculum, and that resources are provided to identify and provide specialized instruction for students who are reading below grade level;
- the curriculum and instructional strategies for reading must be consistent with the Sunshine State Standards and grounded in scientifically based reading research;
- how the baseline student academic achievement levels and prior rates of academic progress will be established;
- the current incoming baseline standard of individual student academic achievement, the outcomes to be achieved, and the method of measurement that will be used;
- to the extent possible, how these rates of progress will be evaluated and compared with rates of progress of other closely comparable student populations;
- the methods used to identify the educational strengths and needs of students and how well educational goals and performance standards are met by students attending the charter school;
- a method for determining that a student has satisfied the requirements for high school graduation;
- a method for resolving conflicts between the governing body of the charter school and the sponsor;
- the admissions procedures and dismissal procedures, including the school's code of student conduct;
- the ways in which the school will achieve a racial/ethnic balance reflective of the community it serves or within the racial/ethnic range of other public schools in the same school district;
- the financial and administrative management of the school, including a reasonable demonstration of the professional experience or competence of those individuals or organizations applying to operate the charter school or those hired or retained to perform such professional services;
- the description of clearly delineated responsibilities and the policies and practices needed to effectively manage the charter school;
- the asset and liability projections required in the application which are incorporated into the charter and which shall be compared with information provided in the annual report of the charter school;
- a description of procedures that identify various risks and provide for a comprehensive approach to reduce the impact of losses;
- plans to ensure the safety and security of students and staff;
- plans to identify, minimize, and protect others from violent or disruptive student behavior;
- the term of the charter;
- the facilities to be used and their location;
- the qualifications to be required of the teachers and the potential strategies used to recruit, hire, train, and retain qualified staff to achieve best value;
- the governance structure of the school, including the status of the charter school as a public or private employer;
- a timetable for implementing the charter; and
- the development of alternative arrangements for current students who choose not to attend a charter school that was converted from an existing public school.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools, School Choice and Parental Options, Charter Operations Office has a very specific plan that is followed to evaluate each application on its own merit. A matrix format is followed, making sure that the experts over each of the areas mentioned above evaluates the application. A strict timeline is maintained to assure statutory time requirements are met.
Yes. The contractual agreement with Miami-Dade County Public Schools stipulates that charter schools carry the following insurance: Commercial General Liability, Automobile Liability, Workers' Compensation/Employers' Liability, School Leader's Errors and Omissions Liability, and Property Insurance.
Every charter school must be evaluated on academic progress and the outcomes agreed upon in the school's binding contract. In addition, individual schools are evaluated and assigned a school grade using the same standards and criteria as traditional public schools, under the A+ Plan for Education.
Yes. Statutory provisions require teachers employed by or under contract with a charter school to be certified as required by current law.
Students enrolled in a charter school must be funded as if they were enrolled in a basic program or a special program at any other public school in the school district. Each charter school must report its student enrollment to the school district and the school district must include each charter school's student enrollment in school district's report of student enrollment that is submitted to the state.
Charter schools-in-the-workplace may be established when a business provides the school facility to be used; enrolls students based upon a lottery that involves all of the children of the employees of the business; and enrolls students according to the racial/ethnic balance reflective of the community or other public schools in the same school district. Any portion of a facility used for a charter school is exempt from ad valorem taxes.
Charter schools-in-a-municipality may be established when a municipality obtains a charter school; enrolls students based upon a random lottery that involves all of the children of the residents of the municipality; and enrolls students according the racial/ethnic balance reflective of the community or other public schools in the same school district. Any portion of the land and facility used for the school is exempt from ad valorem taxes.