Charter Schools Frequently Asked Questions
Background of Charter Schools in MUSD
In 2018, TIME Community School (TIME) submitted a petition to start a charter school in the Montebello Unified School District, which was subsequently denied. It submitted another charter petition in 2019. At the October 23, 2019 Montebello USD Board of Education meeting, the governing board denied TIME’s charter petition. TIME then appealed Montebello USD’s decision to the Los Angeles County Office of Education which also denied TIME‘s charter petition. As a result, TIME appealed to the Advisory Commission on Charter Schools at the June 9, 2020 meeting. While the California Department of Education recommended to deny TIME’s charter petition, the Advisory Commission on Charter Schools voted to approve TIME‘s petition and to postpone the opening of the school until the 2021-2022 school year. At the July 9, 2020 State Board of Education meeting, the State Board of Education approved TIME’s petition and delegated the oversight of TIME to the Los Angeles County Department of Education.
In 2020, KIPP Poder Charter School (KIPP) submitted its petition to start a charter school in the Montebello USD. At the April 1, 2020 Montebello USD Board of Education meeting, the governing board denied KIPP’s charter petition. KIPP then appealed Montebello USD’s decision with the Los Angeles County Office of Education which approved KIPP’s charter petition at its June 16, 2020 board meeting.
In both instances, staff, parents, and community members were invited to speak to the Los Angeles County Office Board of Education and the State Board of Education to express support or opposition to the charter schools’ petitions. Leadership from the Montebello Teachers Association, Classified School Employees Association, Association of Montebello School Administrators, board members, district administrators, and community members spoke at both the county board of education meeting and the state board of education meeting.
After the charter schools were approved by the county (KIPP) and state (TIME) boards of education, the Montebello USD held town hall meetings to go over Proposition 39, one on February 24, 2021 and another on March 10, 2021. During these town hall meetings, the topics covered included general charter school information, the Proposition 39 process, laws pertaining to Proposition 39, the facilities selection process, and the pro rata share calculation.
What is a charter school?
A charter school is a public school that provides instruction in any combination of grades, kindergarten through twelfth grade. Parents, teachers, or community members may initiate a charter petition, which is first presented to a local school governing board for approval. The law grants additional chartering authority to county boards of education, such as when there is an appeal of a petition’s denial by a school district governing board or the direct approval of countywide benefit charter schools, and to the State Board of Education.
Are charter schools part of the public school system?
Yes, charter schools are under the jurisdiction of the public school system (Ed. Code Section 47615).
How did charter schools come to MUSD?
MUSD initially denied charter school applications from TIME and KIPP in 2019. However, said MUSD decision was appealed and reversed, thereafter requiring MUSD to adhere to Proposition 39 and process charter school requests for facilities as further discussed below. Under Education Code Section 47605(c) the local school district governing board may approve charter schools, with a few exceptions, that will operate within its boundaries. Because MUSD initially denied charter school petitions, said denial was appealed to the County Office of Education. KIPP’s petition was approved by the County and TIME’s was denied, and then later approved by the State Board of Education.
What is Proposition 39?
Proposition 39 was approved by California’s voters in November 2000, and as a result, amended California Education Code Section 47614. Under Proposition 39, school districts are required by state law to share public school facilities “fairly among all public school students, including those in charter schools.” (Ed. Code Section 47614). Proposition 39, and its implementing regulations as found in the California Code of Regulations, under Title 5 (5 CCR 11969.1 - 11969.10) provide the legal framework for, among other things, the sharing of facilities between school districts and charter schools.
Because of Proposition 39, a school district must make available enough facilities for charter schools that operate in the district to serve all of the charter school students that live within the district’s boundaries, in conditions reasonably equivalent to those in which the students would be served if they were attending district schools.
What is the protocol for filing a general complaint about a charter school?
Complaints should first be addressed at the school site by talking with the teacher and, if necessary, the school principal. If the problem is not resolved, the school’s governing board should be contacted, followed by the school’s charter authorizing entity. Charter schools receiving federal funds are subject to provisions of the Uniform Complaint Procedures.
What is the protocol for filing a complaint about discouragement from enrollment at a charter school?
Charter schools are not allowed to discourage a pupil from enrolling or seeking to enroll in the charter school because the pupil exhibits any characteristics under Education Code Section 220. A parent, guardian, or pupil (18 years or older) may file a Charter School Complaint Form with the authorizing entity if they suspect the charter school is in violation of Education Code Section 47605(d)(4) .
Are districts required to provide facilities to charter schools?
Education Code Section 47614 was amended in November 2000, with the intent that public school facilities should be shared fairly among all public school pupils, including those in charter schools. Education Code Section 47614 requires that school districts make available, to all charter schools operating in their school district with projections of at least 80 units of in-district average daily attendance (ADA), facilities that will sufficiently accommodate all of the charter’s in-district students. The facilities made available to charter schools by a school district must be “reasonably equivalent” to other classrooms, buildings, or facilities in the district. In-district ADA is the average attendance amount per day of students who reside within the District’s boundaries. Students who attend a charter school, but reside outside of MUSD are not counted in charter school’s in-district ADA.
The implementing regulations address charter school use of district facilities in greater detail. (See 5 CCR 11969.1 - 11969.10)
Can the District deny a charter school’s request for facilities?
Yes, but only if the District determines the charter school’s projection of in-District ADA is less than 80 students, or the charter school’s projection of at least 80 students is unreasonable. (Ed. Code Section 47614(b)(4)). In its request for facilities, the charter school must provide a reasonable projection of at least 80 in-district ADA for the following school year. The District requests, and the charter school provides the name, grade, address, and school otherwise attending for each student it projects to enroll. The District independently reviews this information to determine if the projection is reasonable and to further confirm it is for greater than 80 students. If the projection meets both criteria, the District has no discretion to deny a request for facilities. (Ed. Code Section 47614).
For example, a charter school’s request for facilities submitted to MUSD for the school year 2022-2023 was denied after the district independently confirmed that its projection of in-District ADA of greater than 80 students was unreasonable. (Ed. Code Section 47614(b)(4)).
Can districts charge charter schools for facilities?
California Education Code Section 47614(b)(1) states that school districts may charge a charter school a pro-rata share of the facilities costs which the school district pays for with unrestricted general fund revenues. The pro-rata share is based on the ratio of space allocated by the school district to the charter school divided by the total space of the district. Charter schools cannot be otherwise charged for use of the facilities. (5 CCR 11969.7)
California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 11969.7 (“Charges for Facilities Costs”), addresses charges for facilities costs in greater detail.
How are schools selected for Proposition 39 co-location?
State law requires MUSD to offer “reasonably equivalent” facilities near the charter school’s desired location. (Ed. Code Section 47614). The selection site for co-location is an extensive process which takes into account many factors. In accordance with 5 CCR 11969.3, the District first determines which high school attendance area contains the most students the charter school projects will attend in the following school year. The District then determines the appropriate comparison groups schools within the attendance area. Information from these comparison schools, such as enrollment, number of classrooms, and amount of facility space is calculated to determine a per-ADA amount. This per-ADA amount is then used to calculate the number of classrooms and amount of other space a charter school is entitled to by law based on the number of in-District ADA the charter school projects. Finally, the District must “make reasonable efforts to provide the charter school with facilities near to where the charter school wishes to locate” (Ed. Code Section 47614). Based on these entitlement amounts, the comparison schools, and the location requested by the charter school, the District selects a reasonably equivalent school that will cause the least amount of disruption to the District and the charter school.
If our school uses all of its classrooms, couldn’t we prevent a charter school from co-locating on campus?
No. Charter schools have a right to share district facilities upon request, even if every classroom in the district was in use. The District has no authority to reject a Proposition 39 request due to a lack of space. A request may only be denied if it does not provide a reasonable projection of at least 80 in-district ADA for the following school year, as also discussed hereinabove (Ed. Code Section 47614).
How does MUSD determine how many rooms are offered to a charter school?
State law requires that the number of classrooms a charter school is entitled to is based only on the average number of students per classroom at a charter school’s comparison group schools. The comparison group schools are determined based on grade level and geographic location (5 CCR 11969.3).
Why doesn’t MUSD offer charter schools undesirable space so they won’t accept the offer?
State law requires that MUSD offers “reasonably equivalent facilities” near the charter school’s desired location (Ed. Code Section 47614). “Reasonably equivalent facilities” includes comparable facilities in quality and quantity to district operated schools, and similarly furnished and equipped as the district’s comparison schools. It must also provide, to the extent possible, facilities located on a single campus (5 CCR 11969.2). Specifically, offered space must be contiguous (located together at one site, not spread across campus or multiple sites unless necessary). If MUSD does not follow the law, it faces the threat of a costly lawsuit.
What is the timeline for Proposition 39?
To qualify for an allocation of Proposition 39 school facilities, a charter school must make an annual request conforming to the statutory and regulatory provisions of Proposition 39.
Both new and ongoing charter schools must submit a complete Proposition 39 facilities request to the district on or before November 1. In addition, the Montebello Unified School District has our own Proposition 39 board policies, administrative regulations, and request forms that charter schools must comply with.
Charter school submits a written request for facilities including its projected in-district Average Daily Attendance (ADA).
District reviews the charter’s ADA projection for reasonableness and agrees or objects, and responds with projections the District considers reasonable.
Charter school responds to District’s ADA projections/objections, if any.
District makes a preliminary proposal for use of facilities to charter school.
Charter school responds to preliminary proposal.
District makes final offer to charter school.
Charter school must notify the District in writing to accept or decline the final offer by May 1 or 30 days from its receipt of final offer.
(5 CCR 11969.9).
What qualifications are required of charter school teachers?
Education Code sections 47605(l) and 47605.6 state that all teachers in charter schools are required to hold a California Commission on Teacher Credentialing certificate, permit, or other document equivalent for the teacher’s certificated assignment.
Administrators and non-teaching staff such as counselors, librarians or others employed by the charter school are not required to be credentialed.
Do teachers assigned to English learners providing core content instruction in charter schools need supplemental certification and authorization to teach English learners?
Yes. Teachers providing core instruction to an English learner must possess the same credentials as required in all California public schools, kindergarten through grade twelve. (Ed. Code Section 47605(l)).
Do school programs and services (special education, enrichment programs, and after school programs) cease when a charter school co-locates on a campus?
No. The District’s programs and services continue to operate. Although the District must share certain portions of a campus with a charter school, if necessary, the district and the charter school negotiate in good faith to establish time allocations and schedules so that educational programs of the charter school and district are least disrupted. (5 CCR 11969.3).