Common Charter School Questions Charter schools are public schools of choice that are authorized by the State Board of Education and operated by independent non-profit boards of directors. State and local tax dollars are the primary funding sources for charter schools, which have open enrollment and cannot discriminate in admissions, associate with any religion or religious group, or charge-tuition. Charter schools operate with freedom from many of the regulations that govern district schools, but charter schools are held accountable through state assessment and accountability systems. NC OCS FAQs by Topic Accreditation Q: Where can I find information about receiving accreditation information for charter schools? A: Accreditation is not required for charter schools in North CarolinA: For schools that wish to be accredited by the North Carolina State Board of Education, this website provides a description of the State Board of Education policy governing the accreditation process, a document outlining the accreditation process, and information on how to request an accreditation review. Allotments Q: Where can I find my school's allotment? A: The Financial & Business Services allotments page provides this information. Attendance Q: Where do I go for questions about student attendance and accounting? A: Guidance for School Attendance and Student Accounting (Manual) are located on the Financial & Business Services webpage. Among other things, it includes guidelines for early admission to Kindergarten, rules, and regulations regarding compulsory attendance and information related to school calendars. Q: What can I find in the School Activity Report (SAR) information? A: The SAR is a collection of data from each NC public school. The collection includes scheduled activities of teachers and students, support of staff activities and non-classroom activities for the school staff. The SAR is used after the second month of the school year. Charter Board Policy Q: What is the difference between a policy and a procedure? A: The board of directors is responsible for creating policies. The school leadership team is responsible for creating procedures. Policies provide a broad application and serve as a general guiding principle. Policies rarely change and are generally fashioned as statements of what and why. Policies must be approved by the board of directors via vote, but they are not required to be approved by OCS or the SBE. Procedures provide a narrow application and describe in detail specific processes, protocols or steps. Procedures are prone to change and are generally fashioned as statements of how and when or who. Procedures do not need board approval. Q: Why is it important for charter school boards to create policies? A: Through policy-making, the board is able to delegate authority and still retain ultimate responsibility and control. Policies assure consistency of actions, especially in difficult and stressful situations. Policies also minimize re-deliberating on matters that the board has previously decided. Finally, policies define the methods the school wishes to operate and the board wishes to govern. Q: What policies should every charter school have? A: At a minimum, every charter school should have the following policies (according to the Ready to Open Framework): Grievance Policy Conflict of Interest Policy Admissions and Enrollment Policy Calendar and Length of School Day Policy Classroom Policies (i.e., grading scales, report cards, etc.) Promotion and Retention Policies Accountability Policies Student Behavior Policies Hiring and Termination Policies Criminal Background Check Policy Staff Evaluation Policy Student Health and Safety Policies Student Records Policy Family and School Communication Policy Board Operational Policy Board Committee Policy Nepotism Policy Third-Party Agreements Policy Employee Agreements Policy Budget Approval Policy Third-Party Contracts Policy Access to Funding Policy Audit Policy Purchasing Policy Q: When is it time to create new policies? A: Boards should consider creating new policies when issues arise that are not adequately/acceptably addressed by the current board policies or when changes in operating practice have accumulated over time so that the current policies do not reflect reality. Boards should also consider changing or creating new policies when there are internal or external transitions. Internal transitions would be things like leadership, facility, enrollment numbers, grade levels served, services offered, or methods of delivery of services. External transitions would be things like federal and state regulations, equal employment, safety, provisions of the state charter school legislation, etc. Lastly, boards should consider creating new policies when the current policies do not adequately reduce ambiguity and ensure uniformity of decisions across the charter school. Q: What are some characteristics of effective policies? A: Effective policies are mission-oriented, product-driven (not process), legal (do not deny constitutional rights), communicated to all stakeholders, evolve over time, written within the scope of the full board's authority, are adopted properly, and ethically. Core policy elements include:Effective policies are mission-oriented, product-driven (not process), legal (do not deny constitutional rights), communicated to all stakeholders, evolve over time, written within the scope of the full board's authority, are adopted properly, and ethically. Core policy elements include: Title of the policy Adoption or approval date Effective date (if different) Revision dates (if any) Location(s) (i.e., employee handbook, school website) Common numbering system (i.e., 1.1, 1.2, 1.3) Who approved the policy (signature) Whom the policy affects Q: What are some best practices for policy writing? A: Policy writing requires the use of a consistent writing format and writing style. A policy writer should be someone who understands how to gather the information, document a process, present the words in a logical fashion, and publish and train the audience to ensure the content is understood. Writing policies involves research, writing a draft, hosting reviews, and getting approvals. Widespread communication of the policies, training, and timely revisions are also important. Stakeholder involvement is key to a successful policy writing campaign. It is also important to make sure that all policies align with the school's mission, purpose, and targeted population. Q: What steps are recommended to adopt a policy? A: A need is identified. Previous policies may be examined to determine if the need is already addressed in some way. A need is identified. Previous policies may be examined to determine if the need is already addressed in some way. Relevant data is collected based on the need. Recommendations are made by several groups. Seek input from those that the policy will directly impact (students, parents, staff, etc.). The recommendations are debated by the board (or assigned committee) to decide the framework for the eventual policy. A draft policy is created (by appointed team) that follows a standard format: 1. Focus on outcomes 2. Establish boundaries within which the staff will operate 3. Sensitive issues should be reviewed by legal counsel. Notice is provided for first reading where public comments may be made. Based upon comments/feedback revisions could be made. Notice is provided for second reading where policy is adopted. The new policy is printed and provided to each member of the board and administrative team to keep the policy manual updated. The policy is implemented. Implementation procedures are developed by the administration. The policy is evaluated at least annually, and if necessary, revised. The evaluation should include information from administration, staff, students, and parents. Charter Board Responsibilities Q: What are the primary functions of each school’s board of directors? A: Each public charter school is governed by the board of directors of the non-profit organization that holds the charter. The board governs through its adopted policies and clear evaluative metrics. Its primary duties are to ensure that: The academic programs are successful The school's operational programs comply with all terms of its charter The school is compliant in all statutory and regulatory requirements The school is financially solvent Competent, professional staff are hired to carry out the operational plan At every meeting, the board should discuss the financial stability, academic standing, and any compliance situations to ensure it is making adequate progress towards renewal. Q: What important financial documents should be reviewed at each regular board meeting? A: The balance sheet (demonstrates current net worth of the organization; assets, liabilities and equity) • Cash flow statement (demonstrates all transactions for a period; what comes in and goes out) Income and expense statement (makes a miniature budget for the particular period) The budget versus the actual report (demonstrates whether the school is meeting goals, making a profit, etc.) Q: What happens if my school is noncompliant with financial and governance regulations? A: Please review the State Board of Education Policy for Charter Schools on Financial and Governance Noncompliance (TCS-U-006). This policy provides actions (or inactions) that result in a school being deemed non compliant. It also describes the sanctions associated with violation levels. Lastly, it provides the process used by the State Board of Education should a vote need to be taken to revoke a school's charter. Q: What are the minimum academic performance standards to prevent revocation of my charter? A: According to Policy, The State Board of Education shall revoke the charter of any charter school when, for two of three consecutive school years, the charter school does not meet or exceed expected growth and has a performance composite below 60%. Language was added into the charter statue August 2011 that gives the State Board authority to terminate schools that fall below this standard. Q: What is the major distinction between school leadership and the board of directors for the school? A: School leadership is responsible for leading and developing plans that drive the school's performance and execute the mission of the school. The school leadership should routinely answer ‘how will’ questions. The board of directors are responsible for making sure that the school performs through clear evaluative measures. It ensures that the mission of the school is achieved. The board of directors should routinely ask ‘how well’ questions. Q: What are four things the board should evaluate every year? A: Each year, the charter school board should evaluate: its goals in the approved charter application its progress toward charter agreement renewal the performance of the school leader the performance of the board Q: What are some helpful reminders for the strategic planning process? A: Follow a clear process for plan development. Identify your top 3-5 priorities. Clarify a purpose for having a strategic plan. Determine the crucial tasks the team must interdependently tackle and communicate and recruit key stakeholder to create and implement those tasks. Identify the leadership for the creation and the leadership for the implementation of the plan. Remember that the plan is only as good as its execution. Include fidelity measures when planning strategies to ensure measurement of the execution process. These measures should include: specific targets, planned checkpoints, concrete data indicators and milestones to ensure all stakeholders receive feedback needed to determine how well improvement strategies are working. Q: Are charter schools required to have liability insurance? A: According to the law, the board of directors of a charter school may sue and be sued. The board of directors shall obtain at least the amount of and type of insurance required by the rules of the State Board of Education. Those rules are located in section 13 of the charter agreement (Insurance and Bonding). Q: What are some suggestions for recruiting new board members? A: A good charter school board is crucial to the school's success. A key characteristic of a good board is diversity in the areas of expertise/professional skills contributed by each board member. A sample questionnaire and interview questions are available here. Q: Is it necessary for new board members to go through a formal orientation process? A: Yes. While it is not required, it is a great practice to follow. This will enable the new board member to become acclimated to the board more quickly. The quicker this happens, the better able the new board member will be to make contributions for the good of the board and the school. The Office of Charter Schools recommends that boards adopt a formal orientation process and use it each time a new board member joins. Part of this orientation process should include having the new member read the application and Charter Agreement before joining the board. Charter School Advisory Board (CSAB) Q: Who are the current members of the Charter Schools Advisory Board? A: A list of the Advisory Board members can be found on the tab to the right. Q: What are the powers and duties of the Charter Schools Advisory Board? A: According to the law, the duties of the Charter Schools Advisory Board are as follows: Make recommendations to the State Board of Education (SBE) on the adoption of rules regarding all aspects of charter school operation, including time lines, standards, and criteria for acceptance and approval of applications, monitoring of charter schools, and grounds for revocation of charters; Review applications and make recommendations to the SBE for final approval of charter applications; Make recommendations to the SBE on actions regarding a charter school, including renewals or charters, and revocations of charters; Undertake any other duties and responsibilities as assigned by the SBE. Complaints Q: What do I do if I have an issue with a charter school staff member or school administrator? A: First, talk to your child's teacher and/or school administration. Schedule an appointment so that you have sufficient time to talk with the teacher or school administrator. Each school must have a grievance process, so if the issue remains unresolved, inquire about the grievance process and follow it as outlined in the policy. Copies of the grievance policy are typically located in the parent handbook, school's website, or in the school's main office. Ultimately, the charter school board is responsible for all aspects of the school's operations, including resolution of disputes or concerns brought forth by parents. The decision of the nonprofit board, much like that of an elected school district board, is final. Q: If my child's former charter school has closed, how do I receive a copy of his or her transcript? A: All student records, including transcripts, should have been returned to the local education agency in which the charter school was located or to the school district in which the student resided. Please make a request directly to that school system. Q: Where can I find a list of all the charter schools to report a concern? A: There is a list of charter schools located on the School's charter school tab provided here. Contacts for schools - EDDIE Q: Where do I correct information that is incorrect or make changes to information about my charter school? A: The Educational Directory & Demographical Information Exchange (EDDIE) is the authoritative source for NCDPI systems. Therefore, EDDIE should be updated when changes occur at your school. Subgroups should be given a name. Curriculum Q: What is the state standards? Do charter schools have to follow the state standards? A: The NC Standard Course of Study is the adopted state standards. Charter schools do not have to follow the state standards guidelines. They can create their own standards as part of their autonomy. Q: What are the requirements for physical activity during the school day? A: The NC Standard Course of Study is comprised of the state-adopted standards. Charter schools do not have to follow the state standards. They can create their own curriculum as part of their autonomy. Q: Where can I find Home Base information? A: The Home Base's Website resource is located here under resources. Q: Where can I find information regarding course codes? A: The NC Student Information System (NC-SIS)Â page provides links to documents pertaining to courses, course codes and course coding. Employment Q: How can I find out about employment at a charter school? A: Each board of directors at each charter school makes employment decisions. Inquire directly to the school in which you are interested in applying for employment. Take time to read their mission and educational programming to ensure that you have the prerequisite skills to work at that particular school. Q: Are criminal history checks required at charter schools? A: Yes. The charter school is required, by law, to do criminal background checks in a fashion similar to that of the district in which the charter school is located. The policy shall be applied uniformly as a requirement for all applicants before an unconditional job offer is made. An applicant may be employed conditionally while the charter school board of directors check the person's criminal history and make a decision based on the results. Q: When a teacher transfers from a traditional public school to a charter public school, does their leave balances transfer with them? A: According to the NC Public Schools Benefits and Employment Policy Manual, There is no provision for public school employees to transfer leave to or from charter schools. This is at the discretion of the charter school board. The board may elect to honor teachers' leave balances from their former traditional public school system, but it is not required. Q: When a teacher transfers from a traditional public school to a charter public school, does their retirement funds and health insurance transfer with them? A: The charter school board may elect to participate in the State Health Plan and State Retirement System, but it is not required to do so. If the charter school board has elected to participate in the State Health Plan and State Retirement System, then teachers will continue participation in both plans. Q: Are charter school employees' state employees? A: No. Charter school employees are employed by and contracted with the charter school's board of directors, and therefore, not considered state employees. Enrollment Q: How do I enroll my child in a charter school? A: Parents should contact each individual school to inquire if it has openings and what the application process is for that charter school. If the school has more applicants than available slots, a lottery must be conducted to fill the slots. Charter school lotteries are required to be publicly conducted and may be attended by any member of the public. Q: If I am interested in enrolling my child in a charter school, what questions should I ask the school? A: Questions you may want to ask: What is the school's mission? May I schedule an appointment to tour the school? Can I see your school's testing data and other academic results you have available? How often does your board meet? How often, and in what manner, do teachers communicate with parents? Q: What are the requirements for acceptance into a charter school? Who is eligible to attend a charter school? A: Any child who qualifies to attend a NC public school under the laws of NC is also eligible to be accepted into a charter school. Parents must apply for the school they are interested in having their child/children attend by the stated application deadline. Parents should be aware that, based on the number of applicants for the available school slots, a lottery may be used by the school to determine who is accepted. In that case, acceptance is not guaranteed for all applicants. Q: What is the definition of a sibling as it pertains to sibling preference? A: The law defines a sibling to include any of the following who reside in the same household: half siblings, step-siblings, and children residing in a family foster home. Charter schools, by law, are permitted to offer sibling preference, but are not required to do so. Each school should have a board policy defining which legally permitted preferences it will grant. Q: Can Foreign Exchange students enroll in charter schools? A: The law states, Any child who qualifies under the laws of this State for admission to a public school is qualified for admission to a charter school. The NC School Attendance and Student Accounting manual states, Foreign Exchange students coming to NC and are not domiciles of NC must be enrolled as Visiting Students. Therefore, Foreign Exchange students cannot enroll in charter schools because they are not domiciled in NC. Q: How much does it cost to attend a charter school? A: Charter Schools are public schools and are tuition free. Funding for the schools come from federal, state, and local taxes. Charter schools shall not charge tuition or fees, except that a charter school may charge any fees that are charged by the local school administrative unit in which the school is located. A charter school, upon approval by the board of directors of the charter school, may establish fees for extracurricular activities charged by a local school administrative unit in which forty percent (40%) or more of the students enrolled in the charter school reside. Q: Do charter schools have pre-K or after school programs? A: A charter school serves students in grades K-12 only, so if it has a pre-K, it must be separate from the approved public school (with no preference to get into the lottery).Parents that choose to enroll in the preschool must be informed from the beginning of the separation between the charter school and the preschool. In the event preschool parents decide to apply for enrollment in the charter school, their children will go through the same enrollment and lottery process as any other student seeking admission. Preschool parents are not afforded an exemption from the lottery or any type of immediate entry into the school. After school programs are offered according to the school's charter. Inquire with the individual school about its program offerings. Q: How does a school get permission to increase enrollment or add a grade? A: The law provides the steps to take in making material revisions in Statute 115C-218.5. Q: Where can I find the charter school Average Daily Membership (ADM), initial enrollment, Principal's Monthly Report (PMR), and other enrollment information? A: The Finance and Business page can provide you with the resources that are needed for funding this type of information. The basic pupil accounting form used in NC is the Principal's Monthly Report (PMR). There are nine reporting periods, with months 1 and 2 required to be 20 school days each. The Average Daily Membership (ADM), Average Daily Attendance (ADA), Membership Last Day (MLD) and Initial Enrollment (E1+E2) are derived from this report. Exceptional Children Services Q: If I have an Exceptional Children's question or Individualized Education Program (IEP) question at a charter school, who should I contact? A: All Exceptional Children's (EC) questions should be answered by the Exceptional Children's Program personnel at the school and North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) Exceptional Children's Services. Q: Do charter schools serve students with disabilities? A: Yes. Since charter schools are public schools, they must provide special education and related services to all eligible students. Charter schools must provide all special education supports identified through the Individual Education Plan (IEP) process to students with disabilities determined eligible for EC services (including adapted PE and transportation). Q: Are charter schools required to follow my child's IEP from the previous school? A: When a child enrolls in a charter school with an IEP from a previous school, the charter school must follow that IEP until the charter school's IEP team meets to review and revise the IEP or develop a new IEP. Q: Can a charter school only offer special education services after the school day has concluded? A: No, except in rare circumstances where exceptional student needs, as stated in the IEP, require otherwise. Special education must be delivered within the typical hours of the school day and school calendar. Special education is part of the student's educational program-not an add-on such as tutoring, homework club, etc. Q: Should I expect that the special education program at my school to be fully funded by the state and federal dollars earmarked for special education? A: According to the Charter School Authorizer Rubrics for Assessing Special Education, federal and state special education reimbursements will not cover 100 percent of the cost of providing special education and related services, and the proposed budget should reflect awareness of this reality (i.e., allocation of funds from general budget to support special education). Q: Is a charter school responsible for identifying children who may need special education and related services? A: Yes. Charter schools are obligated to identify, locate, and evaluate all students who are in need of or suspected of being in need of special education and related services. This includes, but is not limited to, children who are suspected of being a child with a disability and in need of special education, even though they are advancing from grade to grade. Q: What is the obligation of the charter school to serve children with disabilities? A: The North Carolina Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities are applicable for all public school administrators and staff. Pursuant to charter school law and the general statutes governing the education of children with disabilities, a charter school is considered an LEA for purposes of providing special education and related services to children with disabilities. Contact members of the Exceptional Children's Department at NCDPI for additional guidance. Homeless Services Q: If a student becomes homeless while he or she is attending my school's my school required to provide transportation for him or her? A: Under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act, any student who becomes homeless after the time of enrollment has the right to continue to attend their current school or, a new school of choice proximate to their temporary residence. If the child wishes to continue enrollment, the current school is responsible for securing the student's transportation to their school. Instructional Requirements Q: What standards govern charter school's instructional program? A: Schools must design their programs to at least meet the student performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education and the student performance standards contained in the approved charter application. Charter schools are held to the same accountability model as traditional public schools. They have autonomy in their education programming. To learn more about a certain charter school's programming, contact that school directly. Q: What restrictions exist for charter school calendars and length of days? A: The start and endingÂ dates contained in general statue for traditional public schools do not apply to charter schools. Charter schools must provide 185 days or 1,025 hours of instructional time. Each school is different in how it chooses to meet this requirement, so asking about the school's calendar is important. Charter schools must observe Veteran's Day. Q: Where can I go for assistance in learning and staying in compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Standards? A: The NC Department of Labor provides training and guidance. NC Global Education Q: Where can I find State Board of Education (SBE) initiatives for NC Global Education? A: The Global Education Website will provide you with the information to turn your charter school into a global ready school. NC Report Cards for Schools Q: Where can I find the NC Report Cards? A: The NC Report Cards webpage was designed to provide school information, class size, and school performance about a given school. Q: Where can I find the state proficiency information? A: The NC Report Cards webpage was designed to provide school information, class size, and school performance about a given school. Policy and Law Q: Where can I find State Board of Education staff contact information? A: The State Board Directory provides a list under the resources link on the right. Q: Where can I find the charter school laws? A: Laws for Charter Schools are located on the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) web page. Q: Are Board documents subject to the Public Records Law? A: Yes. Public record or public records shall mean all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, films, sound recordings, magnetic or other tapes, electronic data-processing records, artifacts, or other documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance in connection with the transaction of public business by an agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions shall mean and include every public office, public officer or official (State or local, elected or appointed), institution, board, commission, bureau, council, department, authority, or other unit of government of the State or of any county, unit, special district or other political subdivision of government. The public records and public information compiled by the agencies of NC government or its subdivision are the property of the people. Therefore, it is the policy of this State that the people may obtain copies of their public records and public information free or at minimal cost unless otherwise specifically provided by law. As used herein, minimal cost shall mean the actual cost of reproducing the public recordÂ to public information. The charter school and board of directors of the private nonprofit corporation that operates the charter school are subject to the Public Records Act Chapter 132 of the General Statutes, and the Open Meetings Law, Article 33C of Chapter 143 of the General Statutes. Notwithstanding the requirements of Chapter 132 of the General Statutes, inspection of charter school personnel records for those employees directly employed by the board of directors of the charter school shall be subject to the requirements of Article 21A of this Chapter. The charter school and board of directors of the private nonprofit corporation that operates the charter school shall use the same schedule established by the Department of Cultural Resources for retention and disposition of records of local school administrative units. Q: Are faculty salaries subject to the Public Records Law? A: Yes. The opening line of the public records law defines public records as -all documents ... made or received. It is significantly broad. If it is made or received by the charter school (i.e., salary run of x dollars to y person), then it is public. Again, this law is extremely broad and ties to the use of public dollars for the conducting of public record business (i.e., operating a public school). Any record made or received by the charter school is a public record unless specifically shielded by the Public Records Law. Q: Where can I find State Board Policies? A: The resource link to the right will take you to the policies page. Q: On what grounds may a charter be terminated or non-renewed? A: According to the law, the following are grounds for termination or non-renewal: • Failure to meet the requirements for student performance contained in the charter; Failure to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management; Violations of law; Material violation of any of the conditions, standards, or procedures set forth in the charter; Two-thirds of the faculty and instructional support personnel at the school request that the charter be terminated or not renewed; or Other good cause identified. Q: What are the six legislative purposes of a charter school? Improve student learning Increase learning opportunities for all students, with special emphasis on expanded learning experiences for students who are identified as at risk of academic failure or academically gifted Encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods Create new professional opportunities for teachers, including the opportunities to be responsible for the learning program at the school site Provide parents and students with expanded choices in the types of educational opportunities that are available within the public school system and Be accountable for meeting measurable student achievement results. Q: Are charter schools required to display NC and US flags and recite the Pledge of Allegiance? A: As stated in the charter school law: A charter school shall (i) display the United States and North Carolina flags in each classroom when available, (ii) require the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance on a daily basis, and (iii) provide age-appropriate instruction on the meaning and historical origins of the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance. A charter school shall not compel any person to stand, salute the flag, or recite the Pledge of Allegiance. If flags are donated or are otherwise available, flags shall be displayed in each classroom. Q: What is the process for making changes to the original application, including changes to the mission of the school, the location of the school, the location of the school across Local Education Agency (LEA) boundaries, and name of the school? A: According to the charter agreement, any substantial change must be approved by the State Board of Education. The State Board's Policy Regarding Charter Amendments for Existing Public Charter Schools (TCS-U-014) provides guidance for this question. Some modifications may be approved by the State Board of Education. The formal process to submit an amendment includes the school providing three documents to the Office of Charter Schools, regardless of the scope of the change: A strikethrough/amended version of the applicable section. A clean/adopted version of the applicable section. The board meeting minutes evidencing the discussion and formal vote to adopt the changes. Q: How long do schools retain records or documents? A: Charter schools are encouraged to use the Records Retention and Disposition Schedule as a guide for addressing records and retention. Q: Are Charter School Board of Directors' meetings subject to the Open Meetings Law? A: Yes. According to the signed Charter Agreement and charter school law, Charter School Board of Directors must follow all provisions of the NC Open Meetings Law. This includes posting the date, time, and location of all board meetings on the school's website seven (7) days prior to the scheduled time of the meeting in accordance with the statute G.S. 143-18.10. Open meetings may be attended and recorded by any member of the public, including all school stakeholders: students, parents, teachers, administration, and the mediA: Official meetings held by telephone conference call or other audio electronic means are also open meeting and must include a way for the public to listen while the meeting is being held. All meetings must be recorded by the taking of minutes. Board meeting minutes represent the legal actions of the governing board. The Office of Charter Schools encourages the board to post its approved meeting minutes on the school's website. Meeting Minutes should be maintained in an accessible and consistent place as they are public records and fall under the Public Records Law. Meeting minutes must be provided to anyone who requests them in a timely manner. The Office of Charter Schools recommends that an ethics statement or a conflict of interest statement be read at every official board meeting. The purpose of the statement is to remind board members to help each other be ethical under the law. If there are questions that arise regarding conflicts of interest, they should be discussed with the board attorney. The board may only meet in closed session when a motion is made in the open meeting. The reason and rationale for going into closed session must be stated and recorded in the meeting's minutes. There are nine (9) legal reasons in which a board can go into closed session. If the closed session is taking place because the board is discussing confidential information, the motion to go into closed session must reference which law makes the information confidential. If the closed session is taking place because of a lawsuit, the motion to move to closed session must reference the names of the parties in that lawsuit. Read to Achieve Q: What is Read to Achieve? A: Read to Achieve legislative initiative is a part of the Excellent Public Schools Act. Under this state law, third grade students who are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade will receive special help, including summer reading camp and other interventions to make sure that they can read well enough to be able to do fourth-grade work. Q: What must be posted on each charter school's website regarding Read to Achieve? A: According to the law, The charter school shall annually publish on the charter school's website and report in writing to the State Board of Education by September 1 of each year the following information on the prior year: The number and percentage of third grade students demonstrating and not demonstrating reading proficiency on the State-approved standardized test of reading comprehension administered to third grade students. The number and percentage of third grade students' not demonstrating reading proficiency and who do not return to the charter school for the following school year. The number and percentage of third grade students who take and pass the alternative assessment of reading comprehension. The number and percentage of third grade students retained for not demonstrating reading proficiency. The number and percentage of third grade students exempt from mandatory third grade retention by category of exemption as listed (above). Q: What are the special reading proficiency and promotion requirements for third grade? A: According to Statute, students in the third grade shall be retained if the student fails to demonstrate reading proficiency by reading at or above the third grade level as demonstrated by the results of the state-approved standardized test of reading comprehension administered to third grade students. The charter school shall provide reading interventions to retained students to remediate reading deficiency, which may include 90 minutes of daily, uninterrupted, evidence-based reading instruction, accelerated reading classes, transition classes containing third and fourth grade students, and summer reading camps. Q: Is it possible for students to be exempt from mandatory retention in third grade? There may be certain exemptions from mandatory retention in third grade according to the law. You must inquire of the charter school related to their student promotion policies and practices. The charter school statute states: Students may be exempted for good cause, but shall continue to receive instructional supports and services and reading interventions appropriate for their age and reading level. Good cause exemptions shall be limited to the following: Limited English Proficient students with less than two years of instruction in an English as a Second Language (ESL) program Students with disabilities, whose Individualized Education Program (IEP) indicates the use of alternative assessments and reading interventions Students who demonstrate reading proficiency appropriate for third grade students on an alternative assessment of reading comprehension (The charter school must notify the State Board of Education of the alternative assessment used to demonstrate reading proficiency). Students who demonstrate, through a student reading portfolio, reading proficiency appropriate for third grade students. Students who have (i) received reading intervention and (ii) previously been retained more than once in kindergarten, first, second, or third grades. The Principal has the final say on placement of a child. Safety Q: Who should I contact about safety concerns at my charter school? A: First contact the school administration, charter school board of directors, and then local school safety people. Q: What health and safety information should be provided to parents at the beginning of each school year and annually to students? A: Information about what health and safety information should be provided to parents at the beginning of each school year can be found in the general operating requirements in statute. Q: Are charter schools required to have an emergency response plan? A: A charter school, in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies, is encouraged to adopt an emergency response plan relating to incidents of school violence. Charter schools are also encouraged to provide schematic diagrams and keys to the main entrance of school facilities to local law enforcement agencies. At least once per year, each school is encouraged to hold a full school-wide, school safety and lockdown exercise with local law enforcement agencies. Schools are also encouraged to place one or more crisis kits throughout the school that include, at a minimum, basic first aid supplies and communication devices. School Closure Q: Which charter schools have closed? A: In the provided link is a list of charter school closures since 1997. Q: Where can I get a copy of my child's transcript? A: All student records, including transcripts, should have been returned to the local education agency in which the charter school was located orÂ to the school district in which the student resided. Please make a request directly to that school system. Teacher Licensure Q: Where can someone verify a license? A: The Online Licensure System can verify whether a teacher has a license and what license the person currently holds. Q: How do I renew my license? How do I add to my license? A: The Professional Educator's website will provide you with the online system for active license and how to renew your license. The General Assembly requiresÂ a number of renewal credits to renew a Standard Professional 2 license. The renewal process requires a submission of Form E with an evaluation fee. The window of time for annual renewal is April 15 through June 30 of the year that a license expires. Q: Are there forms for renewing my license? A: Yes. All forms can be found at the link provided. Form E must be completed and submitted along with your evaluation fee to: Department of Public Instruction Licensure Section 6365 Mail Service Center Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-6365 Q: Do charter schools have to have a beginning teacher support program? A: No. If a charter school would like for its beginning teachers to convert their licenses from Standard Professional 1 to Standard Professional 2, then the school will need to have a beginning teacher support program. Q: Where do I go to find the North Carolina Educator Evaluation System (NCEES)? A: The Educator Effectiveness Model webpage provides the professional standards, processes, and instruments for evaluating teachers, principals, superintendent, and supporting staff. Q: Where can I gain access to License and Salary Information (LicSal)? A: User ID and password are required to access this site. Contact Systems Accounting to request access. Testing Q: Do charter schools take the state mandated tests? A: Yes, all charter schools are required to take the state mandated tests. However, the Kindergarten Entry Assessment is a required state-mandated test, which is not required of charter schools. Q: What can I find on the North Carolina Report Cards website? A: This web page is designed to provide school information, class size, and school performance. Q: Where can I find the state proficiency information for past years? A: This web page is designed to provide school information, class size, school safety and teacher quality. Transportation Q: Is a charter school required to provide transportation? A: The charter school may provide transportation for students enrolled at the school, but is not required to do so. The charter school must develop a plan so that transportation is not a barrier to any student who resides in the local school district in which the school is located. The charter school is not required to provide transportation to any student who lives within one and one-half miles of the school. At the request of the charter school and if the local board of the local school administrative unit in which the charter school is located operates a school bus system, then that local board may contract with the charter school to provide transportation in accordance with the charter school's transportation plan to students who reside in the local school administrative unit. A local board may charge the charter school a reasonable charge that is sufficient to cover the cost of providing this transportation. Furthermore, a local board may refuse to provide transportation under this subsection if it demonstrates there is no available space on buses it intends to operate during the term of the contract or it would not be practically feasible to provide this transportation. Charter schools must provide transportation to students who enroll and have transportation accommodations on their IEP as a related service. Contact the school directly for further information about whether transportation is provided at that charter school. Q: If my school does not offer transportation for all students, does my school have to provide it for students who have transportation listed as a related service in their Individualized Education Program (IEP)? A: Yes. Transportation can be identified as a related service required to ensure that a student can access the school. In that case, charter schools must develop a plan to accommodate these students.