Chamblee Charter High School Petition

Chamblee Charter High School (CCHS) opened in 2000 and focuses on STEAM and the Mastery Learning System. On Monday the Board of Education approved their petition for a 5 year charter term.
Charter schools are prohibited from having admissions criteria, so the current magnet program at the site will remain under the governance of the District rather than the CCHS governing board; however, both the District and the CCHS governing board have mutually agreed to maintain the District’s magnet program at the site in a manner as close as possible to the historical operation of the program, while still ensuring that the program remains compliant with all applicable laws, policies, and regulations.

Trenton Arnold is a Regional Superintendent and also oversees the day-to-day operations of DeKalb’s Charter Office.  Here he answers a few questions related to conversion charters.
Question: What is the difference between a charter and charter petition? Can you briefly explain the process of how a charter petition becomes a charter?
Trenton Arnold: At the December 7, 2015 Board meeting the District will recommend the approval of Chamblee Charter High School’s petition renewal. A charter petition is the application that a petitioner completes to demonstrate their case for being awarded charter status. The charter itself is the agreement/contract between the petitioner, the local Board of Education, and the State Board of Education.
Question: Are charter schools or the district bound by details in the approved charter petition not found in the charter?
Trenton Arnold: The renewal process for Chamblee Charter High School began with their submission of a petition to the District for review. The role of the District is to then review the petition and provide feedback with an opportunity for rewrites. The petitioner may then resubmit the petition after making any changes for final review. The District reviews the petition and determines the appropriate recommenda-tion to the Board. The local Board then has the ultimate decision-making authority on approving or denying any petition.
Should the petition be approved, it moves to the Georgia Department of Education for review and approval/denial by the State Board of Education. While the charter petition itself is not a legally binding document like the charter contract, it is important for the charter petition to represent accurate information to both the Local Board and State Board of Education so that their decisions to approve or deny a contract for the proposed charter school are made with full information.
Furthermore, if the charter petition is approved, the charter school’s essential features, demographics, and general information, as captured within the charter petition, will be included in the legally binding charter contract.
Question: The Substantial Autonomy Assurance letter says “governing Board will be afforded opportunities to dialogue with DCSD to expand its autonomy over the course of the charter term.” Please expound on that and the process for expanding autonomy.
Trenton Arnold: As noted in the Governance Matrix for Chamblee Charter High School, it will be up to their board to seek additional autonomy; however, the District has committed in the Substantial Autonomy Assurance letter to providing substantial autonomy to the governing board should DeKalb’s Board approve the petition.
Additionally, the District is willing to further collaborate with the school’s governing board should they request additional autonomy beyond what is outlined in the agreed upon Governance Matrix as long as the request serves the best interest of the students and the District, is aligned with the charter’s mission and achievement of measurable goals, and remains legally compliant.

One response to “Chamblee Charter High School Petition

  1. Can someone please clarify why Fulton county has been able to make the transition (years ago) to more autonomy at the school level, while DeKalb remains unable to do so? This approved charter is full of IFs and MAYBEs about autonomy at the school. Since both counties are governed by same GADOE regulation, etc., it can’t be that Fulton is taking any risk that GADOE isn’t OK with. If this is a ‘corporate culture’ problem in DeKalb, why is that being allowed to persist by GADOE?