DeKalb Charter Updates

Charter Petitions
Currently the District is expecting four (4) renewal petitions due on August 21, 2015. The District and Board will have 90 days to review all four (4) petitions, as mandated by state law.
Charter Policy Mini Meetings
Mini-meetings have been identified to create an opportunity for Board Members to meet in small group settings to discuss and address key topics of importance. The August sessions focused on Charter Schools Matters. Nelson Mullins facilitated confidential and privileged discussions about the proposed charter school policy revisions.
Declassified Details of Charter Discussions
Question:  Why were these meetings deemed “Privileged and Confidential”.
Nelson Mullins (outside counsel):  The meeting and the discussions held during it are attorney/client privileged because the meeting and discussion were for the purpose of discussing legal advice, analysis, and interpretation.
Question:  Is the mediation defined in .pdf link icon SBOE rule 160-4-9-.05 expected to be deleted from the new SBOE rules? What about the appeals process, could it potentially place an undue financial burden on the district.
Nelson Mullins:  The option to mediate between a charter petitioner and a local board regarding denial of a petition is not currently proposed to be revised. It is currently proposed that the requirement to hold a hearing when a local board elects not to renew a charter petition be removed.
Question:  Conversion charters are not limited to the amount of autonomy they can request. Conversion charters were given a .pdf link icon “Local & System Governance Decision Making Matrix” document at petitioner meetings. [Were the petitioners] told the autonomy they may request is not limited to the autonomy described in this matrix document. [Was] this matrix meant to be the starting point of a conversation about their roles and responsibilities and not a limit.
Dr. Jose Boza (Director of Charter Schools):  Your understanding is correct. The document serves as a starting point. The Petitioners can also identify specific areas where autonomy is needed in order to carry out their innovation.
Question:  There is a .pdf link icon 2015 Charter School Petition Guidelines document. The “Charter School Letter of Assurances” starts on page 35.  All charter petitioners are being asked to sign this. This letter of assurances is not accurate and needs to be revised.  What are the district’s current instructions for conversion charter petitioners regarding the Charter Petitioner Guidelines 2015?
Dr. Jose Boza:  [That] is accurate for start-ups. Conversion Charter Schools were informed during the informational sessions to use the phrase of “not applicable” below the assurance.
Question:  Petitioner meetings are open to as many people that would like to attend. However, the petitioner is asked to select a few representatives to speak for the group.
Dr. Jose Boza:  [That] is correct. Petitioners are asked to identify a few representatives, principal and members of the proposed governing board, to attend the Capacity Interview and Clarification session.
Question:  “Arm’s Length” is a commonly used legal expression.
Nelson Mullins:  Yes, the term “arm’s length” is a commonly used legal expression. It refers to when business is conducted in a formal manner, and the parties are beyond the reach of each other’s control or over-mastering influence.
School Flexibility Option
Community Engagement Sessions for each of the five Regions are being planned, with August 24 through August 28 and August 31 through September 4 as the potential window. These Community Engagement Sessions will allow stakeholders to provide input on the Charter System application before final submission to the Board for approval. In addition to planned mini-meetings with the Board on this topic, the Board of Education will also be notified of the Community Engagement Sessions.
The GADOE has an established deadline of November 1, 2015, for submission of charter petition applications that wish to begin operating as a charter district at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. Without a called meeting, this requires that the petition be presented to the Board at their October 5, 2015, meeting as a resolution for adoption.
The petition can be reviewed at the link below.
.pdf link icon

Related Posts and Documents

10 responses to “DeKalb Charter Updates

  1. Dear Stan,
    Thanks for posting this info. About the Local & System Governance Decision-Making Matrix that petitioners were given:
    – Is this matrix posted on the DCSD website? Is it part of the 2015 Petition Guidelines?
    – How does this matrix fit in with the current DCSD Charter School policy? The matrix doesn’t have a date on it but I would guess that it is more recent than the 2011 DCSD Charter School policy.
    – How does this matrix fit in with the proposed revisions to DCSD Charter School policy that were posted in June and July? I don’t remember seeing this matrix in the documents.

  2. Hey Stan,
    I looked at the Charter System petition link. It has a matrix that looks like the one you posted but the two charts don’t agree. How do I know what is right?
    The Charter System petition says that the Local School Governance Team can “recommend the principal or school leader for selection by the BOE.” This sounds like the Local School Governance Team can really choose the principal. This is a big deal.
    But the matrix that you posted says that the Local School Governance Team can only “submit two or three candidates from a pool of qualified applicants established via the District’s Human Resources department, pursuant to DCSD policy and procedure.” This is a lot less input.
    If DCSD becomes a charter system, what role will the Local School Governance Team have in choosing the Principal? Which matrix should I believe?

  3. Note: The Flexibility Option doesn’t affect conversion or start up charter schools.
    Flexibility Option
    Last year, the administration created the earlier referenced Charter System Application. The administration is engaging in community engagement sessions to evaluate that position. By November, the administration and board must decide which Flexibility Option to choose and submit an application.
    School Level Governance Decision-Making Matrix
    The Charter System Application has a School Level Governance Decision-Making Matrix defined in it. If the school district applies to become a charter system with this application and it is approved by the state, then school councils will gradually migrate to a Local School Governance Team as described in the Charter System Application. The School Level Governance Decision-Making Matrix defines the roles and responsibilities these new school councils will have.
    Note: The school district gave conversion charters the other School Level Governance Decision-Making Matrix that I haven’t seen on the website anywhere. It is similar to the matrix in the Charter System Application. The question is, do conversion charters feel like that matrix was the maximum autonomy they could have? The district says that matrix was just a starting point and conversion charters could ask for as much autonomy as they felt like they could handle.
    Charter Policy
    The Charter System is different than charter schools. The Charter System is how the district and traditional schools operate. Charter schools are not affected by the Charter System. Charter policy only pertains to charter schools.

  4. School Level Governance Decision-Making Matrix
    Whatever application the district submits by November 1 will dictate the roles and responsibilities of the school councils. Until then, nothing is set in stone for the flexibility option.

  5. Wow, Stan. So the matrix that applies to conversion charter schools wasn’t clearly labeled by DCSD as being a starting point rather than an ending point for autonomy? Isn’t that a pretty important thing to nail down?
    I also see that the matrix states that conversion charter schools may get access to the “District’s Broad Flexibility Waiver.” You know, conversion charter schools now get a broad flexibility waiver of their own. They do not need “access to” the District’s broad flexibility waiver.
    Besides, the District’s charter system petition has to be approved before it gets a broad flexibility waiver. As you said, the charter system is different than charter schools. They are separate petitions on separate timelines.

  6. Local & System Governance Decision Making Matrix
    The Local & System Governance Decision Making Matrix is two pages long. The first page may have been a starting point, but I believe the second page was an ending point. There are a number of various revisions of the matrix and none of them were ever approved by the board.

  7. Stan, I noticed there are numerous Charter rules up for discussion and vote at the State BOE meeting this week. Do you think much of this confusion comes from the fact that it appears that the State DOE is having trouble defining all of these Charter requirements?

  8. Paula,
    Even though most of these changes are minor, changes in direction wreak havoc on an organization. Google “Change Management” and “Clarity”. A man once said

    “Effective leaders don’t have to be passionate. They don’t have to be charming. They don’t have to be brilliant…They don’t have to be great speakers. What they must be is clear. Above all else, they must never forget the truth that of all the human universals – our need for security, for community, for clarity, for authority, and for respect— our need for clarity… is the most likely to engender in us confidence, persistence, resilience, and creativity.”

    I could argue that modifying SBOE charter rules every year has effectively wiped out over half the conversion charters over the last two years.

  9. Stan, earlier in this post you mentioned that Community Engagement Sessions to allow stakeholders to provide input on the Charter System application before final submission to the Board for approval would be held beginning August 24. Well, it’s August 26 and I haven’t seen anything about this on the DCSD website.
    Can you find out if the Administration is actually going to ask for input? Since the Charter System petition would have to be voted on in the October BOE meeting, I don’t think there is much chance of actually changing anything if the meetings don’t even start until September. Maybe that’s why they are backing out. Are we to assume that Dr. Greene is fully satisfied with the Charter System petition the way it is?

  10. The dates for the Community Engagement Sessions will be adjusted and set to occur during the middle of September to allow for proper notification of community and stakeholders, with the focus of these meetings on the Local School Governance Teams (LSGTs) that will be required at each school and how those teams will have the opportunity to assist in the governance of the school.