ALABAMA PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL COMMISSION
The following provides a brief overview that “highlights” key components related to the purpose, roles, and responsibilities of the Alabama Public Charter School Commission pursuant to the Alabama School Choice and Student Opportunity Act and the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) public charter school permanent rules and regulations adopted by the Alabama State Board of Education (SBOE). For more information, please refer to the related links located at the bottom of this page .
COMMISSION DEFINITION—Act 2015-3, Section 4(6).
The Alabama Public Charter School Commission (Commission) is created in subsection (c) of Section 6. The Commission serves as an appellate body in specific circumstances outlined in subsection (a) of Section 6.
ABOUT THE COMMISSION—Act 2015-3, Section 6(c).
INDEPENDENT STATE ENTITY AND MISSION
The Alabama Public Charter School Commission is established as an independent state entity. The mission of the commission is to authorize high-quality public charter schools in accordance with the powers expressly conferred on the commission in this act.
APPOINTMENTS AND TERMS
- The commission shall be composed of a total of 13 members.
- The Governor shall appoint four members, the Lieutenant Governor shall appoint two members, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate shall appoint two members, the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall appoint three members, the Minority Leader of the Senate shall appoint one member, and the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives shall appoint one member.
- Members will serve four-year terms.
ALABAMA PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL COMMISSION
- The appointing authorities of the commission members shall strive to select individuals that collectively possess strong experience and expertise in public and nonprofit governance, strategic planning, management and finance, public school leadership, assessment, curriculum and instruction, and public education law.
- Each member of the commission shall have demonstrated understanding of and commitment to charter schooling as a tool for strengthening public education and shall sign an agreement to hear the appeal and review documents in a fair and impartial manner.
- Membership of the commission shall be inclusive and reflect the racial, gender, geographic, urban/rural, and economic diversity of the state.
- Commission members will serve four-year terms.
- A member of the commission may be removed for failure to perform the duties of the appointment.
- Whenever a vacancy on the commission exists, the appointing authority, within 60 days after the vacancy occurs, shall appoint a member for the remaining portion of the term in the same manner as the original appointment was made.
- A member of the commission shall abstain from any vote that involves a local school system of which he or she is an employee or which he or she oversees as a member of a local school board.
- Six members of the commission constitute a quorum, and a quorum shall be necessary to transact business.
- Actions of the commission shall be by a majority vote of the commission present as long as a quorum exists.
- The commission, in all respects, shall comply with the Alabama Open Meetings Act and state record laws.
- Notwithstanding the preceding sentence, members of the commission may participate in a meeting of the commission by means of telephone conference, video conference, or similar communications equipment by means of which all persons participating in the meeting may hear each other at the same time.
- Participation by such means shall constitute presence in person at a meeting for all purposes, including the establishment of a quorum.
- Telephone or video conference or similar communications equipment shall also allow members of the public the opportunity to simultaneously listen to or observe meetings of the commission.
- Each member of the commission, upon assuming office, shall complete an orientation program, an annual training program thereafter, as developed by the commission. The orientation program shall focus on roles and responsibilities of charter school authorizers, laws impacting commissioners, general education laws, and best practices.
OVERRULING LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD DECISIONS
In order to overrule the decision of a local school board and authorize a public charter school, the commission, in its own consideration of the application, shall do all of the following:
a. Find evidence of a thorough and high-quality public charter school application from the applicant based on the authorizing standards in subdivision (8) of subsection (a) of Section 7.
b. Hold an open community hearing opportunity for public comment within the local school system where the application was denied.
c. Find that the local board’s denial of an original charter application is not supported by the then current application and exhibits.
d. Take into consideration (i) other existing charter school applications, (ii) the quality of school options existing in the affected community, (iii) the existence of other charter schools, and (iv) any other factors considered relevant to ensure the establishment of high-quality charter schools in accordance with the intent of this act.
e. At least 15 days prior to the consideration of the application, send a letter to the chair of the local school board where the denial originated informing the local school board that the commission will hear the appeal pursuant to a public hearing and will provide the chair, or his or her designee, the opportunity to address the commission at that public hearing.
If the commission overrules the decision of a local school board and chooses to authorize the establishment of a public charter school in that local school system, the commission shall serve as the authorizer for that public charter school, pursuant to this act.
COMMISSION PROCEDURES, ROLES, AND RESPONSIBILITIES
The commission may do any of the following:
a. Upon evaluation and agreement share services, facilities, supplies, and related costs with the department. professional and administrative staff of the department,
b. Adopt rules for the operation and organization of the commission.
c. Review, at least once per year, department rules and regulations concerning public charter schools and, if needed, recommend to the State Superintendent of Education any rule or regulation changes deemed necessary.
d. Convene stakeholder groups and engage experts.
e. Seek and receive state, federal, and private funds for operational expenses.
f. A commission member may not receive compensation but shall be reimbursed by the department for travel and per diem expenses at the same rates and in the same manner as state employees.
g. The commission shall submit an annual report to the department pursuant to subsection (g).