SENATE BILL 429
54th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - first session, 2019
RELATING TO VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOLS; REQUIRING THE PUBLIC EDUCATION COMMISSION TO CHARTER VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOLS THAT WILL DRAW STUDENTS FROM MORE THAN ONE SCHOOL DISTRICT; ALLOWING A SCHOOL DISTRICT TO CHARTER A VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOL THAT WILL ONLY ENROLL STUDENTS WHO RESIDE IN THE SCHOOL DISTRICT; PROVIDING POWERS AND DUTIES; LIMITING THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS A NEW VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOL MAY ENROLL UNTIL THE VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOL HAS DEMONSTRATED THAT ITS PERFORMANCE MEETS OR EXCEEDS ITS PERFORMANCE TARGETS; SETTING OUT ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR APPLICATIONS AND VIRTUAL CHARTER CONTRACTS; REQUIRING ADDITIONAL, RIGOROUS MONITORING AND OVERSIGHT BY THE CHARTERING AUTHORITY; ALLOWING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF UNDERPERFORMING GRADES IN RENEWAL APPLICATIONS IF STUDENT PERFORMANCE DOES NOT MEET CONTRACT REQUIREMENTS.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. A new section of the Charter Schools Act is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOLS--INITIAL AUTHORIZATION OR RENEWAL--EXCEPTION--OVERSIGHT CHARGE.--
A. As used in Sections 1 through 6 of this 2019 act:
(1) "management" means:
(a) assuming administrative, operational, supervisory and evaluative responsibility and overall instructional leadership for the virtual charter school, including disciplining students and the planning, operation, supervision and evaluation of the educational program, education-related activities, policies and procedures of the school;
(b) employing, evaluating, promoting, disciplining, discharging or terminating school employees and developing professional development plans or job improvement plans to assist school employees to improve;
(c) day-to-day direction of the virtual charter school and its school employees, whether licensed or unlicensed, and its contractors and subcontractors;
(d) maintaining the privacy of student records and performance data at the school site;
(e) providing at least forty percent of the educational programming at the virtual charter school;
(f) developing a proposed budget for the public school, with input from the governing body, and submitting the proposed budget to the department or the local school board; and
(g) implementing the policies of the governing body;
(2) "necessarily small school district" means a school district that has fewer than one thousand three hundred students;
(3) "statewide" means enrolling students from more than one school district in the state; and
(4) "virtual charter school" means a specialized charter school that provides for the delivery of more than sixty percent of instruction to students through online distance learning technologies in which the students are separated from their primary teachers by time or space or both.
B. The charter for a virtual charter school is for a term of three school years, and renewals are also for three years; provided that the initial charter shall be for four years, with the first year being a planning year that does not include students. The new or renewal charter for a virtual charter school shall include all provisions of the Charter Schools Act, unless otherwise provided by this section and Sections 2 through 6 of this 2019 act, and shall include 4
additional specific provisions in this 2019 act.
C. On and after the effective date of this 2019 act, only the commission may charter a new virtual charter school that enrolls students on a statewide basis. Any applications to start or renew a statewide virtual charter school received by a local school board after December 30, 2018 shall be transferred to the commission on the effective date of this 2019 act.
D. A local school board may charter a virtual charter school in which the only students who attend the virtual charter school are residents of the school district. A local school board shall charter no more than one virtual charter school in the school district.
E. The commission is responsible for monitoring and overseeing statewide virtual charter schools and may delegate those responsibilities to the division, except for final actions. The local school board is responsible for monitoring and overseeing a single-district virtual charter school.
F. The department shall promulgate rules to carry out the provisions of this 2019 act.
G. The chartering authority shall charge no more than one percent of the virtual charter school's state equalization guarantee distribution to pay the costs of monitoring and overseeing a virtual charter school.
H. A virtual charter school shall not be eligible for public school capital outlay, lease assistance or facility maintenance funding pursuant to the Public School Capital Outlay Act, the Public School Capital Improvements Act or the Public School Buildings Act or transportation funding pursuant to Chapter 22, Article 16 NMSA 1978."
SECTION 2. A new section of the Charter Schools Act is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOL GRADE LIMITATIONS--PERFORMANCE--ENROLLMENT LIMITATIONS.--
A. Beginning with charter applications submitted in 2019 and subsequent years, qualified applicants for a new virtual charter school may operate only as a public school for students in any grades from fifth through twelfth grade and shall not be chartered to operate a school for kindergarten through fourth grade.
B. Beginning in 2019, upon an application for renewal of a charter, the chartering authority shall review the performance of the virtual charter school grade by grade and, if the chartering authority finds that the virtual charter school has not met its performance target for any grade, the virtual charter school shall not offer that grade during the next three-year chartering period.
C. Beginning in 2019, if the chartering authority finds during a virtual charter school renewal application that the virtual charter school has not met its grade-level performance targets, the chartering authority and the virtual charter school shall develop a transition plan that includes, at a minimum, how the virtual charter school shall provide timely notification of grade closure to students and families, teachers and other school personnel; timely notification to school districts materially affected by the grade closure; and how the virtual charter school shall manage the timely and orderly transfer of student records to other schools.
D. A new statewide virtual charter school shall not enroll more than two hundred students per year until the virtual charter school has demonstrated to the commission's satisfaction that the virtual charter school's performance meets or exceeds its performance targets. At no time shall a new statewide virtual charter school chartered after January 1, 2019 enroll more than one thousand students unless the school's performance exceeds its performance targets and its students are passing their courses and are on track toward timely or early graduation and receipt of diplomas of excellence.
E. A new locally chartered virtual charter school shall not enroll more than two hundred students per year until the virtual charter school has demonstrated to the local school board's satisfaction that the virtual charter school's performance meets or exceeds its performance targets.
F. A new virtual charter school is prohibited from accepting full-time students from a necessarily small school district if the virtual charter school's proposed enrollment for all grades or the virtual charter school's proposed enrollment for all grades in combination with any other charter schools' enrollment of all grades would equal or exceed ten percent of the necessarily small school district's total membership.
G. A new virtual charter school shall not enroll a student who needs class C or D special education unless the student's student assistance team, or its equivalent, at the school or public or private educational training center or residential treatment center in which the student is or had been enrolled determines that the virtual charter school is an appropriate placement for the student and the student's parent and the student's medical and psychosocial specialists agree with the placement."
SECTION 3. A new section of the Charter Schools Act is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOL APPLICATION PROCESS--BOARD OF FINANCE DESIGNATION REQUIRED.--The application for a new or renewing virtual charter school shall be the same as other charter applications, except for the following provisions:
A. a detailed description of how the virtual charter school's management and educational program will be provided and the name and contact information of the owners or board members of any proposed management- and education-related service contractors and the names and contact information of board members of other business entities that the virtual charter school proposes to contract with and the services to be provided by those contractors;
B. a detailed description of the way the virtual charter school's educational program will meet the individual needs of the students, including those students determined to be at risk or in need of an individualized education plan pursuant to the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act;
C. a description of how the virtual charter school will maintain student performance data at the school site and the process by which the virtual charter school will comply with the requirements of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 if sharing student information and performance data with any education-related contractors; and
D. a virtual charter school whose governing body does not qualify as a board of finance shall not be approved for operation. If the governing body loses its board of finance status, the chartering authority shall suspend or revoke the charter."
SECTION 4. A new section of the Charter Schools Act is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOL CONTRACT--CONTENTS--RULES.--
A. The chartering authority shall enter into a three-year contract with the governing body of the applicant virtual charter school within thirty days of approval of the charter application. The term of renewal of a virtual charter school contract shall be for no more than three years.
B. The contract shall include:
(1) the chartering authority's duties to the virtual charter school, including a detailed description of the criteria, processes and procedures that the chartering authority will use for ongoing oversight and evaluation of governance, operational and financial performance of the virtual charter school and the academic performance and progress of its students and how the department or local school board will use the withheld percentage of the state equalization guarantee distribution to perform its monitoring and oversight responsibilities;
(2) the requirement that the virtual charter school participate in the public school insurance authority;
(3) if the virtual charter school proposes to contract with a third-party provider for any management- or education-related services:
(a) the corporate status of the proposed contractor;
(b) a term sheet setting forth the proposed duration of a service contract;
(c) the respective roles and responsibilities of the governing body, the virtual charter school staff and the third-party provider;
(d) the scope of services and resources to be provided by the third-party provider;
(e) performance evaluation measures and time lines;
(f) the compensation structure, including clear identification of all fees to be paid to the third-party provider;
(g) methods of contract oversight and enforcement;
(h) investment disclosure;
(i) conditions for renewal and termination of the contract; and
(j) detailed invoices to allow the chartering authority to compare costs for specific items or services purchased by the virtual charter school;
(4) the provision of data to the chartering authority for monitoring and oversight purposes, funding and renewal and closure decisions; and
(5) the process by which the virtual charter school shall comply with the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 if sharing student data and performance data with any education-related contractor and how the virtual charter school will maintain student data and performance data at the school site."
SECTION 5. A new section of the Charter Schools Act is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOL--GOVERNING BODY--OPERATION--CONFLICT--NEPOTISM.--
A. A person shall not serve as a member of a virtual charter school governing body if the person or an immediate family member of the person is employed at the school or is an owner or agent of or contractor with or otherwise has a financial interest in a for-profit or nonprofit entity with which the virtual charter school contracts directly or indirectly for professional services or goods. A violation of this subsection renders the contract between the person or the person's immediate family member and the virtual charter school voidable at the option of the chartering authority or governing body. A person who knowingly violates this subsection may be individually liable to the virtual charter school for any financial damage caused by the violation. A virtual charter school board or head administrator shall not employ an immediate family member of a board member, officer or employee of the virtual charter school. As used in this subsection, "immediate family member" means a spouse, father, father-in-law, mother, mother-in-law, son, son-in-law, daughter, daughter-in-law, brother, brother-in-law, sister, sister-in-law or any other relative who is financially supported by the person.
B. A governing body, or member of the governing body, or an employee, officer or agent of a virtual charter school shall not participate in selecting, awarding or administering a contract with the virtual charter school if a conflict of interest exists. A conflict of interest exists when the member, employee, officer or agent or an immediate family member of the member, employee, officer or agent has a financial interest in the entity with which the virtual charter school is contracting. A violation of this subsection renders the contract voidable at the option of the chartering authority or governing body.
C. A virtual charter school may contract with one or more school districts, universities or colleges, political subdivisions of the state or tribal governments for the use of appropriate testing sites when the virtual charter school's students are required to take national or state tests; such tests shall be proctored.
D. A virtual charter school is subject to the Procurement Code. Any sole source purchases shall be approved by the chartering authority. The chartering authority may require that requests for proposals and personal service contracts over sixty thousand dollars ($60,000) be subject to its review. Requests for proposals and procurements shall not be artificially divided so as to constitute a small purchase under this subsection.
E. The department shall not waive the statutory instructional time required of public schools, and a virtual charter school shall ensure that its students are meeting the required number of instructional hours during a school year."
SECTION 6. A new section of the Charter Schools Act is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOLS--OVERSIGHT AND CORRECTIVE ACTIONS--SITE VISITS--RENEWAL OF CHARTER--GROUNDS FOR NONRENEWAL OR REVOCATION.--
A. As part of a chartering authority's performance review of a virtual charter school, a chartering authority shall visit a virtual charter school under its authority at least twice a school year to provide technical assistance to the virtual charter school and to determine the status of the virtual charter school and the progress toward the performance framework goals in its virtual charter school contract.
B. If a chartering authority suspends, revokes or refuses to renew a virtual charter school's charter, that decision is a final agency decision and may not be appealed to the secretary."
SECTION 7. A new section of the Public School Finance Act is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOL PROGRAM COST CALCULATION--LOCAL RESPONSIBILITY.--
A. For fiscal year 2020 and subsequent fiscal years, the total program units for the purpose of computing the program cost of virtual charter schools shall be calculated by adding together the itemized program units as follows:
(1) basic education;
(2) special education, if generated; and
(3) national board for professional teaching standards certification, only if the certified teacher is a resident of New Mexico and is licensed by the department.
B. Except as otherwise provided in this section, funds generated under the Public School Finance Act are discretionary to governing bodies; provided that the special program needs as enumerated in this section are met; and provided further that if a virtual charter school does not meet its performance targets, the virtual charter school shall lose ten percent of its program cost for subsequent school years until the virtual charter school meets those targets."
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