CHAPTER 18. EDUCATION.

§18-5G-6. Authorizer powers and duties.

(a) Each authorizing authority is responsible for exercising in accordance with this article the following powers and duties with respect to the oversight and authorization of public charter schools:

(1) Demonstrate public accountability and transparency in all matters concerning its charter-authorizing practices, decisions, and expenditures;

(2) Establish and maintain policies and practices consistent with the principles and professional standards for authorizers of public charter schools, including standards relating to:

(A) Organizational capacity and infrastructure;

(B) Evaluating applications;

(C) Ongoing public charter school oversight and evaluation; and

(D) Charter approval, renewal, and revocation decision-making.

(3) Solicit applications and guide the development of high-quality public charter school applications;

(4) Approve new charter applications that meet the requirements of this article and on the basis of their application satisfying all requirements of §18-5G-8 of this code, that demonstrate the ability to operate the school in an educationally and fiscally sound manner, and that are likely to improve student achievement through the program detailed in the charter application;

(5) Decline to approve charter applications that fail to meet the requirements of §18-5G-8 of this code;

(6) Negotiate and execute in good faith a charter contract with each public charter school it authorizes;

(7) Monitor the performance and compliance of public charter schools according to the terms of the charter contract; and

(8) Determine whether each charter contract it authorizes merits renewal or revocation.

(b) After an applicant submits a written application to establish a public charter school, the authorizer shall:

(1) Complete a thorough review process;

(2) Conduct an in-person interview with the applicant;

(3) Provide an opportunity in a public forum for local residents to provide input and learn about the charter application;

(4) Provide a detailed analysis of the application to the applicant or applicants;

(5) Allow an applicant a reasonable time to provide additional materials and amendments to its application to address any identified deficiencies; and

(6) Approve or deny a charter application based on established objective criteria or request additional information.

(c) In deciding to approve a charter application, the authorizer shall:

(1) Approve charter applications only to applicants that possess competence in all elements of the application requirements identified in this section and §18-5G-8 of this code;

(2) Base decisions on documented evidence collected through the application review process; and

(3) Follow charter-granting policies and practices that are transparent, based on merit, and avoid conflicts of interest.

(d) No later than 90 days following the filing of the charter application, the authorizer shall approve or deny the charter application. The authorizer shall provide its decision in writing, including an explanation stating the reasons for approval or denial of its decision during an open meeting. Any failure to act on a charter application within the time specified shall be deemed an approval by the authorizer.

(e) An authorizer’s charter application approval shall be submitted to the West Virginia Department of Education.

(f) An authorizer shall conduct or require oversight activities that enable it to fulfill its responsibilities under this article, including conducting appropriate inquiries and investigations, so long as those activities are consistent with the intent of this article, adhere to the terms of the charter contract and do not unduly inhibit the autonomy granted to charter schools. In the event that a public charter school’s performance or legal compliance appears unsatisfactory, the authorizer shall promptly notify in writing the public charter school governing board of perceived problems and provide reasonable opportunity for the school to remedy the problems.

(g) An authorizer shall take appropriate corrective actions or exercise sanctions in response to apparent deficiencies in a charter school’s performance or legal compliance. If warranted, the actions or sanctions may include requiring a charter school to develop and execute a corrective action plan within a specified time frame;

(h) An authorizer shall require each charter school it oversees to submit an annual report to assist the authorizer in gathering complete information about each school, consistent with the statutory requirements of this act and the charter contract.

(i) To cover authorizer costs for overseeing public charter schools, each public charter school shall remit to its respective authorizer an oversight fee drawn from and calculated as a uniform percentage of the per student operational funding allocated to each public charter school as established by the state board by rule pursuant to §18-5G-5 of this code.

(j) An authorizer may receive and expend appropriate gifts, grants and donations of any kind from any public or private entity to carry out the purposes of this act, subject to all lawful terms and conditions under which the gifts, grants or donations are given, and may apply for any federal funds that may be available for the implementation of public charter school programs;

(k) Notwithstanding any provision of this code to the contrary, no civil liability shall attach to an authorizer or to any of its members or employees for any acts or omissions of the public charter school. Neither the county board of education nor the State of West Virginia shall be liable for the debts or financial obligations of a public charter school or any person or entity that operates a public charter school.

(l) Regulation of public charter schools by the state board and a county board shall be limited to those powers and duties of authorizers prescribed in this article and general supervision consistent with the spirit and intent of this article.