2009 Rocky Mountain Teacher Fair

Legal Structure

Charter schools are public schools. In addition, many charter schools have decided to incorporate as a separate legal entity. Developing groups should understand the legal obligations they must meet as a public charter school. Because the charter school will be receiving public funds, the school's governing board will be considered a public entity and will be subject to numerous laws such as the need to hold meetings in compliance with the Open Meetings law as well as to post audits and other financial information.

The school will also have requirements in areas such as: budgets and reports submitted by specified deadlines; organizational safeguards in place for staff and student records; compliance with federal and state laws relating to privacy, record retention, special education services, competitive bidding, etc.; State Model Content Standards implementation and CSAP participation; Accountability Committee responsibilities; and a governance structure that clearly defines the administrative structure of the school, the board's roles, and how it will operate. These can all be addressed in Bylaws included in the charter school application and Articles of Incorporation, as applicable.

Charter schools will need to registerwith the Secretary of State,  and are required to be a non profit entity. The charter school contract will influence the school's legal status requirements. Request for waiver of state laws and district policies are included in the charter school application. Technically, charter schools operate with autonomy provided through the grant of these waivers.

The League and CDE Schools of Choice can provide sample documents and a list of attorneys that have charter experience. It is advisable to thoroughly discuss the proposed legal structure of the school early-on and seek legal advice in developing documents that clearly delineate by what legal authority the charter school will operate.

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