Today the Association published a new resource for our member schools: The Seven RED FLAGS – Personnel/Employee Handbooks. It is designed to outline things that an the charter school, as an employer should be aware of in developing and revising handbooks. Given the three different types of employment relationships that could exist in a charter school it is incredibly important that personnel policies and practices are aligned with the types of employment relationship(s) that exist.
The most efficient way for an employer to provide employees with these policies and practices is through an employee or personnel handbook. While the opinions of legal and human resource professionals may vary on how much detail employers should include in personnel policies or handbooks, there are some commonly agreed upon RED FLAGS regarding employee handbooks that may create or increase the likelihood of legal action in personnel matters.
MN Statutes 124D.10 (Charter School Law) and MN Statutes 181 (Employment Law) both require that employees be given a written description of the terms and conditions of employment and personnel policies.
LOCATIONS and FACILITIES
California – The California Legislature has passed a bill that would impose restrictions on charter schools seeking to locate outside the boundaries of the district that charters the school. The legislation would only allow a charter school to locate outside its authorizing district on the condition that the school receives approval from the district it seeks to operate and located in. The legislation is the result of a series of lawsuits between school districts over where charter schools can be located. Governor Brown has until the end of September to either sign or veto the bill. Source: Santa Clarita Valley Signal
Washington DC – In late August the Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced that the city was leasing four more surplus school buildings to charter schools beginning this fall. Source: Washington Post
New York -The mayor who wanted a one-year moratorium on charter schools using space in public schools has approved the leasing of space to four charter schools. A state law requires the city to find space in public schools for charters, and if not, then the school is provided an opportunity to force the city to pay its rent for private space. Source: New York Daily News
STATE ASSOCIATIONS – 2 Close and 1 Merges
Wisconsin – The board of directors of the Wisconsin Charter Schools Association voted to dissolve the association effective June 30, 2014. The WCSA Executive Director Carrie Bonk stated, “After advocating on behalf of charter schools for a couple of decades, it was a tough decision for the WCSA board of directors. But without significant changes to the charter school law, it is difficult to continue to operate as a charter school membership organization. It is with extreme regret that the WCSA must close its doors. We thank all who partnered with the association for your passion, time and dedication to the charter school movement in Wisconsin.”
Indiana –The Indiana Public Charter School Association closed its doors at the beginning of 2014.
Tennessee – The Tennessee Charter School Incubator and the Tennessee Charter Schools Association merged their resources and functions to form the Tennessee Charter School Center in the summer of 2013.
While one of the ongoing challenges in being a “Membership Association” is explaining the value of the “intangible benefit” of being a member of a community bigger than one’s own institution, defining and explaining “tangible benefits” can also be a challenge, especially in terms of what constitutes “technical assistance” as part of membership verses “services for a fee”.
This summer the MACS Board pondered the question of what constitutes “technical assistance” to member schools versus what should be “services for a fee“. The Board approved a framework for thinking about what technical assistance is and is not.
So – What is Technical Assistance to Member Schools?
In its simplest terms it is the act providing information, advice, and counsel to our member institutions whether it be via the phone, email, or on-site at the MACS office or at the members site.
Technical assistance is basically a free unlimited benefit of membership. [The only limitation on technical assistance is in terms of on-site consultations – when it becomes clear that it is no longer a consultation, but providing consulting services.]
The purpose of having a framework defining “technical assistance” is two-fold.
First, to provide a guide for the Association’s work, and the fair and equitable interaction with member schools; and Second, to ensure that all members know and understand one of the important “tangible benefits” of membership in the Association.
In our Board Governance Course 100 – Welcome to the World of Charter School Governance we walk through the three basic kinds of Questions that Charter School Boards of Directors should always be asking – What? Why? and How Much? Over the last year, a number of folks who have participated in those classes have asked for assistance in defining the What?, Why? and How Much? – questions that they should ask as board members, on a range of topics.
Based on those requests we have developed a NEW RESOURCE for Charter School Boards of Directors entitled: QUESTIONS? Charter School Boards of Directors Should ASK. There are five sets of Questions in the Series, on the following topics: ASSESSMENTS, CHARTER CONTRACT, FINANCES, HUMAN RESOURCES, and PROGRAMS.
The first document in the Series is: QUESTIONS? Charter School Board Should ASK About – ASSESSMENTS will be sent to Member schools next week – the first week of September.
Members Schools will be sent the CHARTER CONTRACT in October, FINANCES in November, HUMAN RESOURCES in December, and PROGRAMS in January.
Over the last couple of years the volume of calls we receive from schools on personnel issues and practices has grown significantly and it continues to grow on a monthly basis. As a result, one of the focus areas of the Association’s Strategic Outcomes is to “Develop and strengthen the leadership and human resource management capacity of charter school leaders”.
To accomplish that outcome the Association has developed a number of tools and resources for schools, for example last spring we published A Primer on Employment in Charter Schools.
Today, we are publishing, Principles of Sound Personnel Practices for Minnesota Charter Schools. Member schools can access it as a Document on the Human Resources page of the MACS website.
The Principles provide a framework for establishing or reviewing the personnel practices of a school.
TWO ORGANIZATIONS ANNOUNCE INTENT TO WITHDRAW AS APPROVED AUTHORIZERS
Fraser (the non-profit social service agency) and Rochester Community and Technical College have notified the MN Department of Education and the school they respectively authorize that they are withdrawing as approved authorizers as of June 30, 2015. Fraser is the authorizer of Fraser Academy, Minneapolis and Rochester Community College is the authorizer of Rochester Off-Campus High School (ROC), Rochester.
Minnesota’s charter school law requires an organization that is an approved authorizer to notify MDE and the schools it authorizes by July 15 of its intent to withdraw as an authorizer on June 30th in the next calendar year. This provision was amended into the law in 2009.
AUTHORIZER PERFORMANCE EVALUATION PROCESS to BEGIN in EARLY 2015
The MN Department of Education(MDE) has announced that the first round of authorizer performance evaluations will begin during the 1st Quarter of 2015. An evaluation is expected to take about 3-4 months from the beginning of the process to the issuance of a report on the authorizer’s performance.
According to the criteria announced by the Department, performance will be based on 25% on Authorizer Capacity and Infrastructure and 75% on Authorizer Process and Decision-Making.
Minnesota’s charter school law requires that the Commissioner conduct a performance review of an authorizer’s performance at least every five years. This provision was amended into the law in 2009.
The next Charter School Leadership Skills Assessment Seminar co-sponsored by the University of St. Thomas and the Minnesota Association of Charter Schools is scheduled for November 12 -13, 2014 and January 14, 2015.
The 3-Day Seminar is a tailored to the challenges of leading a charter school. The Seminar is designed to allow current and aspiring charter school leaders an opportunity to assess their skills and competencies, using real life work situations to demonstrate these skills and then create a professional development plan to improve and strengthen their skills and competencies. The seminar is facilitated by Dr. Dave Peterson, Dept. of Educational Leadership, Policy and Administration, at the University.
Individuals from members schools of the Minnesota Association of Charter Schools receive a 20% discount on the seminar’s tuition. The seminar, which is offered annually is the work product of a multi-year collaboration between the University and the Association.
For More Information: CHARTER SCHOOL LEADERSHIP SKILLS ASSESSMENT SEMINAR
Enhancing the leadership and management capacity of school leaders is one of the strategic goals of the MN Association of Charter Schools.