National Bullying Prevention Month was developed in 2006 by the PACER Center, which is headquartered in Minneapolis as a way to raise awareness about the issue of bullying, the impact of bullying on kids and what communities can do prevent bullying and support kids who are bullied.
Earlier this year the Minnesota Legislature enacted the Safe and Supportive Schools Act which requires public schools to take a comprehensive approach to addressing the bullying that focuses on prevention and education. The Act requires school boards to adopt a comprehensive local policy, and provide staff training and programming for students.
In late May, MACS published a POLICY BRIEF on the Safe and Supportive School Act to assist boards, administrators and teachers understand the requirements of the new law.
The PACER Center offers a wealth of tools and resources for educators, parents and young people to address bullying.
The PACER CENTER is also sponsoring a UNITY DAY – Wednesday, October 22nd – a day to show support for those who have been bullied. People are encouraged to wear Orange on that day as a sign of their support of “Being Good to Each Other”.
The HAZELDEN FOUNDATION, also headquartered in Minnesota has a anti-bullying program called Olweus Bullying Prevention Program that has been used in elementary, middle and high schools for over 15 years.
We encourage charter school boards, administrators and staff to take time in October to examine the status of the school policy, the training and programming offered to staff and students and put into place whatever the school needs to do to make every Minnesota charter school a safe and supportive place for students to learn and make progress in fulfilling their dreams and aspirations.
Earlier this week the MACS website – www.mncharterschools.org was updated to make the website more user friendly.
- Homepage – buttons were added to make it easier to find information on Membership and News.
- Directories – a “narrow search” button was added to help make it easier to narrow searches for schools, and a revised email link to schools has been added on each school’s profile page, and in the next month school enrollments will be added in the profile section on each school’s page.
- Government Affairs – pages and content have been revised to make it easier to find information.
- IQA Initiatives – pages have been added (Student Services and Transportation), others revised (Management/Operations to Financial Management and Human Resources to Talent Management) and the drop down menu revised to make it easier to find topics.
- Networking And Exchange – two new buttons were added Resources and Links and School Cooperative Projects.
- Contact Us – a new dropdown menu was added so that emails sent through our website are directed to an individual staff member rather than general mail – which should speed up responses.
The site is also being updated with more graphics and photos as well as new and updated content.
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.