2016 Colorado Revised Statutes
Title 22 - Education
School Districts
Article 30.5 - Charter Schools
Part 1 - Charter Schools Act
§ 22-30.5-104. Charter school - requirements - authority - rules

CO Rev Stat § 22-30.5-104 (2016) What's This?

(1) A charter school shall be a public, nonsectarian, nonreligious, non-home-based school which operates within a public school district.

(2) (a) A charter school applicant cannot apply to, or enter into a charter contract with, a school district unless a majority of the charter school's pupils, other than online pupils, will reside in the chartering school district or in school districts contiguous thereto.

(b) A charter school shall be a public school of the school district that approves its charter application and enters into a charter contract with the charter school. In accordance with the requirement of section 15 of article IX of the state constitution, the charter school shall be subject to accreditation by the school district's local board of education pursuant to the school district's policy for accrediting the public schools of the school district adopted pursuant to section 22-11-307 and section 22-32-109 (1) (mm). The charter school shall also be subject to annual review by the department pursuant to section 22-11-210.

(3) A charter school shall be subject to all federal and state laws and constitutional provisions prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, ancestry, or need for special education services. A charter school shall be subject to any court-ordered desegregation plan in effect for the chartering school district. Enrollment in a charter school must be open to any child who resides within the school district; except that no charter school shall be required to make alterations in the structure of the facility used by the charter school or to make alterations to the arrangement or function of rooms within the facility, except as may be required by state or federal law. Enrollment decisions shall be made in a nondiscriminatory manner specified by the charter school applicant in the charter school application.

(4) (a) A charter school shall be administered and governed by a governing body in a manner agreed to by the charter school applicant and the chartering local board of education. Effective July 1, 2013, each charter school that was initially chartered on or after August 6, 1997, shall organize as a nonprofit corporation pursuant to the "Colorado Nonprofit Corporation Act", articles 121 to 137 of title 7, C.R.S., which shall not affect its status as a public school for any purposes under Colorado law. Notwithstanding organization as a nonprofit corporation, a charter school shall annually complete a governmental audit that complies with the requirements of the department of education.

(b) An entity that holds a charter authorized pursuant to this part 1 may choose to contract with an education management provider, which education management provider may be a for-profit, a nonprofit, or a not-for-profit entity, so long as the charter school maintains a governing board that is independent of the education management provider.

(4.5) (a) In order to clarify the status of charter schools for purposes of tax-exempt financing, a charter school, as a public school, is a governmental entity. Direct leases and financial obligations of a charter school shall not constitute debt or financial obligations of the school district unless the school district specifically assumes such obligations.

(b) (Deleted by amendment, L. 2004, p. 1571, § 3, effective June 3, 2004.)

(5) Except as otherwise provided in sections 22-20-109, 22-32-115, and 22-54-109, a charter school shall not charge tuition.

(6) (a) Pursuant to contract, a charter school may operate free from specified school district policies and free from state rules, as provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection (6). Pursuant to contract, a local board of education may waive locally imposed school district requirements, without seeking approval of the state board; except that a charter school shall not, by contract or otherwise, operate free of the requirements contained in the "Public School Finance Act of 1994", article 54 of this title, the requirements specified in part 4 of article 11 of this title concerning school accountability committees, or the requirements contained in the "Children's Internet Protection Act", article 87 of this title.

(b) The state board shall promulgate rules that list the automatic waivers for all charter schools. In promulgating the list of automatic waivers, the state board shall consider the overall impact and complexity of the requirements specified in the statute and the potential consequences that waiving the statute may have on the practices of a charter school. Notwithstanding any provision of this paragraph (b) to the contrary, the state board shall not include the following statutes on the list of automatic waivers:

(I) Section 22-9-106, concerning the performance evaluation system for licensed personnel;

(II) Section 22-32-109 (1) (n), concerning the annual school calendar and teacher-pupil contact hours; and

(III) Part 2 of article 63 of this title, concerning the employment of licensed personnel.

(c) A school district, on behalf of a charter school, may apply to the state board for a waiver of a state statute or state rule that is not an automatic waiver. Notwithstanding any provision of this subsection (6) to the contrary, the state board may not waive any statute or rule relating to:

(I) School accountability committees as described in section 22-11-401;

(II) The assessments required to be administered pursuant to section 22-7-1006.3;

(III) School performance reports pursuant to part 5 of article 11 of this title;

(IV) The "Public School Finance Act of 1994", article 54 of this title; or

(V) The "Children's Internet Protection Act", article 87 of this title.

(d) Upon request of a charter applicant, the state board and the local board of education of the school district to which the charter applicant applies shall provide summaries of the state and district rules and policies to use in preparing a charter school application. The department shall prepare the summary of state rules within existing appropriations. A waiver of state rules or local school district regulations made pursuant to this subsection (6) must be for the term of the charter for which the waiver is made; except that a waiver of state statutes or state board rules by the state board is subject to periodic review as provided by state board rule and may be revoked if the waiver is deemed no longer necessary by the state board. A school district that applies to the state board for a waiver on behalf of a charter school is only required to provide a complete copy of the signed charter contract.

(7) (a) A charter school shall be responsible for its own operation including, but not limited to, preparation of a budget, contracting for services, facilities, and personnel matters.

(b) A charter school may negotiate and contract with a school district, the governing body of a state college or university, the state of Colorado, a school food authority, a charter school collaborative, a board of cooperative services, another district charter school, an institute charter school, or any third party for the use of a school building and grounds, the operation and maintenance thereof, and the provision of any service, activity, or undertaking that the charter school is required or chooses to perform in order to carry out the educational program described in its charter contract. Any services for which a charter school contracts with a school district shall be provided by the district at cost. The charter school shall have standing to sue and be sued in its own name for the enforcement of any contract created pursuant to this paragraph (b).

(c) In no event shall a charter school be required to pay rent for space which is deemed available, as negotiated by contract, in school district facilities. All other costs for the operation and maintenance of the facilities used by the charter school shall be subject to negotiation between the charter school and the school district.

(d) A charter school or an institute charter school authorized pursuant to part 5 of this article that is operating in a school district building may purchase the building and the grounds upon which the building is located from the school district, at the school district's discretion, according to terms established by mutual agreement of the parties. If a charter school that has purchased a school building and grounds pursuant to this paragraph (d) vacates the school building and grounds or elects to sell the school building and grounds, the school district that sold the school building and grounds to the charter school pursuant to this paragraph (d) shall have first right of refusal to reacquire and purchase the property at fair market value or in accordance with other terms of repurchase established by mutual agreement of the parties.

(e) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs (b) and (c) of this subsection (7) or the provisions of subsection (7.5) of this section, a school district that has space in district facilities that is unoccupied may sell the facilities or use the facilities for a different purpose and is not required to maintain ownership of the facilities for potential use by a charter school.

(7.5) (a) No later than November 1, 2016, and no later than November 1 each year thereafter, each school district that authorizes a charter school and that has or is expecting to have one or more vacant or underused buildings or vacant or underused land available during the next school year shall prepare a list of the vacant or underused buildings and land and provide the list, upon request, to charter schools authorized by the school district, charter school applicants, and other interested persons. The school district shall also post on its website a notice that the list of underused and vacant buildings and land is available to interested persons upon request. The school district must provide the list within two school days after receiving a request. No later than forty-five days after the school district posts the availability of the list or after receiving the list, whichever is later, a charter school of the school district or charter applicant may apply to the school district to use the building or the school district land as the location for the charter school. The local board of education shall review each application for use and, in a public meeting held no later than ninety days after the school district posts the availability of the list, approve or disapprove each application for use of the building or school district land. If the local board of education disapproves an application for use, it must explain at the public meeting and provide in writing to the applicant the reasons for disapproval.

(b) For purposes of this subsection (7.5), a building is considered underused if it has unused capacity to accommodate two hundred fifty students or more.

(8) A charter school shall be authorized to offer any educational program, including but not limited to an online program or online school created pursuant to article 30.7 of this title, that may be offered by a school district and that is research-based and has been proven to be effective, unless expressly prohibited by state law.

(9) All decisions regarding the planning, siting, and inspection of charter school facilities shall be made in accordance with section 22-32-124 and as specified by contract with the charter school's chartering school district.

(10) A charter school may apply for authorization as a school food authority pursuant to section 22-32-120.

(11) (a) If a charter school chooses to apply, alone or with a consortium of charter schools, for a grant through a nonformulaic, competitive grant program created by a federal or state statute or program, the charter school or consortium of charter schools is the local education agency only for the purposes of applying and determining eligibility for the grant and may request, pursuant to section 22-30.5-503 (3.5), that the state charter school institute act as a fiscal manager for the charter school or consortium of charter schools for purposes of grant management. The charter school or consortium of charter schools shall pay the fee, if any, imposed by the state charter school institute board as provided in section 22-30.5-503 (3.5).

(b) A charter school that applies for a grant pursuant to this subsection (11) shall provide to its authorizing district:

(I) A copy of the grant application at the time the application is submitted to the grant maker;

(II) Notice that the charter school did or did not receive the grant moneys; and

(III) If the charter school receives the grant moneys, a summary of the grant requirements, a summary of how the charter school is using the grant moneys, and periodic reports on the charter school's progress in meeting the goals of the grant as stated in its application.

(c) If a charter school intends to apply for a grant that the school's authorizing school district is also intending to apply for, the charter school shall seek to collaborate with the school district in the application and to submit the application jointly. If the charter school and the school district are unable to agree to collaborate in applying for the grant, the charter school may apply for the grant pursuant to this subsection (11) independently or in collaboration with other charter schools.

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