2010 Tennessee Code
Title 49 - Education
Chapter 13 - Tennessee Public Charter Schools Act of 2002
49-13-106 - Creation or conversion of charter schools.

49-13-106. Creation or conversion of charter schools.

(a)  (1)  Public charter schools may be formed to provide quality educational options for students. The prospective student population shall be:

          (A)  Students who were previously enrolled in a charter school;

          (B)  Students who are assigned to, or were previously enrolled in, a school failing to make adequate yearly progress, as defined by the state's accountability system, giving priority to at-risk students;

          (C)  Students who, in the previous school year, failed to test proficient in the subjects of language arts/reading or mathematics in grades three through eight (3-8) on the Tennessee comprehensive assessment program examinations;

          (D)  Students who, in the previous school year, failed to test proficient on the end-of-course assessments in language arts/reading or mathematics;

          (E)  (i)  Students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch and who are enrolled in LEAs that have an average daily membership (ADM) of fourteen thousand (14,000) students or more and three (3) or more schools that have missed the same benchmark for adequate yearly progress for two (2) or more consecutive years resulting in such schools being designated as high priority schools;

                (ii)  Notwithstanding subdivision (a)(1)(E)(i) to the contrary, any LEA operating in this state may choose by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the local board of education to allow students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch to be eligible to attend charter schools; or

          (F)  Students who are under the jurisdiction of a juvenile court and who, in the court's judgment, would benefit from a work experience and career exploration program. The proposed public charter school shall, in addition to complying with the application requirements of § 49-13-107, apply to the commissioner of education for approval of its proposed work experience and career exploration program.

     (2)  [Deleted by 2009 amendment.]

     (3)  Any charter school enrolling students pursuant to subdivision (a)(1)(E) shall enroll the students using a random selection process. The LEA shall certify each student's eligibility to attend a charter school pursuant to subdivision (a)(1)(E). For certification purposes, upon enrollment of students eligible under (a)(1)(E), the charter school shall provide the LEA with a list of all students who applied, the date of application, all students who were accepted and the priority category of each student accepted. The list shall be provided no later than forty-five (45) school days after the charter school's first day of the academic school year. In cases where enrollment is after forty-five (45) school days after the charter school's first day of the academic school year, a list shall be provided on a monthly basis.

(b)  A public charter school may be formed by creating a new school or converting an eligible public school to charter status pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.

     (1)  Newly created public charter schools:

          (A)  The sponsor of a public charter school must file a public charter school application with the local board of education on or before October 1 of the year preceding the year in which the proposed public charter school plans to begin operation;

          (B)  Upon approval of a charter application, the sponsor shall authorize a governing body to operate the public charter school. A public charter school shall be operated by a not-for-profit organization with exemption from federal taxation under §  501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, codified in 26 U.S.C. §  501(c)(3). No charter shall be granted to a for-profit corporation; and

          (C)  (i)  Prior to July 1, 2015, charter schools created for the purpose stated in subsection (a) shall not exceed, statewide, ninety (90) in number, thirty-five (35) of which shall be located within a home rule municipality of a county with a population in excess of eight hundred ninety-seven thousand four hundred (897,400), according to the 2000 federal census or any subsequent federal census, four (4) of which shall be located within a county with a population in excess of eight hundred ninety-seven thousand four hundred (897,400), according to the 2000 federal census or any subsequent federal census, and twenty (20) of which shall be located in a county having a metropolitan form of government and a population in excess of five hundred thousand (500,000), according to the 2000 federal census or any subsequent federal census.

                (ii)  Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter to the contrary, charter schools may be formed that are devoted exclusively to the re-enrollment of high school students who have dropped out of school. Statewide, no more than three (3) such charter schools shall be created. No more than one (1) such charter school shall be created in any LEA. No such charter schools shall count against the caps under subdivision (b)(1)(C)(i).

     (2)  Conversion of eligible schools to charter status:

          (A)  An eligible public school may convert to a public charter school pursuant to this chapter if the parents of sixty percent (60%) of the children enrolled at the school or sixty percent (60%) of the teachers assigned to the school agree and demonstrate support by signing a petition seeking conversion and the LEA agrees to the conversion. The percentage of parents signing a petition shall be calculated on the basis of one (1) vote for each child enrolled in the school. Parents whose children are enrolled at the school shall have the option to enroll their child in another public school without penalty;

          (B)  A LEA may convert an eligible public school to a public charter school pursuant to subdivision (a)(1)(B). Parents whose children are enrolled at the school shall have the option to enroll their child in another public school without penalty. An LEA's decision on whether to convert an eligible public school may not be appealed to the state board of education;

          (C)  (i)  The conversion must occur at the beginning of an academic school year and shall be subject to compliance with this chapter; and

                (ii)  At the time of conversion to a charter school, any teacher or administrator in the charter school shall be allowed to transfer into vacant positions for which they are certified in other schools in the school system prior to the hiring of new personnel for those positions. Personnel who transfer into vacant positions in other schools in the school system shall suffer no impairment, interruption or diminution of the rights and privileges of a then existing teacher or administrator, and the rights and privileges shall continue without impairment, interruption or diminution with the local board of education. “Rights and privileges,” as used in this subdivision (b)(2)(C)(ii), include, but are not limited to, salary, pension or retirement benefits, sick leave accumulation, tenure, seniority and contract rights with the local board of education. The director of schools shall have the option to specifically assign these teachers or administrators to those vacant positions;

          (D)  The limit imposed in subdivision (b)(1)(C) on the number of charter schools that may be created does not apply to conversions of public schools to public charter schools; and

          (E)  A public school in Restructuring 2 Alternative Governance under § 49-1-602(g), at the option of the commissioner of education, may be converted to a public charter school. If the commissioner selects this option for the school, then during the fifth year of improvement status, the commissioner is authorized to solicit applications for the conversion of the school to a charter school. Applications for conversion of a school may be submitted to the commissioner of education by any entity that qualifies as a sponsor of a charter school under § 49-13-104 or by the LEA. If the commissioner, with the advice of the state board of education, approves an application for conversion of the school to a charter school, the school shall become a public charter school at the beginning of the school year following the fifth year of improvement status. If no charter application is submitted to the commissioner, the commissioner may direct the LEA to submit a charter application for conversion of the school, so that the school may commence operation as a charter school at the beginning of the school year following the fifth year of improvement status. Parents whose children are enrolled at the school shall have the option to enroll their children in another public school without penalty.

(c)  (1)  No charter agreement shall be granted under this chapter that authorizes the conversion of any private, parochial, cyber-based or home-based school to charter status.

     (2)  No cyber-based public charter school may be authorized.

(d)  Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit any individual or organization from providing funding or other assistance to the establishment or operation of a public charter school, but the funding or assistance shall not entitle the individual or organization to any ownership interest in the school other than a security interest for repayment of a loan or mortgage. The funding or assistance shall be disclosed as provided in § 49-13-107(20).

[Acts 2002, ch. 850, § 6; 2005, ch. 414, §§ 2-5; 2008, ch. 888, § 5; 2008, ch. 1133, §§ 1, 4; 2009, ch. 262, § 6; 2009, ch. 555, §§ 2, 3, 5, 6, 14, 18.]  

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