2021 Tennessee Code
Title 49 - Education
Chapter 13 - Tennessee Public Charter Schools Act of 2002
§ 49-13-106. Creation or Conversion of Charter Schools
- Public charter schools are part of the state program of public education.
- A charter shall not be granted to a for-profit corporation.
- A nonpublic school, as defined in § 49-6-3001, or other private, religious, or church school, shall not establish a public charter school pursuant to this chapter.
- A cyber-based public charter school shall not be authorized.
- A public charter school shall not charge registration fees, enrollment fees, or tuition; provided, however, that tuition may be charged if, in accordance with § 49-13-113(b), the governing body of the public charter school approves a student's transfer from another LEA to the public charter school pursuant to § 49-6-3003.
- Public charter schools may be formed to provide quality educational options for all students residing within the jurisdiction of the authorizer.
- The achievement school district may authorize charter schools within the jurisdiction of the LEA for the purpose of providing opportunities for students within the LEA who are zoned to attend or enrolled in a school that is eligible to be placed in the achievement school district. For the purposes of this subdivision (f)(2), students shall not be considered “zoned” for a school that is open to all students within the LEA unless they are assigned to the school based on the LEA's geographic zoning policies.
- A public charter school may be formed by creating a new school or converting a school to charter status pursuant to this chapter.
- 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.
- If a sponsor seeks to establish a new public charter school, then the sponsor must apply to the local board of education.
- If a sponsor seeks to convert an existing public school to a public charter school, then the sponsor must apply to the local board of education. This subdivision (j)(1) does not apply if the existing public school has entered the achievement school district pursuant to § 49-1-614.
- Local boards of education may request that a sponsor apply to convert an existing public school to a public charter school.
- Upon a local board of education's review of a sponsor's application for a new public charter school, the local board of education may request that the sponsor amend the public charter school application to provide for the conversion of an existing public school.
- This subdivision (j)(2) does not require a local board of education to approve a sponsor's application to convert an existing public school to a public charter school.
- An existing public school may convert to a public charter school pursuant to this chapter if the parents of at least sixty percent (60%) of the children enrolled in the school, or at least sixty percent (60%) of the teachers assigned to the school, support the conversion and demonstrate such support by signing a petition seeking conversion, and if the LEA approves the application for conversion. The percentage of parents signing a petition must be calculated on the basis of one (1) vote for each child enrolled in the school.
- A public charter school sponsor shall submit the sponsor's application for conversion to the local board of education. The local board of education shall act on the application no later than ninety (90) days after the date on which the application was submitted.
- If the application for conversion of an existing public school to a public charter school is approved, then:
- The conversion must occur at the beginning of an academic school year. The conversion public charter school shall be subject to compliance with this chapter;
- Any teacher or administrator in the conversion public charter school shall be allowed to transfer into vacant positions in other schools in the LEA for which they are certified before the LEA hires new personnel to fill the vacant positions. Personnel who transfer into vacant positions in other schools in the LEA shall not suffer any 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 (j)(5)(B), include, but are not limited to, salary, pension, retirement benefits, sick leave accumulation, tenure, seniority, and contract rights with the local board of education. The director of schools has the option to specifically assign teachers or administrators in a conversion public charter school to vacant positions in other schools in the LEA;
- Enrollment preference shall be given to students who reside within the former school zone of the converted public school. The enrollment preference for students who reside within the former attendance area excludes such students from entering into a lottery;
- The conversion public charter school may enroll students living in other school zones after students residing within the school zone have had the opportunity to enroll, but only if there is program, class, grade level, and building capacity to serve the out-of-zone students. If applications by out-of-zone students exceed the conversion public charter school's capacity, then enrollment of out-of-zone students must be determined on the basis of a lottery. Out-of-zone students who attended the school during the previous school year and the siblings of students who attended the school may be given preference in enrollment;
- A parent of a child who is enrolled at the conversion public school may enroll the parent's child in another public school without penalty; and
- The conversion public charter school shall occupy the converted public school's existing facility.
- If the local board of education denies the application for conversion, then the decision is final and is not subject to appeal.
- A charter agreement shall not be granted under this chapter that authorizes the conversion of any private, parochial, cyber-based, or home-based school to charter status.
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