Measuring Up to the Model



Louisiana

TOTAL SCORE:
167 out of 228

Rank: 3 out of 43

Year Charter School Law Was Enacted:  1995
Estimated Number of Public Charter Schools in 2013-14:  117
Estimated Number of Public Charter School Students in 2013-14:  58,691

Louisiana made some modifications to its charter school law and regulation in 2013.

Louisiana’s score increased from 151 points in 2013 to 167 points this year. Its ranking went from #6 to #3.

The score changed because of adjustments in our methodology for Component #3 (Multiple Authorizers Available) and further clarification about recent changes to the specific policies for Component #7 (Performance-Based Charter Contracts Required), Component #10 (Educational Service Providers Allowed), Component #11 (Fiscally and Legally Autonomous Schools with Independent Public Charter School Boards), and Component #15 (Multischool Charter Contracts and/or Multicharter Contract Boards Allowed).

One potential area for improvement is ensuring equitable access to capital funding and facilities.

Do Louisiana's laws align to the model law?

Model Law Component

Matches

Louisiana's Charter Law

Score

1. No Caps

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Louisiana law does not place any caps on charter school growth.

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1A. No limits are placed on the number of public charter schools or students (and no geographic limits).

1B. If caps exist, adequate room for growth.

N/A

2. A Variety of Public Charter Schools Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Louisiana law allows new start-ups, public school conversions, and virtual schools, and divides them into types: Type 1 (new start-up approved by local school board); Type 1B (new start-up or public school conversion approved by local charter authorizer); Type 2 (new start-up or public school conversion approved by state board of education); Type 3 (public school conversion approved by local school board); Type 3B (a former type 5 charter school transferred from the Recovery School District to the administration and management of the transferring local school system); Type 4 (new start-up or public school conversion based on contract between local school board and state board of education), and Type 5 (public school conversion transferred to the recovery school district and authorized by the state board of education).

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2A. New start-ups.

2B. Public school conversions.

2C. Virtual schools.

3. Multiple Authorizers Available

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Louisiana law allows three types of authorizers: local school boards, the state board of education, and local charter authorizers. The law provides that local charter authorizers can be a state agency (including public postsecondary institutions) or a nonprofit that has an educational mission and meets minimum asset and length of time requirements and requires these entities to apply to the state board of education to become an authorizer. The law states that not more than five local charter authorizers can be approved to operate in any regional labor market area, although each local charter authorizer must affirm their capacity and interest in overseeing at least five schools. There is considerable authorizing activity by the state board of education and local school boards.

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3A. The state allows two or more authorizing options (e.g., school districts and a state charter schools commission) for each applicant with direct application to each authorizer.

4. Authorizer & Overall Program Accountability System Required

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

The law grants the state board of education the authority to approve and oversee any local charter authorizers, including a process of on-going review, corrective actions as needed, and renewal and/or revocation. This authority does not extend to local school board authorizers.

Louisiana law requires each authorizer to report to the state board of education on the number of schools chartered, the status of those schools, and any recommendations by July first of each year. It does not require that these reports summarize the performance of the authorizer’s school portfolio.

Statute requires the state board of education to publish an annual report that covers all public schools including charters and includes a report on the implementation of a total system of choice.

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4A. At least a registration process for local school boards to affirm their interest in chartering to the state.

4B. Application process for other eligible authorizing entities.

4C. Authorizer submission of annual report, which summarizes the agency’s authorizing activities as well as the performance of its school portfolio.

4D. A regular review process by authorizer oversight body.

4E. Authorizer oversight body with authority to sanction authorizers, including removal of authorizer right to approve schools.

4F. Periodic formal evaluation of overall state charter school program and outcomes.

5. Adequate Authorizer Funding

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Louisiana law allows authorizers to annually charge each charter school it authorizes a fee in an amount equal to two percent of per-pupil funding for administrative overhead costs incurred by the chartering authority for considering the charter application and any amendment thereto, providing monitoring and oversight of the school, collecting and analyzing data of the school, and for reporting on school performance.

At least thirty days prior to the beginning of each fiscal year, Louisiana law requires each authorizer to provide each charter school with a projected budget detailing anticipated administrative overhead costs and planned uses for fees charged for such costs. By not later than ninety days following the end of each fiscal year, the law requires the authorizer to provide each charter school an itemized accounting of all administrative overhead costs. Additionally, by not later than ninety days following the end of each fiscal year, the law requires the authorizer to provide each charter school an itemized accounting of the actual cost of each purchased service provided to the charter school.

Louisiana law allows a charter school to contract with its authorizer for the direct purchase of specific services in addition to those included in administrative overhead costs. The law requires the authorizer to provide such services at the actual costs incurred by the authorizer, and requires the amount paid by a charter school for such purchased services to be in accordance with a written agreement entered into for this purpose. It provides that such agreement must be negotiated and executed prior to the beginning of each school year, and that absent such an agreement the authorizer has no authority to withhold from the charter school any funds relative to providing such services. The law also allows transportation costs to be acquired via contract at below cost if both parties agree.

Louisiana law allows an authorizer to provide other services for a charter school and charge the actual cost of providing
such services, but no such arrangement must be required as a condition for authorizing the charter school.

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5A. Adequate funding from authorizing fees (or other sources).

5B. Guaranteed funding from authorizing fees (or from sources not subject to annual legislative appropriations).

5C. Requirement to publicly report detailed authorizer expenditures.

5D. Separate contract for any services purchased from an authorizer by a school.

5E. Prohibition on authorizers requiring schools to purchase services from them.

6. Transparent Charter Application, Review, and Decisionmaking Processes

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Louisiana law provides application elements for all schools and additional application elements specific to conversion schools, virtual schools, and educational service providers. The law requires the state board of education to develop a common charter school application and timelines to be used by all authorizers and a process for authorizing multiple charter schools via one application for charters with a record of success.

Type 2, 4, and 5 applications must be submitted to the state board of education pursuant to a charter application process established by regulation, in the form of a request for applications that must include the requirements for applications. Regulations require that the release of a request for applications include public notice, notice to national, regional, and state organizations that support charter schools, and notice to all known interested parties.

State law requires both local school board authorizers and local charter authorizers to also engage in a transparent application review process that complies with the latest Principles and Standards for Quality Charter Schools Authorizers as promulgated by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, including the public posting of all application forms, timelines, and process for review and the use of an independent evaluation of the proposal by a third party.

Louisiana law requires that decisions on charter applications be made by formal vote at official meetings of the public entities responsible and requires written explanation of reasons for denial.

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6A. Application elements for all schools.

6B. Additional application elements specific to conversion schools.

6C. Additional application elements specific to virtual schools.

6D. Additional application elements specific when using educational service providers.

6E. Additional application elements specific to replications.

6F. Authorizer-issued request for proposals (including application requirements and approval criteria).

6G. Thorough evaluation of each application including an in-person interview and a public meeting.

6H. All charter approval or denial decisions made in a public meeting, with authorizers stating reasons for denials in writing.

7. Performance-Based Charter Contracts Required

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Louisiana law and state board of education policy established through formal rulemaking define the requirements for charter contracts, covering many performance, financial, and operational criteria.

The law and policy provide that the charter contract represents the legal agreement between the state board of education and the school, which defines the rights and responsibilities of the parties. The law and policy also require charter schools authorized by districts to operate pursuant to the rights and responsibilities laid out in a charter contract.

The law and policy provide that charter contracts must include specific student performance, financial, and legal and contractual standards that must be met by the charter operator during the term of the charter contract.

Under Louisiana law, initial charters are issued for four years, and may be extended for the maximum initial term of five years contingent on a performance evaluation made after the third year.

Nothing specific to virtual schools is required to be noted in the contract.

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7A. Being created as a separate document from the application and executed by the governing board of the charter school and the authorizer.

7B. Defining the roles, powers, and responsibilities for the school and its authorizer.

7C. Defining academic and operational performance expectations by which the school will be judged, based on a performance framework that includes measures and metrics for, at a minimum, student academic proficiency and growth, achievement gaps, attendance, recurrent enrollment, postsecondary readiness (high schools), financial performance, and board stewardship (including compliance).

7D. Providing an initial term of five operating years (or a longer term with periodic high-stakes reviews.

7E. Including requirements addressing the unique environments of virtual schools, if applicable.

8. Comprehensive Charter School Monitoring and Data Collection Processes

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

State rules dictate that a charter school must provide its authorizer with an annual performance report addressing academic performance in that year. In addition, per state board rule, each charter school receives a school performance score as part of the state’s assessment and accountability program, with detailed procedures adopted in state board rule for a school’s initial years and then for its sixth year of operation and thereafter.

Louisiana law requires that charter schools be evaluated annually on the timely submission of budgets, audits, annual financial reports, and all other financial reporting and compliance with applicable financial budgeting, accounting, and auditing laws, regulations, and procedures.

Under state law, certain methods and procedures for monitoring a charter school by the authorizer must be established in the charter agreement.

The law requires the state board of education to evaluate a charter school's performance based on the state department of education's oversight and monitoring of the charter school's compliance with its statutory, regulatory, and contractual obligations and all reporting requirements. The law requires the state board to communicate its assessments to the schools. Via state regulations, the state board has established performance benchmarks by year of operation and if a school falls short, the state board may require corrective steps to be taken by the school. These provisions are only applicable to charters authorized by the state board of education, not to charters authorized by other entities.

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8A. The collection and analysis of student outcome data at least annually by authorizers (consistent with performance framework outlined in the contract).

8B. Financial accountability for charter schools (e.g., Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, independent annual audit reported to authorizer).

8C. Authorizer authority to conduct or require oversight activities.

8D. Annual school performance reports which are made public.

8E. Authorizer notification to their schools of perceived problems, with opportunities to remedy such problems.

8F. Authorizer authority to take appropriate corrective actions or exercise sanctions short of revocation.

9. Clear Processes for Renewal, Nonrenewal, and Revocation Decisions

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Louisiana law requires each charter school to provide a comprehensive report to its chartering authority at the end of its the third year. If the charter school is achieving its stated goals and objectives pursuant to its approved charter, then the authorizer must extend the charter for the additional two-year period as provided in law. It does not require a similar report at the end of tis fifth year of operation.

Louisiana law requires schools seeking renewal to apply for it and requires each chartering authority to share their renewal criteria and procedures with their schools.

State law requires that any charter school overseen by a local school board is automatically renewed if it has met or exceeded the benchmarks established in accordance with the school and district accountability systems, has demonstrated growth in student achievement, and has had no significant audit findings for the three consecutive years prior to its consideration for renewal.

Louisiana law provides that no charter shall be renewed unless the charter renewal applicant can demonstrate, using standardized test scores, improvement in the academic performance of pupils over the term of the charter school's existence.

Louisiana law provides that an authorizer may revoke a charter contract if the school failed to meet improve the academic performance of students on standardized tests over the term of the charter school's existence, committed a material violation of any of the conditions, standards, or procedures provided for in the approved charter, failed to meet or pursue within the agreed timelines any of the academic and other educational results specified in the approved charter, failed to meet generally accepted accounting standards of fiscal management, or violated any provision of law applicable to a charter school, its officers, or its employees.

Louisiana law allows charter contracts to be renewed for additional periods of not less than three nor more than ten years after thorough review by the approving chartering authority of the charter school's operations and compliance with charter requirements.

Louisiana law requires authorizers to notify schools in writing of any decisions made relative to renewal or non-renewal of a school’s charter not later than January 31st of the year in which the charter would expire.

Under state regulations, prior to meeting to present a recommendation of revocation of any charter authorized by the state board of education, the state department of education must notify the charter operator of the reasons. Regulations provide that the school must have an opportunity to provide input and a hearing must be held consistent with due process protections. These provisions are only applicable to charters authorized by the state board of education, not to charters authorized by other entities..

The law requires that revocation decisions must be made by a majority vote at a formal meeting of the local district board or the state board of education. It doesn’t address charters authorized by local charter authorizers.

State board rule details procedures for asset recordkeeping and disposition in the event of a school closure. However, they don’t ensure timely parent notification and orderly student and record transitions.

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9A. Authorizer must issue school performance renewal reports to schools whose charter will expire the following year.

9B. Schools seeking renewal must apply for it.

9C. Authorizers must issue renewal application guidance that provides an opportunity for schools to augment their performance record and discuss improvements and future plans.

9D. Clear criteria for renewal and nonrenewal/revocation.

9E. Authorizers must ground renewal decisions based on evidence regarding the school’s performance over the term of the charter contract (in accordance with the performance framework set forth in the charter contract).

9F. Authorizer authority to vary length of charter renewal contract terms based on performance or other issues.

9G. Authorizers must provide charter schools with timely notification of potential revocation or non-renewal (including reasons) and reasonable time to respond.

9H. Authorizers must provide charter schools with due process for nonrenewal and revocation decisions (e.g., public hearing, submission of evidence).

9I. All charter renewal, non-renewal, and revocation decisions made in a public meeting, with authorizers stating reasons for non-renewals and revocations in writing.

9J. Authorizers must have school closure protocols to ensure timely parent notification, orderly student and record transitions, and property and asset disposition.

10. Educational Service Providers (ESPs) Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

State board rule requires schools that plan to contract with an educational service provider (ESP) to include the details of such contracts in their charter applications. Such details must include performance data for current or past schools operated by the ESP, evidence of the ESP’s capacity for successful growth, the material terms of the performance contract, and any existing or potential conflicts of interest. They also require charter school boards to operate legally and fiscally independent of any ESP.

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10A. All types of educational service providers (both for-profit and non-profit) explicitly allowed to operate all or parts of schools.

10B. The charter application requires 1) performance data for all current and past schools operated by the ESP, including documentation of academic achievement and (if applicable) school management success; and 2) explanation and evidence of the ESP’s capacity for successful growth while maintaining quality in existing schools.

10C. A performance contract is required between the independent public charter school board and the ESP, setting forth material terms including but not limited to: performance evaluation measures; methods of contract oversight and enforcement by the charter school board; compensation structure and all fees to be paid to the ESP; and conditions for contract renewal and termination.

10D. The material terms of the ESP performance contract must be approved by the authorizer prior to charter approval.

10E. School governing boards operating as entities completely independent of any educational service provider (e.g., must retain independent oversight authority of their charter schools, and cannot give away their authority via contract).

10F. Existing and potential conflicts of interest between the two entities are required to be disclosed and explained in the charter application.

11. Fiscally and Legally Autonomous Schools with Independent Public Charter School Boards

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Under Louisiana law, a charter school is an independent public school, regardless of type. The law provides that charter schools can exercise the powers needed to perform any necessary function. It also specifies that governing boards operate independently of authorizers and that all charter schools except Type 4 charters must be organized as non-profit corporations under applicable federal and state laws. Law is explicit that for charters overseen by the state board of education, the board of directors of each charter operator must exercise final authority in matters affecting the charter school including, but not limited to, staffing, financial accountability, and curriculum.

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11A. Fiscally autonomous schools (e.g., schools have clear statutory authority to receive and disburse funds, incur debt, and pledge, assign or encumber assets as collateral).

11B. Legally autonomous schools (e.g., schools have clear statutory authority to enter into contracts and leases, sue and be sued in their own names, and acquire real property).

11C. School governing boards created specifically to govern their charter schools.

12. Clear Student Recruitment, Enrollment, and Lottery Procedures

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Depending on the type of charter, some restrictions on the enrollment area exist.
Louisiana law requires charter schools to use an admissions lottery if the total number of eligible applicants exceeds the capacity of a program, class, grade level, or school.

For each type of charter school except Types 3B and 5, state law specifies the minimum and/or maximum percentage of at-risk pupils that shall attend each type of charter school.

Previously enrolled students in conversion schools and students previously enrolled at a charter school and their siblings are exempt from the lottery.

Louisiana law permits a charter school to create admission requirements, which may include specific requirements related to a school’s mission such as auditions for schools with a performing arts mission or proficiency in a foreign language for schools with a language immersion mission. This provision does not apply to Types 3B and 5 charter schools.

All types of charter schools except Type 2 charters may also include enrollment preferences for students residing within geographic boundaries immediately surrounding each school, although Type 5 schools cannot have more than 50% of such students in each grade. Type 2 charters may establish residency requirements to include all students living within the state or as restricted to a particular parish or parishes.

Law also permits enrollment preferences of up to 50% of the enrollment for dependent children of permanent employees of a corporate partner.

For the process of enrolling students for the 2013-2014 school year, state board rule requires the state department of education to manage a pilot program wherein the department shall allow an enrollment preference for those students matriculating or transferring into ninth grade or above between eligible state board-authorized charter schools for a limited percentage of the seats in the charter school, to be determined by the department.

The law does not provide optional enrollment preference for children of a school’s founders, governing board members, and full-time employees, not exceeding 10% of the school’s total student population.

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12A. Open enrollment to any student in the state.

12B. Lottery requirements.

12C. Required enrollment preferences for previously enrolled students within conversions, prior year students within chartered schools, siblings of enrolled students enrolled at a charter school.

12D. Optional enrollment preference for children of a school’s founders, governing board members, and full-time employees, not exceeding 10% of the school’s total student population.

13. Automatic Exemptions from Many State and District Laws and Regulations

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Notwithstanding any state law, rule, or regulation to the contrary and except as provided in the state's charter school law and as may be otherwise specifically provided for in an approved charter, Louisiana law provides that charter schools are exempt from all rules and regulations of the state board and those of any local school board that are applicable to public schools and to public school officers and employees.

Louisiana law provides that teachers within charter schools do not need to meet state certification requirements. The law instead requires that charter teachers have a minimum of a baccalaureate degree.

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13A. Exemptions from all laws, except those covering health, safety, civil rights, student accountability, employee criminal history checks, open meetings, freedom of information, and generally accepted accounting principles.

13B. Exemption from state teacher certification requirements.

14. Automatic Collective Bargaining Exemption

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Louisiana law requires the provisions of any collective bargaining agreement entered into by the local school board in whose jurisdiction the charter school is located to apply to such charter schools, unless its approved charter provides otherwise. A charter operator may select to not be subject to such a collective bargaining agreement in its charter. This provision does not apply to Type 5 charters, which are exempt from participation in any district collective bargaining agreement.

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14A. Charter schools authorized by non-local board authorizers are exempt from participation in any outside collective bargaining agreements.

14B. Charter schools authorized by local boards are exempt from participation in any district collective bargaining agreements.

15. Multischool Charter Contracts and/or Multicharter Contract Boards Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Louisiana law allows charter schools that have a letter grade designation of an A or B and have met the criteria for automatic renewal to open and operate two additional schools serving the same grade levels and the same enrollment boundaries as defined in the charter agreement without formal application to the authorizer. Instead, the law requires the schools to provide a notice of intent to their authorizers. The law requires authorizers to enter into a charter agreement for such additional schools.

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15A. Oversee multiple schools linked under a single contract with independent fiscal and academic accountability for each school.

15B. Hold multiple charter contracts with independent fiscal and academic accountability for each school.

16. Extracurricular and Interscholastic Activities Eligibility and Access

weight = 1 | Possible total = 4

Louisiana law is silent about charter eligibility and access.

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16A. Laws or regulations explicitly state that charter school students and employees are eligible to participate in all interscholastic leagues, competitions, awards, scholarships, and recognition programs available to non-charter public school students and employees.

16B. Laws or regulations explicitly allow charter school students in schools not providing extra-curricular and interscholastic activities to have access to those activities at non-charter public schools for a fee by a mutual agreement.

17. Clear Identification of Special Education Responsibilities

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

The law provides that any Type 1B, 2, or 5 charter school shall be considered the local education agency for funding purposes and statutory definitions pursuant to rules adopted by the state board. The law provides that the local school board shall remain the local education agency for any Type 1, 3, or 4 charter school. The law provides that a Type 5 charter school shall have the option to remain its own local education agency for funding purposes and statutory definitions upon conversion to a Type 3B charter school pursuant to rules adopted by the state board.

The law does not provide clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools in the same amount or in a manner similar to other LEAs.

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17A. Clarity regarding which entity is the local education agency (LEA) responsible for providing special education services.

17B. Clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools (in the same amount and/or in a manner similar to other LEAs).

18. Equitable Operational Funding and Equal Access to All State and Federal Categorical Funding

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Louisiana law includes some of the model law’s provisions for equitable operational and categorical funding, but there is no evidence of the amount of funds charters receive versus districts.

Louisiana law makes the funding requirements and allocation process clear for each charter type.

The law provides that those approved by local school boards receive their money through them, while those approved by the state board or a local charter authorizer receive funding directly from the state.

Statute indicates that charter schools have access to all applicable categorical federal and state funding.

It also provides some funding for transportation within the allocations provided to charter schools.

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18A. Equitable operational funding statutorily driven.

18B. Equal access to all applicable categorical federal and state funding, and clear guidance on the pass-through of such funds.

18C. Funding for transportation similar to school districts.

19. Equitable Access to Capital Funding and Facilities

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Louisiana law provides the Louisiana Charter School Start-Up Fund, which provides zero-interest loans for both new and existing charter schools of up to $100,000 with terms of up to three years. It allows the loans to be used for facility acquisition, upgrade and repairs. The state is not currently funding this program.

Louisiana law provides that charter schools are eligible to access tax-exempt financing through the Louisiana Public Facilities Authority.

Louisiana law requires local school boards to make available to chartering groups any vacant school facilities or any facility slated to be vacant for lease or purchase at fair market value.

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19A. A per-pupil facilities allowance which annually reflects actual average district capital costs.

19B. A state grant program for charter school facilities.

19C. A state loan program for charter school facilities.

19D. Equal access to tax-exempt bonding authorities or allow charter schools to have their own bonding authority.

19E. A mechanism to provide credit enhancement for public charter school facilities.

19F. Equal access to existing state facilities programs available to non-charter public schools.

19G. Right of first refusal to purchase or lease at or below fair market value a closed, unused, or underused public school facility or property.

19H. Prohibition of facility-related requirements stricter than those applied to traditional public schools.

20. Access to Relevant Employee Retirement Systems

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Louisiana law provides charter schools with the option to participate in the relevant state employee retirement systems, except that it requires Type 4 charters to participate.

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20A. Charter schools have access to relevant state retirement systems available to other public schools.

20B. Charter schools have the option to participate (i.e., not required).