Delaware law requires an authorizer to review the performance of the charter school and determine its satisfactory compliance with the law and its charter four years after a charter school has opened and every five years thereafter.
The law requires the approving authority to issue a charter school renewal report and charter renewal application guidance to any charter school whose charter will expire the following year. It requires the renewal report to summarize the charter school’s performance record to date, based on the data required by law and the charter contract and provide notice of any weaknesses or concerns perceived by the approving authority concerning the charter school that may jeopardize its position in seeking renewal if not timely rectified. The law provides the charter school with 10 working days to respond to the renewal report and submit any corrections or clarifications for the report.
The law provides that the renewal process shall, at a minimum, provide an opportunity for the charter school to: present additional evidence, beyond the data contained in the renewal report, supporting its case for charter renewal; describe improvements undertaken or planned for the school; and detail the school’s plans for the next charter term.
The law requires the renewal application guidance to include the criteria that will guide the approving authority’s renewal decisions. It requires the renewal determinations by the state department of education to be based on a school’s performance framework and the terms set forth in the charter contract. The law allows other approving authorities to choose to adopt the criteria utilized by the department. The law requires each approving authority to develop a rubric based on its criteria for evaluating renewal applications and provide this rubric to applicants as part of the renewal application guidance.
Delaware law requires the governing board of a charter school seeking renewal to submit a renewal application to the approving authority pursuant to the renewal application guidance issued by the approving authority.
Delaware regulation provides that state-authorized charters shall be renewed only if the school receives a satisfactory performance review, with the performance reviews conducted by the state department of education using the performance framework approved by the state department with the assent of the state board of education. This provision does not apply to charter schools authorized by local school boards.
Delaware law allows an authorizer to revoke a charter contract if the charter school, or its representatives, commits a material fraud on the approving authority or misappropriates federal, state, or local funds, fails to comply with its charter or fails to satisfy, in its operation of the school, its approval criteria.
The law provides that a charter school may be renewed for successive five-year terms of duration and allows an approving authority to grant renewal with specific conditions for necessary improvements to a charter school. Where a charter school has demonstrated an outstanding record of performance, the law allows an approving authority to grant it a renewal term of ten years. The law provides that any charter school receiving such an extended renewal term shall, at the midpoint of the ten-year charter, be subject to an annual performance and program evaluation that includes academic, financial, and operations data that looks back to all of the years of the charter up to that point. If, upon this evaluation, the approving authority determines that the charter school’s level of performance is deficient by renewal standards, the law allows the approving authority to initiate the formal renewal and non-renewal process.
The law requires the authorizer to notify the school of any violations and commence a formal evaluation. Delaware law allows the charter school to comment on the initial report of alleged violations at a minimum of 15 days prior to final review by the authorizer. If grounds exist for further investigation, the law requires the authorizer to hold a public hearing and allow the charter to respond to the alleged violations within the report.
The law requires the authorizer to hold a public hearing to decide the appropriate action regarding the charter. Regulation calls for a written final report in which comments related to actions and concerns are made public.
Prior to any charter school closure decision, the law requires an approving authority to have developed and utilize a charter school closure protocol to ensure timely notification to parents, orderly transition of students and student records to new schools, and proper disposition of school funds, property, and assets in accordance with the requirements of the state’s charter school law and other applicable laws. It requires the protocol to specify tasks, timelines, and responsible parties, including delineating the respective duties of the school and the approving authority. In the event of a charter school closure for any reason, the law requires the approving authority to oversee and work with the closing school to ensure a smooth and orderly closure and transition for students and parents, as guided by the closure protocol.
The law also requires that the transfer of a charter from one authorizer to another before the expiration of the charter term must involve a petition by the school or its authorizer to the new authorizer.