Hawaii

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1994
Year Charter School Law Was Enacted
36
Estimated Number of Charter Schools in 2017-18
11,000
Estimated Number of Charter School Students in 2017-18
141
out of
240
Total Score

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Hawaii’s law does not cap public charter school growth, includes an independent charter board as the authorizer, and provides sufficient accountability. However, the law still provides inadequate autonomy and inequitable funding to charter schools.

Hawaii’s law still needs significant improvement in several areas, including beefing up the requirements for charter application, review, and decisionmaking processes, exempting charter schools from collective bargaining agreements, ensuring equitable operational funding and equitable access to capital funding and facilities, and ensuring transparency regarding educational service providers.

Component Scores

Are there caps on the growth of charter schools in this state?

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

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
1A
No numeric or geographic limits are placed on the number of charter public schools or students.
N/A
1B
If caps exist, there is room for growth.

Are a variety of charter schools allowed?

Hawaii law allows new start-ups and public school conversions.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
2A
New startups.
Yes
2B
Public school conversions.

Are non-district authorizers available to which charter applicants may directly apply?

Hawaii law creates a state public charter school commission that has statewide authorizing authority. In addition, the law allows accredited public and private postsecondary institutions, county and state agencies, and nonprofits to apply to the state board of education to become an authorizer.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
3A
The state allows an applicant anywhere in the state to apply directly to a non-district authorizer(s).

Is an authorizer and overall program accountability system required?

Hawaii law requires the state board of education to provide oversight for all authorizers in the state, with such authorizers (except the state public charter school commission) needing to submit an application to become an authorizer (and if approved receiving an initial six-year authorizing contract). All authorizers must submit annual reports to the state board of education, which in turn must review and determine if the provisions of the authorizing contract are being met. In evaluating the performance of authorizers, the state board of education must apply nationally recognized principles and standards for quality authorizing. Statute provides for a process of non-renewal or revocation of the authorizing contract as needed.The state board of education must submit an annual report on the overall charter school program to the governor, the legislature, and the public.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
N/A
4A
Registration process for school boards to affirm their interest in authorizing.
Yes
4B
Application process for other eligible authorizing entities (except a state charter schools commission).
Yes
4C
Authorizer submission of annual report.
Yes
4D
The ability for the state to conduct a review of an authorizer’s performance.
Yes
4E
The ability for the state to sanction an authorizer for poor performance, including suspending an authorizer’s authority to approve new schools.
Yes
4F
Periodic formal evaluation of overall state charter school program and outcomes.

Is there adequate authorizer funding?

The law provides that the state public charter school commission shall operate with dedicated resources and staff qualified to execute the day-to-day responsibilities of the commission pursuant to this chapter. The law states that the legislature shall make an appropriation to the commission separate from, and in addition to, any appropriation made to charter. The law also allows the commission to assess fees on non-state entities and individuals to help offset its operating costs. However, statute is silent on any financial support for other potential authorizers. Statute provides clear requirements to publicly report authorizer expenditures, to have separate contracts for any purchased services, and to prohibit authorizers from requiring any specific services purchases from them.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Some
5A
A uniform statewide formula that guarantees annual authorizer funding that is not subject to annual legislative appropriations.
Yes
5B
Requirement to publicly report detailed authorizer expenditures.
Yes
5C
Separate contract for any services purchased from an authorizer by a school.
Yes
5D
Prohibition on authorizers requiring schools to purchase services from them.

Are there transparent charter application, review, and decisionmaking processes?

Hawaii law provides application elements for all schools and additional application elements specific to conversion schools, requires authorizers to issue requests for proposals, and requires a thorough evaluation of each application including an in-person interview and a public meeting.As part of a state agency, the state public charter school commission is subject to the state sunshine law, which requires all official business be conducted in a public meeting.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
6A
Application elements for all schools.
Yes
6B
Additional application elements specific to conversion schools.
No
6C
Additional application elements specific to using educational service providers.
No
6D
Additional application elements specific to replications.
Yes
6E
Requirement for thorough evaluation of each application, including an in-person interview and a public meeting.
Yes
6F
Application approval criteria.
Some
6G
All charter approval or denial decisions made in a public meeting with authorizers stating reasons for denials in writing.

Are performance-based charter contracts required?

Hawaii’s law clearly states that the charter is a separate document signed by the governing board and the authorizer that defines the responsibilities of both parties. The law also requires the contract contain a detailed performance framework including every item specifically mentioned in the model law.
The law is silent on the length of the initial charter contract, although it notes that charters can be renewed for additional terms up to five years each time.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
7A
Being created as a separate document from the application and executed by the governing board of the charter school and the authorizer.
Yes
7B
Defining the roles, powers, and responsibilities for the school and its authorizer.
Yes
7C
Defining academic, financial, and operational performance expectations by which the school will be judged based on a performance framework.
No
7D
Providing an initial term of five operating years.

Are there comprehensive charter school monitoring and data collection processes?

Hawaii law requires the following model law items within its law:
* The collection and analysis of student outcome data at least annually by authorizers (consistent with the performance framework outlined in the contract).
* Financial accountability for charter schools (e.g., Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, independent annual audit reported to authorizer).
* Authorizer authority to conduct or require oversight activities.
* Authorizer notification to their schools of perceived problems, with opportunities to remedy such problems.
* Authorizer authority to take appropriate corrective actions or exercise sanctions short of revocation.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
8A
Required annual school performance reports.
Yes
8B
Financial accountability for charter schools (e.g., generally accepted accounting principles, independent annual audit reported to authorizer).
Yes
8C
Authorizer authority to conduct oversight activities.
Yes
8D
Authorizer notification to its schools of perceived problems, with opportunities to remedy such problems.
Yes
8E
Authorizer authority to take appropriate corrective actions or exercise sanctions short of revocation.
No
8F
Authorizer may not request duplicative data submission from its charter schools and may not use performance framework to create cumbersome reporting requirements.

Are there clear processes for renewal, nonrenewal, and revocation decisions?

Hawaii law requires that authorizers must issue a performance report and charter contract renewal application guidance to any school whose contract is in its final contract year which must include the school’s performance record to date and any weaknesses or concerns that may jeopardize its position in seeking renewal. The law requires charter boards to submit any corrections or clarifications for the report. It also requires them to submit their renewal applications by no later than 30 days after the performance report is issued. The law states clear criteria for renewal and nonrenewal as grounded in the performance framework detailed in the contract. It states that contracts may be renewed for successive five-year terms, although it allows authorizers to vary the terms based on the particular circumstances of the school.
The law allows authorizers to revoke the charter for failure to meet the state student performance standards, fiscal irresponsibility, or serious student or employee health or safety deficiencies. The law requires authorizers to develop revocation and non-renewal processes that provide timely notification and time for reasonable responses. It requires that decisions be made in a public hearing with authorizers stating reasons for non-renewals and revocations in writing. The law requires authorizers to report such actions to the state board of education along with assurances of law compliance.
The law requires authorizers to develop a charter school closure protocol to ensure timely parent notification, orderly student and record transitions, and property and asset disposition.
The law prohibits transfer of charter contracts to another authorizer unless the state board of education approves the transfer.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
9A
Authorizer must issue school performance renewal reports to schools whose charter will expire the following year.
Yes
9B
Schools seeking renewal must apply for it.
Yes
9C
Authorizers must issue renewal application guidance that provides an opportunity for schools to augment their performance record and discuss improvements and future plans.
No
9D
Ability to have a differentiated process for renewal of high-performing charter schools.
Yes
9E
Authorizers must use clear criteria for renewal and nonrenewal/revocation.
Yes
9F
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.
No
9G
Requirement that authorizers close chronically low-performing charter schools unless exceptional circumstances exist.
Yes
9H
Authorizers must have the authority to vary length of charter renewal contract terms based on performance or other issues.
Yes
9I
Authorizers must provide charter schools with timely notification of potential revocation or nonrenewal (including reasons) and reasonable time to respond.
Yes
9J
Authorizers must provide charter schools with due process for nonrenewal and revocation decisions (e.g., public hearing, submission of evidence).
Yes
9K
All charter renewal, nonrenewal, and revocation decisions must be made in a public meeting, with authorizers stating reasons for nonrenewals and revocations in writing.
Yes
9L
Authorizers must have school closure protocols to ensure timely parent notification, orderly student and record transitions, and property and asset disposition.
Yes
9M
Any transfer of charter contracts from one authorizer to another are only allowed if they are approved by the state.

Is there transparency regarding educational service providers?

Hawaii law includes a small number of the model law’s provisions for educational service providers. The law recognizes a non-profit organization that has been approved by an authorizer to operate and manage a conversion charter school’s governing. However, the law is silent on for-profit organizations.
The law requires the charter application to detail a governance structure that incorporates a conflict of interest policy, but does not require that existing and potential conflicts of interest between the two entities be disclosed and explained in the charter application. The law also provides that no person may serve on the governing board of a charter school if the person is an employee or former employee of any vendor or contractor providing goods or services to any charter school under the jurisdiction of that governing board unless the person is a vendor or contractor and at least one year has passed since the conclusion of the vendor or contractor’s service to a charter school under the jurisdiction of that governing board or the person’s serving on the governing board shall not cause more than one-third of the voting members of the governing board to be made up of vendors or contractors who are providing goods or services to any charter school that is under the jurisdiction of that governing board. The law also provides that no vendor or contractor providing goods or services to a charter school may serve as the chair of the governing board of that charter school unless at least one year has elapsed since the conclusion of the vendor’s or contractor’s service to the school, provided that an authorizer may grant an exemption from this requirement.
The law requires that anyone working in close proximity to children in a charter school must be fingerprinted.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Some
10A
All types of educational service providers (both for-profit and nonprofit) are allowed to operate all or parts of schools.
No
10B
The charter application requires (1) performance data for all current and past schools operated by the ESP, and (2) explanation and evidence of the ESP’s capacity for successful growth while maintaining quality in existing schools.
No
10C
A performance contract is required between the independent charter school board and the ESP, with such contract approved by the school’s authorizer.
No
10D
School governing boards operate as entities completely independent of any ESP, individuals compensated by an ESP are prohibited from serving as voting members on such boards, and existing and potential conflicts of interest between the two entities are required to be disclosed and explained in the charter application.
No
10E
Provides that charter school governing boards must have access to ESP records necessary to oversee the ESP contract.
No
10F
An ESP must annually provide information to its charter school governing board on how that ESP spends public funding it receives when the ESP is performing a public function under applicable state law.
Yes
10G
Requires that similar criminal history record checks and fingerprinting requirements applicable to other public schools shall also be mandatory for on-site employees of ESPs who regularly come into contact with students.

Are the schools fiscally and legally autonomous with independent charter school boards?

Hawaii law provides that each charter school's local school board is to be an independent governing body of its charter school and is responsible for the financial, organizational, and academic viability of the charter school and the implementation of the charter and is the independent authority that determines the organization and management of the school, the curriculum, virtual education, and compliance with applicable federal and state laws.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
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).
Yes
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).
Yes
11C
Independent school governing boards created specifically to govern their charter schools.

Are there clear student enrollment and lottery procedures?

Hawaii law requires start-up charter schools (but not conversion charter schools) to provide open enrollment to any student residing in the state who is entitled to attend a department school.
The law provides that charter schools are not exempt from the state’s discriminatory practices statutes.
The law allows start-up charter schools to give enrollment preferences for prior year students within chartered schools and siblings of enrolled students enrolled at a charter school.
The law requires conversion charter schools to enroll any student who resides within the school’s former geographic service area for the grades that were in place when the public school converted to a charter school. It also requires conversion charter schools to be subject to the enrollment requirements for start-up charter schools for grades that were not in place when the school converted to a public charter school.
Hawaii law provides that a student who is currently enrolled in a charter school that has been notified of the prospect of revocation or is closing shall be given first priority to enroll at another charter school to which the student applies or placed at the top of the waitlist for enrollment.
Hawaii law provides that a start-up charter school may give enrollment preference through a weighted lottery to educationally disadvantaged students.
The law requires start-up charter schools (but not conversion charter schools) to select students through a public lottery if capacity is insufficient to enroll all students who have submitted a timely application.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Some
12A
Open enrollment to any student in the state.
Yes
12B
Anti-discrimination provisions regarding admissions.
Some
12C
Required enrollment preferences for previously enrolled students within conversions and for prior-year students within charter schools.
Some
12D
Lottery requirements.

Is there automatic exemption from many state and district laws and regulations?

Hawaii law provides that charter schools are exempt from all state rules and statutes applicable to traditional public schools or districts, except those applying to discriminatory practices and health and safety requirements. In addition, Hawaii law provides that the negotiated master agreements apply to charter school employees unless the exclusive union representatives and the local school board of a charter school enter into supplemental agreements that contain cost and non-cost items to facilitate decentralized decision-making.
Hawaii law does not exempt charter school teachers from state teacher certification requirements.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Some
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.
No
13B
Exemption from state teacher certification requirements.

Is there an automatic collective bargaining exemption?

Hawaii state statute requires collective bargaining for all public school teachers, including public charter school teachers. It requires that collective bargaining address five topics: wages, insurance and fringe benefits, hours, terms and conditions of employment, and grievance procedures. Bargaining on the length of the school year is also permitted. No items are expressly excluded from bargaining. Hawaii law provides that the collective bargaining agreements for traditional public schools apply to charter school employees unless the exclusive union representatives and the local school board of a charter school enter into supplemental agreements that contain additional items to facilitate decentralized decision-making. In addition, any person with civil service status in a conversion charter school retains that status and all privileges and benefits as other civil servants.
Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, Hawaii allowed unions to impose mandatory agency fees on non-members. The Supreme Court decision renders that state law unconstitutional. Since the decision, Hawaii has enacted a new law that requires employees who wish to opt out of dues to notify unions within 30 days of the anniversary of their first deduction.
Regarding unions’ standing as the exclusive representative of employees in a bargaining unit, Hawaii state statute requires that 50 percent of employees support the exclusive representative, as evidenced by names and signatures collected within a two-month period. The law provides for an election and a runoff election (if appropriate to resolve any dispute). Once certified, the organization remains an exclusive representative until or unless it is replaced, decertified, or dissolved. A new election cannot be held for 12 months.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Some
14A
Charter schools authorized by nonlocal board authorizers are exempt from participation in any outside collective bargaining agreements.
N/A
14B
Charter schools authorized by local boards are exempt from participation in any district collective bargaining agreements.

Are multischool charter contracts and/or multicharter contract boards allowed?

Hawaii law allows multiple schools overseen by a single governing board, with all such schools still needing to report their own performance framework data.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
15A
Oversee multiple schools linked under a single contract with independent fiscal and academic accountability for each school.
Yes
15B
Hold multiple charter contracts with independent fiscal and academic accountability for each school.

Is there eligibility and access to extracurricular and interscholastic activities?

Hawaii law grants charter school students the same opportunity as students at department schools to participate in sports activities whether it be provided at the charter school or a comparable program at a department school.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Some
16A
Laws or regulations explicitly state that charter school students and employees are eligible to participate in all extracurricular and interscholastic activities available to noncharter public school students and employees.
Some
16B
Laws or regulations explicitly allow charter school students in schools not providing extracurricular and interscholastic activities to have access to those activities at noncharter public schools.

Is there clear identification of special education responsibilities?

Hawaii law provides that the state department of education is responsible for the provision of a free appropriate public education and that any charter school is responsible for providing the educational and related services required by a student’s individualized education program (IEP). If the school cannot provide all of the required services, then the law requires the department to provide them as determined by the IEP. The law also requires the department to collaborate with the state public charter school commission to develop guidelines related to the provision of special education services and resources to each charter school and allows the department to offer staff, funding, or both to the school based on a per-pupil weighted formula used to allocate resources for special education students in all public schools. The law is clear that charter schools will not receive funding for special education services. The law does not explicitly grant charter schools blanket access to department services or programs, but it does acknowledge that the department must provide special education services.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
17A
Clarity regarding which entity is the local education agency (LEA) responsible for providing special education services.
Yes
17B
Clarity regarding the flow of federal, state, and local special education funds to the designated LEA.
No
17C
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).
No
17D
Clarity that charter schools have access to all regional and state services and supports available to traditional districts.

Is there equitable operational funding and equal access to all state and federal categorical funding?

Hawaii provides operational funds to its charter schools via a line item appropriation in the state budget, using a charter schools account as a separate account in the state treasury. The law notes that the non-facility general fund per-pupil funding is to be the same as that allocated for traditional public schools. It also directs the state director of finance to transfer additional general fund money to charter schools as needed. The law also provides that charter schools are eligible for all applicable federal funding.In a national study of charter school funding (University of Arkansas, Charter School Funding: Inequity Expands, 2014), Hawaii charter schools were receiving on average $8,986 per pupil in public funds, while traditional public schools would have received $13,601 for those students. As a result, the state's charter schools were receiving $4,615 per pupil – or 33.9% - less than what the traditional public schools would have received for those students. This figure includes all sources of funding, and analysis reveals some significant inequities for both operational and capital funding (see component #19 for information on capital issues).

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Some
18A
Equitable operational funding statutorily driven.
Some
18B
Equal access to all applicable categorical federal and state funding and clear guidance on the pass-through of such funds.
No
18C
Funding for transportation similar to school districts.
No
18D
Annual report offering district and charter school funding comparisons and including annual recommendations to the legislature for any needed equity enhancements.

Is there equitable access to capital funding and facilities?

Hawaii law provides that beginning with the 2016-2017 fiscal year, and each fiscal year thereafter, the legislature shall consider making an appropriation and bond authorization to the commission for the design, planning, construction, repair, and maintenance of public charter school improvements to address issues of health, safety, and legal compliance, expand or improve instructional space, provide for food services, or provide restroom facilities. The appropriation and bond authorization for charter schools shall be separate from, and in addition to, any appropriation made to charter schools. These amounts shall be prioritized for allocation by the charter school facilities working group. The legislature is currently not providing funding for facilities costs.Hawaii law requires the state department of education to make vacant department school facilities available to charter schools.
Hawaii law provides that when any department considers whether to close any particular facility, it shall give reasonable consideration to making all or portions of the facility available to charter schools and early learning programs; provided that the facilities may be used for any other purpose the department of education deems appropriate.

Each department shall provide notice to the superintendent, state public charter school commission, and executive office on early learning, identifying suitable unused facilities that may be appropriate for public charter schools, early learning programs, including the pre-plus program and any other purpose the department of education deems appropriate.

The department of accounting and general services shall inventory the suitable facilities, and, in determining suitability for educational re-use, priority shall be given to facilities on sites with sufficient space for three or more classrooms.

The department of accounting and general services shall conduct biennial surveys of all departments concerning any unused facilities, or in the case of the department of education any under-utilized department schools and maintain an inventory of all such unused or under-utilized facilities. The department of accounting and general services shall provide biennial reports on the inventory maintained under this subsection to the state public charter school commission.

The law does not explicitly give charter schools the right to contract at or below fair market value with a school district, college/university, or any other public, for-profit, or nonprofit entity for the use of facilities. But there are several provisions referencing such a relationship.

Upon receipt of a notice, the state public charter school commission or executive office on early learning shall solicit applications from public charter schools or early learning programs, respectively, that are interested in using and occupying all or portions of the facilities and submit a prioritized list of public charter schools or early learning programs, respectively, to the department of accounting and general services for final determination of which public charter schools or early learning programs, if any, shall be authorized to use and occupy the facilities.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Facilities Funding
No
19A
A per-pupil facilities allowance that annually reflects actual average district capital costs.
No
19B
A state grant program for charter school facilities.
No
19C
Equal access to existing state facilities programs available to noncharter public schools.
Access to Public Space
No
19D
A requirement for districts to provide school district space or funding to charter schools if the majority of that schools’ students reside in that district.
Yes
19E
Right of first refusal to purchase or lease at or below fair market value a closed, unused, or underused public school facility or property.
Access to Financing Tools
No
19F
A state loan program for charter school facilities.
No
19G
Equal access to tax-exempt bonding authorities or allowing charter schools to have their own bonding authority
No
19H
Pledging the moral obligation of the state to help charter schools obtain more favorable bond financing terms.
No
19I
The creation and funding of a state charter school debt reserve fund.
No
19J
The inclusion of charter schools in school district bonding and mill levy requests.
No
19K
A mechanism to provide credit enhancement for charter school facilities.
Other
Some
19L
Charter schools allowed to contract at or below fair market value with a school district, a college or university, or any other public or for-profit or nonprofit private entity for the use of facility for a school building.
No
19M
Certain entities allowed to provide space to charter schools within their facilities under their preexisting zoning and land use designations.
No
19N
Charter school facilities exempt from ad valorem taxes and other assessment fees not applicable to other public schools.

Is there access to relevant employee retirement systems?

Hawaii law requires charter school employees to be members of the State Pension and Retirement System.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
20A
Charter schools have access to relevant state retirement systems available to other public schools.
No
20B
Charter schools have the option to participate (i.e., not required).

Are there provisions for full-time virtual charter schools?

Hawaii law does not contain any of the model law’s provisions for full-time virtual charter schools.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
21A
An authorizing structure whereby full-time virtual charter schools that serve students from more than one district may be approved only by an authorizer with statewide chartering jurisdiction and authority, full-time virtual charter schools that serve students from one school district may be authorized by that school district, and a cap is placed on the total amount of funding that an authorizer may withhold from a full-time virtual charter school.
No
21B
Legally permissible criteria and processes for enrollment based on the existence of supports needed for student success.
No
21C
Enrollment level provisions that establish maximum enrollment levels for each year of a charter contract, with any increases in enrollment from one year to the next based on whether the school meets its performance requirements.
No
21D
Accountability provisions that include virtual-specific goals regarding student enrollment, attendance, engagement, achievement, truancy, and attrition.
No
21E
Funding levels per student based on costs proposed and justified by the operators.
No
21F
Performance-based funding whereby full-time virtual charter schools are funded via a performance-based funding system based on meeting the accountability performance provisions.