Are there transparent charter application, review, and decisionmaking processes?
Utah law sets forth application elements for all schools. The law states application requirements specific to conversion schools.
Regulations allow existing charter schools authorized by the state charter board to apply for up to three satellite campuses and set forth additional application requirements for such campuses. These provisions aren’t applicable to charter schools authorized by local school boards or higher educational institutions.
Utah law requires authorizers to establish and make the following items public before accepting a charter school application: application requirements in accordance with state law; application process, including timelines, in accordance with state law; and, minimum academic, financial, and enrollment standards.
Utah law requires the state charter school board to request individuals, groups of individuals, or not-for-profit legal entities to submit an application to the state charter school board to establish a charter school that employs new and creative methods to meet the unique learning styles and needs of students, such as a military charter school, a charter school whose mission is to enhance learning opportunities for students at risk of academic failure, a charter school whose focus is career and technical education, a single gender charter school, or a charter school with an international focus that provides opportunities for the exchange of students or teachers. In addition to these types of schools, the law provides that the state charter school board shall request applications for other types of charter schools that meet the unique learning styles and needs of students. These provisions aren’t applicable to charter schools authorized by local school boards or higher educational institutions.
In approving an increase in charter school enrollment capacity for new charter schools and expanding charter schools, the state board of education shall give high priority to approving a new charter school or a charter school expansion in a high growth area (i.e., an area of the state where school enrollment is significantly increasing or projected to significantly increase) and low priority to approving a new charter school or a charter school expansion in an area where student enrollment is stable or declining.
Utah law requires authorizers to make charter approval and denial decisions in a public meeting and state reasons for denial in writing. It allows denied applicants to appeal to the state board of education.
While the law does not require authorizers to thoroughly evaluate each application including an in-person interview and a public meeting, the state charter school board implements these measures in practice (and it is the primary authorizer in the state).