West Virginia

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2019
Year Charter School Law Was Enacted
0
Estimated Number of Charter Schools in 2018-19
0
Estimated Number of Charter School Students in 2018-19
168
out of
240
Total Score

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West Virginia’s law provides sufficient autonomy and accountability, but it includes a cap that only provides for limited public charter school growth, it only allows district authorizers, and it doesn’t provide any facilities support.

Potential areas for improvement include expanding authorizing options, ensuring equitable access to capital funding and facilities, and lifting the state’s cap on charter school growth.

Component Scores

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

West Virginia law provides that the total number of public charter schools authorized and in operation under an approved contract in this state shall be limited to three pilot public charter schools until July 1, 2023. Beginning July 1, 2023, and every three years thereafter, an additional three public charter schools may be authorized and in operation under an approved contract in this state. The Mountaineer Challenge Academy, if converted to a public charter school, shall not count towards these limitations.

Subcomponents

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

Are a variety of charter schools allowed?

West Virginia 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?

According to West Virginia law, authorizers include:
* A county school board when the charter school or application to form a charter school includes a primary recruitment area that is wholly within the county over which the board has jurisdiction;

* Two or more county school boards when the charter school or application to form a charter school includes a primary recruitment area that encompasses territory in the two or more counties over which the respective boards have jurisdiction; or

*The West Virginia Board of Education in the following instances: the charter school or application to form a charter school or to renew a charter contract is in a county where the state board has intervened in the operation of the school system and limited the authority of the county board to act or the application to form a public charter school or to renew a charter contract is approved by the affected county board or boards and is forwarded it to the West Virginia Board of Education with a request that it perform to the authorizer function.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
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?

According to West Virginia law, if an authorizer fails to close a charter school that does not meet the standards, the authorizer shall appear before the state board of education to justify its decision. The state board may uphold or overturn the authorizer’s decision and may revoke the authority of the authorizer to authorize charter schools.
According to West Virginia law, the State Board of Education shall submit to the Governor and the Legislature an annual report within 60 days of the end of each school year summarizing the student performance of all operating public charter schools and the authorization status of all public charter schools within the last school year.

According to West Virginia law, the State Board of Education shall report to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability (LOCEA) by November 1, 2022, and every three years thereafter, on the status of the state’s public charter schools. LOCEA shall report its findings and recommendations, if any, to the Legislature during its next Regular Session.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
4A
Registration process for school boards to affirm their interest in authorizing.
No
4B
Application process for other eligible authorizing entities (except a state charter schools commission).
No
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?

According to West Virginia law, to cover authorizer costs for overseeing public charter schools, the state board of education shall establish a statewide formula for authorizer oversight funding, which shall apply uniformly to every authorizer in the state and shall not exceed one percent of each public charter school’s per-student funding in a single school year.
According to West Virginia law, a charter school may negotiate and contract with its authorizer or any third party for the use, operation, and maintenance of a building and grounds, liability insurance, and the provision of any service, activity, or undertaking that the public charter school is required to perform in order to carry out the educational program described in its charter contract. Any services for which a public charter school contracts with a school district shall be provided by the district at cost and shall be negotiated as a separate agreement after final charter contract negotiations.

Subcomponents

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

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

West Virginia law provides a listing of required application elements for all schools and additional application elements specific to using education service providers.
The law includes a requirement for a thorough evaluation of each application, including an in-person interview and a public meeting. The law provides application approval criteria. The law provides that an authorizer shall provide its decision in writing, including an explanation stating the reasons for approval or denial of its decision during an open meeting.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
6A
Application elements for all schools.
No
6B
Additional application elements specific to conversion schools.
Yes
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.
Yes
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?

West Virginia law requires the governing board and the authorizer to negotiate and enter into a charter contract. The charter contract must identify the roles, powers, responsibilities, and performance expectations for each party to the contract. The term of the charter contract shall be no longer than five years.

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?

Virginia law provides that, as negotiated by contract, the local school board or the relevant school boards, in the case of regional public charter schools, may allow a public charter school to use vacant or unused properties or real estate owned by the s

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?

According to West Virginia law, no later than June 30 of a public charter school’s fourth year of operation under each five-year term of a charter contract, the authorizer shall issue a performance report on the public charter school. The performance report shall summarize the public charter school’s performance record to date, based on the data collected under the performance framework in section eleven of this article and the charter contract, and shall provide notice of any weaknesses or concerns perceived by the authorizer concerning the school that may jeopardize its position in seeking renewal if not timely rectified.
According to West Virginia law, if the public charter school’s contract is expiring, the authorizer shall offer contract renewal application guidance to the school. The renewal application guidance shall include or refer explicitly to the criteria and standards that will guide the authorizer’s renewal decisions. These criteria and standards shall be based on the performance framework as set forth in the charter contract. The renewal application guidance shall, at a minimum, require and provide an opportunity for the public charter school to:
(1) Present additional evidence, beyond the data contained in the performance report, supporting its case for charter renewal;
(2) Describe improvements undertaken or planned for the school; and
(3) Detail the school’s plans for the next charter term.

According to West Virginia law, no later than September 30 of a public charter school’s final authorized year of operation under a term of a charter contract, the governing board of the public charter school seeking renewal shall submit a renewal application to the authorizer pursuant to the renewal application guidance offered by the authorizer. The authorizer shall rule in a public meeting and by resolution on the renewal application no later than 45 days after the filing of the renewal application.

In making charter renewal decisions, the authorizer shall:
(1) Ground its decisions on a thorough analysis of evidence of the school’s performance over the term of the charter contract in accordance with the terms and measures established in the performance framework set forth in the charter contract;
(2) Ensure that data used in making renewal decisions are available to the public charter school and the public;
(3) Provide a public report summarizing the evidence basis for each decision; and
(4) Include one of the following rulings:
(A) Renew the charter contract for another term of five years based on the school’s
performance data and demonstrated capacities of the public charter school; or
(B) Decline to renew the charter contract. The authorizer shall clearly state in a resolution the reasons for the nonrenewal. The governing board of the school shall be granted 30 days to respond in writing to the decision and public report before that decision becomes final. The governing board shall be allowed to provide the authorizer with such arguments and supporting information as it sees fit and also shall be granted an opportunity for a recorded public hearing, at the request of the governing board. The authorizer shall consider the governing board’s response, testimony, and documentation, as well as the recorded public hearing, prior to rendering a final decision on the revocation of the charter contract. The authorizer shall render its
final determination within 10 days of the close of the 30-day period.

(e) Within 10 days of taking final action to renew, not renew or revoke a charter under this section, the authorizer shall report the action taken and reasons for the decision to the school’s
governing board and the state board or affected county board, as applicable. A copy of the report shall be submitted at the same time to the state superintendent.

According to West Virginia law, a charter contract may be revoked at any time or not renewed if the authorizer determines that the health and safety of students attending the public charter school is threatened or the public charter school has failed to comply with the provisions of the charter school law, committed a material violation of any of the terms, conditions, standards or procedures required under this chapter or the charter contract, failed to meet the performance expectations set forth in the charter contract, failed to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management, or violated any provision of law from which the school was not exempted.

If an authorizer does not renew or revokes a charter contract, the authorizer shall
clearly state in a resolution in a public meeting, the reasons for the nonrenewal or revocation.

If a public charter school is closed, the authorizer shall clearly state in a resolution in a
public meeting, the reasons for the closure.

In the event of a public charter school closure for any reason, the authorizer shall
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 established by the state board including, but not limited to, the following:
(1) Overseeing and working with the closing public charter school 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 this chapter; and
(2) Distributing the assets of the public charter school first to satisfy outstanding payroll obligations for employees of the public charter school and then to creditors of the public charter
school. Any remaining funds shall be paid to the county board. If the assets of the public charter
school are insufficient to pay all parties to whom the public charter school owes compensation,
the prioritization of distribution of assets may be determined by decree of a court of law.

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.
No
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?

West Virginia law allows charter schools to contract with education service providers.
West Virginia law requires that a charter application shall additionally require the applicant to provide, among other things, student performance data and financial audit reports for all current and past public charter schools.

According to West Virginia law, charter school governing boards may contract with an education service provider, so long as the governing board retains final oversight and authority over the school.

West Virginia law requires a performance contract between the independent public charter school board and the education service provider, with such contract approved by the school’s authorizer.

According to West Virginia law, members of a charter school governing board shall not be an employee of an education service provider that provides services to the public charter school and shall file a full disclosure report to the authorizer identifying potential conflicts of interest, relationships with management organizations, and relationships with family members who are employed by the public charter school or have other business dealings with the school, the management organization of the school, or any other public charter school.

West Virginia law requires any education service provider contracted with the governing board to provide a monthly detailed budget to the board.

According to West Virginia law, contractors and service providers or their employees are prohibited from making direct, unaccompanied contact with students and from access to school grounds unaccompanied when students are present if it cannot be verified that the contractors, service providers or employees have not previously been convicted of a qualifying offense.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
10A
All types of educational service providers (both for-profit and nonprofit) are allowed to operate all or parts of schools.
Some
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.
Yes
10C
A performance contract is required between the independent charter school board and the ESP, with such contract approved by the school’s authorizer.
Yes
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.
Yes
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?

West Virginia law notes that a charter school is a public corporate body with clear statutory authority to receive and disburse funds, secure appropriate insurance and enter into contracts and leases, and acquire real property for use as its facilities.
The law requires the creation of an independent school governing board to enter into a charter contract with an authorizer.

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?

West Virginia law provides that public charter schools are open for enrollment to all students of appropriate grade level age.
West Virginia law provides that public charter schools may not discriminate against any person on any basis which would be unlawful for non-charter public schools in the school district.

West Virginia law provides that a public charter school may establish any one or more of the following enrollment preferences for: children who reside within the school’s primary recruitment area; students enrolled in the public charter school the previous school year and siblings of students already enrolled in the public charter school; children with special needs, including, but not limited to, at-risk students, English language learners, students with severe disciplinary problems at a non-charter public school, or students involved with the juvenile justice system, it shall include the information in such publication; and children of governing board members and full-time employees of the school as long as the number of students enrolled under this preference constitute no more than five percent of the school’s total student enrollment.

According to West Virginia law, a start-up public charter school shall enroll all students who apply and to whom an enrollment preference has been established. If the school has excess capacity after enrolling these students, the school shall enroll all other students who apply. If the remaining applicants exceed the enrollment capacity of the program, class, grade level or building of the public charter school, the public charter school shall select students for enrollment from among all remaining applicants by a random selection lottery. The school’s lottery procedures and timelines support equal and open access for all students and take place in an open meeting.

According to West Virginia law, a conversion public charter school shall guarantee enrollment to all students who were previously enrolled in the non-charter public school and shall adopt and maintain a policy that gives enrollment preference to students who reside within the attendance area as established prior to the conversion of the school. If the school has excess capacity after enrolling these students and all others to whom an enrollment preference has been given, the school shall enroll all other students who apply. If the remaining applicants exceed the enrollment capacity of the program, class, grade level or building of a public charter school, the public charter school shall select students for enrollment from among all remaining applicants by a random selection lottery. The school’s lottery procedures and timelines support equal and open access for all students and take place in an open meeting.

According to West Virginia law, a program conversion public charter school shall enroll all students who apply for enrollment in the program who, at the time of authorization, are enrolled in the non-charter public school at which the program is operated. A program conversion public charter school shall adopt and maintain a policy that gives enrollment preference to students who are enrolled in the non-charter public school at which the program is operated. If the school has excess capacity after enrolling these students, the school shall enroll all other students who apply. If the remaining applicants exceed the enrollment capacity of the program, class, grade level or building of a public charter school, the public charter school shall select students for enrollment from among all remaining applicants by a random selection lottery. The school’s lottery procedures and timelines support equal and open access for all students and take place in an open meeting.

Subcomponents

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

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

West Virginia law notes that charter schools are exempt from all statutes and regulations applicable to a non-charter public school or board of education, with some exceptions.
West Virginia law provides that charter school teachers are exempt from state teacher certification requirements.

Subcomponents

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

Is there an automatic collective bargaining exemption?

West Virginia law provides that charter schools are exempt from participation in any district collective bargaining agreements.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
14A
Charter schools authorized by nonlocal board authorizers are exempt from participation in any outside collective bargaining agreements.
Yes
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?

West Virginia law does not contain any of the model law’s provisions for multi-school charter contracts or multi-charter contract boards.

Subcomponents

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

Is there eligibility and access to extracurricular and interscholastic activities?

West Virginia law provides that a charter school eligible to participate in state-sponsored or district-sponsored athletic and academic interscholastic leagues, competitions, awards, scholarships, and recognition programs for students, educators, administrators, and schools to the same extent as non-charter public schools.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
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.
No
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?

West Virginia law provides that the school district in which the public charter school is located remains the local educational agency for all public charter schools authorized by the county board and the public charter school is a school within that local educational agency except that the public charter school is treated as a local educational agency for purposes of applying for competitive federal grants. It also provides that the state board is the local education agency for public charter schools authorized by the state board except that the public charter school is treated as a local educational agency for purposes of applying for competitive federal grants.
West Virginia law requires charter schools to provide programs and services to a student with a disability in accordance with the student’s individualized education program and all federal and state laws, regulations, rules and policies. It also states that a charter school shall deliver the services directly or contract with a county board or another provider to deliver the services as set forth in its charter contract.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
17A
Clarity regarding which entity is the local education agency (LEA) responsible for providing special education services.
No
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?

The state board shall promulgate a rule setting forth requirements for public charter school funding. The rule shall include a requirement that 90 percent of the per pupil total basic foundation allowance follow the student to the public charter school.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
18A
Equitable operational funding statutorily driven.
No
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?

West Virginia law provides that a public charter school may request usage of public facilities from the county board or other public entity in the county where the charter school is located or proposes to locate. A county board or other public entity shall make facilities available to the charter school that are either not used, in whole or in part, for classroom instruction at the time the charter school seeks to use or lease the public facility.
If a charter school seeks to lease the whole or part of a public facility, the cost of the lease must be at or under current market value.

During the term of the lease, the charter school is solely responsible for the direct expenses related to the public facility lease, including utilities, insurance, maintenance, repairs, and remodeling. The county school board is responsible for any debt incurred or liens that are attached to the school building before the charter school leases the public facility.

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, such as one specific for charter school facilities or equal access to existing state facilities programs available to non-charter public schools.
No
19C
The inclusion of charter schools in school district mill levy requests regarding facilities.
Access to Public Space
No
19D
Access to public space, such as: * A requirement for districts to provide district space or funding to charter schools if the majority of that schools’ students reside in that district. * 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
N/A
19E
19E. Access to financing tools, such as: * State loan program for charter school facilities. ^ Equal access to tax-exempt bonding authorities or allowing charter schools to have their own bonding authority. * Pledging the moral obligation of the state to help charter schools obtain more favorable bond financing terms. * The creation and funding of a state charter school debt reserve fund. * The inclusion of charter schools in school district bonding requests. * A mechanism to provide credit enhancement for charter school facilities.

Is there access to relevant employee retirement systems?

West Virginia law provides charter schools with the option to participate in the relevant state employee retirement systems.

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?

West Virginia law does not include any of the model law’s full-time virtual charter school provisions.

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.