During the life cycle of a charter school, the school’s board may need to amend the school charter to reflect changes in operations, the educational program, location, or enrollment since the school’s founding.
Charter amendments may reflect nonmaterial (minor) or material (significant) changes. Ideally, material charter amendments are planned in advance and submitted with the charter school’s renewal application. There are occasions, however, when the school may have reason to request a material amendment during the charter term.
The Pennsylvania Charter School Law does not provide for amendments to charters, and thus the Board of Education of the School District of Philadelphia is not required to act on amendment requests from charter schools. However, through Policy 401, the Board has tasked the Charter Schools Office with reviewing material amendment requests made by charter schools.
Material amendments to a school’s charter may include the following:
- Enrollment Increase
- Change to Grade Levels Served
- Significant Change to Mission or Educational Plan
- Name Change to a Renaissance Charter School*
- Change in Building Location or Addition of New Facility
- Change in Charter Management Organization
*Charter Schools that are not Renaissance schools that are seeking a name change should contact the CSO for guidance about the process and documents to submit, since the name change would not be a material amendment.
Any requests submitted during a school’s charter term must adhere to Policy 401 and its accompanying Administrative Procedures. A charter school may submit a material amendment request during its renewal year (the last year of its charter term) or mid-cycle (prior to the final year of its charter term) if eligibility requirements are met.
Renewal Amendment Requests: Material amendment requests made during a charter school’s renewal year must be submitted with required documentation by October 15 of the renewal year. The CSO may request revised or supplemental documentation during the evaluation process.
Mid-Cycle Amendment Requests: If eligibility requirements are met, a charter school may submit one amendment request per type of material charter amendment (i.e., a charter school can submit one request for enrollment increase, one request for location change, etc.) during each charter term. Requests must be submitted with required documents no later than January 15 of the school year prior to the effective date of the proposed charter amendment. The CSO may request revised or supplemental documentation during the evaluation process.
Depending on the urgency and content of the amendment request, the amendment evaluation process may be subject to a shorter (or longer) timeline. It is beneficial for schools seeking an amendment to indicate what, if any, time constraints exist (for example, if a potential landlord has agreed to take a property off the market for three months).
Submission: Charter schools should use the amendment guidelines, which are updated annually by the Charter Schools Office, to complete an amendment request. Schools should follow these steps:
- Request amendment guidelines (sample Part II guidelines) from the Charter Schools Office.
- Contact the Charter Schools Office to set up a phone call or meeting with the School Leader and Board Chair to discuss your proposed charter amendment request.
- Obtain approval from the Charter School’s Board of Trustees to pursue the amendment request through a documented board vote.
- Gather input and support from staff and families. Actively engage and seek the support of the potentially affected community members about the proposed charter amendment.
- Complete the following parts of the charter amendment request: Part I: General Information (all applicants); and Part II: Narrative for the specific type of request
- Attach supporting documents (e.g., enrollment table, budget, evidence of community engagement and support, Board resolution, etc.).
Submit the charter amendment request by the appropriate deadline: October 15 (for schools in the renewal year) or January 15 (mid-cycle).
Processing: When the CSO receives a request to amend the charter for a Philadelphia charter school, the CSO first reviews the request as submitted. After the initial review of a charter amendment request, the CSO may request additional supporting documentation from the charter school to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the charter amendment request. The additional documentation requested will be specific to the nature of the charter amendment request. The CSO will cease the evaluation process if the material amendment request does not meet the eligibility for submission as defined by Policy 401.
Review: Once the CSO has received requested supporting documentation from the charter school, the CSO will evaluate the request and share its evaluation report and recommendation with the Board. During this evaluation period, the CSO may ask clarifying questions of the charter school and, at its discretion, request supplemental documentation.
Decision: Amendment requests are considered and acted upon at the discretion of the Board. The Board can, by resolution at a public action meeting, approve or deny the charter amendment request made by a charter school.