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Illinois Compiled Statutes

Information maintained by the Legislative Reference Bureau
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SCHOOLS
(105 ILCS 5/) School Code.

105 ILCS 5/27A-7

    (105 ILCS 5/27A-7)
    Sec. 27A-7. Charter submission.
    (a) A proposal to establish a charter school shall be submitted to the local school board and the State Board for certification under Section 27A-6 of this Code in the form of a proposed contract entered into between the local school board and the governing body of a proposed charter school. The charter school proposal shall include:
        (1) The name of the proposed charter school, which
    
must include the words "Charter School".
        (2) The age or grade range, areas of focus, minimum
    
and maximum numbers of pupils to be enrolled in the charter school, and any other admission criteria that would be legal if used by a school district.
        (3) A description of and address for the physical
    
plant in which the charter school will be located; provided that nothing in the Article shall be deemed to justify delaying or withholding favorable action on or approval of a charter school proposal because the building or buildings in which the charter school is to be located have not been acquired or rented at the time a charter school proposal is submitted or approved or a charter school contract is entered into or submitted for certification or certified, so long as the proposal or submission identifies and names at least 2 sites that are potentially available as a charter school facility by the time the charter school is to open.
        (4) The mission statement of the charter school,
    
which must be consistent with the General Assembly's declared purposes; provided that nothing in this Article shall be construed to require that, in order to receive favorable consideration and approval, a charter school proposal demonstrate unequivocally that the charter school will be able to meet each of those declared purposes, it being the intention of the Charter Schools Law that those purposes be recognized as goals that charter schools must aspire to attain.
        (5) The goals, objectives, and pupil performance
    
standards to be achieved by the charter school.
        (6) In the case of a proposal to establish a charter
    
school by converting an existing public school or attendance center to charter school status, evidence that the proposed formation of the charter school has received the approval of certified teachers, parents and guardians, and, if applicable, a local school council as provided in subsection (b) of Section 27A-8.
        (7) A description of the charter school's educational
    
program, pupil performance standards, curriculum, school year, school days, and hours of operation.
        (8) A description of the charter school's plan for
    
evaluating pupil performance, the types of assessments that will be used to measure pupil progress towards achievement of the school's pupil performance standards, the timeline for achievement of those standards, and the procedures for taking corrective action in the event that pupil performance at the charter school falls below those standards.
        (9) Evidence that the terms of the charter as
    
proposed are economically sound for both the charter school and the school district, a proposed budget for the term of the charter, a description of the manner in which an annual audit of the financial and administrative operations of the charter school, including any services provided by the school district, are to be conducted, and a plan for the displacement of pupils, teachers, and other employees who will not attend or be employed in the charter school.
        (10) A description of the governance and operation of
    
the charter school, including the nature and extent of parental, professional educator, and community involvement in the governance and operation of the charter school.
        (11) An explanation of the relationship that will
    
exist between the charter school and its employees, including evidence that the terms and conditions of employment have been addressed with affected employees and their recognized representative, if any. However, a bargaining unit of charter school employees shall be separate and distinct from any bargaining units formed from employees of a school district in which the charter school is located.
        (12) An agreement between the parties regarding their
    
respective legal liability and applicable insurance coverage.
        (13) A description of how the charter school plans to
    
meet the transportation needs of its pupils, and a plan for addressing the transportation needs of low-income and at-risk pupils.
        (14) The proposed effective date and term of the
    
charter; provided that the first day of the first academic year shall be no earlier than August 15 and no later than September 15 of a calendar year, and the first day of the fiscal year shall be July 1.
        (14.5) Disclosure of any known active civil or
    
criminal investigation by a local, state, or federal law enforcement agency into an organization submitting the charter school proposal or a criminal investigation by a local, state, or federal law enforcement agency into any member of the governing body of that organization. For the purposes of this subdivision (14.5), a known investigation means a request for an interview by a law enforcement agency, a subpoena, an arrest, or an indictment. Such disclosure is required for a period from the initial application submission through 10 business days prior to the authorizer's scheduled decision date.
        (15) Any other information reasonably required by the
    
State Board of Education.
    (b) A proposal to establish a charter school may be initiated by individuals or organizations that will have majority representation on the board of directors or other governing body of the corporation or other discrete legal entity that is to be established to operate the proposed charter school, by a board of education or an intergovernmental agreement between or among boards of education, or by the board of directors or other governing body of a discrete legal entity already existing or established to operate the proposed charter school. The individuals or organizations referred to in this subsection may be school teachers, school administrators, local school councils, colleges or universities or their faculty members, public community colleges or their instructors or other representatives, corporations, or other entities or their representatives. The proposal shall be submitted to the local school board for consideration and, if appropriate, for development of a proposed contract to be submitted to the State Board for certification under Section 27A-6.
    (c) The local school board may not without the consent of the governing body of the charter school condition its approval of a charter school proposal on acceptance of an agreement to operate under State laws and regulations and local school board policies from which the charter school is otherwise exempted under this Article.
(Source: P.A. 98-739, eff. 7-16-14; 98-1048, eff. 8-25-14; 99-78, eff. 7-20-15; 99-334, eff. 8-10-15.)

105 ILCS 5/27A-7.5

    (105 ILCS 5/27A-7.5)
    Sec. 27A-7.5. State Charter School Commission.
    (a) A State Charter School Commission is established as an independent commission with statewide chartering jurisdiction and authority. The Commission shall be under the State Board for administrative purposes only.
    (a-5) The State Board shall provide administrative support to the Commission as needed.
    (b) The Commission is responsible for authorizing high-quality charter schools throughout this State, particularly schools designed to expand opportunities for at-risk students, consistent with the purposes of this Article.
    (c) The Commission shall consist of 9 members, appointed by the State Board. The State Board shall make these appointments from a slate of candidates proposed by the Governor, within 60 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 97th General Assembly with respect to the initial Commission members. In making the appointments, the State Board shall ensure statewide geographic diversity among Commission members. The Governor shall propose a slate of candidates to the State Board within 60 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 97th General Assembly and 60 days prior to the expiration of the term of a member thereafter. If the Governor fails to timely propose a slate of candidates according to the provisions of this subsection (c), then the State Board may appoint the member or members of the Commission.
    (d) Members appointed to the Commission shall collectively possess strong experience and expertise in public and nonprofit governance, management and finance, public school leadership, higher education, assessments, curriculum and instruction, and public education law. All members of the Commission shall have demonstrated understanding of and a commitment to public education, including without limitation charter schooling. At least 3 members must have past experience with urban charter schools.
    (e) To establish staggered terms of office, the initial term of office for 3 Commission members shall be 4 years and thereafter shall be 4 years; the initial term of office for another 3 members shall be 3 years and thereafter shall be 4 years; and the initial term of office for the remaining 3 members shall be 2 years and thereafter shall be 4 years. The initial appointments must be made no later than October 1, 2011.
    (f) Whenever a vacancy on the Commission exists, the State Board shall appoint a member for the remaining portion of the term.
    (g) Subject to the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, the Commission is authorized to receive and expend gifts, grants, and donations of any kind from any public or private entity to carry out the purposes of this Article, subject to the terms and conditions under which they are given, provided that all such terms and conditions are permissible under law. Funds received under this subsection (g) must be deposited into the State Charter School Commission Fund.
    The State Charter School Commission Fund is created as a special fund in the State treasury. All money in the Fund shall be used, subject to appropriation, by the State Board, acting on behalf and with the consent of the Commission, for operational and administrative costs of the Commission.
    Subject to appropriation, any funds appropriated for use by the State Board, acting on behalf and with the consent of the Commission, may be used for the following purposes, without limitation: personal services, contractual services, and other operational and administrative costs. The State Board is further authorized to make expenditures with respect to any other amounts deposited in accordance with law into the State Charter School Commission Fund.
    (g-5) Funds or spending authority for the operation and administrative costs of the Commission shall be appropriated to the State Board in a separate line item. The State Superintendent of Education may not reduce or modify the budget of the Commission or use funds appropriated to the Commission without the approval of the Commission.
    (h) The Commission shall operate with dedicated resources and staff qualified to execute the day-to-day responsibilities of charter school authorizing in accordance with this Article. The Commission may employ and fix the compensation of such employees and technical assistants as it deems necessary to carry out its powers and duties under this Article, without regard to the requirements of any civil service or personnel statute; and may establish and administer standards of classification of all such persons with respect to their compensation, duties, performance, and tenure and enter into contracts of employment with such persons for such periods and on such terms as the Commission deems desirable.
    (i) Every 2 years, the Commission shall provide to the State Board and local school boards a report on best practices in charter school authorizing, including without limitation evaluating applications, oversight of charters, and renewal of charter schools.
    (j) The Commission may charge a charter school that it authorizes a fee, not to exceed 3% of the revenue provided to the school, to cover the cost of undertaking the ongoing administrative responsibilities of the eligible chartering authority with respect to the school. This fee must be deposited into the State Charter School Commission Fund.
    (k) Any charter school authorized by the State Board prior to this amendatory Act of the 97th General Assembly shall have its authorization transferred to the Commission upon a vote of the State Board, which shall then become the school's authorizer for all purposes under this Article. However, in no case shall such transfer take place later than July 1, 2012. At this time, all of the powers, duties, assets, liabilities, contracts, property, records, and pending business of the State Board as the school's authorizer must be transferred to the Commission. Any charter school authorized by a local school board or boards may seek transfer of authorization to the Commission during its current term only with the approval of the local school board or boards. At the end of its charter term, a charter school authorized by a local school board or boards must reapply to the board or boards before it may apply for authorization to the Commission under the terms of this amendatory Act of the 97th General Assembly.
    On the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 97th General Assembly, all rules of the State Board applicable to matters falling within the responsibility of the Commission shall be applicable to the actions of the Commission. The Commission shall thereafter have the authority to propose to the State Board modifications to all rules applicable to matters falling within the responsibility of the Commission. The State Board shall retain rulemaking authority for the Commission, but shall work jointly with the Commission on any proposed modifications. Upon recommendation of proposed rule modifications by the Commission and pursuant to the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act, the State Board shall consider such changes within the intent of this amendatory Act of the 97th General Assembly and grant any and all changes consistent with that intent.
    (l) The Commission shall have the responsibility to consider appeals under this Article immediately upon appointment of the initial members of the Commission under subsection (c) of this Section. Appeals pending at the time of initial appointment shall be determined by the Commission; the Commission may extend the time for review as necessary for thorough review, but in no case shall the extension exceed the time that would have been available had the appeal been submitted to the Commission on the date of appointment of its initial members. In any appeal filed with the Commission under this Article, both the applicant and the school district in which the charter school plans to locate shall have the right to request a hearing before the Commission. If more than one entity requests a hearing, then the Commission may hold only one hearing, wherein the applicant and the school district shall have an equal opportunity to present their respective positions.
(Source: P.A. 97-152, eff. 7-20-11; 97-641, eff. 12-19-11; 97-1156, eff. 1-25-13.)

105 ILCS 5/27A-7.10

    (105 ILCS 5/27A-7.10)
    Sec. 27A-7.10. Authorizer powers and duties; immunity; principles and standards.
    (a) Authorizers are responsible for executing, in accordance with this Article, all of the following powers and duties:
        (1) Soliciting and evaluating charter applications.
        (2) Approving quality charter applications that meet
    
identified educational needs and promote a diversity of educational choices.
        (3) Declining to approve weak or inadequate charter
    
applications.
        (4) Negotiating and executing sound charter contracts
    
with each approved charter school.
        (5) Monitoring, in accordance with charter contract
    
terms, the performance and legal compliance of charter schools.
        (6) Determining whether each charter contract merits
    
renewal, nonrenewal, or revocation.
    (b) An authorizing entity may delegate its duties to officers, employees, and contractors.
    (c) Regulation by authorizers is limited to the powers and duties set forth in subsection (a) of this Section and must be consistent with the spirit and intent of this Article.
    (d) An authorizing entity, members of the local school board, or the Commission, in their official capacity, and employees of an authorizer are immune from civil and criminal liability with respect to all activities related to a charter school that they authorize, except for willful or wanton misconduct.
    (e) The Commission and all local school boards that have a charter school operating are required to develop and maintain chartering policies and practices consistent with recognized principles and standards for quality charter authorizing in all major areas of authorizing responsibility, including all of the following:
        (1) Organizational capacity and infrastructure.
        (2) Soliciting and evaluating charter applications.
        (3) Performance contracting.
        (4) Ongoing charter school oversight and evaluation.
        (5) Charter renewal decision-making.
    Authorizers shall carry out all their duties under this Article in a manner consistent with nationally recognized principles and standards and with the spirit and intent of this Article.
(Source: P.A. 97-152, eff. 7-20-11.)

105 ILCS 5/27A-8

    (105 ILCS 5/27A-8)
    Sec. 27A-8. Evaluation of charter proposals.
    (a) This Section does not apply to a charter school established by referendum under Section 27A-6.5. In evaluating any charter school proposal submitted to it, the local school board and the Commission shall give preference to proposals that:
        (1) demonstrate a high level of local pupil,
    
parental, community, business, and school personnel support;
        (2) set rigorous levels of expected pupil achievement
    
and demonstrate feasible plans for attaining those levels of achievement; and
        (3) are designed to enroll and serve a substantial
    
proportion of at-risk children; provided that nothing in the Charter Schools Law shall be construed as intended to limit the establishment of charter schools to those that serve a substantial portion of at-risk children or to in any manner restrict, limit, or discourage the establishment of charter schools that enroll and serve other pupil populations under a nonexclusive, nondiscriminatory admissions policy.
    (b) In the case of a proposal to establish a charter school by converting an existing public school or attendance center to charter school status, evidence that the proposed formation of the charter school has received majority support from certified teachers and from parents and guardians in the school or attendance center affected by the proposed charter, and, if applicable, from a local school council, shall be demonstrated by a petition in support of the charter school signed by certified teachers and a petition in support of the charter school signed by parents and guardians and, if applicable, by a vote of the local school council held at a public meeting. In the case of all other proposals to establish a charter school, evidence of sufficient support to fill the number of pupil seats set forth in the proposal may be demonstrated by a petition in support of the charter school signed by parents and guardians of students eligible to attend the charter school. In all cases, the individuals, organizations, or entities who initiate the proposal to establish a charter school may elect, in lieu of including any petition referred to in this subsection as a part of the proposal submitted to the local school board, to demonstrate that the charter school has received the support referred to in this subsection by other evidence and information presented at the public meeting that the local school board is required to convene under this Section.
    (c) Within 45 days of receipt of a charter school proposal, the local school board shall convene a public meeting to obtain information to assist the board in its decision to grant or deny the charter school proposal. A local school board may develop its own process for receiving charter school proposals on an annual basis that follows the same timeframes as set forth in this Article. Only after the local school board process is followed may a charter school applicant appeal to the Commission.
    (d) Notice of the public meeting required by this Section shall be published in a community newspaper published in the school district in which the proposed charter is located and, if there is no such newspaper, then in a newspaper published in the county and having circulation in the school district. The notices shall be published not more than 10 days nor less than 5 days before the meeting and shall state that information regarding a charter school proposal will be heard at the meeting. Copies of the notice shall also be posted at appropriate locations in the school or attendance center proposed to be established as a charter school, the public schools in the school district, and the local school board office. If 45 days pass without the local school board holding a public meeting, then the charter applicant may submit the proposal to the Commission, where it must be addressed in accordance with the provisions set forth in subsection (g) of this Section.
    (e) Within 30 days of the public meeting, the local school board shall vote, in a public meeting, to either grant or deny the charter school proposal. If the local school board has not voted in a public meeting within 30 days after the public meeting, then the charter applicant may submit the proposal to the Commission, where it must be addressed in accordance with the provisions set forth in subsection (g) of this Section.
    (f) Within 7 days of the public meeting required under subsection (e) of this Section, the local school board shall file a report with the State Board granting or denying the proposal. If the local school board has approved the proposal, within 30 days of receipt of the local school board's report, the State Board shall determine whether the approved charter proposal is consistent with the provisions of this Article and, if the approved proposal complies, certify the proposal pursuant to Section 27A-6.
    (g) If the local school board votes to deny the proposal, then the charter school applicant has 30 days from the date of that vote to submit an appeal to the Commission. In such instances or in those instances referenced in subsections (d) and (e) of this Section, the Commission shall follow the same process and be subject to the same timelines for review as the local school board.
    (h) The Commission may reverse a local school board's decision to deny a charter school proposal if the Commission finds that the proposal (i) is in compliance with this Article and (ii) is in the best interests of the students the charter school is designed to serve. Final decisions of the Commission are subject to judicial review under the Administrative Review Law.
    (i) In the case of a charter school proposed to be jointly authorized by 2 or more school districts, the local school boards may unanimously deny the charter school proposal with a statement that the local school boards are not opposed to the charter school, but that they yield to the Commission in light of the complexities of joint administration.
(Source: P.A. 96-105, eff. 7-30-09; 96-734, eff. 8-25-09; 96-1000, eff. 7-2-10; 97-152, eff. 7-20-11.)

105 ILCS 5/27A-9

    (105 ILCS 5/27A-9)
    Sec. 27A-9. Term of charter; renewal.
    (a) For charters granted before January 1, 2017 (the effective date of Public Act 99-840), a charter may be granted for a period not less than 5 and not more than 10 school years. For charters granted on or after January 1, 2017 (the effective date of Public Act 99-840), a charter shall be granted for a period of 5 school years. For charters renewed before January 1, 2017 (the effective date of Public Act 99-840), a charter may be renewed in incremental periods not to exceed 5 school years. For charters renewed on or after January 1, 2017 (the effective date of Public Act 99-840), a charter may be renewed in incremental periods not to exceed 10 school years; however, the Commission may renew a charter only in incremental periods not to exceed 5 years. Authorizers shall ensure that every charter granted on or after January 1, 2017 (the effective date of Public Act 99-840) includes standards and goals for academic, organizational, and financial performance. A charter must meet all standards and goals for academic, organizational, and financial performance set forth by the authorizer in order to be renewed for a term in excess of 5 years but not more than 10 years. If an authorizer fails to establish standards and goals, a charter shall not be renewed for a term in excess of 5 years. Nothing contained in this Section shall require an authorizer to grant a full 10-year renewal term to any particular charter school, but an authorizer may award a full 10-year renewal term to charter schools that have a demonstrated track record of improving student performance.
    (b) A charter school renewal proposal submitted to the local school board or the Commission, as the chartering entity, shall contain:
        (1) A report on the progress of the charter school in
    
achieving the goals, objectives, pupil performance standards, content standards, and other terms of the initial approved charter proposal; and
        (2) A financial statement that discloses the costs of
    
administration, instruction, and other spending categories for the charter school that is understandable to the general public and that will allow comparison of those costs to other schools or other comparable organizations, in a format required by the State Board.
    (c) A charter may be revoked or not renewed if the local school board or the Commission, as the chartering entity, clearly demonstrates that the charter school did any of the following, or otherwise failed to comply with the requirements of this law:
        (1) Committed a material violation of any of the
    
conditions, standards, or procedures set forth in the charter.
        (2) Failed to meet or make reasonable progress toward
    
achievement of the content standards or pupil performance standards identified in the charter.
        (3) Failed to meet generally accepted standards of
    
fiscal management.
        (4) Violated any provision of law from which the
    
charter school was not exempted.
    In the case of revocation, the local school board or the Commission, as the chartering entity, shall notify the charter school in writing of the reason why the charter is subject to revocation. The charter school shall submit a written plan to the local school board or the Commission, whichever is applicable, to rectify the problem. The plan shall include a timeline for implementation, which shall not exceed 2 years or the date of the charter's expiration, whichever is earlier. If the local school board or the Commission, as the chartering entity, finds that the charter school has failed to implement the plan of remediation and adhere to the timeline, then the chartering entity shall revoke the charter. Except in situations of an emergency where the health, safety, or education of the charter school's students is at risk, the revocation shall take place at the end of a school year. Nothing in Public Act 96-105 shall be construed to prohibit an implementation timetable that is less than 2 years in duration.
    (d) (Blank).
    (e) Notice of a local school board's decision to deny, revoke, or not renew a charter shall be provided to the Commission and the State Board. The Commission may reverse a local board's decision if the Commission finds that the charter school or charter school proposal (i) is in compliance with this Article, and (ii) is in the best interests of the students it is designed to serve. The Commission may condition the granting of an appeal on the acceptance by the charter school of funding in an amount less than that requested in the proposal submitted to the local school board. Final decisions of the Commission shall be subject to judicial review under the Administrative Review Law.
    (f) Notwithstanding other provisions of this Article, if the Commission on appeal reverses a local board's decision or if a charter school is approved by referendum, the Commission shall act as the authorized chartering entity for the charter school. The Commission shall approve the charter and shall perform all functions under this Article otherwise performed by the local school board. The State Board shall determine whether the charter proposal approved by the Commission is consistent with the provisions of this Article and, if the approved proposal complies, certify the proposal pursuant to this Article. The State Board shall report the aggregate number of charter school pupils resident in a school district to that district and shall notify the district of the amount of funding to be paid by the State Board to the charter school enrolling such students. The Commission shall require the charter school to maintain accurate records of daily attendance that shall be deemed sufficient to file claims under Section 18-8.05 or 18-8.15 notwithstanding any other requirements of that Section regarding hours of instruction and teacher certification. The State Board shall withhold from funds otherwise due the district the funds authorized by this Article to be paid to the charter school and shall pay such amounts to the charter school.
    (g) For charter schools authorized by the Commission, the Commission shall quarterly certify to the State Board the student enrollment for each of its charter schools.
    (h) For charter schools authorized by the Commission, the State Board shall pay directly to a charter school any federal or State aid attributable to a student with a disability attending the school.
(Source: P.A. 99-840, eff. 1-1-17; 100-201, eff. 8-18-17; 100-465, eff. 8-31-17.)