Friday, June 02, 2006

PSD Board Approves Appeal on Exclusive Chartering Authority

The PSD Board of Education met this morning in a special session to discuss whether we should appeal the recent State Board of Education decision which denied PSD exclusive chartering authority. On a 4-2 vote, the Board decided to file suit challenging the decision. Directors Johnson, Tellez, myself, and President Ley were in favor; Directors Neal and Yeldell were opposed.

For those who may not know the issues involved, here is a summary. In 2004, the Colorado State Legislature passed legislation creating the Charter Institute. This is a state-level organization which has the authority to approve charter school contracts anywhere in the state. By default, the Charter Institute has shared chartering authority with local Districts; that is, a charter school may decide to apply either to the local Board of Education, or to the Charter Institute. The legislation also authorized local Boards to apply for exclusive chartering authority in their District (which had been the status quo before this legislation). However, the State Board was allowed to deny exclusive chartering authority if the applying District had had a "moratorium" on charter schools in the past four years. Additionally, the Legislature made it illegal for Districts to have a limit on the number of charter schools located within their boundaries (previously, this had been expressly allowed).

Poudre School District had a "soft" limit, authorized in 2001 (if I recall correctly); in the authorizing resolution, the Board at that time also said it would consider any "innovative" charter applications that came forward (it's that willingness that makes this a "soft" limit and not a moratorium as defined in the law). After the law was passed making limits illegal, the Board of Education repealed PSD's limit (at the first opportunity, I might add).

PSD then applied for exclusive chartering authority, arguing, among other things, that our "limit" was not a "moratorium". The State Board voted 4-4 to deny our application; this left us in a bit of a grey area, as the motion to deny failed. Our belief is that, consequently, we had exclusive authority during this time, but the Colorado Department of Education does not agree. We applied again, and, on May 11, the State Board voted 4-3 to deny our application (I was there to witness; Shaffer made the motion to deny; Shaffer, Suckla, Littleton, and Polis voted to deny; Hudak, Middleton, and Munn voted not to deny; and DeHoff recused himself).

This brings us to the present. On May 22, the Board approved a motion which requested that the District's legal council investigate the grounds and possible costs for appealing the decision in court. This week, our attorney got us the information, and President Ley scheduled a special meeting for this morning at 7:00. The Board decided to proceed, as outlined in the opening paragraph.

This post is plenty long, so I'm going to put my personal perspectives in a separate post.


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