Charter School Applications

Every potential charter school in Florida has to complete an application that is filed with the district to obtain approval to open a new charter school. There is not state levle authorizer in Florida so charter schools must be approved by the districts. It used to be that charter applications were fairly simple documents, but now, with required attachments, it is not uncommon for charter applications to run to at least several hundred pages. We have worked with many charter schools to make sure that the application they file meets the legal requirements and puts them on the best footing to survive the school district review of their application. While we will normally not write an entire application, that would be costly for a charter school, if needed, we do have people we have worked that can help with the writing of the application.

Most charter school applications have to be filed by August 1 the year before the charter school hopes to open. There is an early application process that allows an application to be filed by May 1, with an opportunity for the District to provide meaningful feedback before the application is finalized, but ,unfortunately, districts have not been providing meaningful feedback in good faith, so this is one of those areas that will probably have to be litigated before the early application process is worth going through for a charter school.

Once your application has been drafted, the school district has a certain time to review the application and will often provide feedback and sometimes an opportunity for an interview to  learn further information about your charter school. We can also help in preparing to respond to district feedback, filtering out what are significant concerns with those that are not as serious and should not be a basis for district to deny an application.

If you have put a good application together, but a district still denies your application, we handle appeals to the charter school appeal commission, the State Board of Education, and if needed, the Florida appellate courts. Appealing a denial of an application is a fast-moving process, the appeal itself not just the notice of appeal needs to be filed within 30 days of the application denial. After the district has an opportunity to respond, then a hearing is scheduled before the Charter School Appeal Commission. Before the charter school appeal commission there is an opportunity to present argument and unsworn testimony as to the grounds the District has cited as a basis to deny the charter – in effect, a short trial. Districts often will bring a dozen people up to provide testimony during the course of the hearing, so as a charter school you have to be prepared to respond to and successfully address the district comments on the charter application.

Because time is so short during the appeal process, it helps if we are familiar with your application before a district deny the application. And, unfortunately in certain districts around the state right now, such as the Palm Beach District, even very good applications are being denied, and the only way to start a charter school is to appeal the denial. So, if you are applying for a district where you are likely to have to file an appeal even if you have a excellen
application, it is often helpful to get us involved early.

After getting an application approved the next step is negotiating a charter, which we cover in more detail at Charter Contract Negotiation.