This is the second in a series of letters from NACSA President and CEO Greg Richmond to Michigan authorizers, operators, policymakers and advocates highlighting the importance of due diligence when screening applications from existing operators.
Yesterday, I shared with you my response to the Free Press series on charter schools and the ways that NACSA is helping authorizers do more to prevent violations of the public trust in the future. It is not enough to respond to wrongdoing when it is reported by others. Authorizers have a responsibility to conduct rigorous, ongoing oversight without infringing on school autonomy. Even though many of the events reported are old news and have been addressed by authorizers and in state law, there is clearly still much work to be done.
Today, I’m sharing with you another excerpt from NACSA’s Principles & Standards, this one addressing elements needed in an application for a new charter school when the applicant is proposing to hire a management company. We know that great schools can be replicated, but we also know that replicating bad schools only produces more bad schools. Authorizers should not approve applications for new schools operated by providers that have a track record of failure or governed by boards that lack independence and capacity needed to oversee and hold the provider accountable for its performance. Good due diligence is paramount.
NACSA’s Principles & Standards state that applicants proposing to hire a management company should be required to provide:
– Evidence of the service provider’s educational and management success;
– The proposed management agreement with all key terms including roles and responsibilities of the parties, services and resources provided, performance evaluation measures, fee structure, financial control, oversight and disclosure, and renewal and termination.
– Disclosure and explanation of any existing or potential conflicts of interest between the school governing board and proposed service provider or any affiliated business entities.
These requirements are critical for the evaluation of replication proposals involving a management provider, and should play a key role in whether an application is approved.
Operating a charter school is an enormous undertaking involving great public trust and responsibility. When operators have a track record of performance, they should be judged on that record. As we emphasize in our One Million Lives campaign, we need thousands more great charter schools, and we need to close those that are failing. What we don’t need is any more bad schools.
Tomorrow, we will share with you some of the principles and practices that are more broadly applicable to good authorizing, beyond situations that involve management companies.
Monday, we will share ways to strengthen Michigan’s charter school law.
NACSA is committed to working with authorizers, policymakers and other stakeholders to ensure that the bad behavior of a few does not further impede the amazing work of the many great charter schools across Michigan and the nation. We look forward to your continued partnership.
President and CEO