Thursday, October 7, 2010

Clarification on Requirements Concerning the Board of Trustee's

We have been researching the guidelines, laws, and requirements regarding Charter schools Board of Trustee's. We provided information regarding a directive that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education issued to the school. It was as follows (Yes, it is a bit old but it still hasn't changed):
'From Sept 2007 Board of Education Minutes which can be found at 2007 Board of Education Meeting Minutes
            "The school's board consists of five members, the minimum number of members allowed by the school's bylaws. Three of the members have served on the board since the school's founding, one has served for six years, and one has served for four years. To date, the board has refused to comply with the Charter School Office that the school's bylaws include a provision for specific reasonable limits on successive or total terms that a member may serve."
 Since that time we have been in contact with Associate Commissioner Wulfson who did inform us that the school is not required to have 11 Board Members. We also came across the following document (Charter School Administrative Guide) and thought it had relevance to our prior discussion and subject matter, especially #14. The Charter School Administrative Guide states the following:

Appendix 8: Guidance on Charter School Bylaws
Bylaws Must:
1.. state the name and purpose of the school and that the school is a public school chartered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
2. cite MGL Chapter 71 Section 89.
3. state that the Board of Trustees is a public entity.
4. state that individual Board members are considered special state employees.
5. state that the Board of Trustees holds the charter from the state and is therefore responsible for ensuring that the school and Board members: comply with all applicable laws and regulations;ensure that the school is an academic success, organizationally viable, faithful to the terms of its charter; and earns charter renewal.
6. state that the Board of Trustees may not discriminate against potential members on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, race, national origin, ancestry, religion, marital status, or non-disqualifying handicap or mental condition.
7. require that notice be given of the date, time and location of all meetings in accordance with the law pertaining to the open meetings of governmental bodies (Mass. Gen. Laws c. 30A, § 11A½ ).
8. require that a record of every meeting be adopted and kept, including the time, date, and location of the meeting, the members present or absent, and all action taken at the meeting, including formal votes taken.
9. require that trustee participation occur in person for purpose of a quorum or vote.
10. determine the minimum and maximum number of trustees.
11. specify the number of trustees that shall constitute a quorum.
12. state that action by the Board requires a majority vote of a quorum of seated trustees.
13. define a number of years that shall constitute a term.
14. set a specific, reasonable, limit on successive or total terms that a member may serve.

15. require a formal vote of the Board of Trustees to accept all new members.
16. specify that the school’s fiscal year begins on July 1 (and ends on June 30 of the following calendar year).
17. specify a process for making amendments to the bylaws, subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees and the Department of Education (and School Committee/Teacher's Union if a Horace Mann.).
18. determine general school policies, in compliance with state and federal law.
19. manage the financial affairs of the school and approve the annual budget.
20. not refer to the school as a non-profit corporation, a charitable organization, a 501(c)(3), or use descriptions indicating that the school is anything other than a public entity.
21. not allow an entity other than the Board of Trustees to select or remove trustees.
22. not allow the Board of Trustees to exercise managerial powers over the day-to-day operations of the school.
23. not allow members to participate in meetings by email or proxies.
 We found number 14 especially interesting considering that to the best of our knowledge, no term limits have been defined. We are now looking into obtaining a copy of our schools specific By-Laws to see just how it is handled. We have also drawn attention to a number of other requirements that we felt were either being clearly violated or that we felt were approaching a very slippery slope


  1. Where's the comments from the board/administration or blog haters on this one? Very quiet......too quiet. Come on I want to hear their arguments on this one. Maybe they can change the laws........oh wait they already have.

  2. They aren't being posted because the powers that be don't like the content.

  3. Sorry Anonymous @ 9:53, everything has been published that it is relevant and appropriate. Only a few were not (and nothing from Oct 7) due to either language or the hateful tone of the message. We prefer to publish everyone's post as it allows everyone to form their own opinions.
    Also, I think many of the posts you are referring to were coming from the school and since they 'outed' themselves, they seem to be a bit more careful about what they say. Interesting how that works. Unfortunately, it has also slowed down the positive discussions that this blog was created for. No worries, we'll get them going again.