Priority: Twenty-First Century Systems
Category: Charter Schools Administration
Policy ID Number: TCS-U-015
Policy Title: Policy on the establishment of virtual charter schools in North Carolina
Current Policy Date: 01/10/2013
Other Historical Information:
Administrative Procedures Act (APA) Reference Number and Category:
A virtual charter school is defined as a nonsectarian and nondiscriminatory public charter school open to all eligible North Carolina students who are enrolled full-time at the virtual charter school. Students enrolled at a virtual charter school receive their education predominantly through the utilization of online instructional methods. For purposes of initial operation in North Carolina, virtual charter schools may only serve grades 6 through 12.
- Parties wishing to establish a virtual charter school shall establish a non-profit corporation and apply to one of the three chartering entities in North Carolina, but must receive final approval by the State Board of Education (SBE). A separate application created specifically for virtual applicants will include plans detailing how the virtual charter school proposes to provide technology hardware and internet connectivity to enrolled students.
- The process of application review for final approval by the State Board shall follow the same timelines and procedures established for all other charter applicants.
- The virtual charter applicant shall submit a copy of the application to every Local Education Agency (LEA) in North Carolina from which the virtual charter school may attract students. Each LEA will have the ability to provide an Impact Statement related to the proposed virtual charter school.
- Those designated to review virtual charter applications on behalf of the SBE are under no obligation to recommend that the SBE grant a preliminary charter to any applicant group. The focus of any recommendation must be solidly based upon the quality of the application and historical achievement attained by the intended provider.
- Should a virtual charter school applicant receive preliminary approval, the board members that will have statutory responsibility for all operating procedures of the charter school shall complete the mandatory planning year established in SBE policy.
- Any virtual applicant group that receives a charter from the SBE will receive a charter term no longer than three years for the initial charter, no virtual charter will receive a renewal charter term longer than five years.
- The virtual charter school shall have an actual, physical location within the geographic boundaries of the state of North Carolina.
- Should a virtual applicant receive final approval from the SBE, the charter agreement will be tailored to virtual charter schools with the inclusion of additional standards related to overall performance. Failure to meet any of these standards may result in the revocation and/or nonrenewal of the charter:
a) The virtual charter school must test at least 95% of its students during any academic year for purposes of the State’s accountability system.
b) The virtual charter school’s graduation rate must be no less than 10% below the overall state average for any two out of three consecutive years.
c) The virtual charter school cannot have a student withdrawal rate any higher than 15% for any two out of three consecutive years. This rate will be calculated by comparing the first and ninth month Principal’s Monthly Report.
d) The virtual charter school’s student-to-teacher ratio cannot exceed 50 to 1 per class. This calculation excludes academic coaches, learning partners, parents, or other non-teachers of record.
- 9. The virtual charter school will be funded as follows: the proposed virtual charter school shall receive the same rate as a full-year course in the NC Virtual Public School for eight courses per student. The virtual charter school will not receive local funds. Federal funding for which the virtual charter schools are eligible can be received provided the charter school completes the appropriate documentation.
- 11. The virtual charter school shall comply with all statutory requirements and SBE policies that apply to charter schools unless specifically excluded herein.
- The virtual charter school must offer “regular educational opportunities” to its students through meetings with teachers, educational field trips, virtual field trips attended synchronously, virtual conferencing sessions, or asynchronous offline work assigned by the teacher of record.
The requirements for a virtual charter school are embodied in the application (attached with this policy); and both become effective the date of this policy.