The following questions are commonly asked by both potential board members as well as schools looking for board members. Please review them with either perspective. Addiitonal questions specific to either schools or potential board members are listed under their respective categories.
FAQs for Schools
FAQs for Potential Board Members
The New York State Charter Schools Act (Education Law § 2850-2857) was passed in December 1998, allowing for the creation of autonomous public schools. Charter schools are public schools that operate according to a five-year performance contract or "charter." They are exempt from many public school regulations for curriculum development, staffing and budgeting; but, they are held accountable for students’ academic performance and specific goals set forth in their charter. If charter schools fail to meet any of these, they risk having their charter revoked or not renewed.
Like all New York state public schools, charter schools must meet state standards and Regents requirements, as well as state and federal laws regarding health, safety, civil rights and student assessment. Also, charter schools are open to all students and cannot discriminate in their admissions' process. Often there are more interested students than available slots, in which case charter schools must by law choose students through a random lottery.
Under New York law, charter schools are defined as “independent and autonomous public schools” and are authorized by the New York Charter Schools Act of 1998 (Article 56 of the New York Education Law). New York charter schools are legally organized as not-for-profit education corporations (§ 2853(1)) and are subject to a contractual agreement, or charter, between the school and the charter entity that approved its application.
Public charter schools in New York State are subject to all laws, rules and regulations affecting health and safety, civil rights, and student assessment applicable to other public schools except as specifically provided in the Charter Schools Act (§ 2854(1)(b)). Charter schools are also subject to New York’s Open Meetings Law and Freedom of Information Law (§ 2854(1)(e)) as well as certain requirements of the compulsory education law (§ 2854(1)(b)). Charter schools otherwise have a blanket waiver from all state and local rules, regulations, and laws applicable to public or private schools, boards of education, and school districts, except as specifically provided in the school’s charter or the Charter Schools Act (§ 2854(1)(b)). Certain provisions of New York’s Not-For-Profit Corporation Law apply to the corporate governance of charter schools as set forth in § 216-a of the Education Law
In New York State, teachers, parents, school administrators and community residents, or any combination thereof, can submit an application to establish a charter school (§ 2851(1)). These eligible applicants may file the application in conjunction with a college, university, museum, educational institution, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, or a for-profit business or corporate entity. These entities are sometimes referred to as “partners.” Other types of not-for-profit corporations, and other entities not listed, such as labor unions, are not eligible as partner organizations. If a not-for-profit or for-profit corporation will be significantly involved in the day-to-day operations of the school, including its educational program, the partner is known as an “educational service provider,” which may be either a for-profit “management company” or not-for-profit “charter management organization,” respectively. Applications submitted in conjunction with any for-profit business or corporate entity must specify the extent of the entity’s participation in the management and operation of the school (§ 2851(1)).
One of the strengths of the New York Charter Schools Act is that it provides three routes to apply for a charter: the State University Trustees, the Board of Regents, and local boards of education (in New York City the Schools Chancellor) (§ 2851(3)). However, only the State University Trustees and the Board of Regents can approve applications state-wide; local boards of education (and in New York City, the Chancellor) are limited to approving applications for charter schools within their districts’ boundaries (§ 2851(3)(a)).
Applications submitted to the State University Trustees are reviewed by the Charter Schools Institute, which was created by the Trustees to assist it in carrying out its responsibilities as a charter entity. Applications submitted to the Board of Regents are reviewed by the staff of the State Education Department, and ultimately so are applications submitted to local boards of education.
Every charter school is required by law to have a board of directors that is ultimately responsible for what the school does. Legally, the board oversees the operations of the school and makes sure it is financially sound and follows the law. The Board also helps to create the vision for how the school should operate and often is compiled of parents of children attending the charter school.
The Board as a whole and each of its members individually, is responsible for ensuring that the academic program of the school is successful, that its program and operation are faithful to the terms of its charter and that the school is a viable organization. What this means, specifically, will vary depending on the stage at which you join the Board or Planning Team, but you should expect to be involved in hiring/evaluating your school leader, monitoring the strength of the academic programming and holding the school leadership accountable for academic results, monitoring the financial health of the school, and working to enhance the school’s reputation in the community, ensuring legal and ethical responsibility of the Board and school personnel, and the school generally, and helping to recruit and train new Board members.
Yes – Charter School Boards are required to hold D&O insurance.
Board members can join a Charter School Board or Planning Team generally at three distinct points. You can join a planning team and help in writing the application and developing the school. You can join a Founding Board when the school has been approved by the authorizer and is preparing to open, or you can join a Board that is already governing a school that is in operation.
FAQs for Schools
As a school in NYC, you can sign up for the Charter School Board Matching Portal one of two ways:
1. Online: create or sign into your LinkEducation.org School profile account and select 'Find Board Members' on your profile options.
2. Mail a check made out to LinkEducation to the below address with "Charter School Board Matching Portal" in the notes and a contact email address. A confirmation of check receipt will be sent to the email address upon receipt. Please allow for processing time. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the moment, the Board Portal is only targeting potential board members that can help schools in NYC. You are welcome to register your school outside of the 5 boroughs, but we cannot guarantee any matches with potential board members and will not issue refunds should you choose to continue.
FAQs for Potential Board Members
- Create or login to your User profile
- After completing as much information as you like on your general LinkEducation.org profile, click the 'Join a Board' link
- Complete the details about yourself and select the privacy setting of your choice to begin sharing more information about your interests with schools looking for trustees
That depends on stage in which you join the team as well as the specific operations of the school. Although we advise you to speak directly to the Board or Planning Team about your expected time commitment, most Charter Schools hold meetings roughly monthly during the school year.
Legally, there are certain roles that must be filled on Boards, and we want to help schools find the people they need. Also, schools want Boards that are balanced and have members with a range of skills. Please, do not feel that if you don’t have one of the listed skill sets that you are not qualified to sit on a Board. Each person’s unique skills and interests are of potential value to a school, we just are trying to facilitate a school’s search for the necessary Board members.
Certainly! However, please keep in mind that we are focusing only on NYC based charter schools. If you are interested in serving on charter school board that operates in NYC, but you do not actually live here, that is just fine. You will need to be able to attend board meetings in person.