The state Board of Education has approved rules for the new law that makes it easier to form publicly-funded charter schools.
The board’s attorney Thomas Mayes told them this process will be quite different than what they’ve seen in the past. “I don’t think that the educators, the general public has fully processed the change this statute made. It’s big and bold — as some things should be — but when something is big and bold, the butterfly effect, it’s major,” Mayes says.
He says it will be a different process when the charter schools come to the board for approval. “Ordinarily, we think about waiving statutory requirements. Or I am seeking a waiver of X. The default rule for the charters is they are exempt from that. They don’t have to prove that they need a waiver — they’re just exempt from it,” Mayes explains. “Except, unless it’s specifically listed or two areas where they are required to seek a waiver. That language is critical, because a waiver implies that somebody has a burden to prove something.”
Mayes talked about some of the other exemptions in the charter school law. “They are exempt from limitations regarding year-round schools. they are exempt from the August 23rd start state. Because those were not specifically listed as things to which they either must comply or must seek your permission,” he says.
Mayes says they received several public comments on the new rules and many were helpful in moving them forward. Board staff say they have received around six requests for information on charter schools. Groups that want to open a new charter school in Iowa next fall now have until February to submit an application.