Charter School Guidance - Educational Stability for Foster Care Youth in Pennsylvania

Charter School Guidance

Collaboration with Charter Schools and Charter School Responsibilities

Overview

  • Charter schools are LEAs under ESSA and must develop and implement transportation procedures in collaboration with the local child welfare agency governing how transportation to maintain children in their school of origin will be provided, arranged, and funded for the duration of the child’s time in foster care.
  • If a charter school is a student’s school of origin when a change in foster care placement occurs, the charter school and the CCYA are responsible for making a collaborative best interest determination (BID) regarding school placement.
  • Charter schools and the CCYA should include the school district of residence in any BID regarding school placement.
  • ESSA provisions for foster care youth do not supersede Pennsylvania state law related to transportation of children enrolled in charter schools.

Teacher at front of classroom asking question

Additional information related to transportation for foster care youth attending charter schools:

Charter schools are LEAs under ESSA and must ensure the transportation for children in foster care is consistent with procedures developed by the LEA in collaboration with the State or local child welfare agency under section 1112(c)(5)(B) of the ESEA. These requirements apply whether or not the LEA provides transportation for children who are not in foster care. Charter schools must have a transportation agreement MOU and transportation plan governing how transportation to maintain children in foster care in their school of origin, when in their best interest, will be provided, arranged, and funded for the duration of a child’s time in foster care.

It is important to note that the ESSA provisions for foster care youth do not supersede Pennsylvania state law related to transportation of children enrolled in charter schools, as established in Section 1726-A of the Pennsylvania Charter School Law (24 P.S. § 17-1726-A). In certain situations, the Charter School Law requires a school district of residence to provide for transportation of charter school students. Therefore, in situations where the school district of residence provides transportation to the charter school, the charter school should consult with its solicitor and the school district of residence and consider (1) incorporating transportation procedures established by the district of residence in its transportation plan, or (2) include language in its plan with the CCYA that refers to section 24 P.S. § 17-1726-A and any responsibilities of the school of district of residence under state law.

It is recommended that the CCYA and the charter school communicate with their solicitors to discuss the impact of charter school transportation law on the particular facts of any foster care scenario in which the student’s BID maintains the child in the charter school.

It should be highlighted that the phrase “school district of residence” in charter school law has the same meaning as prior to ESSA. ESSA has not changed or revised this meaning of this phrase in charter school law.