Arizona State Board of Charter School’s Review of Enrollment/Application Forms
Editors Note: Lynne Adams, a partner at Osborne Maledon spoke with Ashley Berg, Executive Director at the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools (ASBCS) last week about Arizona charter school enrollment issues, and generously passed along some information about ASBCS’s independent review of schools’ enrollment forms and processes. As a follow up to our original post Some Charter School Enrollment Practices Under Scrutiny: ACLU Aims Spotlight on Arizona we thought we’d share her update with you. The below text is from an email communication written by Adams and she’s kindly given us permission to post it here. We hope you find this update informative.
Arizona Charter School Enrollment Forms Update
Ashley confirmed that the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools is not relying on the ACLU’s analysis of schools’ enrollment forms. ASBCS is doing its own analysis, and Ashley confirmed (as many of you already know) that the ACLU was simply wrong in some instances in determining that a school’s enrollment form violates some provision of state or federal law. That should give you some comfort—it did me. I’ve already located several errors in the ACLU’s analysis based on my review of client enrollment forms.
Ashley noted that the ACLU had not examined some enrollment form language, leading the ACLU to inaccurately conclude that a school tour or activity fees were required, for example. Of course, not all of the errors are in schools’ favor—ASBCS has identified concerns that the ACLU did not include in its data spreadsheet. But the fact that ASBCS is looking at these issues with fresh eyes is good.
Ashley indicated that in the next two weeks or so, ASBCS will be contacting schools that it believes have enrollment form problems. ASBCS will identify those concerns and give schools 30 days to remedy the problems. Schools can request an extension of the 30-day deadline if they have a good basis to do so—their governing board needs to approve changes to the enrollment form or related policies and procedures, for example. If the enrollment concerns are remedied/addressed within the deadline, ASBCS will not note an instance of non-compliance on the school’s operational dashboard. Of course, the converse of that is that the failure to remedy the concerns within the timeframe will result in non-compliance being noted on your school’s operational dashboard.
Ashley also noted that ASBCS had already reached out to the 75 or so Arizona charter schools that did not provide their enrollment forms to the ACLU and had collected those forms from all but about two of the schools. If you are one of those two hold-out schools, I strongly suggest that you submit your enrollment forms to ASBCS sooner rather than later.
Finally, in addition to the special education/Section 504 and student suspension questions that the ACLU has flagged as inappropriate on enrollment forms, Ashley noted that ASBCS will be reviewing schools’ enrollment forms to make certain that schools are using the ADE-approved PHLOTE (Primary Home Language Other Than English) form without revisions. You may ask home language questions on your application, but ASBCS is apparently taking the position that you must also use the PHLOTE form. You can find a copy of that form here (under “Home Language Survey”): http://www.azed.gov/oelas/forms/.
If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to get your “enrollment houses” in order. Review your forms—you should do this every year anyway—and make any revisions that are necessary. If you are not certain what findings the ACLU made about your school’s enrollment forms, you can find that information here.