Questions and Answers Concerning the Applicability of SAVE and the School Employee Fingerprinting and Child Abuse Reporting Legislation to Charter Schools
On July 24, 2000, Governor Pataki signed into law the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education Act ("SAVE", Chapter 181 of the Laws of 2000) and school employee fingerprinting and child abuse reporting legislation (Chapter 180 of the Laws of 2000). This question and answer document is being issued jointly by the State Education Department and the Charter Schools Institute to address questions that have been raised concerning the applicability of these laws to charter schools. This document assumes that the reader is familiar with SAVE and the school employee fingerprinting and child abuse reporting legislation. Information concerning the substantive requirements of these laws can be found at the State Education Department’s web site.
1. Are charter schools required to develop and implement comprehensive "district-wide" school safety plans and building level emergency response safety plans?
Yes. Charter schools must meet the same health and safety requirements applicable to other public schools, except as specifically provided in the Charter Schools Act. District-wide school safety plans and building level emergency response plans are safety requirements applicable to other public schools.
2. If a charter school has only one school building, must it develop separate "district- wide" school safety plans and emergency response plans?
No. In this situation, charter schools must follow the requirements for school districts having only one school building. The law provides that such school districts shall develop a single building-level school safety plan which shall also fulfill the requirements for development of a district-wide plan.
3. Must charter schools complete and submit to the Commissioner of Education an annual Uniform Violent Incident Reporting Form?
Yes. This form, which requires respondents to provide a variety of information concerning violent incidents that occur at a school, is designed to help parents, school administrators, the community, and government officials evaluate the safety of schools. Charter schools are covered by this requirement because it relates directly to evaluating and improving the safety of public schools.
4. Are charter schools required to adopt codes of conduct that other public schools must adopt under the SAVE legislation, and follow SAVE’s new requirements with respect to the discipline of violent and disruptive students?
No. The requirements for charter school discipline codes are specifically set forth in the Charter Schools Act. Education Law § 2851(2)(h) provides that charter school discipline policies shall be consistent with the requirements of due process and with federal laws and regulations governing the placement of students with disabilities.
5. Must charter schools designate a "Designated Educational Official" whose duties include receiving and maintaining records from the juvenile justice system and criminal justice system upon release of a student and to coordinate the student’s participation in such programs?
Yes. The law expressly provides that charter schools must identify a "Designated Educational Official."
6. Are charter schools subject to the requirement under 8 NYCRR § 100.2(dd) that employees are required to complete school violence prevention training as part of their professional development plans?
No. Charter schools are not subject to 8 NYCRR § 100.2(dd).
7. Are charter schools eligible for Omnibus School Violence prevention grants?
No. The law authorizes the Commissioner to award such grants on a competitive basis only to school districts. Charter schools are not school districts.
8. Must charter schools include in their course of instruction a component on civility, citizenship, and character education?
No. While a charter school may include instruction on civility, citizenship, and character, charter schools are not subject to the specific course requirements set forth in the SAVE legislation.
9. Are charter schools subject to the new child abuse reporting requirements concerning reporting child abuse in an educational setting to school authorities, parents, and law enforcement?
Yes. The new child abuse reporting requirements apply expressly to charter schools.
10. Do the new employee fingerprinting requirements apply to charter schools?
Yes. The new employee fingerprinting requirements apply expressly to charter schools.
11. The new employee fingerprinting requirements do not apply to the New York City School District. Are charter schools located within the New York City School District subject to these requirements?
Yes. The new employee fingerprinting requirements expressly apply to all charter schools. The law does not include an exemption for charter schools located in New York City.