Charter Nonrenewals: A Matter of Life or Death
Sylvia Marketing & Public Relations has worked on many charter non-renewal cases from the school district level to state charter appeal boards. Our experience, coupled with working with the nation’s top charter school law firms has led to numerous charter appellate victories.
Experience: The Difference Between Charter Nonrenewal and School Closure
We’ve seen too many schools lose their operating charter or expansion campaigns due to loyalty–rather than seeking a PR agency and law firm with a record of victories at the Charter Appeal Board, they let their current contractors learn on their time. And it cost them everything.
If your authorizer has or is poised to non-renew your school’s operating charter, you need a public relations agency and a law firm that has proven victories at the charter appeal board level. Don’t roll the dice on your school’s life in order to be loyal to your existing public relations agency and law firm. There’s a good reason we would not let our general practitioners perform open heart surgery. We know it’s a matter of life (and licensing, of course) and death. The same goes for your charter school.
Fighting an Authorizer’s Charter Nonrenewal Vote
There are a few ways that charter schools in Pennsylvania can fight a school district’s decision to non-renew their charter.
Charter Appeal Board (CAB) – the Fight Against Charter Nonrenewal
One option, written into the Commonwealth’s Charter School Law is to appeal the decision through the state’s Charter Appeal Board (CAB). This board is responsible for hearing appeals of non-renewal decisions made by school districts. At CAB, the charter school needs to provide evidence to the board that the decision was unjustified or that the school district did not follow the proper procedures in making the decision. And at the same time, the school needs to spotlight strong community support, which is where Sylvia Marketing & Public Relations comes in. We have helped numerous charter schools awaiting their CAB hearings generate positive news coverage and guided them through effective stakeholder mobilization campaigns.
Modified Charter Renewal Term: Negotiated Solution for Charter Nonrenewal
In some schools, Charter schools may be able to negotiate with the school district for a modified charter term or some other negotiated agreement in which the charter school gains time to correct perceived deficiencies. These cases typically emerge when the authorizer is not confident it can win in an appellate court. In these cases, attorneys negotiate with the district to address any concerns they may have about the school’s performance and try to come to an agreement that would allow the charter to continue operating to include a modified charter term of one to three years. During that process, Sylvia Marketing & Public Relations works to ensure the school controls its narrative in the press and uses reputation management strategies to keep the school’s good reputation intact.
Commonwealth Court for Charter Nonrenewal Appeals
Another option may be to file a lawsuit against the school district. A charter school could argue that the district’s decision was arbitrary and capricious, or that the district did not have the authority to make the decision. Most of our cases in providing charter school litigation public relations campaigns have been on behalf of our California charter schools and other states.
Negotiations are only possible if the authorizer is not blatantly trying to eliminate competition to force students back into their budget. Unfortunately, for those located in Philadelphia, PA, which is home to more than half of the Commonwealth’s charter schools that have the School District of Philadelphia as its authorizer, negotiating is not an option. Black school leaders have protested the school district’s practice of targeting mostly Black-founded and Black-led charter schools while giving white-founded charter schools numerous expansions although those schools had the same deficiencies the district used to close the others.
Charter Nonrenewals or Expansion Request Denial:
Sylvia Marketing & Public Relations Has Your School’s Back
And this is where Sylvia Marketing & Public Relations comes in. For nearly 20 years we have helped charter schools engage and mobilize community leaders, parents, and students to advocate for the school through customized campaigns. Actions included organizing rallies or letter-writing campaigns to show support for the school, recruiting parents and students to speak out about the impact the school has had on their lives, and generating testimonials that the school can use as part of its CAB defense strategy.
Advice about Getting Politicians Involved in Charter Nonrenewal Cases
Schools sometimes ask their State Senator, State Representative, or City Councilperson to advocate for them during public comment at a school board meeting. It is important to know that government bodies sometimes find it insulting when an official of another office makes an appearance if they perceive they are telling them what to do or how to decide. Be sure your elected official is tactful, graceful, and deferent in another government’s forum. Keep in mind, politicians with influence will negotiate behind the scenes for a charter school, which can be more effective.
Charter School Laws Vary By State for Charter Nonrenewal Appeals
Because Sylvia Marketing & Public Relations began as a Philly PR agency, we default to Pennsylvania examples in our texts. We have as many clients outside Pennsylvania as we do with Philadelphia charter schools. With that said, it’s worth noting that, in general, the law and regulations regarding charter schools vary by state, so the specific process and options available to fight non-renewal decisions may vary depending on the state. It’s important for the charter school to consult with legal counsel and understand the process in the state where it is located. Sylvia Marketing & Public Relations works with top charter school law firms and can help bring your school and the right attorney together.
Whether you run a Philadelphia charter school, a Pennsylvania charter school in the most remote part of the Commonwealth, or a charter school anywhere else in the United States, you need to start planning for charter renewal a long time before the renewal application year. Although Sylvia Marketing & Public Relations serves charter schools from New York City to Los Angeles, CA, and 14 states in between, we emphasize PA charter schools because it only allows for five-year charter terms.
State Charter School Operating Terms Vary
Pennsylvania’s short charter renewal process is burdensome and ridiculously brief. Its Charter School Act is nearly 25 years old, and antiquated. In PA, charter terms are the lowest in the nation at 5-year cycles. This means charter schools in Pennsylvania are either going into renewal, in a renewal, or coming out of a renewal. It’s a consistent campaign.
Charter Nonrenewal Campaigns Should Begin Before Trouble Occurs
Charter schools need to launch “charter renewal campaigns” at least two years before their renewal year. And, because campaigns require extensive media coverage as well as the development of online and video testimonials, charter schools with five-year terms are better off maintaining a full-time public relations program. By establishing a continuous public relations program with renewal in mind, charter schools can shape public opinion, shore up widespread support, and control their narratives, making it difficult for school districts that want to eliminate the competition to make a case against such schools.
Sylvia Marketing & Public Relations is Pennsylvania’s leading charter school public relations agency for charter appeals, and among the leading national contenders.
Get your school renewal-ready, so you can position it to avoid a costly Charter Appeal Board campaign. Contact Sylvia Marketing & Public Relations today at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-817-3095 to get started on your charter school charter renewal campaign.