Charter school policies must be developed, examined and fine-tuned. Developing a good policy is the key to running a successful charter school. There are typically several policies in place for charter schools, including personnel, discipline, enrollment and safety policies.
- Policy Committee-Before a policy can be created, a committee must be formed to write, review and implement the policy. This committee may be made up of administration, superintendents, school board members, teachers, staff, community members and parents. In most cases, committee members will want to review model policies from other charter schools before beginning the development of their own policies.
- Personnel Policy-Personnel policies should cover a variety of topics, including certification and licensure, employment requirements, discipline and/or dismissal, work schedules, leaves, punctuality, employee grievances, attendance, salaries, nondiscrimination and health and welfare. Each of these subjects should follow any state and/or national regulations, and they should be written out in detail.
- Discipline Policy-A charter school's discipline policy should set clear guidelines for handling discipline, with a detailed listing of offenses and punishments and/or repercussions. This policy should include a policy statement of the goals and mission of the school. It should also list objectives, strategies and outcomes as part of any discipline procedures. A grievance plan should also be a part of the discipline policy. This plan should spell out in detail the course of action parents and/or guardians can take if they want to appeal any child's punishment.
- Enrollment Policy-The enrollment policy of a charter school should clearly explain the application and selection process of students who intend to enroll. In many cases, a school lottery is created when a waiting list is necessary. The lottery allows students, who otherwise were not allowed to enroll due to lack of space, an opportunity to enter the charter school as positions become available. Again, the process of using this school lottery should also be spelled out in the enrollment policy. Recruitment, scholarship opportunities and out-of-district students should also be addressed in the enrollment policy of a charter school.
- Safety Policy-A charter school should also develop a school safety policy that details the goals for providing a safe school and lists the steps that will be taken to ensure the safety of the students. The safety policy should include detailed diagrams of the school, including fire escape routes and storm shelter areas. Mandatory safety training for faculty and staff should be detailed, as well as post assignments for building security throughout the day. The safety policy should also detail the handling of emergencies, such as injuries, hazardous materials, threats and any other safety issues.
Once policies have been created and reviewed, they are ready to be put into place. Administrators and staff should keep in mind, however, that these policies may be a work-in-progress for the next several months and even the first year. Each change that needs to be made should be discussed with the committee before being instituted.