Where to Submit An Application to Establish a Single District Charter School

The Court explained in West Chester Area School District v. Collegium Charter School, 760 A.2d 452, 462 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2000) (Collegium I), affirmed, 571 Pa. 503, 812 A.2d 1172 (2002): The Charter School Law (CSL) provides two possibilities for creating a charter school. Under section 1717-A of the CSL, an application to establish a single district charter school shall be submitted to the local board of school directors of the district where the charter school will be located, 24 P.S. 17-1717-A(c), and that local board shall evaluate and grant or deny the application. 24 P.S. 17-1717-A(e). Alternatively, under section 1718-A of the CSL, a multi-district regional charter school may be established, and the boards of school directors of one or more school districts may act jointly to receive and consider an application for a regional charter school. The applicant applies for a charter to the board of directors of any school district in which the charter school will be located. 24 P.S. 17-1718-A(b). In West Chester Area School District v. Collegium Charter School, 760 A.2d 452, 462 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2000), the Court rejected the contention that a charter school applicant must apply for a regional charter when it intended to draw its student body from more than one school district. On appeal, our Supreme Court affirmed, even though the non-chartering school district would not be able to vote on the application and would lack authority to use the accountability methods provided to the chartering school district by the Charter School Law (CSL). In reaching this conclusion, our Supreme Court acknowledged that "this statutory procedure may result in the non-chartering school district incurring financial obligations to the charter school when it has no control over the decisions being made on behalf of the charter school," but determined that this concern was properly directed to the General Assembly. West Chester Area Sch. Dist. v. Collegium Charter Sch. (Collegium II), 571 Pa. 503, 521, 812 A.2d 1172, 1183 (2002). The Court further noted that "the CSL unquestionably directs the applicant to file the charter school application in the district where the facility is to be located and grants accountability over the charter school only to the chartering school district." Id. at 521-22, 812 A.2d at 1183. The Supreme Court essentially adopted our language in Collegium I when it reiterated: Unless the charter school will be located in more than one school district, which is not the case here, the CSL does not set forth any particular set of circumstances that would require a charter school applicant to apply as a multi-district regional charter school rather than a single district charter school. Instead, the CSL leaves that choice completely up to the applicant, regardless of the anticipated geographic makeup of the student body. Id. at 523, 812 A.2d at 1184 (quoting Collegium I, 760 A.2d at 463).