SE Webinar: CMOs, Authorizers, and the Charter Schools Program
Facilitator: Nelson Smith, Independent Consultant with Authorizing Background
- Alison Bagg, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
- Alex Medler, National Charter School Resource Center
- Marco Petruzzi, Green Dot Public Schools
- Naomi Rubin DeVeaux, DC Public Charter School Board
Description: A growing proportion of charter schools belong to non-profit networks of schools, referred to as Charter Management Organizations (CMOs). This webinar introduced issues that arise for CMOs, state entities administering Charter Schools Program (CSP) grants, and charter school authorizers. States are working to support the replication and expansion of high-performing networks while also responding to concerns about CMO governance and oversight raised by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Inspector General (OIG) and other observers. This webinar also addressed issues involved in CMO governance oversight and gave participants a chance to discuss issues raised by the OIG and others.
States provide funding to schools and create technical assistance and support systems. These state efforts create both opportunities and challenges in supporting CMO growth while strengthening oversight and governance. CMOs and other stakeholders are equally interested in ensuring they can access resources and operate their schools effectively and efficiently, while honoring obligations of public school governance. An expert panel, followed by an interactive discussion, addressed financial oversight and governance. This included the role of non-profit organizations that receive their charter from their authorizer and then contract with management organizations to operate their school as well as schools run by CMOs that receive their charter directly from the authorizer.
The webinar began with a brief presentation of findings from the OIG and guiding principles for public governance. Following a panel discussion with presenters, participants then joined the conversation, adding their conclusions, questions, and observations. Participants learned about hopes and concerns as well as strategies and plans for future work in this area. The webinar included dedicated time for all participants to provide input and advice to the Department on these issues.