Legal responsibilities of charter school board members.

Developing a sound charter school governance and leadership relationship is critical for smooth operations. Charter school boards and school leadership teams should strengthen and protect their relationship by committing to a common set of guidelines for handling predictable challenges. By talking about issues and potential problems in advance of actually facing them, the team will increase the likelihood that it will make better decisions, and it will minimize the potential erosion of trust and confidence in one another.

In a relaxed or retreat setting, charter school governing boards and school leaders should analyze numerous situations and chart the actions that they believe will best serve their school. For example, boards and leadership teams could review numerous scenarios, project various ways to react to those specific circumstances, and delineate the intended and unintended consequences to each reaction. Based on this analysis, the board and school leadership team can agree on the steps that they feel will best serve the school.

The following list provides a small sample of the topics that should be discussed by charter school board and leadership teams as protocols are developed:

  1. How do we expect one another to handle situations when employees attempt to circumvent the chain-of-command?
  2. How should we handle disruptive visitors at the school board meetings?
  3. What is the process for including topics on the agenda for board discussion or resolution? Will the board permit items to be added to the agenda during the board meeting?
  4. What criteria do we expect to be considered when budget cuts must be made?
  5. What should we do when our school leader or individual board members do not want to support a majority decision of the full board?
  6. How should board members solicit information from staff members?
  7. What are the best communication strategies for the school leadership to present complex issues prior to requesting a vote from the board members?
  8. Will the board members sign commitment statements, and will the board hold its members accountable?

The charter school board and leadership teams should discuss these questions and others when developing protocols for handling situations that they may ultimately face. The team members should formally agree to the standards, reduce them to writing, and sign the document signifying the commitment. Additionally, the team members should identify, in advance, what actions will be taken when members do not comply with approved protocol.

If your board would like additional information on this important topic, please contact Yvonne Adkins at

This article is published by Yvonne Adkins of Adkins & Company, a Kentucky based consulting group. We position charter schools for success by providing access to high quality services and expertise for boards, operators and authorizers.

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