Washington Charter Elementary School
This Charter outlines the proposal for the creation of a Charter school under the provisions of Assembly Bill 544, The Charter Schools Act of 1998. The purpose of the Charter school is to provide a total educational experience focusing on the “whole child” with high standards of expectations to meet the individual needs of all students.
The staff of Washington Charter School is committed to creating a nurturing environment of cultural cohesiveness where students feel a sense of belonging in a safe and collaborative atmosphere. Everyone is given the opportunity to succeed.
The staff recognizes that all students can learn. We pledge to educate all children and work cooperatively with their parents as we all share the vision of Washington Charter School.
Table of Contents
Washington Charter School Charter Document Sections 1-16
The Washington Charter School (“Washington Charter School” or “Charter School”) will follow any and all federal, state, and local laws and regulations that apply to the Charter School, including but not limited to:
A description of the educational program of the school, designed, among other things, to identify those whom the school is attempting to educate, what it means to be an “educated person” in the century, and how learning best occurs. The goals identified in that program shall include the objective of enabling students to become self-motivated, competent, and life-long learners.
Washington Charter School presently consists of kindergarten through fifth grade students. Our goal is to create an environment that is rich in educational opportunities and will challenge all students to attain excellence. Students will reach their highest potential through a stimulating curriculum and within a nurturing atmosphere. The staff has freedom to develop a program that best meets the needs of the students and focuses on improved performance.
Because learning occurs best when one feels secure, we strive for the following characteristics in the learning environment:
A variety of teaching strategies incorporating multiple intelligences will be used. There will be a strong emphasis on critical thinking skills. Washington Charter School follows the Desert Sands Unified School District adopted master plan for English learners.
To build a strong academic foundation in all curricular areas, Washington Charter School will utilize state, district, and site adopted standards in addition to the California State Frameworks. The staff will continue to revise and refine a comprehensive, long-range plan for all subjects at each grade level. Our educational program reflects the following:
To ensure that learning is relevant and meaningful and that individual needs are met, class sizes are limited to a maximum of 28 students in kindergarten, fourth, and fifth grade. As long as additional funding is forthcoming and Washington Charter School is fiscally solvent, class size in grades 1-3 will remain capped at 20 students. An exception to the cap may be made to maintain a child’s continuing enrollment, to keep in area siblings together at the same school, and to accommodate a family member of a WCS employee. To improve the continuity of student time on task, the current teaching days are realigned into longer teaching blocks to provide increased teacher-student contact time. Four days are lengthened to allow for more comprehensive projects. On Wednesdays, students are released early to allow for grade level articulation and individual planning. The kindergarten instructional day is increased by eliminating their lunch and using that time for instruction. A school lunch is available to kindergarten students who are on the free/reduced lunch program.
Remediation, when needed, takes place in the context of the regular classroom, the reading lab, and may include a before or after-school program. Other alternative programs may be developed as needed. Special education personnel may be used to meet the needs of students identified as special needs and may assist with other “at risk” students identified by the classroom teacher. All state and federal regulations are met regarding special education. The Charter school will remain under the direction of Desert Sands Unified School District Auxiliary Education for special education services.
For students who have been identified as gifted, we provide educational opportunities through a differentiated curriculum in the classroom. Enrichment classes may be offered before or after the regular school day.
Measurable pupil outcomes identified for use by the Charter school.
The desired skills, knowledge, and attitudes we seek to develop are a natural outgrowth of our visions of a life-long learner. These skills and attitudes include a continual self-motivated quest for learning and an ability to think logically, analytically, creatively, and practically. Knowledge should include an understanding of the natural world and a sense of community.
We have established academic standards of excellence at each grade level. Pupil outcomes encompass the following subject areas: language arts, mathematics, social science, science, fine arts, physical education, communication skills, and technology skills.
At each grade level, specific knowledge, skills, and attitudes have been established to determine a child’s readiness to proceed to the next grade level. The school, in its continuous cycle of planning, implementing, and evaluating, will continue to focus on applying school experiences to real life application. Washington Charter School will ensure that its content and performance standards meet or exceed those that have been developed by the State of California or Desert Sands Unified School District.
Before students leave Washington Charter School, we will strive to teach them skills to become:
The method by which student progress in meeting those student outcomes is to be measured.
Methods of assessing a student’s progress in meeting our school’s goals (skills, knowledge, and attitudes) will vary in style and complexity with the developmental age of the student. Both objective and subjective evaluation will be utilized. Excellence will be modeled and encouraged.
Student progress will be assessed through a variety of means:
Students not meeting grade level standards may be referred to a student support team. Those students in grades K-5 not meeting grade level standards will be offered additional support and intervention. Failure to meet grade level standards may result in retention.
The Charter school shall meet all statewide standards and conduct the pupil assessments required pursuant to Education Code section 60605 and any other statewide standards authorized in statute or pupil assessments applicable to pupil’s non-charter public schools.
Accountability will be accomplished through student assessment methods described above and charting student progress against the pupil outcomes identified by the Charter school staff and administration.
The governance structure of the school, including, but not limited to, the process to be followed by the school to ensure parental involvement.
According to the Charter School Act as amended, the Charter school shall be deemed to be under the oversight of the Desert Sands Unified School District Board of Education, with the school no longer being subject to the daily operational supervision of the governing agency. The governance decision-making process at Washington Charter School will be decentralized. The Charter Board will be the primary decision making body at the school, responsible for approving all major decisions effecting the program and personnel at Washington Charter School. Day to day operational decisions will continue to be made by the principal of the school.
Washington Charter School will be governed by a Charter Board consisting of five certificated staff members, five parents ,one classified employee, one community member, and the principal. Parents will be elected to the board by a general election, the staff will elect staff representatives; and the Charter Board will appoint the community member. Board members will serve for two consecutive years, with approximately half the board being new members each year. Members shall not be paid. All meetings will be open to the public. The voting members are five certificated staff members, five parents, one classified member, and the principal. Non-voting members shall be the school counselor, the deputy principal/business director, and the community member.
The Washington Board will:
A Charter Leadership Team, with representation from each grade level and department, will facilitate the development and implementation of the academic goals of the Charter. They will report to the staff. The principal will act as the liaison between staff, leadership team, and the charter board.
The qualifications to be met by individuals to be employed by the school.
The Washington School staff has shown, and will continue to show, a high level of commitment to all areas of instruction as demonstrated by the participation in before and after-school programs, workshop attendance, the realignment of prep times, staff in-service participation, etc. The staff is willing to be responsible for developing and implementing the learning program at the school site.
A. Qualifications of certificated employees:
B. Qualifications of the Administrator/Principal:
C. Qualifications of the Director of Business/Curriculum, and Deputy Principal:
D. Qualifications of Classified Employees:
Note: All positions, which were classified at the inception
of the Charter at Washington Charter School (except for
the night custodian), will remain classified positions. These
positions are listed below:
1. Daytime Custodian
2. Administrative Assistant
3. Office Technician
4. Library Media Technician
5. Bilingual Para-educator
6. Accounting Specialist
Note: Charter school employees are those individuals directly hired by the Charter who are not on loan from the District. These positions are specially designated to fulfill job responsibilities unique to the needs of the Charter school.
The procedures that the school will follow to ensure the health and safety of pupils and staff. These procedures shall include the requirement that each employee of the school furnish the school with a criminal record summary as described in Section 44237.
Washington Charter School will continue to adhere to district policies regarding safety and health.
Washington Charter School has a Safe School Plan and Disaster Plan, which address:
These plans are amended and updated on an annual basis.
Washington Charter School and district will continue to require that employees of the school furnish the district with a criminal summary as described in section 44237 of the Education Code.
The means by which the school will achieve a racial and ethnic balance among its pupils that is reflective of the general population residing within the territorial jurisdiction of the school district to which the charter petition is submitted.
Washington Charter School will achieve a racial and ethnic balance among its pupils that is reflective of the local community population. The population that our school serves is determined by boundaries drawn in 1994 by Desert Sands Unified School District. Students who meet the admission requirements will be admitted regardless of ethnicity, national origin, creed, gender, or disability. The school will be non-sectarian and tuition free.
Admission requirements, if applicable.
Admission to Washington Charter School is open to all students. The Charter School shall not discriminate on the basis of the characteristics listed in Education Code Section 220 (actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic that is contained in the definition of hate crimes set forth in Section 422.55 of the Penal Code or association with an individual who has any of the aforementioned characteristics). Admission requires a commitment from both parents and students to meet the goals, objectives, and mission of the school, as set forth in the school handbook. This will be explained in the Charter Intake Meeting that takes place prior to admission. All parents and students enrolled at Washington Charter School agree to sign and abide by the provisions contained in the Shared Support Agreement. Each spring, families will sign the Shared Support Agreement. Non-compliant families who fail to meet their Charter obligations in the shared support agreement may be asked to enroll their child in another school
Kindergarten students are required to be five years old by December 2nd. Applicants with birthdays between September 1st and December 1st shall be given a kindergarten readiness test. The parents/guardians of those students, whose scores indicate a lack of readiness for Kindergarten, have the following options:
In the case there are more applicants than available capacity, admission to Washington Charter School, except for existing students, shall be determined by public random drawing (“lottery”). Preference in the public random drawing is provided as listed by the following priorities:
1. Siblings of currently enrolled students residing within Washington Charter
School attendance area.
2. Students who reside in the Washington Charter School attendance area.
3. Child related to an employee of Washington Charter School.
4. Siblings of currently enrolled students residing out of the Washington Charter
School attendance area, but within Desert Sands Unified School District
5. Siblings of currently enrolled students who reside out of the Desert Sands
Unified School District attendance area.
6. Students who reside out of attendance area, but within Desert Sands Unified
School District attendance area.
7. Students who reside out of the Desert Sands Unified School District attendance
In accordance with the above policy, a list of names and grade levels of children indicating a desire to attend Washington Charter School will be maintained by personnel in the school office. Public lotteries will be held each June. After the lottery, any student who is placed on the waiting list will go after the last lottery name by date. The lists will be updated as needed. When an opening becomes available in a classroom at Washington Charter School, it will be filled in accordance with the admission policy.
The manner in which an annual audit of the financial and programmatic operations of the school is to be conducted.
The Desert Sands Unified School District external auditors accounting office will conduct an annual audit of financial records of Washington Charter School. The audit will be conducted in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. Audit exceptions and deficiencies shall be resolved to the satisfaction of the Charter Board and the Desert Sands Board of Education within a reasonable amount of time. Services may be contracted to maintain financial records and reports. An on-site business director will keep up-to-date budget reports. Monthly reports of business transactions will be provided to the Washington Charter School Governing Board, and written reports will be submitted to Desert Sands Unified School District Board of Education.
An ongoing program review will be conducted by the Charter Board to improve the academic program and to insure compliance with all requirements of the Charter. The results of the financial and programmatic audit will be submitted annually to the Washington Charter School Governing Board and to the Desert Sands Unified School District Board of Education. Material revisions of the Charter may be made only with the Desert Sands Unified School District Board of Education’s approval. (ED code 47607(a) (1).)
The procedures by which pupils can be suspended or expelled.
Expulsions defined by the Education Code Section 48900 et.seq will be referred to the Desert Sands Unified School District Board of Education for a hearing, in accordance with current district policy.
Any suspensions of pupils at Washington Charter School will be administered according to Education Code Section 48900 et.seq by the administrator.
A student may also be excluded from attending Washington Charter School for a violation of the shared support agreement. Discipline or shared support agreement hearings will be held at Washington Charter School for students and families not adhering to the Shared Support Agreement. The hearing panel may recommend to the Washington Charter School Governing Board that a student be excluded from Washington Charter School. These recommendations will be a final step after numerous interventions have been attempted. A governing board policy is in place and is shared with parents with regard to appealing the panel decision. At its next scheduled board meeting, the Governing Board will listen to a presentation from the principal indicating why he feels the student and/or family has violated the Shared Support Agreement. The family and/or student may also make a presentation. The board will be able to question either side or witnesses. The board will then go into closed session to deliberate. Upon resuming an open session, the board will report its decision.
The manner by which staff members of the Charter School will be covered by the State Teachers’ Retirement System, the Public Employees’ Retirement System, and/or federal social security.
Staff members of Washington Charter School will be covered by the State Teachers’ Retirement System, the Public Employees’ Retirement System, and/or federal social security as appropriate. The accounting procedures to implement this will be handled through the payroll department of the Desert Sands Unified School District or other contracted financial agencies.
The public school attendance alternatives for pupils residing within the
school district who choose not to attend the Charter School.
The public school attendance alternatives for pupils residing within the school district that choose not to attend or who do not meet admission requirements for Washington Charter School will be able to attend other district schools. The Child Welfare and Attendance office will make decisions on the placement of children who reside in the Washington Charter School attendance area but choose not to attend. Transportation costs for these pupils will be borne by the parents.
Parents will provide transportation for pupils residing outside of the Washington Charter School attendance area at no expense to the school. Students who reside in the Washington Charter School attendance area may be eligible for transportation as provided by district policy.
Students who reside in the Washington Charter School attendance area who cannot attend due to lack of space will be transported to another school in Palm Desert.
A description of the rights of any employee of the school district upon leaving the employment of the school district to work in a Charter school and of any rights of return to the school district after employment at a Charter school.
With the exception of employees hired solely by the Charter School per Section 5 above, all other employees working at the Charter School will be on-loan from the District to the Charter School pursuant to an on-loan agreement.
All certificated employees on loan from the Desert Sands Unified School District to Washington Charter School shall be guaranteed return rights under the Desert Sands Unified School District transfer policy. They will have seniority rights and step and column placement as per years of service. All other credentialed Charter School employees at Washington Charter School who have satisfactory evaluations will be afforded the same return rights as earlier stated.
Classified employees on loan from the District to the Charter School will be granted all of the rights currently provided for in Board of Education policy and the CSEA contract. They shall be granted return rights under the Desert Sands Unified School District transfer policy. Such employees will have seniority rights and step and column placement as per years of service.
The Charter School shall serve as the public school employer pursuant to the Educational Employment Relations Act (“EERA”). As such, for example, should the District implement a reduction in force (layoff) such action would not include employees working at the Charter School.
With regard to the District employees on loan to the Charter School, the Charter School will comply with the provisions of the respective bargaining unit agreements for District employees as amended as provided below to address unique or special needs of the Charter School. When special needs of the school indicate different contractual needs; the certificated or classified staff as applicable may agree by 75% vote to alter or waive certain contract issues and merit system rules. Washington Charter School will maintain liability, and other insurances under Desert Sands Unified School District. A DSTA and CSEA building representation may remain active if applicable. Voting on all issues will be done by confidential ballot. Notification of a vote will be given at least 24 hours in advance. Voting will be tallied and results will be posted.
Dispute resolution procedures for resolving disputes between the Charter School and the sponsoring district.
Washington Charter School will try to resolve any disputes relating to provisions of the Charter that may occur at the site level. The Desert Sands Unified District Board and/or administration will first refer all complaints regarding the Charter School’s operations and/or compliance with the Charter to the principal for resolution in accordance with the school’s policies. If there is no successful resolution and if the matter is related to non-compliance with the Charter and/or possible revocation of the Charter, the principal will meet with the Charter School’s Governing Board to resolve the issues. If still unresolved, the principal will meet with a designated district representative to resolve the issues. If there is still no resolution, the parties will engage the services of an independent mediation service to facilitate resolution. The cost of such services will be borne equally by the District and Charter School. If mediation efforts fail, the Desert Sands Unified School District Board of Education will proceed with appropriate action and/or directive. The Charter School and the district agree to utilize their best efforts to seek acceptable resolutions at the earliest possible stage of this process.
The Charter School shall serve as the public school employer pursuant to the Educational Employment Relations Act (“EERA”). The Desert Sands Teachers Association (DSTA) is currently recognized as the exclusive bargaining representative for classroom teachers and other certificated employees on loan from the District to Washington Charter School.
The California School Employees Association (CSEA) is currently recognized as the exclusive bargaining representative for classified employees on loan from the District to Washington Charter School.
Binding contracts with CSEA and DSTA are mutually agreed upon and signed by all parties. These contracts are available for viewing upon request.
A description of the procedures to be used if the charter school closes, The procedures shall ensure a final audit of the school to determine the disposition of all assets and liabilities of the school, including plans for disposing of any net assets and for the maintenance and transfer of pupil records. (Education Code Section 47605(b)(5)(P))
Closure of the Charter School will be documented by official action of the Board of The Charter School and the District Board of Education. The action will identify the reason for closure. The official action will also identify the District as the entity responsible for closure-related activities, and will appoint a person or persons responsible for closure activities.
The Board of The Charter School will promptly notify parents and students of the Charter School, the District, the Riverside County Office of Education, the Charter School’s SELPA, the retirement systems in which the Charter School’s employees participate (e.g., Public Employees’ Retirement System, State Teachers’ Retirement System, and federal social security), and the California Department of Education of the closure as well as the effective date of the closure. This notice will also include the name(s) of and contact information for the person(s) to whom reasonable inquiries may be made regarding the closure; the pupils’ school districts of residence; and the manner in which parents/guardians may obtain copies of pupil records, including specific information on completed courses and credits that meet graduation requirements.
The Board will ensure that the notification to the parents and students of the Charter School of the closure provides information to assist parents and students in locating suitable alternative programs. This notice will be provided promptly following the Board's decision to close the Charter School.
The Board will also develop a list of pupils in each grade level and the classes they have completed, together with information on the pupils’ districts of residence, which they will provide to the District and person or persons responsible for closure-related activities.
As applicable, the Charter School will provide parents, students and the District with copies of all appropriate student records and will otherwise assist students in transferring to their next school. All transfers of student records will be made in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) 20 U.S.C. § 1232g. The Charter School will ask the District to store original records of Charter School students. All records of the Charter School shall be transferred to the District upon Charter School closure.
All state assessment results, special education records, and personnel records will be transferred to and maintained by the District as the entity responsible for closure-related activities in accordance with applicable law.
As soon as reasonably practical, the District will prepare final financial records. The District will also have an independent audit completed within six months after closure. The District will pay for the final audit out of the Charter School’s funds . The audit will be prepared by a qualified Certified Public Accountant selected by the Charter School and will be provided to the District promptly upon its completion. The final audit will include an accounting of all financial assets, including cash and accounts receivable and an inventory of property, equipment, and other items of material value, an accounting of the liabilities, including accounts payable and any reduction in apportionments as a result of audit findings or other investigations, loans, and unpaid staff compensation, and an assessment of the disposition of any restricted funds received by or due to the Charter School.
The District will complete and file any annual reports required pursuant to Education Code section 47604.33.
On closure of the Charter School, all assets of the Charter School, including but not limited to all leaseholds, personal property, intellectual property and all ADA apportionments and other revenues generated by students attending the Charter School, shall be retained by the District. The distribution shall include return of any grant funds and restricted categorical funds to their source in accordance with the terms of the grant or state and federal law, as appropriate, which may include submission of final expenditure reports for entitlement grants and the filing of any required Final Expenditure Reports and Final Performance Reports, as well as the return of any donated materials and property in accordance with any conditions established when the donation of such materials or property was accepted.
Other Conditions and Provisions
It is requested that the term of the Charter be renewed for a period of five (5) years commencing
Cancellation by the Desert Sands Unified School district Board Of Education:
Desert Sands Unified School District Board of Education may not revoke the Charter without due process in accordance with Education Code Section 47607 and the provisions described herein. Written notification regarding fiscal/academic concerns shall be presented to the Washington Charter School Governing Board. The Desert Sands Unified School District and the Washington Charter School Governing Board will mutually agree upon a reasonable time line by which to remedy perceived problems. Should Desert Sands Unified School District and the Washington Charter School Governing Board be unable to mutually agree that problems exist or that problems have been corrected, Desert Sands Unified School District and the Washington Charter School Governing Board shall seek mediation.
If the Desert Sands Unified School District Board of Education believes it has grounds to cancel the Charter, it shall follow the procedures set forth in Section 14 above, and Education Code Section 47607, including but not limited to first providing the Charter School with an opportunity to cure the defect except as hereafter provided.
If the Desert Sands Unified School District Board of Education determines in writing that a Charter violation constitutes a severe and imminent threat to the health or safety of pupils, it may revoke the Charter without following the procedures set forth in Section 14 above and without issuing a notice and opportunity to cure as described in Education Code Section 47607.
If 75% of the combined certificated and classified staff at Washington Charter School votes to terminate the Charter agreement by June of each year, the Charter will be canceled.
Amendment of the Charter:
The Charter may be amended by a 75% vote of the certificated and/or classified staff and approved by the Washington Charter School Governing Board. Material revisions to the charter will require approval of the Desert Sands Unified School District Board of Education.
Starting in the 2001/2002 school year, Washington Charter School has been funded under the local block grant funding model in accordance with AB544. All funds generated by Washington Charter School students for special education will remain with the district. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is in place between Washington Charter School (WCS) and Desert Sands Unified School District (DSUSD) in which WCS pays its fair share (per ADA) of the DSUSD encroachment for special education services.
The Charter school may pursue procurement of additional revenues through a variety of alternatives such as fund-raising, grants, partnerships, and donations.
The Charter school allocates its funds to decentralize the budgeting process and to refine the efficiency of management. This allows a more direct use of its revenues. The school may choose to contract for services outside the district. The district will encumber all employee salaries and connected expenses or other contracted financial agencies.
The Charter school will operate within its allocated funds. Washington Charter School will maintain an operational reserve of at least four percent of its total operational budget.
Washington Charter School may contract with Desert Sands Unified School District to provide legal services, liability insurance, Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA), transportation, and nutrition services. To refine the management process, the Charter school will operate outside the existing district structure and may choose to contract with agencies outside Desert Sands Unified School District.
An MOU between WCS and DSUSD will be written and signed annually regarding the following DSUSD departments.
Both parties must agree to the provisions of the MOU. A charge cannot be affixed to Washington Charter School without approval of administration and/or the Washington Charter School Governing Board.
Washington Charter School will maintain the following:
In addition, Washington Charter School shall secure and maintain the following coverages:
Unless otherwise negotiated, Certificated, classified, and administrative salaries for District employees on loan to the Charter School will remain aligned with salary scales established by the district. The initial salary placement of the principal shall be at a level equivalent to Step 30. The initial placement of the deputy principal/business director will be at Step 28.