115C-75.9. (See editor's note for contingency) Management of achievement schools.

(a) Direct Management by AS Operator. - An achievement school shall be subject to direct management by an AS operator selected by the State Board of Education, upon the recommendation of the ASD Superintendent, for a five-year contract.

(b) Role of AS Operator. - The AS operator shall be authorized to have a direct role in making decisions about school finance, human capital, and curriculum and instruction for the achievement school while developing the leadership capacity in such schools.

(c) Assignment to Achievement Schools. - All achievement schools shall remain open to enrollment in the same manner with the same attendance zone as prior to becoming an achievement school. If a local board of education's reassignment of students within the local school administrative unit due to student population changes or openings or closures of other schools impacts the achievement school, the AS operator may appeal to the ASD Superintendent and request a hearing before the State Board of Education regarding the reassignment. Notwithstanding G.S. 115C-366, the State Board of Education shall, after hearing from both the local board of education and AS operator, determine whether the reassignment of students impacting the achievement school may proceed.

(d) Facility and Capital Expenditures. - Facility and capital expenditures shall be provided as follows:

(1) In addition to the transfer of funds as provided in G.S. 115C-75.10, the local board of education shall be responsible for facility and capital expenditures at the qualifying school.

(2) All AS operators and local boards of education shall enter into an occupancy agreement establishing the terms of occupancy for the AS operator not otherwise addressed in statute. If the parties are unable to reach agreement, either party may petition the State Board of Education to resolve any issues in dispute.

(3) The AS operator shall have first priority in use of the facility for any purpose related to the operation of the achievement school. The local board of education may allow use of the facility by governmental, charitable, civic, or other organizations for activities within the community and may retain any funds received for such use for any time the AS operator has not provided written notice to the local board of its use of the facility during that time for a purpose related to the operation of the achievement school.

For the purposes of this subsection, facility and capital expenditures include routine maintenance and repair, and capital expenditures include building repair and maintenance, furniture, furnishings, and equipment.

(e) Transportation. - The local board of education shall provide transportation of all students assigned to the achievement school in the same manner as provided for other schools in the local school administrative unit in that school year.

(f) Memorandums of Understanding for Alternate Arrangements. - Notwithstanding this section, the AS operator, in consultation with the ASD Superintendent, may elect to enter into a memorandum of understanding for alternate arrangements with the local board of education to address any of the following:

(1) Facility and capital expenditures.

(2) Transportation services.

(3) Services for Children with Disabilities.

If the AS operator elects to use a memorandum of understanding for alternate arrangements, the AS operator and local board of education shall finalize the memorandum of understanding within 30 days of the initial request by the AS operator. If the parties have not completed the memorandum of understanding within 30 days, the State Board of Education shall resolve any issues in dispute.

(g) Student Records. - The local board of education shall make available in a timely fashion all student records to the achievement school at no cost for all students of that school.

(h) Achievement School Employees. - The AS operator shall select and hire the school principal for an achievement school. Within the limits of the school budget, the AS operator or its designee shall select staff members in accordance with guidance from the ASD Superintendent. Before finalizing staffing recommendations, the AS operator and the ASD Superintendent or the Superintendent's designee shall interview all existing staff members at the qualifying school and review student growth and performance data for those staff members for whom it is available. Notwithstanding Article 21A of this Chapter, the AS operator and the ASD Superintendent shall be permitted to examine personnel files of existing staff members for the qualifying school. The AS operator shall have the authority to decide whether any administrator, teacher, or staff member previously assigned to a qualifying school selected to become an achievement school shall continue as an employee of the achievement school. Any such employees retained shall become employees of the ASD. An employee hired to work in an achievement school shall be an employee of the ASD, and the employees shall be under the exclusive control of the ASD. All employees of the ASD shall be eligible for enrollment in the Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System of North Carolina, the State Health Plan, and other benefits available to State employees. The AS operator shall provide funds to the ASD in an amount sufficient to provide salary and benefits for employees of the ASD working in the achievement school based on the terms of employment established by the AS operator.

(i) Criminal History Checks. - The State Board of Education shall require applicants for employment with the ASD to be checked for criminal histories using the process provided in G.S. 115C-297.1. The State Board of Education shall provide the criminal history it receives to the ASD Superintendent and AS operator.

(j) Employees of Local Board of Education. - The transfer of a qualifying school shall be deemed a reorganization of the local school administration unit resulting in a reduction in force. If an employee is not given the option to continue as an employee for the achievement school, the local board of education may, in its discretion, do any of the following:

(1) Continue the employee's employment with the local board of education.

(2) Dismiss the employee due to a reduction in force as provided in Article 22 of this Chapter.

(3) Dismiss the employee as otherwise provided in Article 22 of this Chapter.

(k) Liability Insurance. - The AS operator shall maintain reasonable amounts and types of liability insurance as established by the State Board of Education. No civil liability shall attach to a local board of education or to any of its members or employees, individually or collectively, for any acts or omissions of the AS operator.

(l) School Nutrition Program. - The achievement school shall participate in the National School Lunch Program, as provided in G.S. 115C-264.

(m) Cooperation with ASD Superintendent. - The local board of education shall cooperate with the ASD Superintendent in carrying out his or her powers and duties as necessary in accordance with this Chapter. (2016-110, s. 1.)