2307 S. Rural Road, Tempe, Arizona 85282 | T: (602) 456-0071

Charter School Legal Services

Legal Services for Charter SchoolsCaritas Law Group advises school leaders and charter management organizations structure and run quality charter schools by providing responsive legal counseling from startup through expansion.

New Schools

For new schools, we work with founders to draft the documents necessary to create a solid legal foundation for the school. We then help founders navigate every step in securing a charter including corporate formation, applying to the IRS for recognition of tax-exempt status, and reviewing and revising the governance section of the application for a new charter to ensure it clearly and accurately reflects the school’s legal structure. The scope of work includes:

1. Preparing and filing Articles of Incorporation that meet the requirements for a 501(c)(3) school;
2. Securing Tax Exempt Status;
3. Drafting Bylaws and governance policies;
4. Drafting Student/Parent Handbooks, including counseling on key decision-points;
5. Policy Drafting for Various School Model Decision Points (Bring Your Own Device Policies, Equal Access Act Policies, and the like);
6. Contract Drafting and Review;
7. Lease Review and Facilities Negotiations;
8. Review of Start-up Grant Applications;
9. Review of the Charter Application and Counseling Throughout the Process;
10. Arizona Open Meeting Law Trainings;
11. Board Governance Trainings; as well as
12. State and Federal Regulatory Compliance.

Existing Schools
We represent existing charter schools in a variety of ways ranging from outside general counsel to representation on just a single issue. For charter schools that we serve as outside general counsel to, it is like having an in-house counsel ready and waiting for all of your nonprofit tax, corporate law and governance, transactional, and school law issues without having to pay another full-time employee. When an issue is not in our wheelhouse, we co-counsel with experts in that particular field of law. Existing school services include:

1. IRS Nonprofit Tax Compliance;
2. Legal Audits;
3. Structuring Transactions;
4. Contract Drafting and Review;
5. Lease Reviews;
6. FERPA, Title IX, Equal Access Act, and other Federal Regulatory Compliance;
7. Arizona Charter School Law Compliance;
8. Arizona State Board for Charter Schools Regulatory Compliance, Including Amendment and Notification Requests;
9. Student/Parent Handbook Review;
10. Policy Drafting for Various School Model Decision Points (Bring Your Own Device Policies, Equal Access Act Policies, and the like);
11. Arizona Open Meeting Law Compliance;
12. Board Governance Trainings; and
13. Governance Dispute Resolution.

Expanding Charter Networks
The point of building a Charter Management Company (CMO) is to reach more students with a proven school model. When excellent charter school operators feel prepared to scale their impact, students win. No two charter school models are the same, and likewise, no two CMO structures are the same. Building a CMO requires a careful analysis of the school’s risk tolerance, assets, desired scale and speed of growth, authorizer attitudes, state law issues, etc. We remain at the forefront of both the corporate law and IRS tax regulations impacting CMOs so the school’s tax-exempt status is not imperiled and its assets are best protected. Expansion services include:

1. Significant Tax Law Counseling on the IRS’ Complex Treatment of CMOs;
2. Risk Tolerance Counseling to Determine which Corporate Structure Best Fits the School’s Needs;
3. Serving as the Liaison with the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools on the Growth Plan;
4. Entity Formation;
5. Securing Tax Exempt Status (if necessary);
6. Drafting Governance Documents;
7. Contract Drafting and Review;
8. Review of the governance section of a New or Replication Charter Application;
9. Drafting Agreements between the Entities, including Employee Sharing Agreements, Licensing Agreements for Intellectual Property, and Service Agreements between the CMO and the school;
10. Counseling on Operating the Structure to Maintain Liability Protection;
11. Counseling on the Expansion’s Impact on Arizona Open Meeting Law; and
12. Ongoing Support Throughout the Expansion Process.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us at 602-456-0071 or contact info@caritaslawgroup.com for information about our services.