Charter Schools Program State Educational Agencies (SEA) Grant
Letter approving Texas Education Agency's request for waivers to meet needs of students displaced by hurricanes
October 18, 2005
Mr. Robert Scott
Chief Deputy Commissioner
Texas Education Agency
1701 North Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78701-1494
Dear Chief Deputy Commissioner Scott:
I am writing in response to the request that you submitted to the U.S. Department of Education for a waiver of certain requirements of the Department's Charter Schools Program (CSP). We are treating your request as a request to amend the Texas Education Agency's (TEA's) approved CSP grant application.
The TEA is a grantee under the CSP and submitted, on September 22, 2005, a request for the Department to exercise its authority under section 9401(b) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), and waive two statutory requirements under the CSP to enable charter schools in the State to meet the immediate educational needs of students displaced as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Specifically, the TEA requests waivers of the following requirements of the ESEA:
Section 5202(d)(1): Your incoming letter incorrectly identified the section that prohibits a charter school from receiving more than one CSP grant from a State as Section 5202(c)(2). The section that makes this prohibition is Section 5202(d)(1). You have requested a waiver of this section in order to allow charter schools that have already received one CSP grant to receive a second one so they can expand significantly their ability and capacity to enroll students displaced as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Section 5202(c)(2)(A)-(B): This section limits CSP grants to a maximum period of three years, no more than 18 months of which may be used for planning and program design and no more than two years of which may be used for the initial implementation of a charter school. You requested this waiver to allow eligible applicants longer planning and implementation periods within the 36-month grant period in order to enroll students displaced as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The Secretary considers this waiver request under Section 5204(e) of the ESEA. Under this section, the Secretary may grant a waiver if: (1) the waiver is requested in an approved application for funds under the CSP; and (2) the Secretary determines that granting the waiver will promote the purposes of the CSP.
The Department approves your request for a waiver of Section 5202(d)(1) to allow eligible applicants that have already received one CSP grant to receive a second grant in order to expand significantly their ability and capacity to enroll students displaced as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This approval authorizes the TEA to award a second CSP grant only to charter schools that will expand significantly to enroll students displaced as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This waiver will apply for the remainder of the TEA's CSP grant.
The Department also approves your request to waive Section 5202(c)(2)(A)-(B) to allow eligible applicants that are awarded a three-year CSP grant to use more than 18 months to plan the charter school and more than two years for the initial implementation of the charter school. This waiver will enable eligible applicants in the State that receive a CSP planning or implementation grant to expand their programs in order to enroll large numbers of students displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This waiver does not extend the three-year grant period and applies only to charter schools serving students displaced as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and only for the remainder of the TEA's CSP grant.
Thank you for the support and care your department has demonstrated for students in the State of Texas displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Please feel free to contact me should you need further assistance.
Nina S. Rees
Assistant Deputy Secretary
for Innovation and Improvement