Complaints/Grievances Against Charter Schools
Resolving Complaints “Informally”
Often, issues or complaints can be resolved informally between the complainant and the charter school, and do not need to involve the formal complaint process described below. Where appropriate, you may wish to use this more informal approach, which may result in a more timely resolution of the issue and which is also suited to dealing with issues that do not involve a violation of the charter or law. Even issues involving a violation of the law or charter may be able to resolved informally and you may wish to use this avenue before making a formal complaint (though the School cannot require you to do so and using any informal route the School may have does not prevent you from using the formal complaint process later). In the case of schools for which the Board of Regents is the Charter Entity/Authorizer, the Charter Schools Office would be happy to work with you in trying to resolve your complaint informally. In the case of schools authorized by other Charter Entities, you should contact the appropriate Charter Entity for assistance in resolving your complaint informally.
Formal Complaint Process
Section 2855 (4) of the NYS Charter Schools Act provides a formal complaint process for use by individuals (including parents) or groups who believe that a charter school has violated a term of its charter, a provision of the NYS Charter Schools Act, or any other provision of law relating to the management or operation of the charter school. That process requires that the complaint be brought first to the School’s board of trustees (or its designee as described in the School’s complaint/grievance policy). The charter school is required to provide you with a copy of its complaint/grievance policy upon request.
If, after making your complaint to the School’s board of trustees, you believe that the board of trustees has not adequately addressed your complaint, or if, after a reasonable period of time, the board of trustees or its designee does not respond to your complaint in writing - or does not respond within the time that the School provides in its formal complaint/grievance policy - you then have the right to bring your complaint to the entity that authorized the charter school (the “Charter Entity” or “Authorizer”), which will be one of the following entities: the NYS Board of Regents, the Trustees of the State University of New York (SUNY), the Chancellor of the NYC Department of Education, or the Buffalo Board of Education. (Please refer to the Charter Schools Directory to identify the Charter Entity/Authorizer for each school.) Charter Entities/Authorizers have their own guidelines for filing complaints and you should check their web sites (below) or contact them directly for information about their complaint processes:
Trustees of the State University of New York (SUNY):
Contact the SUNY Charter Schools Institute
Chancellor of the NYCDOE:
For information about filing a complaint with the NYC-DOE, please see this document.
Buffalo Board of Education:
For information about filing a complaint with the Buffalo Board of Education concerning the charter schools that it authorizes please contact the Buffalo Board of Education directly at 716-816-3500.
If, after first following the complaint process with the School and the School’s Charter Entity/Authorizer, you believe that the Charter Entity/Authorizer has not adequately addressed your complaint, you may then bring your complaint to the NYS Board of Regents following the process described below. Please note that, in the case of schools that are not authorized by the NYS Board of Regents, the law requires that you bring your complaint to the School’s board of trustees and then to the Charter Entity/Authorizer before bringing it to the Board of Regents.
In the case of schools that are authorized by the Board of Regents, you must first bring your complaint to the School’s board of trustees and then to the Regents as the Charter Entity following the process described below.
Bringing a Complaint to the Board of Regents
The Board of Regents has delegated the authority to the Commissioner of Education to handle complaints brought to the Regents concerning charter schools. All complaints brought to the Board of Regents/Commissioner concerning charter schools must be submitted in writing to the State Education Department’s Charter School Office, either via mail at: Charter School Office, NYS Education Department, 89 Washington Avenue, Room 5N Mezz, Albany, NY 12234, or via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org The subject line of the email should read: Complaint: [Name of School].
The contents of the letter/email should include:
- A detailed statement of the complaint including the provision of the School’s charter or law that you allege has been violated.
- What, if any, response you received from the School’s board of trustees (and the School’s Charter Entity in the case of schools not authorized by the Board of Regents).
- Copies of all relevant correspondence between you and the School and you and the Charter Entity if applicable. (You should maintain copies of all correspondence and materials for your own files.)
- What specific action or relief you are seeking.
- Contact information for you – name, address, email address, telephone number.
Investigation of a Complaint brought to the Board of Regents
The Charter School Office, on behalf of the Commissioner and the Board of Regents, will conduct any investigation that it determines necessary and appropriate regarding complaints that have been appropriately filed concerning charter schools. This investigation may include contacting the School and the relevant Charter Entity concerning the complaint, providing a copy of the complaint to the School and the Charter Entity, and requesting additional information or materials from you and/or the School.
Upon completion of the investigation of a complaint brought to the Board of Regents, a decision will be issued by the Commissioner, which may include a remedial order as appropriate. A copy of the Commissioner’s decision will be provided to you, the School and the Charter Entity as applicable.