Charter Schools

A known leader in this complex field, Dannis Woliver Kelley provides vigorous advocacy of school districts, county offices of education, Special Education Local Plan Areas and other affected agencies with regard to the legal compliance, transparency and accountability issues created by charter schools in California.  Unlike other education law firms, DWK prides itself on representing only charter authorizers, to ensure that its representation remains consistent with its clients’ needs and is free from influences created by representing charter schools.  Whether an authorizer needs help dealing with the coordinated network of charter school advocacy groups, a charter management organization, a single charter school or petition, or the individual needs or complaints of a charter school student, DWK assists authorizers in holding charter schools accountable for meeting requirements of state and federal law, achieving the educational improvement the law requires, preserving taxpayer funds and promoting the interests of authorizers in light of increasingly unfavorable laws.

Petition Review and Assessment

  • Advise potential authorizers on the legal requirements governing the charter review and approval process
  • Review the legal sufficiency of charter school petitions in all areas including students, personnel, governance, facilities, special education, and business
  • Build oversight mechanisms directly into the charter that best position the authorizer to enforce the terms of the charter on an ongoing basis
  • Provide recommendations for denying charter schools that do not meet statutory standards
  • Work with authorizer staff to prepare written findings to support a denial
  • Assist authorizers on whether, and on what terms to renew a charter school
  • Ensure that only the most operationally sound and legally compliant charter proposals are approved

Operational Guidance

  • Provide the full array of assistance in advising the authorizer as the charter school begins to plan its operations, including Board training, Board policies, and charter compliance
  • Prepare strong operating agreements that provide the authorizer with tools to ensure it is able to meet legal oversight requirements
  • Analyze and review operational problems, compliance questions, fiscal improprieties, and develop remedies and approaches for an authorizer when problems arise during the charter term
  • Consult on locating and securing facilities, complying with special education requirements, and setting up required legal protection for the school district providing the facility, whether or not it is the charter school’s authorizer.

Facilities Requests and Compliance

  • Assist in analyzing and responding to facilities requests, developing use agreements, and monitoring compliance with facilities requirements during the charter term
  • Assist in negotiating alternative approaches to meeting Proposition 39 requirements to accommodate the school district’s facilities situation
  • Aid school districts in understanding the debt finance tools and practices used by charter schools to fund facilities needs

Oversight, Investigation and Revocation

  • Advise authorizers on their legally required supervisory and oversight responsibilities
  • Investigate alleged non-compliant conduct and work with law enforcement and administrative agencies to address illegal practices
  • Instruct authorizers on how to enforce the terms of the charter
  • Assist in identifying and resolving problems in order to maintain a charter school’s operation and avoid revocation
  • Where revocation is necessary, help the authorizer conduct revocation proceedings in compliance with applicable law
  • Litigation support services, as needed


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