115C-75.7. Selection of innovative schools.

(a) State Board Selection. - The State Board of Education is authorized to select, upon the recommendation of the ISD Superintendent, no more than five qualifying elementary schools to transfer to the ISD as innovative schools. The five qualifying schools selected for inclusion in the ISD should represent geographic diversity, including urban and rural schools. The State Board of Education shall select no more than one qualifying school per local school administrative unit, unless the local board of education consents.

(b) Selection Process. - The selection of qualifying schools shall be based on an analysis of performance over the most recent three-year period. Prior to recommendation of selection of a qualifying school, the ISD Superintendent shall conduct an evaluation of the school to determine the factors contributing to the school's performance and shall confer with the school principal, local board of education members, the local school superintendent, and the local board of county commissioners to share the findings of the evaluation. The school selection process shall also include a public hearing to allow for parent and community input. The ISD Superintendent shall evaluate and identify the qualifying schools to recommend for selection as prospective innovative schools no later than October 15 prior to the initial school year in which the school may operate as an innovative school and shall notify the local boards of education where prospective innovative schools are located by that date. The State Board of Education shall select the prospective innovative schools no later than December 15.

(c) Local Board Response. - Upon notification by the ISD Superintendent of selection by the State Board of Education of the qualifying school as a prospective innovative school, the local board of education shall determine whether to (i) close the selected qualifying school or (ii) transfer the school into the ISD. The local board shall not be required to undertake the study required by G.S. 115C-72 before closing the school. Before the adoption of a resolution, the local board of education shall provide for a public hearing in regard to the proposed transfer or closure, at which hearing the public shall be afforded an opportunity to express their views. No later than February 1, the local board of education shall adopt a resolution either (i) consenting to transfer of the selected qualifying school to the ISD as an innovative school or (ii) closing that school at the conclusion of that school year. The State Board of Education may delay the transfer of a selected school to the ISD for one year only upon the recommendation of the ISD Superintendent.

(d) Public Notification. - The list of qualifying schools and selected innovative schools shall be made publically available on a Web site maintained by the ISD.

(e) Waivers for Innovative Schools. - The ISD Superintendent may request a waiver from the State Board of Education of State Board of Education rules, regulations, policies, and procedures, or the provisions of this Chapter for innovative schools; however, innovative schools shall be required to comply with, at a minimum, the statutory requirements for charter schools as provided in Article 14A of this Chapter. The goal for each waiver shall be improvement of student performance. All innovative schools shall comply with all applicable constitutional and statutory nondiscrimination requirements. Notwithstanding G.S. 115C-105.26, the State Board of Education may grant a requested waiver of State laws or rules for an innovative school pursuant to this subsection, except for a waiver of State laws or rules applicable to children with disabilities and any of the other requirements set forth in this subsection. (2016-110, s. 1; 2017-57, ss. 7.26E(a), (f).)