What are waivers?

Colorado law allows schools/districts to request waivers from certain areas of state statue and rule. The purpose is to allow autonomy in areas that will enhance educational opportunity and quality. Charter schools can implement their educational mission to its full potential when they are granted certain waivers.

Automatic vs. Non-Automatic Waivers

There are two different types of waivers: Automatic and Non-Automatic. Automatic waivers are automatically granted to a charter school upon the establishment or renewal of a charter contract. There is no need to formally submit a Rationale and Replacement Plan (RRP) for automatic waivers. Please see the CDE waiver webpage for a current list of automatic waivers.

Unless specified, all other waivers from state statute and rule are considered non-automatic waiver requests and must be reviewed and approved by the State Board of Education. There are a few areas that charter schools may not request waivers from. These areas include school accountability committees, assessments pursuant to 22-7-1006.3, school performance reports, Public School Finance Act of 1994, the Children’s Internet and Protection Act, federal requirements, and statutes outside of Title 22 of Colorado State Law.

How does your school obtain a waiver?

As previously mentioned, a school does not need to explicitly request waiver from or submit RRPs for defined automatic waivers. However, charter schools must go through a formal process to waive any state statute or rule that is not already considered automatic.

To be granted a waiver, a CSI school must draft its request for all non-automatic waivers and submit them to CSI for review.  Requests for non-automatic waivers must include:

  • A list of the non-automatic waivers from state statute and rule the school is requesting
  • A Rationale and Replacement Plan (RRP) for each waiver requested that addresses the manner in which a charter school shall comply with the intent of the state statutes and/or state board rules
  • Duration of the waiver 
  • Financial Impact of waiving out of the law or policy
  • How the impact of the waivers will be evaluated
  • Expected outcome from waiving out of this law or policy

Waivers are typically drafted and submitted to CSI during the contracting process for new schools and at renewal.  The CSI Director of Legal and Policy Initiatives (DLPI) will review the waiver requests and send them to CDE for a preliminary review.  Once the waiver requests are finalized, the waivers will be incorporated into the contract and submitted to the CSI Board for contract and waiver approval.  Upon approval by the CSI Board, the DLPI then sends the executed charter contract and waiver requests to the State Board of Education for final approval. 

The DLPI will set and communicate the timelines for submitting waiver requests.  Generally, waiver requests must be submitted to the DLPI at least 4-6 weeks before the CSI Board meeting at which the waiver requests are reviewed. It may then be another 3-8 weeks until the waivers are presented to the State Board depending on the schedule of the CSI and State Board Meetings. 

Generally, ppproved waivers are valid throughout the term of the charter contract.  Should a school seek to revise its waivers during the term of the contract, the school can start a contract amendment process by contacting the DLPI.

Posting of Waivers

Per HB 17-1375, beginning July 1, 2017 and on a continuing basis thereafter, each charter school must post on the Financial Transparency page of its website a list of its automatic and non-automatic waivers, along with the replacement plan for each non-automatic waiver that explains the manner in which the charter school will meet the intent of the waiver, in a downloadable format. 

Beginning July 1, 2018, each school’s waiver posting must also include a description and rationale for each of the automatic waivers received and the name and contact information for a charter school employee who can provide additional information about the automatic waivers.  A list of standard descriptions and rationales will also be developed by CDE, CSI, and the League, which can be referenced in developing this list. 

CSI Waiver Webinar Dec. 2017
CSI Waiver Guidance Dec. 2017
CSI Waiver Template and Sample Language 12.19.17
Additional resources are available on CDE's Waiver page: https://www.cde.state.co.us/cdechart/waivers
To search State Board of Education Documents for previously approved waivers, visit: https://www.boarddocs.com/co/cde/Board.nsf/Public 

 For additional information, please contact Trish Krajniak, CSI Director of Legal and Policy Initiatives, at trishkrajniak@csi.state.co.us.