The commissioner of education is required by law to revoke the charter of an open-enrollment charter school after the school receives three consecutive years of an unacceptable performance rating, an unsatisfactory financial accountability performance rating, or any combination of the two. This decision is subject to a limited review, but cannot be appealed beyond that. Despite this, two schools who had charters revoked attempted to appeal that decision. The courts initially kept the charter schools open to consider the matter, but the court of appeals ruled that the lawsuit should be dismissed and the schools should be closed. The charter schools appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, which was asked to consider whether or not a charter school should have the ability to appeal the revocation of its charter.

The Texas Supreme Court began its analysis by noting that, while some charter schools were among the highest-achieving schools, others were among the lowest-performing schools. Responding to concerns that TEA lacked the tools necessary to effectively address poor academic and financial performance, the Texas Legislature amended the law to grant the commissioner greater authority to revoke a charter. After the law went into effect, the commissioner began the process of identifying charter schools that were subject to revocation. 

The commissioner identified two charters that met the criteria for mandatory revocation under the new legislation and informed them that the charters would be revoked. In doing so, the commissioner cited the performance ratings and noted that the ratings were final and not appealable. The charter schools were offered the opportunity to request an informal review of the revocation decision, but were told that any review would be upheld unless it was found to be “arbitrary and capricious or clearly erroneous.” Both charter schools requested an informal review, but the revocation decision was upheld.

The Texas Supreme Court ruled that the charters should be revoked for both charter schools without the opportunity for appeal, as detailed in the law. In doing so, it noted that charter schools are a governmental entity that exist only as part of a legislative framework that, although more flexible than a traditional school district, is still subject to regulation. And it is the commissioner of education who is charged with setting and enforcing those regulations, in the form of academic and financial accountability standards. Therefore, the commissioner’s decision to revoke the charters was final as described in the law.