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                                                       Norwood Consulting created the Governance Institute For School Accountability (GISA) to provide three critical services                                                        lacking in the education sector: 1) GISA provides Charter School Governance Training (Approved by Florida                                                                              Department of Education) for Charter School Boards. 2) We protect the rights of Charter Schools and Other Companies                                                        in Disputes, Protests, and Appeals in Administrative Law Proceedings with the purpose to improve School                                                                                Accountability. 3) More importantly, we defend the rights of Parents to receive Education Accommodations for                                                                        Children with Special Needs.

                                                       Charter School Governing Boards

                                                       The Norwood Consulting Group is a State of Florida Department of Education (DOE) Approved Non-Profit Governance                                                          Trainer (see here). To lead a nonprofit organization in today'’s difficult economic environment has become increasingly complex. Effective governance skills are absolutely essential and board members must be thoughtful and engaged big picture leaders. Nonprofit board members and organization management should be competent in key areas of governance for:    


  1. Maintaining board level strategic focus

  2. Establishing and maintaining governance committees

  3. Understanding legal and financial responsibilities

  4. Policies and procedures for effective board operation

  5. Resource development and image building

  6. Understanding how to work with senior executives and management teams


The Norwood Consulting Group has a specially designed training for Florida charter schools. We offer an innovative charter school board governance training, entitled "The Governance Institute for School Accountability".


Florida Statutes Section 1002.33(9)(j)4, requires the governing board of a charter school to participate in governance training approved by the Department of Education which must include government in the sunshine, conflicts of interest, ethics, and financial responsibility.


Training Overview: The Governance Institute for School Accountability is a simple and innovative governance training for charter school boards. It is designed to empower charter school board members with culturally competent tools needed to adopt policies focused on school accountability for student success. The Governance Institute for School Accountability’'s primary goal is to have efficient, knowledgeable, and high-functioning charter school governing boards so charter school leaders can focus more time on students and school performance. The lead trainer is a Juris Doctorate and Professor (Adjunct) of Government, Law and Public Administration at Florida Memorial University with fifteen years experience of Effective Governance Board Leadership, Non-Profit Management, Community Development and Public Policy Advocacy.


Each charter school governing board is responsible for: 

  1. Negotiating the school’s charter agreement with its sponsor;

  2. Exercising continuing oversight over the school’s operations;

  3. Adopting and maintaining an annual operating budget;

  4. Ensuring that annual audits are conducted;

  5. Submitting monthly financial statements to the sponsor and implementing corrective      actions to remedy financial instability; and

  6. Submitting the school’s annual progress report to the sponsor.


Members must complete a minimum of four hours of initial training and a two hour refresher course at least once every three years thereafter. We recommend that board members receive a yearly training.


Special Education Advocacy

Mr. Norwood is the former Executive Director of Lawyers for Children (Florida) and has unique experiences advocating for children in the judicial system.  He is sought out by many to represent the interests of children with special needs in due process hearings before Florida Administrative Law Judges.


Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) over three decades ago. The law is specifically designed “to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education . . . designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living,” and “to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and parents of such children are protected.


Today, there are 7.1 million children with disabilities in America. Many students with disabilities receive good educations; however, far too many receive educations that are weak and inadequate. School districts fail to identify children with disabilities and provide ineffective services to others. IDEA’s enforcement depends on the right of parents to seek a hearing before an impartial hearing officer. This right is only meaningful if parents can exercise it. But parents, whom Congress envisioned as equal partners in developing their children’s educational programs, face a playing field that is neither level nor fair. GISA is committed to creating a level playing field for parents, and to ensuring that children with disabilities receive the same high-quality education as all children.


Due Process Hearing

A special education due process hearing is one of three main administrative remedies available to parents under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to resolve disagreements between parents and schools regarding children with disabilities. Due process hearings are administrative hearings that are conducted, in many ways, like a court trial.


Parents typically file request for hearings when:

  • They believe the child's individual education program (IEP) is not being implemented appropriately.    

  • They believe their child has been denied a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).    

  • They disagree with the school about what teaching methods would be appropriate for the child.    

  • The school district failed to provide necessary services such as speech, physical, or occupational therapies.    

  • Parents believe they have tried to work with the district to resolve the problem but have not been successful.    

  • The point of disagreement is so significant that it requires an impartial hearing officer (IHO) to resolve it.


A due process hearing is similar to a hearing in civil court. Either party may be represented by an attorney or qualified representatative (non attorney) and may present their cases themselves. Generally, hearings proceed as follows:

  1.  The plaintiff or complainant gives an opening statement that details his or her allegations against the defendant or respondent. The plaintiff also has a burden of proof.

  2. Both parties are provided an opportunity to state their cases. Each must prove any allegations are facts with adequate, admissible evidence and supportive documentation

  3. Both parties may prepare briefs to support their positions to submit to the IHO for consideration. Briefs typically      include background information on issues involved with the case. For example, a parent of a child with autism may submit a brief detailing effectiveness of augmentative communication.

  4. Each party may subpoena witnesses to testify in person or via affidavit or deposition.

  5. Parties are given the opportunity to cross-examine any witnesses who testify during the hearing.

  6. The hearing officer listens to the case presented by the parties and issues a formal decision based on case law. IHOs may rely on existing administrative laws, binding precedent, and persuasive precedent to form their decisions on the matter.

  7. Both parties have the option of appealing the ruling if they can present reasonable evidence that the hearing officer has made an error or that additional evidence has surfaced that may affect the outcome of the case.


Due process hearings can be a lengthy and stressful process for all parties involved. They should be avoided when possible, but sometimes they are required to achieve the best results for children. Therefore parents must exercise their rights and demand the attention of the school district and a due process complaint does just that.

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