The mission of Tugboat Education is to support education reform by providing the practical regulatory, compliance and operational expertise that will empower non-profit and governmental leaders in education reform to achieve their missions.


It is the vision of Tugboat Education that innovative education organizations, armed with affordable, high quality expertise, can learn to use the complex regulatory environment of public education to their advantage - utilizing it to further their programs rather than being impeded by it. This is a vision that has not yet been realized because of the scant attention generally paid to building regulatory strategy into mission-driven decisions, and the limited availability of quality regulatory assistance.  Moreover, most education organizations simply cannot afford to pay market rates for top-flight expertise and yet the importance and complexity of their work demands it.  The public schooling environment in the United States is extraordinarily complex.

One of the defining features of Tugboat is that the quality of its services is consistently high, yet Tugboat offers them at a lower cost than education organizations could access on the commercial market (from some ad hoc reliance on law firms and consultancies, each with limited expertise in educational matters).

Tugboat identifies, prevents, and solves problems relating to the rules that surround and define, restrict and often empower educational organizations. It is a support organization, providing specialized guidance and information to educational organizations on current practices and future growth plans with a goal of enabling them to build their capacities for further innovation.

Drawing on a comprehensive understanding of the major legal and regulatory requirements applicable to public education - such as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (including Title I and the Public Charter Schools Program), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) - Tugboat is well-equipped to offer a range of key services to both non-profit organizations and governmental agencies. These include:

  • Identifying and advising on regulatory and operating requirements
  • Assistance to both new and experienced organizations with strategies for meeting their obligations while staying on mission
  • Examining and advising on the nature, severity and solutions to both new and longstanding problems
  • Compliance counseling
  • Training and capacity building

Scope and Scale

Tugboat is not a law firm; it is neither a lobbying organization nor a think tank. We are an organization that identifies, prevents, and solves problems relating to the rules that surround and define, restrict, and sometimes empower educational organizations. We provide to those running educational organizations relief from stress and worry over the dangers lurking in their practices, plans, and strategies.  Here are some examples of the sorts of organizations we serve and the types of projects for which we are particularly suited:

  • Management Organizations: A CMO committed to opening a dozen new schools in a handful of states and wanting to understand the regulatory environment that will affect its success in each potential location and to build that knowledge into its strategy
  • School Districts: A District concerned about ensuring that it is meeting all the applicable federal, state, and local ESSA requirements that apply to it and wanting trainings and materials that address the full scope of these responsibilities
  • Charter School Authorizers: A Charter authorizer approaching its first opportunity to shut down a low performing charter school and needing to understand the rules and processes applicable in its state and locale and how to create a strong process for handling closures going forward
  • School Support Organizations: A school support organization seeking to offer intensive or periodic trainings on key issues (such as special education or grant compliance), as well as advice and follow up assistance to the schools it supports
  • Charter Schools:  A charter school board seeking expert training, as well as assistance in preparing for and successfully achieving renewal of its charter
  • Foundations: A philanthropy committed to supporting public education and wanting to better understand the environment in which its grantees operate and to offer these grantees access to operational support -- as a means of strengthening those organizations and ensuring that the funds invested in them by the foundations are not wasted.

Drawing on a comprehensive understanding of the major federal legal and regulatory requirements applicable to public education – such as ESSA, IDEA, FERPA, PCSP (Public Charter Schools Program), Tugboat advises, trains, audits, and strategizes with clients committed to getting it right in advance or straightening out problem areas. We also provide guidance regarding state and local rules, requirements, and practices, such as state charter obligations (including authorizer rules), high stakes testing requirements, and localized implementation of ESSA and IDEA.   

Tugboat provides trainings and processes evaluations, as well as advises on governance issues, bylaws, policies, program compliance, and grant requirements.  We conduct investigations into problem areas and develop recommendations for remedial action. If something is broken, we help education organizations understand it and fix it, and thus stay on course to fulfilling their mission.