New Legislative Push for Charter School Accountability

Bills would support Community Schools and hold charter operators to same standards as public schools

Four new legislative bills that would bring much-needed accountability, transparency, and equity to charter schools were introduced in Sacramento this month. The legislation will be joined by an additional bill in coming weeks, forming a package of proposals that would support the creation of Community Schools and hold privately operated charters to some of the same standards as traditional public schools, including ensuring equal access for students and the prohibition of practices that discourage enrollment or push enrolled students out of school. The California Charter Schools Association, the charter school lobby funded by billionaire privatizers, will likely spend millions to oppose the accountability bills because they prefer to operate in an unregulated environment where charter growth is prioritized over all other concerns. UTLA will be organizing in support of the legislation, working with parents and community groups to press Sacramento to pass the bills.

Here’s a quick summary of the four new bills and the critical issues they address.

 

AB 1360 (Bonta): Equity and Student Access at Charter Schools

Assemblyman Rob Bonta
Assemblyman Rob Bonta

What it would do: AB 1360  would  prohibit discriminatory admissions practices and ensure due process in pupil discipline at charter schools.

Why it’s needed: Like public schools, charter schools should have nondiscriminatory admission policies, as well as suspension and expulsion policies that guarantee all students appropriate due process rights. Any practices that serve to weed out certain children or families are not acceptable and must be eliminated. Charter schools should be required to serve high-need students such as English learners and special education students at the same level as neighborhood public schools.

Contact Assemblymember Rob Bonta - District 18 at https://a18.asmdc.org


AB 1478 (Jones-Sawyer): Accountability and Transparency at Charter Schools

Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer

What it would do: AB 1478 expressly states that charter schools and the entities man aging charter schools are subject to the Brown Act (open meetings), Public Records Act (open books), and two laws preventing conflicts of interest: the Political Reform Act and GSBovernment Code 1090.

Why it’s needed: More than $80 million of waste, fraud, and abuse of tax dollars has been documented in California’s charter school environment, which has ultimately hurt our students. Having private and secret meetings to discuss how tax dollars will be spent is not acceptable. This bill also prohibits charter school board members and their immediate families from financially benefiting from their schools. Public schools’ conflict-of-interest laws and disclosure regulations should apply to charter schools that receive public funds.

Contact Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. - District 59 at https://a59.asmdc.org

 

SB 808 (Mendoza): Local Control at Charter Schools

Senator Tony Mendoza

What it would do: SB 808 requires that all charter school petitions must be approved by the school board  of the  school district in which they reside.

Why it’s needed: Because of the significant investment of time and resources to review proposed charter school petitions prior to accepting or rejecting a petition, the local school board is best equipped to make decisions regarding education programs and needs within its jurisdiction. The recent practices of certain county offices of education and the State Board of Education in summarily overruling evaluations of charter petitions by local school boards is undermining the practice of local control, wherein districts develop priorities and plans with input from all stakeholders including parents, students, teachers, and community members.

Contact Senator Tony Mendoza - District 32 at http://sd32.senate.ca.gov

 

AB 842 (Gipson): Supporting Community Schools

Assemblyman Mike Gipson

What it would do: AB 842 would fund a Community School model that paves the way to new investments in traditional public schools. 

Why it’s needed: California  should foment the spread of the Community Schools model. Community Schools are fully funded sites that offer equity and access to all, with a well-rounded curriculum, wraparound support services, positive discipline practices, and transformational parent and community engagement. Around the country, Community Schools are having remarkable outcomes, including raising enrollment, attendance, and graduation rates; increasing the number of students  that go on to college; and decreasing the achievement gap, the dropout rate, and chronic absenteeism.

Contact Assemblymember Mike Gipson - District 64 at https://a64.asmdc.org