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California legislature examines charter school bills


This legislative season, representatives in the California Senate and California Assembly are choosing to tackle California’s Education Code and address concerns relating to the state’s charter schools.

From requiring charter school boards to follow open records laws demanding due process for students and stopping conflicts of interest, several bills are currently being addressed in committee hearings and on the state Assembly or state Senate floors.

Here is a look at some of the bills that may impact the state’s more than 1,100 charter schools in the upcoming years.

Assembly Bill 1360: Student Equity  

An effort from both public school and charter school advocates, AB 1360 would prohibit discriminatory admissions policies and provide new regulations when expelling or suspending students.

Authored by Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), the bill would require charter schools to give students due process if they are suspended or expelled from school.

Schools will also be required to create a specific list that states what students can be expelled for and provide a written notice of appeal if a child is removed from school.

The bill would also prohibit enrollment regulations that require parents to complete volunteer hours and would not limit access to groups like special needs students, low income student or English learners.

“Any practices that serve to exclude or push out certain children or families, whether intentional or unintentional, must be eliminated,” Bonta said in a statement.  “Under AB 1360, charter schools must provide fair access to all students, regardless of academic performance, family circumstances, where they were born, or the language they speak.”

Currently charter schools can set limited admissions preferences or “other preferences” for students—like for students who live in their chartering district—for enrollment.

To eliminate a grey area, the bill would explicitly state what these “other preferences” for staff member’s children and siblings of current students.

AB 406: Charter Schools Operation

Authored by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), AB 406 aims to increase transparency and accountability in charter schools by preventing for-profit corporations from operating charter schools in the state.

The bill would prevent schools from submitting charter petitions or renewal petitions if they are being operated or are operated by a for-profit corporation, educational management organization or charter management organization.

In the Santa Clarita Valley, this bill could impact schools like Albert Einstein which is maintained by a larger charter management organization, AEALAS, Inc.

AB 1478: Charter School Transparency and Accountability

With AB 1478, charter schools will be subject to the same open meeting, public records disclosure and conflict of interest laws as public schools and school districts in California.

Authored by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-South Los Angeles), the bill would require charter schools and charter management organization to comply with the California Public Records Act, Ralph M. Brown Act, Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act and the Political Reform Act of 1974.

It also would prohibit conflicts of interest by banning governing board members from having financial dealings or contracts they are a member of.

Additional Bills

  • AB 1528: The bill, co-authored by Dante Acosta (D-Santa Clarita), would allow virtual or online charter schools to serve students who move out of their geographic area until Jan. 1, 2021.
  • AB 318: AB 318 would require employees and students in independent study programs to communicate in person or by live visual connection at least one time per week.
  • AB 950: The assembly bill would allow the renewal of charter petition that was approved by the State Board of Education to be heard by the State Board or by the district that originally denied the petition.
  • AB 1124: Called the “Chartering Authority Pilot Program,” the bill would create a pilot program to allow three county boards of education to oversee up to five additional charter schools each and annually report their performance to the state legislature.

Stalled Bills

  • Senate Bill 808: Authored by Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia), SB 808 would abolish any charter petition appeal process to a County Board of Education or to the State Board of Education unless a district board has a procedural violation in their hearings.  It also would allow local districts to deny petitions if they could have a negative fiscal impact on the district.
  • SB 806: Named the “Charter Schools Transparency and Standards of Governance Act,” SB 806, authored by Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), would add additional regulations regarding governing board open records and open meetings laws and would provide additional oversight to schools.

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