Kids swing on the playground at Albert Einstein STEAM Academy in Valencia on Friday, March 16, 2018. School leaders are unsure of the fate of Einstein Academy programs next year. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

Smith’s charter school bill passes Assembly

Legislation authored by Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, seeking to limit school districts’ ability to approve charter schools outside of their own boundaries passed the state Assembly on Monday, and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Assembly Bill 1507 looks to close what the measure’s proponents consider a “loophole” in state law that allows school districts to charter a school outside of a district’s governing boundary.

“In my tenure as a school board member, neighboring school districts abused this loophole and authorization privilege, and families were impacted because of this,” Smith said in the legislation’s analysis, adding, “The bill clarifies the jurisdictional sovereignty of the duly elected school boards and their role in charter authorization.”

Current law allows a school district to charter a school outside of its jurisdiction if it can prove there isn’t currently a suitable home for the organization within the district’s boundaries, which is how The Albert Einstein Academy for the Letters, Arts and Science was able to open a charter school in the Newhall School District’s boundaries a few years ago.

Charter school advocates have said Smith’s legislation will likely increase pressure on authorizing districts to find existing district buildings for new and growing charter schools, according to the bill’s analysis, but the assemblywoman, who is a former board member of the Newhall School District, believes her latest bill will provide more transparency and accountability at every public school, including charters.

“This bill is ultimately about local control,” Smith said, mentioning she is happy AB 1507 is heading to the Senate. “AB 1507 makes sure that school districts have the tools and power to provide oversight of the schools located within their jurisdictions. Additionally, this measure saves local districts hundreds of thousands of dollars on litigation to mitigate the impact of bad actors in the charter industry.”

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