Oversight of California Charter Schools Handed to Local Districts

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill Thursday authorizing local school boards to close charter schools or block them from opening if they impede neighborhood schools from operating or don’t serve all students equitably.

Newsom’s action overhauls California’s Charter Schools Act of 1992 by moving oversight of charter school from state officials to local school district boards or county education offices.

Under Assembly Bill 1505, school districts will be empowered to deny applications for charter schools or close existing ones if the district is in financial distress or if opening a charter will negatively impact a neighborhood school’s finances.

The bill by Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, also requires a state-level background check for charter school staff and makes proper credentials for educators mandatory.

Newsom said in a statement that the bill is a result of compromise by multiple parties who prioritized equitable education for the Golden State’s more than 6 million students.

“We now have the framework for charter and traditional schools to work together collaboratively in service of their communities and neighborhoods,” Newsom said. “This is historic legislation that marks a new chapter of collaboration between charter and traditional schools in California.”

The bill also establishes a two-year moratorium on “nonclassroom-based charter schools” and directs the California Department of Education to monitor implementation of the bill.

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond said in a statement that the “overhaul” of charter regulations creates clarity for the charter renewal process.

“This legislation allows for thoughtful consideration of the establishment of new charter schools by allowing us to weigh fiscal and community impacts when making decisions about when to authorize a new charter school,” Thurmond said.

In a statement, California Charter Schools Association President Myrna Castrejón applauded the bill and said it will ensure charter schools continue to be an option for communities.

“AB 1505 can put to rest lingering questions about whether charter schools serve all students and help turn our collective attention to investing in and holding all public schools accountable,” Castrejón said.

Newsom also signed Assembly Bill 1507, which requires charter schools to operate in districts where they received approval.

This past March, the first-term governor signed a bill requiring charter schools to comply with state open-records laws and hold meetings that are open to the public.

%d bloggers like this: