This week saw a lot of action on charter school legislation as Friday, April 28 represented the last day for California legislative policy committees to hear and act on bills that are keyed fiscal. Being keyed fiscal means that they will have to be heard in the respective appropriation committees over the next several weeks. Below are some of the key highlights from those bills.
AB 950 by Assemblywoman Rubio greatly expands the power of county boards of education and the State Board of Education to authorize charter schools.  Some charter leaders and County Boards of Education view this measure as a big step forward as it eases some of the tensions that exist between an authorizer and its charter school by allowing other means for authorization.  It passed the Assembly Education Committee by a 4-1 vote with 2 abstentions.  It will next be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
SB 806 by Senator Glazer would have applied conflict of interest policies and self dealing policies to charter schools including the Political Reform Act and Public Records Act.  It would have also created a ‘fire-wall’ between charter schools and the for-profits that they work with while banning for profit companies from operating charter schools.  The measure divided the charter school community as the Charter School Association sponsored the bill and other charter school organizations opposed the measure along with the Association of Clerks and Election Officials and numerous union and trade organizations. The bill failed by a 2-1 vote with 4 abstentions in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
SB 808 by Senator Mendoza would have removed a charter school’s ability to appeal a denial or revocation at the County Board of Education or the State Board of Education. It would have only allowed school districts to approve a charter school and if they did not approve that charter petition the charter would essentially be dead.  Senator Mendoza presented the bill in the Senate Education Committee for testimony only with no vote. There was a contentious debate on both sides but the bill should not move out of committee.
AB 1661 by Assemblywoman Caballero is sponsored by the Department of Education and is their attempt to move the state from the API to a new measurement. The bill is still a work in progress and the Department should be amending it as it moves forward but I want to make sure it is on your radar screen because it will affect charter schools. The measure passed the Assembly Education Committee 4-2 with 1 abstention. It will next be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
AB 1224 by Assemblywoman Weber would have created a pilot program in the state for charter school authorization.  The program would have allowed three county offices of education to authorize up to five new charter schools in their county or the neighboring counties.  It would have also authorized existing CMOs to consolidate up to 10 existing schools, located anywhere in the State, under a county office of education and exempted these CMOs from existing resource center requirements.  Assemblywoman Weber did not take the bill up in the Assembly Education Committee because she did not have the votes so it is effectively dead for the year.
AB 1360 by Assemblyman Bonta would establish expulsion and suspension procedures for charter schools, limit the type of preferences they can use for admission and state that parental involvement cannot be a requirement to attend a charter school.  The measure passed the Assembly Education Committee 5-2 and will next be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
To view any of these measures or their committee analysis please go to www.legislature.ca.gov and hit the bill information tab on the top left and place in the bill number.

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