California Legislature Sends Charter Schools Transparency Bill to Gov. Newsom

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The California Legislature passed a bill that requires charter schools to comply with the state’s accountability and transparency laws. The bill is now headed to Governor Gavin Newsom for final approval.

On Thursday, SB 126, the Charter School Accountability and Transparency Bill obtained an overwhelming support from the California State Assembly. A week earlier, the state Senate also approved the bill unanimously.

California has 1,300 charter schools that receive public funding, but are not currently subject to the same strict transparency requirements, which traditional public schools observe.

SB 126 will ensure that the governing boards of charter schools will follow the Ralph M. Brown Act, the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, the California Public Records Act, and the Government Code Section 1090.

In January, Gov. Newsom called on the Legislature to send him a legislation that increases accountability and transparency to charter schools. At the time, he said, “We want to get a [charter] transparency bill on my desk as soon as possible. I’m going to be advancing with a sense of urgency.

State Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino) and Assembly member Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach) introduced SB 126.

A quick response to the transparency issues confronting charter schools

In his remarks at the Assembly floor, Assembly member O’Donnell, said, “This bill seeks to ensure that the use of our precious few public school dollars are subject to transparency, common ethical practices and good government law that is applied to other governmental operations.”

In a statement following the passage of the bill in the State Senate, Sen. Leyva commented, “SB 126 directly responds to Governor Gavin Newsom’s call for swift action to resolve ongoing charter school transparency issues, as well as codifies the Attorney General’s recent advisory opinion related to charter schools. This bicameral response will ensure that charter school governing boards, in accepting public funds, meet the same requirements as other public schools.”

Meanwhile, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) view SB 126 as “balanced and comprehensive resolution” to a “longstanding debate.”

CCSA senior vice president for government affairs Carlos Marquez, said, “Gov. Newsom’s leadership made all the difference here. His team brought all parties together to hammer out a deal where everyone had to compromise for the greater good.”