Bill to Create Unaccountable State Controlled Charter Schools Meet Fate in Senate Education and Health Committee
February 5, 2022
February 5, 2022
SB125 sponsored by Senator Mark Obenshain would have created locally unaccountable regional charter school boards that would have taken away local school board authority to authorize charter schools. The bill was narrowly defeated by the Senate Education Committee on Thursday by a vote of 8 to 7.
The VEA believes that when concepts such as charter schools and other public school options are proposed, such changes have the greatest potential for success when they are initiated and nurtured at the local level. As is currently in Virginia Code the local school board should be the only entity that can grant or renew charter applications.
Senator Chap Petersen raised constitutional concerns with the bill. Watch his testimony here in VEA’s Weekly Legislative Roundup.
The debate over charter schools continued in the Senate Education Subcommittee on Thursday with SB635, sponsored by Sen. Amanda Chase, and SB608, sponsored by David Suetterlein. The author of SB608, filed a substitute before the committee to essentially turn the instrument into a shell bill. This tactic is normally used to push legislation through to the full Senate floor where it could ultimately be amended to include language from the original bill. The Senate Subcommittee voted to recommend that both bills be passed-by-indefinitely. Both bills will come before the full Senate Education and Health Committee on Thursday of next week. We encourage members to contact members of the Senate Education and Health Committee and urge them to oppose these bills. Links to each committee member’s contact information are below.
Two charter bills, HB344 and HB356 are scheduled to be heard in the full House Education Committee on Monday. HB344, sponsored by Delegate Glenn Davis would permit the State Board of Education (the Board) to receive, review, and rule upon applications for public charter schools and enter into agreements for the establishment of public charter schools. Under current law, the power to grant or deny a public charter school application and enter into an agreement for the establishment of a public charter school rests solely with local school boards. HB356, sponsored by Delegate Anne Tata, would authorize the State Board of Education (the Board) to establish regional charter school divisions consisting of at least two but not more than three existing school divisions in regions in which each underlying school. We ask members to submit written testimony to the committee in opposition to these bills. You can go HERE to submit your testimony.