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New Legislation Holds Charter Schools to Same Standards as Public Schools

by on March 6, 2019

posted in Legislative Updates,

SB 126 was one of the fastest pieces of legislation to be signed by Governor Gavin Newsom – going through both houses in seven weeks. The new Education Code Section 47604.1 will require charter schools to follow the same state guidelines on public records (California Public Records Act), open meetings (Brown Act), conflicts of interest (Political Reform Act of 1974, Government Code 1090) that apply to public schools. Charter board members are also prohibited from voting on contracts where they have a financial stake.

The measure codifies a recent opinion by the California Attorney General that governing boards of charter schools should be subject to the same Brown Act laws and conflict of interest standards as public school districts. (Opinion No. 11-201)

Meetings would not only have to be in public, but in a specified location, located within the county of the charter school. The governing body of the charter school would be limited to discussing items on an agenda. All meetings must be recorded and the records must be posted on the website.

Charters schools must make their records available for public inspection unless they are exempt from disclosure. The board will have to adopt a conflict of interest code and require designated employees to file States of Economic Interest disclosing any investments that would be affected by a government decision.

In order to comply with Education Code Section 47604.1, charter schools will need to evaluate their governing documents, bylaws, and conflict of interest codes. They will have to review their existing policies and practices with regard to meetings, documents storage and retention, and provide training to the board members. Board members will need to know how and when to disclose conflicts of interest before any voting.

The bill was endorsed by the California Teachers Association. Earlier versions had been vetoed by former Governor Jerry Brown and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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tags: Brown Act, California Public Records Act, Charter Schools, Government Code 1090, Political Reform Act,

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