On Thursday, North Carolina House Republicans introduced a new bill proposing the creation of a “Charter School Review Board” to take over responsibility for approving, amending, renewing, and terminating charter schools in an effort to streamline the decision-making process for charter schools.
The new board will be responsible for reviewing and approving new rules for charter schools before adoption by the State Board of Education, while the State Board of Education will continue to oversee educational matters and policies and hear appeals on decisions made by the new Charter School Review Board.
The lead sponsors of the bill, Reps. Tricia Cotham, R-Mecklenburg; Tim Moore, R-Cleveland; Destin Hall, R-Caldwell; and David Willis, R-Union, have filed House Bill 618, “Charter School Review Board.”
The bill, H.B. 618, would alleviate the State Board of Education from voting on each individual case. The goal of the bill is to simplify the process of managing charter schools, allowing for greater efficiency and faster turnaround times.
Cotham, a former teacher and Democrat who became a Republican last week, said this bill is a necessary reform. Cotham was previously the president of a charter school organization and has supported school choice efforts.
“One-size-fits-all in education is wrong for children,” said Cotham. “For many students, charter schools offer a more flexible environment for their educational needs. This legislation will help charter schools to better accomplish their missions to serve and educate students.”
In the current process of adding, modifying, or removing charter schools, the Charter School Advisory Board only provides recommendations. These recommendations are then sent to the State Board of Education, which reviews them again before making a final decision. All in all, the process requires multiple steps and approvals, with the potential for holdups at each step.
H.B. 618 would eliminate the SBE’s responsibility in these matters, creating a new board specifically for managing charter schools. If passed, the bill would establish the CSRB to handle these decisions.
“A single level of review for requests from charter schools is sufficient to properly ensure their compliance with existing state law,” said Hall. “The members of the CSRB are all seasoned educators who have expertise operating charter schools.”
“Current members of the Charter School Advisory Board would become initial members of the Charter School Review Board,” according to a press release from the bill sponsors. “The North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction’s existing ex-officio designee on the board would be changed to a voting member, bringing the total board membership to 12.”
The State Board of Education will continue to be in charge of educational matters and policies. They will also be able to hear appeals on decisions made by the new Charter School Review Board, which will manage charter schools. Charter schools or the Superintendent of Public Instruction may file appeals.
In addition, new rules for charter schools will be reviewed and approved by the Charter School Review Board before being adopted by the State Board of Education. These changes aim to improve the process for managing charter schools and create a clearer system for decision-making.
“Requests from charter schools take months to gain approval under the current process,” said Willis. “Oversight from the CSRB will speed up the process for requests from charter schools and grant those schools the ability to act more quickly in accordance with the CSRB Decisions.”