Governor Newsom Signs Charter School Legislation

SACRAMENTO, Oct. 3, 2019 – Governor Gavin Newsom today signed AB 1505 by Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), which significantly reforms the Charter Schools Act of 1992 to address longstanding challenges for both traditional public school districts and charter schools. AB 1505 empowers communities to consider the fiscal impact of new charter schools on existing schools in the neighborhood, increases accountability and transparency for all charter schools, and ensures that high-quality charter schools continue to thrive.

“AB 1505 is the result of leaders from all sides of this issue coming together to enact a law that is meaningful, purposeful and, most importantly, prioritizes students and families from both traditional and charter schools across California,” said Governor Newsom. “We now have the framework for charter and traditional schools to work together collaboratively in service of their communities and neighborhoods.”

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“AB 1505 is a long overdue reform of charter school law,” said Assemblymember O’Donnell. “This bill ensures that we will have qualified teachers in all classrooms and gives local school boards more discretion over charter authorization. I want to thank Governor Newsom for his leadership and the stakeholders for their hard work to ensure student success and taxpayer accountability.”

Below are some of the items included in AB 1505:

  • Allows charter authorizers to close a charter school for fiscal and governance concerns or if the charter school is not serving all student populations.
  • Allows charter authorizers to consider, when reviewing a petition for a new charter school, or a charter that is expanding sites or grade-levels, how the charter school would financially affect the community and the neighborhood schools.
  • Allows a charter school authorizer to deny a charter school when the district is in fiscal distress, as determined by the county superintendent of schools.
  • Clarifies that charter school teachers must have a state level background check and the required credential for their assignment, with a transition period.
  • Establishes a two-year moratorium on non-classroom based charter schools, with a commitment to reform the sector in the next two years.
  • Transitions the charter schools currently authorized by the State Board to have oversight by their local school district or county office of education.
  • Requires charter school authorizers to use the state accountability system as the basis for charter school renewal.
  • Requires the California Department of Education to collect and monitor data on implementation of the bill, including patterns in authorization and appeals.

This is historic legislation that marks a new chapter of collaboration between charter and traditional schools in California,” added Governor Newsom.

Education leaders react to Governor Newsom’s signing of AB 1505:

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond: “I want to thank Governor Newsom, Assemblymember O’Donnell, and all the stakeholders for this important legislation. This represents the first significant overhaul of charter school law since it was introduced decades ago. This legislation allows for thoughtful consideration of the establishment of new charter schools by allowing us to weigh fiscal and community impacts when making decision about when to authorize a new charter school. It also provides clarity to authorizers and charter school applicants about how charter schools should be renewed.”

California Teachers Association President Toby Boyd: “Today is a good day for the 6.4 million students of California! Working together, we’ve made monumental changes to improve decades-old charter school laws. We profoundly appreciate Assembly Member O’Donnell’s hard work on AB 1505 and Governor Gavin Newsom’s leadership and commitment to begin fixing laws governing charter schools. This legislation protects students by strengthening local school communities’ decision-making power regarding all matters related to charter schools’ authorization and renewal. It also builds on efforts earlier this year to hold charter schools to the same standards of accountability and transparency as other public schools. This was no easy feat, and it could not have been possible without our co-sponsors, labor partners and community groups. Together, we fought day in and day out to ensure we took this significant step for students!”

California Charter Schools Association President and CEO Myrna Castrejón: “This historic agreement affirms that high-quality charter schools are here to stay and that the charter school model is a key lever in closing the state’s achievement gap. AB 1505 can put to rest lingering questions about whether charter schools serve all students and help turn our collective attention to investing in and holding all public schools accountable. Governor Newsom and legislative leadership made all the difference here, and we look forward to working with leaders across California to usher in a new era of achievement and innovation for all students.”

Other related bills signed by the Governor include:

  • AB 1507 by Assemblymember Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita), which removes exemptions in current law to require charter schools to operate within the geographic boundaries of their authorizing district.
  • SB 126 by Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino). Signed by the Governor in March, SB 126 requires charter schools and charter management organizations to adhere to public records and open meeting laws, such as the Brown or Bagley-Keene Acts, Public Records Act, conflict-of interest-provisions, and the Political Reform Act.