(HARRISBURG) – The state Senate Education Committee today scrutinized the Charter School Regulations proposed by the Wolf Administration, according to Senator Scott Martin (R-13) who chairs the committee.
“There’s a process that is moving forward, but it is important to remember that there’s a larger thing at play here – balance,” Senator Martin said. “We heard a lot about clarity today. There’s a lot of things that fall into the legislative process realm, and there are things that fall into the regulatory process. Over the last few years, in the world of growing executive orders and regulations, there is concern about the proper role of the legislature and the proper role of the executive branch. It may be something we all agree upon, but was it done in proper fashion. This is a step in that process.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) proposed the regulation changes in September that included a public comment period that ended Monday. The proposed changes impact charter school applications, admission policies, boards of trustees, information on management companies, liability coverage, fiscal and auditing standards, funding and academic accountability.
“Since 2019, we have continued to meet with various stakeholders and solicit feedback in a variety of ways,” said Julie Kane, PDE policy director, adding that many of the comments have been incorporated into the draft regulations. “Part of the proposed regulatory process includes a public comment period. We received more than 1,500 comments on the proposed regulations from school districts, charter schools, individual citizens and educational organizations. We are really pleased to see the feedback. All of that will be taken into consideration, will be read and will be considered as part of the final form.”
Opponents of the regulation changes say the Wolf administration is attempting to use the proposed regulation changes to circumvent the legislative process for reforming the state’s charter school rules, many of which would take changes in law.
“The regulations that are proposed do nothing to further the independence of charter schools; do nothing to help their students and do everything to make it more difficult to start and continue to operate a charter school. Indeed, these regulations seek to handcuff and stifle charter schools,” said Dr. Tina Chekan, chief executive officer of Propel Charter Schools. “These proposed regulations did not have any input from the charter community and these regulations only add burdens to charters and prospective charters. These proposed regulations do nothing to remedy some of the existing barriers to school choice.”
Renee Gordon, Chief Administrative Office of Charter School of Excellence, called on the committee as well as the Wolf Administration to visit their school to see the great work they are doing for their students, community and the entire state.
“The best way to work through this for the sake of kids, like those I have spent my career serving, is to have the collective voice of the people work through these difficult challenges together,” Gordon said. “That can only be done through the PA General Assembly. These proposed regulations should be rescinded and any potential reforms to charter schools should be reviewed and voted on by the legislature and signed into law by the governor.”
Philadelphia Charters for Excellence also called on the Wolf Administration to pull back the proposed charter school regulations, and work with the public charter school community to see charter reform pass through the General Assembly.
Representatives of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and the PA School Business Officials Association also testified as to their concerns regarding so of the regulations, as well as the need for some they support, but would need to go through the lawmaking process.
Contact: Terry Trego