California Charter School Reforms Enacted: Overview of AB-1505 and AB-1507
October 9, 2019
By: Alex Sears
On October 3, 2019, Governor Newsom signed into law two bills (AB-1505 and AB-1507) which make significant changes to the Education Code provisions that deal with charter school petition approval, petition renewal, and location of operations.
This post summarizes certain key provisions in the new legislation that may be relevant to our clients. Most of the changes regarding charter petition approval and renewal go into effect on July 1, 2020; most of the changes regarding location of charter school operations go into effect on January 1, 2020.
Key changes to charter school provisions under AB-1505 and AB-1507:
- Expansion of charter school operation to include new grade levels is now considered a material revision to its charter.
- The time for a district to review a new charter petition has been expanded: a district now has 60 days to hold a public hearing to consider a new petition, and then 90 days to make a decision.
- Factors that a district must consider in deciding whether to approve a new charter petition have been expanded to include whether the charter school is likely to serve the interests of the entire community in which the school is proposing to locate, including other schools in the district; whether the proposed charter school would substantially undermine existing services, academic offerings, or programmatic offerings; whether the proposed charter school would duplicate a program currently offered within the school district; and whether the school district is positioned to absorb the fiscal impact of the proposed charter school. Under that last criterion, a district may deny a new charter petition when the district is in fiscal distress, as determined by the county superintendent of schools.
- The above new factors for approval of a new petition do not apply to consideration of a renewal petition, unless the charter is expanding or adding grades. However, renewal criteria have been modified, and are now based primarily on the state accountability system as reflected on the California School Dashboard.
- Renewals can be denied on the grounds that a charter school has not complied with the proper student discipline procedures; or that it is not serving all pupils who wish to attend. Denials of renewal on grounds that a charter school is unlikely to successfully implement its educational program, or on grounds of noncompliance with discipline procedures or failure to serve all pupils who wish to attend, must provide the charter school with notice and reasonable opportunity to cure.
- The length of a charter renewal will vary between two and seven years, depending on the school’s prior academic performance.
- As of July 1, 2020, all teachers in charter schools must obtain a certificate of clearance and satisfy statutory requirements for professional fitness. Teachers in charter schools must hold the CTC credential required for that teacher’s certificated assignment. Teachers employed by the charter school during the 2019-2020 school year have until July 1, 2025 to obtain the required certificates.
- Charter schools that are currently authorized by the State Board of education will be transitioned to oversight by their local school district or county office of education.
- Charter schools currently operating outside the boundaries of the district that approved their charter may continue operation until their charter is next up for renewal, but at that time they must either seek written approval from the district within whose boundaries they are operating, or submit their renewal petition to that district.
- New charter schools must be located within the boundaries of the authorizing school district or county office of education.
- AB-1505 provides for a two-year moratorium on approval of new petitions for non-classroom-based charter schools, with certain exceptions.
Garcia Hernández Sawhney is available to help our clients navigate these new provisions as they apply to charter petition approvals, renewals, and oversight in the coming year. Please contact a GHS attorney if you have any questions about how these changes may affect your district.