HARRISBURG – The House Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Curt Sonney (R-Erie), today voted to send a letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) disapproving of the final form regulations written by PDE related to charter and cyber charter schools.
PDE delivered the charter school final form regulations to the House and Senate Education committees and IRRC on Feb. 10.
“The committee, along with myself, find many deficiencies in these regulations,” Sonney said. “It seems the Wolf administration continues to believe it should go it alone, instead of seeking input from all parties. I hope the department will withdraw these and start anew. If not, these regulations would harm the 170,000 Pennsylvania students enrolled in charter schools and the tens of thousands of students who are on a waitlist.”
Among the committee’s concerns surrounding the regulations are:
• It requires charter schools to report detailed financial information but does not inform school districts on how to evaluate this information.
• It lists enrollment capacity by grade level in an attempt to institute grade level caps, which is not the intent of the statute.
• It requires “adequate liability and other appropriate insurance” but does not define what “other appropriate insurance” and the department could require insurance product that either don’t exist or are not available to charter school entities.
• It places unreasonable requirements and timelines for redirection of money to charter schools from public schools, which is not required in the Charter School Law.
• It does not clarify how a charter school, regional charter school or cyber charter school could meet the requirement to provide their employees with the same health care benefits as those provided by the authorizing school district. In the case of a regional charter, benefits would be based on where the charter school’s administrative office is located. In the case of a cyber charter school, benefits would be based on where the cyber charter school’s administrative office is located.
• It does not provide guidance on revoking or denying a renewal of a charter or cyber school charter.
• It does not provide guidance on how an authorizer is to conduct a comprehensive review of a charter before granting a five-year renewal of the charter or provide a sample report.
IRRC has scheduled a March 21 meeting on the regulations. If IRRC approves them, either the House Education Committee or Senate Education Committee has 14 calendar days from when it receives the approval letter from IRRC to issue a concurrent resolution on the regulations. After the committee reports a concurrent resolution, the House and Senate have 30 days or 10 legislative days, whichever is later, to pass the concurrent resolution.
The 4th Legislative District in Erie County include Amity, Concord, Greene, Greenfield, Harborcreek, Leboeuf, North East, Union, Venango, Waterford and Wayne townships; Elgin, Mill Village, North East, Union City, Waterford and Wattsburg boroughs; and the city of Corry.
Representative Curt Sonney
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tracy Polovick