Senate Bill 126 Seeks to Boost Charter School Transparency and Accountability

California’s charter schools may soon be subjected to increased transparency and oversight requirements under fast-moving legislation introduced by Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino) and Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach).

Senate Bill 126 passed the State Senate Thursday 34 to 2 and is now expected to pass the State Assembly. It would make Government Code 1090, the Brown Act, the Public Records Act, and the Political Reform Act applicable to charter schools, subjecting them to the same disclosure, open meetings, and conflict-of-interest rules that currently govern district school boards.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has been clear and consistent about his desire to see increased transparency and accountability for charters, so there is little doubt that the Gov. would sign SB 126. Similar legislation was vetoed on multiple occasions by former Gov. Jerry Brown.

Although there is apprehension on the part of California’s charter schools, there was no formal opposition to the bill.

“Leyva said she was able to get Senate Bill 126 through with little resistance because all parties, including representatives of the charter school association and teacher unions, were at the negotiating table hammering out the details,” according to EdSource

Furthermore, as California Charter Schools Association Senior Vice President Carlos Marquez notes, many charter schools already abide by open meeting and public records laws either voluntarily or through contracted agreements.

A number of changes are likely headed for the charter school system in the coming months and years. SB 126 is just one of a series of legislative efforts expected to establish new rules on accountability and transparency for California charters.