UTLA Statement on LAUSD School Board’s Resolution in Support of Charter School Accountability and Authorization Legislation

For Immediate Release
April 19, 2017

Media Contact:
Anna Bakalis
UTLA Communications Director
213-305-9654

"The Board of Education did the right thing this week by endorsing three pieces of legislation that will positively affect all LA students and parents,” said Alex Caputo-Pearl, UTLA President. “These bills reflect the idea that all publicly-funded charter schools must adhere to the same accountability and transparency standards as district public schools.  In Tuesday’s vote, the School Board signaled that the Trump/DeVos ‘anything goes’ agenda to privatize our public schools is not welcome in Los Angeles. We applaud George McKenna, Steve Zimmer, Scott Schmerelson, and Richard Vladovic, all veteran classroom teachers, counselors, and school administrators, who led the charge in this important vote.” 
 
These three bills are common sense and would protect students against discriminatory admission policies, require charter school operators to be subject to the same conflict-of-interest laws and disclosure regulations that public schools follow, and require that the local school boards be given the authority to approve or reject any charter school petition. 
 
However, we also know from media reports that billionaire-backed School Board candidates Nick Melvoin and Kelly Fitzpatrick Gonez are refusing to support these bills. According to yesterday’s  LA Times article, it is clear that Melvoin and Gonez will not break away from the billionaires who fund them and the Trump/DeVos plan to expand unaccountable and unregulated charter schools at the expense of our neighborhood public schools.
 
POINT OF CLARIFICATION: Some media outlets reported that SB 808 has been pulled, which is incorrect. Senator Ben Allen, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, told the author of the bill (SB 808), Senator Tony Mendoza, that he would like to dialogue with constituents about charter authorization as a whole. LAUSD, being the authorizer of more charter schools than any other place in the country, would benefit from the discussion. 
 
The following is a summary of the three legislative bills supported by yesterday’s resolution: 
 
SB 808 — Local Control of Charter Schools
Requires that the local school board approve or reject any charter school petition. Local boards are best equipped to make decisions regarding education programs within their jurisdiction. Right now, the county and state board can summarily overrule school boards, undermining local control and democratically elected leaders.
 
AB 1360 — Equity, Access, and Due Process for Charter Students
Prohibits discriminatory admission practices and ensures due process in pupil discipline at charter schools. Any practices that serve to deny or push out certain children or families must be eliminated. Charter schools should be required to serve high-need students, such as English learners and special education students, at the same level as public schools.
 
AB 1478 — Accountability and Transparency at Charter Schools
Requires that charter operators be subject to the same conflict-of-interest laws and disclosure regulations that public schools follow. Prohibits charter school board members and their immediate families from financially benefiting from their schools.  More than $80 million of waste and fraud has been documented in California’s charter school environment.