Gov. Newsom signs long-discussed charter school transparency legislation

Governor Newsom with representatives from the California Charter Schools Association, California Teachers Association, California School Employees Association, California Federation of Teachers, California School Boards Association, Association of California School Administrators and SEIU California. (Photo from Office of the Governor Gavin Newsom)

Alongside representatives from the California Charter School Association, California Teachers Association, California School Employees Association, California Federation of Teachers and SEIU California, Governor Gavin Newsom  signed Senate Bill 126 on Tuesday, March 5, a historic legislation requiring all schools that receive taxpayer funding to follow the same standards for accountability and transparency.

“It’s common sense. Taxpayers, parents and ultimately kids deserve to know how schools are using their tax dollars,” said Governor Newsom. “This isn’t the end of a conversation but a beginning. Let’s use this momentum to move forward together, constructively and in partnership, to improve education for children across California. I thank the leaders on both sides of this issue for coming together to help get this bill across the finish line.” 

SB 126 requires charter schools and charter management organizations to adhere to public records and open meeting laws such as the Brown or Bagley Keene Acts, Public Records Act, conflict of interest provisions and the Political Reform Act, just as public school districts do. It will take effect January 1, 2020. 

“For far too long, charter schools in California have been held to lower accountability and transparency standards than traditional public schools,” said Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino)​, one of the bill’s authors. “By codifying the Attorney General’s recent advisory opinion related to charter schools, SB 126 will ensure that all publicly funded schools—including charter schools—guarantee fair and open access to information. This measure also empowers parents to keep school leaders responsive and accountable. I thank Governor Newsom for his signature of SB 126 today, as well as his continued leadership in supporting public education in California. SB 126 is a historic win for students, parents, schools and communities.”

“SB 126 is a good government bill that will ensure that schools are learning centers, not profit centers,” said Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), co-author of the bill. “With the enactment of this bill, there will be no doubt that transparency requirements and common ethical practices apply to all public dollars that go to public schools. I thank the Governor for taking leadership on this bill and look forward to working with him on additional charter reform leading to student success and taxpayer accountability.”

“For nearly a decade, CCSA has worked to secure a balanced and comprehensive resolution to this longstanding debate,” said California Charter Schools Association President and CEO Myrna Castrejón. “Governor Newsom’s leadership made all the difference here. We are grateful for Governor Newsom’s leadership and we know that he will continue to bring the same skills and commitment to bear to unite all stakeholders behind a bold vision that embraces accountability and transparency for all public schools.”

“On behalf of California‘s students, we thank Governor Newsom and the legislature for ensuring there is transparency and accountability in all California charter schools. Fixing these laws will put us on the right path to making sure all schools are held to the same standards for the sake of our students,” said California Teachers Association President Eric Heins. “This is and has always been about kids, not profits, and we’re glad this bill gets us closer to ending the waste, fraud and abuse that has taken millions in much-needed funding and resources from our students.” 

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