Hill-Evans charter school bill would protect students, taxpayers

95th Representative opposes Republican bill that fails to provide meaningful reform

HARRISBURG, April 21 – State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans has introduced legislation that would offer additional protections for students and taxpayers in the event of a charter school’s closure.

Under House Bill 1249, a charter school that has been notified that its charter will not be renewed or will be terminated may not continue to enroll new students unless the charter school has filed an appeal. If the school’s appeal is denied by the state Charter School Appeal Board, the charter school would have to immediately stop enrolling new students.

“In York, we know how difficult the closure of a charter school can be. We shouldn’t allow charter schools to continue enrolling students if they know they are going to close,” Hill-Evans said. “It’s unfair to those children and unnecessarily disruptive to their education.”

Making this change would also alleviate concerns about charter schools that are anticipating closure enrolling more students in order to artificially inflate any payments based on enrollment when a school closes its doors.

The bill only applies if a charter school hasn’t appealed a non-renewal or termination decision or if that appeal has been denied, Hill-Evans said.

H.B. 1249 has been referred to the House Education Committee. Hill-Evans initially offered the bill as an amendment to the Republican-backed House Bill 97 – legislation she said that falls short of providing much-needed reform to Pennsylvania’s charter school law.

Hill-Evans said H.B. 97 fails to hold public charter schools to the same standards of accountability and transparency that traditional public schools must uphold.

For example, the bill would allow charter schools to hold more funds in reserve than school districts are allowed. The bill doesn’t address special education overpayments and only minimally addresses inequities in cyber charter funding.

Among other flaws, the bill would stack the state Charter School Appeal Board with more charter representatives and would not require that charter schools use the same teacher evaluation system that traditional public schools are required by state law to use.

“We want students in all of our public schools, traditional or charter, to succeed, and so we need to treat those schools equally under the law,” Hill-Evans said. “I’ll continue working for meaningful reform of our charter school law, because all of our public school students deserve a quality education, and our taxpayers deserve to see their money being spent wisely.”

House Democrats have introduced a package of bills designed to bring equity in the charter school law. More information about those bills is available here.