Gov. Roy Cooper (File Photo)
Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed House Bill 618, a proposal that would strip the State Board of Education (SBE) of most charter school oversight responsibility. The governor called the bill a “power grab” by the Republican-controlled General Assembly.
“This bill is a legislative power grab that turns that responsibility over to a commission of political friends and extremists appointed by Republican legislators, making it more likely that faulty or failing charter schools will be allowed to operate and shortchange their students,” Cooper said in a statement. “Oversight of charter schools should be conducted by education experts not partisan politicians.”
HB 618 will likely become law because the GOP has majorities in both chambers and can mount a successful override of the governor’s vetoes.
The legislation creates a new Charter School Review Board with the power to grant, amend, terminate and renew school charters. The review board would replace the Charter School Advisory Board, which makes recommendation to the state board for new charters, terminations and renewals.
The state board currently gives final approval for new charters, terminations and renewals. It would retain accountability, appellate, funding and rule-making responsibilities if HB 618 becomes law.
Democrats contend that the current system works well. They argue that the state Constitution gives the state board the oversight authority for public schools, including charter schools.
Meanwhile, bill sponsor Rep. Tricia Cotham (R-Mecklenburg) and other HB 618 supporters contend the change will make the charter application process more efficient and cost effective.
SBE Chairman Eric Davis expressed concern about the bill in a recent letter to lawmakers.
“The SBE is uniquely positioned to weigh the issues for all NC student within charter request,” Davis wrote.
Davis said the current process “clearly shows that quality charter school proposals with the recommendation of CSAB and the background provided by the [NC Department of Public Instruction] DPI’s Office of Charter Schools, are receiving a fair review.”
The number of charter schools operating in North Carolina has more than doubled since lawmakers lifted a 100-school cap in 2011. The state will have 211 charters after seven new schools open next month.
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