Brownley and Simitian
Part of a package of bills dealing with charter school governance and renewal
Update: Assemblymember Brownley, Senator Simitian and the California Charter Schools Association have decided to delay action on a package of three bills (AB 360, AB 440 and SB 645) that would create a standard of transparency and academic accountability to further support high-performing charter schools. The governor has expressed an interest in working with us in the fall on this legislation.
CCSA is committed to the reforms that this bill package includes, and along with our members, we will continue to work with the Legislature and the Governor during the fall to complete the most comprehensive and workable package possible.
Brown Act/Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Laws. Requires charter schools to comply with the Brown or the Bagley-Keene open meetings laws
- This is a codification of practice as charter schools have long been advised to comply with one of these statutory schemes, depending on which is more appropriate.
Public Records Act. Requires charter schools to comply with the Public Records Act, with which most charter schools are already complying.
Political Reform Act. Requires charter schools to comply with the Political Reform Act.
- CCSA has long sought a robust conflict of interest process as being in the best interests of the individual charter school and the charter school movement. Many charter schools already comply with the Political Reform Act and authorizers often include compliance with it in their Memorandum of Understanding with their charter schools.
- The bill clarifies that a charter school, like a school district, develops its own conflict of interest code, This provision is a significant change from prior legislative efforts and helps charter schools in correcting a longstanding problem in some school districts. These districts have imposed their own conflict of interest codes on the charter schools; subject to approval by its code reviewing body, the county board of supervisors.
- The bill also prohibits a charter authorizer from revoking a charter solely on the basis of a board member failing to file a statement of economic interest.
Government Code Section 1090. Requires charter schools to comply with Government Code 1090, which has a conflict of interest scheme that effectively prohibits being a member of a governing body if the person has any financial interest in the organization.
- Prior legislative efforts would have imposed Government Code 1090 in its entirety on charter schools. Even without clarity in current law, some authorizers are already requiring charter schools to comply with these onerous conflict of interest rules that have criminal penalties attached.
- It was important to provide clarity in the law that reflects the unique charter school structures.
- CCSA's concerns have focused on the relationship between the charter school and the members of its governing body:
- Employees of the school often sit on the board;
- Board members or employees on occasion make loans to the school to keep the doors open; and
- Board members or employees may lease space to the school.
- This agreement accommodates these unique relationships by allowing a person to sit on the governing board and
- Be an employee of the school, provided they recuse themselves on actions that uniquely affect their employment
- Allow the board member (or an employee) to make a loan to the school provided that the governing body declares and describes a fiscal emergency, the loan is approved in a public hearing and the board member abstains on the matter.
- Allow the board member to co-sign a line of credit provided that line of credit cannot be accessed until the governing body declares and describes a fiscal emergency in a public hearing.
- Allow the board member (or an employee) to lease or be guarantor on a lease of real property to the charter school, provided the lease is approved in a public hearing and the board member abstains on the matter.
- Requires a board member to recuse him/herself from actions that would uniquely affect a relative of the board member.
- Prohibits a person who is constitutionally prohibited from holding civil office from serving on a charter board.
- Exempts a board that governs services unrelated to a charter school from complying with the laws above as it relates to those non-charter services.
- Some nonprofits provide a range of services that include but are not limited to a charter school.
- This exemption ensures that the actions of the governing board that are unrelated to the charter school are not subject to the provisions of this bill.
- Defines where a charter school may conduct its board meetings and allows flexibility for charter schools that operate statewide or in multiple counties.
- Allows a charter school to hold a closed session to consider matters of pupil discipline.
- Sets an operative date of July 1, 2012 and declares that actions taken prior to that date do not apply.
Impact on Charter Schools
Please see CCSA's charter school governance and renewal information about this package of bills and its impact on the charter school movement.
CCSA Action & What You Can Do
- Read about AB 440 and SB 645, the other parts of this package
- Call your Legislator and let them know you support this bill
- Read CCSA's Portrait of the Movement report