A charter school advocacy group says a bill that would eliminate automatic waivers from 18 state laws is trying “to address a problem that doesn’t exist.”
The list includes everything from which national holidays are observed to local board requirements for competitive bidding to compulsory attendance policies. These are now automatically granted to charter schools upon the establishment of a signed charter contract.
HB 16-1343, introduced by Rep. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, would eliminate the automatic waivers and require charter schools to offer a plan on how they will meet each law’s intent. The bill is pending in the Colorado House’s education committee.
“The league strongly opposes this proposal,” Dan Schaller, director of advocacy for Colorado League of Charter Schools, told Watchdog.org. “If successful, HB 16-1343 will undo a common-sense approach that eliminates unnecessary paperwork.”
In a fact sheet prepared to combat the legislation, Schaller’s group notes those waivers have become standard and consistent over two decades, which led to the system of automatic waivers being adopted into law in 2014. He notes that traditional public schools can also pursue waivers from certain sections of the law.
The Colorado League said most of the waivers refer to school board powers that are simply delegated to the charter school board.
The Colorado Education Association came out in support of the bill.
“This bill would challenge charter schools to play by the same rules as neighborhood schools. Currently, the playing field is vastly different,” Kerrie Dallman, president of the Colorado Education Association, said in a news release. “Charter schools are allowed to waive out of many requirements that neighborhood public schools abide by every school day. We need legislation that makes every school, neighborhood or charter, more accountable to the same standards.”
The legislation would still allow charter schools to apply for the waivers on a case-by-case basis, by submitting a rationale and replacement plan to both the local school district and the state board of education to indicate how the school would meet the intent of the law being waived.