Legislation to more tightly regulate charter schools is under scrutiny this legislative session.
Two bills seek to close loopholes in how charter schools work with their sponsors and for-profit education management organizations.
State Representative Sheila Dills of Tulsa said some important conversations over the past year have brought stakeholders to the table as they work on this bill, securing her support this session.
House Bill 3643 will increase transparency in the relationship between charter schools and for-profit management groups.
“It really protects taxpayers and students, ensuring that the money we appropriate goes to their education and not into the pockets of the owners of these for-profit education management companies,” Dills said.
House Bill 3644 creates a minimum performance framework that charter schools must meet. Sponsors will use the framework to evaluate the school, board training, contract reviews and more.
“Just a lot of different things that we think will really fix the problems with our law, especially defining the difference between public and private funds. and it gives the state the ability to ‘follow the money,’ so to speak,” Dills said.
This comes after startling findings from the State Auditor’s audit of Epic Charter Schools and their former managers Epic Youth Services.
The charter was required to return a total of $20 million in ill-spent public dollars to the state and is accused of hiding “excessive administrative costs.”
Rep. Dills said the new laws were crafted with the support of dozens of stakeholders, including new charter school officials Epic, who want to see charter school innovation thrive.
“Just people who came to the table multiple times and talked about the issues, and they really hadn’t come together,” Dills said. “We want charter schools to succeed. We want all schools to succeed in Oklahoma, but there must be appropriate safeguards and accountability measures.
You can read House Bills 3643 and 3644 below.