State and Legal ‘Greatest Hits’ for Charter Schools in 2018

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A Champion for Charters with her award from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

2018 was a big year for the public charter school sector. Let’s take a look back at the highlights on the state and legal front:

1. Washington State Supreme Court upholds public charter schools

Perhaps the biggest victory for charter school students this year was in Washington state, where the  state’s supreme court upheld the constitutionality of its public charter schools. The case before the court, El Centro de la Raza v. Washington, threatened the more than 3,400 public charter school students whose futures were put into question. 

This ruling ended a years-long effort by charter school opponents to prevent charter schools from taking root in the state. As part of this case, the National Alliance, the Black Alliance for Educational Options, the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools, and the League of Education Voters—supported by the National Charter School Legal Action Fund—filed a joint amicus brief before the Washington State Supreme Court, highlighting the broad public support for public charter schools and the families they serve in 44 states and the District of Columbia, including Washington state.

2. Ohio takes first step in reforming its full-time virtual charter school policies

This summer, the Ohio legislature passed and Governor Kasich signed into law State Bill 216 (SB 216), which takes the first step toward increasing transparency and accountability in the full-time virtual charter school sector in Ohio.

Among other provisions, SB 216 requires full-time virtual charter schools to automatically un-enroll students who miss a certain number of consecutive unexcused hours and creates a legislative committee to make recommendations on a performance-based funding model for virtual charter schools. The committee studying these recommendations will likely release their findings in the first half of 2019.

3. Louisiana State Supreme Court rules for charter school funding

In March, public charter schools saw another huge win before a state’s highest court. Louisiana’s State Supreme Court ruled in a 5-2 decision to overturn a prior appeals court ruling claiming charter school funding for “Type 2” state-authorized charter schools was unconstitutional. As a result, the 16,000 charter school students who attend these schools were assured their classroom seat would not be threatened by an adverse legal ruling.

4. More state wins!

In other big news this year, Florida provided $120 million in capital outlay funding for charter schools, Georgia significantly increased funding for state-authorized charter schools, and Michigan provided charter schools with access to regional enhancement property tax levies.

5. APCSA celebrates ten-year anniversary

Ten years ago, the National Alliance and its partners were interested in convening public charter school attorneys across the country. As a result, the Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys (APCSA) was founded.

Driven from its inception to support charter school policy priorities through legal advocacy, APCSA serves as a research and networking hub for education attorneys to obtain and exchange information. In addition, it seeks to educate and keep members current on the legal issues affecting charter schools, management organizations, and boards, both directly and indirectly. What was once a small community of APCSA lawyers has grown to over 400 attorneys nationally.

6. First charter school in Puerto Rico opens its doors.

In August, the very first public charter school in Puerto Rico welcomed its inaugural class of students after the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico upheld the constitutionality of these schools. Vimenti (meaning lifelong learning) Charter School, opened by Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico, focuses on health screenings and provides other wrap-around services such as job training for parents interested in working in the hospitality industry.

Two more charter schools are anticipated to open next school year, and 15 others are in the pipeline.

 

Kat Sullivan is the director of advocacy communications at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

See our other posts in the 2018 in Review series:

 

Learn more about how the public charter school landscape varies by state with the National Alliance’s charter school law database.

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