Images-2 OPEN GOVERNMENT -- Charter schools would be subject to the California Public Records Act, their board meetings subject to the Brown Act and their board members required to file public statements of economic interest under the Political Reform Act under a bill approved Wednesday by the Assembly Education Committee on an 8-3 vote.

The support for and opposition to AB 572 by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Woodland Hills). which now goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, are indicated in the Education Committee analysis of the bill.

Supporters of the bill, including the California School Boards Association, the Association of California School Administrators, the California Association of School Business Officials, the California State PTA, the California Federation of Teachers, Orange County Department of Education, San Francisco Unified School District, and Antioch Unified School District argue, this measure will strengthen efforts to end financial abuse of public funds in charter schools, provide transparency into the operations of the many charter schools that are providing quality educational options for parents and students, and renew the faith of parents and the community that their local charter school is acting in the best interest of students. 

The California Teachers Association supports the bill and argues, "CTA believes that all authorizing entities, including school districts, county offices of education and the state board of education, should be free of conflicts of interest in the approval of charter schools.  CTA believes that all charter school governing boards also should be free of conflicts of interest in the operation of charter schools and that the Ralph M. Brown Act (open meetings law) and the Public Records Act should apply to the operation of these schools.  There is a role for charter schools in California's education system.  That role should be performed to at least the same high standards of integrity, transparency and openness required of traditional public schools."

The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) opposes the bill and argues, "CCSA supports applying appropriate conflict of interest provisions to charter schools, including transparency and recusal by board members with a financial interest in a board decision.  In fact, most charter schools are nonprofit corporations and must abide by the Corporations Code that  includes conflict of interest provisions. We believe that AB  572's directive that charter schools comply with Government Code Section 87100 et seq applies an inappropriate conflict of interest scheme to charter schools.  We are open to crafting a conflict of interest law that is specific to charter schools."