The House voted Thursday to mandate that charter schools operate under the same discrimination policies as traditional public schools.
The vote came two days after Rep. Paul Stam, an Apex Republican, made national news for trying to swat down a different amendment with LGBT protections by suggesting pedophilia and necrophilia were sexual orientations. Stam was rebuked by House colleagues and equality groups for his statements.
The anti-discrimination amendment was introduced by Rep. Marcus Brandon, a Democrat from High Point and the legislature’s only openly gay member. Brandon said the law on discrimination was clear, but that the amendment was necessary because lawmakers have been known to interpret the law in a way that fits their own ideologies.
“This amendment is an American amendment. That’s what I want you to look at it as,” he said. “We’re simply saying every child in this state is entitled to all the privileges thereof.”
Brandon’s amendment was killed for procedural reasons but
Rep. Nathan Ramsay, a Republican from Fairview, introduced a similar amendment.
Although the amendment passed unanimously, some legislators weren’t satisfied. Rep. Susan Fisher, who had introduced the LGBT protections amendment on Tuesday that was tabled after Stam’s comments, said she appreciated the effort but was still disappointed.
“If we read literature about discrimination practices, the more that you are able to delineate those populations of folks that are bullied or harassed, the better chances are they have not to be bullied or harassed,” Fisher said. “Even though we are making some effort along these lines, I think the House can do better, and I hope in the future we would.
Senate Bill 793 also allows charter schools to expand rapidly within the state, a point that was met with some contention from Rep. Alma Adams, a Democrat from Greensboro. Adams was concerned the bill would allow charter schools to add grade levels without being properly reviewed by the Board of Charter Schools.
The bill, which passed the House 97-18, also allows charter school teachers to serve as non-voting members of the school board. Another amendment exempts charter school employs from one aspect of the state’s public record law: their salaries may be published but not their names.