Under the Dome

Bill transfers control of NC Office of Charter Schools

The Senate Education Committee passed a bill Wednesday that would strip the state Department of Public Instruction of oversight of charter schools and changes who serves on the Charter Schools Advisory Board.

The committee approved a substitute version of House Bill 334, turning legislation allowing charter schools to charge fees for extracurricular activities into a bill transferring control of the Office of Charter Schools. The new version of the bill would have the State Board of Education oversee the Office of Charter Schools, including appointing the office’s executive director.

Some charter advocates have accused the Office of Charter Schools of not being supportive of the non-traditional public schools. That point was reiterated Wednesday when Sen. Jerry Tillman, a Randolph County Republican and co-chairman of the Education Committee, charged that DPI “has never been in love with charter schools.”

The bill directs DPI, which oversees North Carolina’s traditional public schools, to work with the newly relocated Office of Charter Schools.

Charter schools are taxpayer funded schools that are exempt from some of the regulations that traditional public schools must follow.

The revised legislation also alters the composition of the Charter Schools Advisory Board, which makes recommendations to the State Board of Education.

The bill strips the governor’s office of the power to appoint the chair of the advisory board.

The bill would also turn the advisory board seat now held by a State Board of Education member into a non-voting position. Instead, the State Board would be required to pick a person who to serve as a voting member on the advisory board who is not on the State Board and “who is a charter school advocate in North Carolina.”

The bill now goes to the full Senate.