The legislature’s Education Committee removed language from a bill Friday that would have prohibited the state from opening new charter schools.
Instead, the committee will leave it up to the Appropriations Committee to decided how many charter schools should be funded. Currently, there are 22 charter schools in the state and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget includes funding to open two new ones in Bridgeport and Stamford.
“I know the original bill was not very controversial and didn’t attract much attention,” state Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, D-West Hartford, said sarcastically. He said the bill simply got rid of sections that attracted “more heat than light.”
Last week, Malloy said he wouldn’t support a moratorium on charter schools, but it’s still unclear if the Appropriations Committee will fund the opening of the two new charter schools.
The bill the Education Committee passed retained some of the language to bring more transparency to charter schools and charter school management companies, but it also got rid of language that would force all nonprofits doing business with charter schools to comply with the state’s open records law.
Fleischmann said the effort to automatically expand the Freedom of Information Act to cover any nonprofit working with a public school was jettisoned from the legislation. He said they heard testimony about how it “was just not well crafted.” He said it would force a lot of nonprofits into situations that were just “not fair to them.”
The bill was introduced in the wake of a scandal at a now-defunct charter management organization, the Family Urban School of Excellence (FUSE). That charter organization ran schools in Hartford and sought to operate a school in Bridgeport when it was reported that the head of the organization had been convicted of embezzlement and didn’t hold a doctorate, contrary to how he portrayed himself on his resume.
The new language was applauded by charter school organizations.
“The moratorium on public charter schools would have been a huge step backward,” Achievement First Co-CEO and President Dacia Toll said. “The Education Committee heard the outcry from families across the state who are demanding more high-quality public school options and great schools for every child. I applaud all the legislators who not only listened, but responded and stood up for kids.”