New California bill would change charter school approval process

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File photo: Pupils listen to their teacher in a classroom on the first day of the school year.

The California Assembly has passed a bill that would significantly change the way charter schools are created.

As it stands, if an existing public school wants to leave school district control and become a charter school it needs a yes vote from a majority of the teachers on staff. A bill by Norwalk-area state Assemblyman Tony Mendoza would also require a majority vote from a school’s support staff for the conversion to move forward.

The California Charter Schools Association opposes the bill on the grounds that it would place charter approval in the hands of secretaries and others who constitute a small portion of employees.

There are more than 900 charter schools in the state. More than 10 percent used to be public schools that converted to charter status.

Some high-profile charter school conversions have taken place in Los Angeles Unified in recent years. Granada Hills, Palisades and El Camino Real high schools have successfully gained more control over their finances and curriculum while they remain public schools. Mendoza’s bill to add another step to that process now goes to the state Senate.

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