Commission approves charter school regulations 

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HARRISBURG—Gov. Tom Wolf has applauded the Independent Regulatory Review Commission’s approval of charter-school regulations developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to increase transparency, equity, quality and accountability in implementation of the Charter School Law.

“These regulations are a vital step in clarifying charter schools’ responsibilities to the taxpayers who fund them,” Wolf said. “We were forced to take this path when the Legislature refused to act on our comprehensive reform package. Charter schools received nearly $3 billion in publicly paid tuition this school year. Parents and taxpayers have a right to know how those resources are being used.”

The regulations clarify several elements of the state CSL to align public charter school operations and oversight with that of traditional public schools. 

The regulations:

  • Provide clear application requirements for entities seeking to open a charter school, regional charter school, and cyber charter school;
  • Ensure that all Pennsylvania students are able to access charter schools;
  • Clarify the ethics requirements for charter and cyber charter school trustees;
  • Require school districts and charter schools to follow the same fiscal management and auditing standards;
  • Streamline the process for charter schools to request tuition payments from school districts and the state; and
  • Provide a consistent, common-sense method for charter schools to meet the employee health care requirements in state law.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) began developing the regulations in August 2019. Nearly 2,000 comments from charter schools, school districts, professional organizations, lawmakers, and the public were considered as part of the process.

Charter schools are public schools funded by taxpayers through school district and state funds. A school district must grant the school a charter before students from the school district may enroll in the charter school. The PDE authorizes cyber charter schools, since they serve the entire state.

There are 179 charter schools and cyber charter schools operating in Pennsylvania this school year. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have students enrolled in some form of charter school.

Since taking office, Governor Wolf has been committed to addressing the state’s broken Charter School Law, which is regarded as the worst in the country. The Wolf Administration’s plan to fix the law protects students by holding low performing charter schools accountable, protects taxpayers by reining in skyrocketing charter school costs and improves the public trust by increasing transparency of for-profit companies that manage some charter schools.

For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs, please visit the Department of Education’s website.