After years of unsuccessful attempts, the California legislators have finally passed and gotten a governor to sign into law requirements for charter schools to have their governance meetings and records subject to the state’s transparency laws for local agencies, and their officials subject to its conflict of interest laws.
On March 5 Governor Newsom signed AB 126 by Assembly Member Connie Leyva (D-Chino). The Senate Education Committee’s consultant provides a thorough analysis, but the Legislative Counsel’s Digest of AB 126 sums the bill up thus:
This bill provides that charter schools and entities managing charter schools are subject to the Ralph M. Brown Act, unless the charter school is operated by an entity governed by the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, in which case the charter school would be subject to that Act, except as specified.
The bill requires specified charter schools or entities managing charter schools to hold meetings in specified locations. It prohibits a meeting of the governing body of a charter school to discuss items related to the operation of the charter school from including the discussion any item regarding an activity of the body that is unrelated to the operation of the charter school.
The California Public Records Act requires state and local agencies to make their records available for public inspection and to make copies available upon request and payment of a fee unless the records are exempt from disclosure.
This bill expressly states that charter schools and entities managing charter schools are subject to the California Public Records Act, except as specified.
Existing law prohibits certain public officials, including, but not limited to, state, county, or district officers or employees, from being financially interested in any contract made by them in their official capacity or by any body or board of which they are members, except as provided.
This bill expressly states that charter schools and entities managing charter schools are subject to these provisions, except that an employee of a charter school is not disqualified from serving as a member of the governing body of the school because of that employment status. The bill requires a member of the governing body who is also an employee of the charter school to abstain from voting on, or influencing or attempting to influence another member of the body regarding any matter uniquely affecting that member’s own employment.
The Political Reform Act of 1974 requires every state agency and local governmental agency to adopt a conflict-of-interest code, formulated at the most decentralized level possible, that requires designated employees of the agency to file statements of economic interest disclosing any investments, business positions, interests in real property, or sources of income that may foreseeably be affected materially by any governmental decision made or participated in by the designated employee by virtue of that employee’s position.
This bill expressly states that charter schools and entities managing charter schools are subject to the Political Reform Act of 1974, except as specified.