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New law increases state oversight over Delaware charter schools

Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed into law today a measure the state says increases accountability and improves oversight of charter schools in the state.

According to Markell, House Bill 205 is designed to ensure that individuals requesting a charter are qualified to govern a school by requiring criminal background checks and disclosure of financial interests in the school.

“Charter schools complement the work of our traditional public schools,” said Markell. “Charter schools empower parents to choose the school that best fits their child’s needs. But the promise of charter schools is not just added flexibility – it is added flexibility coupled with heightened accountability.”

Working closely with state lawmakers, charter schools and the Delaware State Education Association (DSEA), the administration says the measure will help prevent what happened at Reach Academy for Girls and Pencader Charter High School from happening again. Both schools had faced closure because of governance and financial issues.

“This law will help the state give stronger options, support and oversight to ensure our charter schools provide children the education they deserve and taxpayers the accountability they deserve,” said Dr. Lillian Lowery, Delaware’s Secretary of Education.

HB 205 also requires that charter schools share more information about their financial health throughout the year, and gives the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) greater authority to intervene once a problem is identified. If a charter school is on formal review, the state says, a Financial Recovery Team may be appointed to examine the school’s finances, provide information to parents and teachers and make certain financial decisions. “These are evolutionary changes that build on what we’ve learned about charters that allow us to build an even stronger charter school program,” said Sen. David Sokola (D-Newark), who sponsored the state’s original charter school law.

Click here to read a fact sheet about HB 205.

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