Senate Committee approves charter school reform bill

    Scandals have plagued Philadelphia’s charter schools and have led to a federal probe of 18 seperate schools.

    Scandals have plagued Philadelphia’s charter schools and have led to a federal probe of 18 seperate schools.

    State lawmakers want to tighten up loopholes and create clarity when it comes to charter school accountability.

    A Senate Committee gave bi-partison approval to a reform charter school bill.

    Charter schools in Philadelphia have come under scrutiny for everything from fraud to operating nightclubs in school cafeterias. But the 1997 state charter law is unclear about who is responsible for oversight.

    Republican state Senator Jeffrey Piccola helped write it. Piccola says he assumed the local school boards would provide scrutiny.

    “Once they’re chartered its like they set sail and are never seen from again until they come back for re-chartering five years later,” Piccola says, “I guess our assumptions were not correct in providing for all of the oversite and clarity that needed to be in place.”

    The bill would create an oversight office at the state level. In Philadelphia, the Controller’s office would have audit authority. The board members and staff of the charters would have to comply with state ethics and conflict of interest laws. Supporters hope to have the bill passed and signed by the Governor by summer.

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