Legal Update Memo No. 08-2019 REVISED – Charter Schools – Major New Governance Requirements Regarding Open Meeting Laws; California Public Records Act; Political Reform Act; and Conflict of Interest Laws (SB 126) (K-12)
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In our Legal Update Memo No. 02-2019 (January 16, 2019), we summarized an advisory opinion from the California Attorney General regarding charter schools being subject to those “public integrity” statutes noted above. Any doubts about the Attorney General’s advisory opinion have now been resolved by recently-enacted legislation referred to as SB 126. (See copy attached.)
Effective January 1, 2020, newly-enacted SB 126 adds Education Code section 47604.1 to the Charter Schools Act of 1992. Charter schools that are operated under Education Code section 47604 by or as a “nonprofit public benefit corporation” shall be subject to the following provisions of existing law: The Ralph M. Brown Act; The California Public Records Act; Government Code section 1090 et seq; and The Political Reform Act of 1974.
These four “public integrity” statutes are well known to school districts in California, but many of the so called “independent” charter schools that are managed by “nonprofit public benefit corporations” will need to get ready to comply with these formidable new governance requirements.
There are several unique aspects of new Education Code section 47604.1 that deserve further comment:
- Charter schools that are operated as a “dependent” charter of a school district or county office of education are not subject to newly-enacted Education Code section 47604.1 because “dependent” charter schools are managed by a chartering agency already subject to the governance rules noted above.
- Although independent charter schools that are not managed by a nonprofit public benefit corporation are not subject to section 47604.1, they may be subject to the four statutory schemes noted above either because the charter was granted on the condition of complying with these rules or as noted by the California Attorney General, in an opinion referenced above. (See Legal Update Memo 02-2019.)
- The “governing body” of an entity that manages two or more charter schools that are not located in the same county “shall audio record, video record, or both all the board meetings and post the recordings on each charter school’s internet website.”
- If your school district or county office of education is the chartering agency of an independent charter school that is managed by a “nonprofit public benefit corporation” you should provide appropriate charter school representatives with a copy of SB 126 as soon as possible.
- Thereafter, your school district will need to exercise sufficient oversight to make sure that the charter school is being managed in conformance with this new law.
Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.
Legal Update written by Robert J. Henry, Of Counsel.
The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice. Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue. We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.
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