Committee OKs plan to remove BOE from charter schools

Education school apple

The House Education Policy Committee approved a bill on Tuesday that would remove the Alabama State Board of Education from confirming a new charter school commission.

Republicans who sponsored Alabama’s newly passed charter school legislation expressed frustration at the state school board’s refusal to confirm a list of nominees for the commission.

The charter school commission is responsible for hearing appeals of charter school applications rejected on the local level.

Bill sponsor Republican Rep. Terri Collins of Decatur said the bill is needed to ensure the commission is in place by the June 1 deadline.

“The bill has to go through so many steps in order to pass,” she said. “Getting that simply done by June 1 will be an effort. If they were to actually pass the state commission at any point during that, then the bill could just stop, but I’m probably not going to postpone the bill until they do something.”

Republicans have passed charter school legislation this session after making it a priority for several years.

Board members have said they wanted more time to interview and research candidates nominated by the governor, lieutenant governor, House speaker and Senate president pro tem.

Several state board members have said they agree with being removed from the process.

“I think they deserve the entire decision making process on this,” board member Ella Bell said last week. “They created the charter schools. This was not the decision of the people of this state.”

Democratic Rep. Patricia Todd of Birmingham voted against the bill. She said it’s too soon to cut the school board out of the process.

Todd said it seems reasonable to allow for the board to have more time talk with the candidates, even if it means extending the June 1 deadline.

“They have had one round to look at people,” she said. “I don’t think just one round and all of a sudden boom they’re going to appoint them and take their authority away is good policy.”

Other bills this session already have taken away major responsibilities from the state school board. Gov. Robert Bentley signed a bill removing the state’s two-year college system from BOE oversight. Another bill, which died in a Senate committee, would have created term limits for the board’s elected members but would have raised their pay.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.