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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: June 11, 2021 02:29 PM
From: Representative Martina A. White
To: All House members
Subject: Ensuring an Independent and Efficient Charter School Appeal Board (CAB)
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation to restructure the make-up of the state Charter School Appeal Board (CAB), shift the authority to appoint members to the CAB to the General Assembly and ensure the CAB is an autonomous, balanced and efficient entity.
The CAB was established with the intent of it being an independent body to review decisions made by charter school authorizers (local school districts authorize brick-and-mortar charters and the PA Department of Education authorizes cyber charters). These decisions include whether to grant or deny a new charter school application, and if an existing charter school will be granted a renewal or if their charter will be revoked. These decisions have the power to impact the lives of thousands of public school students who are desperate for quality school choice options.
Currently, the Charter School Law gives the exclusive authority to nominate individuals to the CAB to the governor and the nominees must be approved by a majority vote of the PA Senate. The CAB is comprised of seven (7) members: six (6) of whom are appointed by the governor and serve a term of four (4) years, as well as the PA Secretary of Education.
In the six years that the current administration has been in office, they have failed to nominate anyone to the CAB which has left five (5) individuals serving under expired terms (two individuals have continued to serve even though their terms expired in 2015) and a vacant seat. In April, the governor unceremoniously and without jurisdiction, sent letters to the five individuals serving on the CAB informing them that their service was no longer needed. This has left the public charter schools with pending cases before the CAB in limbo and disrupted the due process these schools are afforded by the Charter School Law.
PA’s public charter schools educate 169,000+ students across the Commonwealth and they depend on a fully-functioning, independent CAB. 
My legislation will maintain the number of members serving on the CAB: six (6) appointees and the Secretary of Education. However, it will shift the power to appoint those six (6) individuals from the governor to the four (4) caucuses in the General Assembly. My legislation will also create balance on the CAB by ensuring both school district and charter school interests are represented in the six (6) appointees. Finally, my proposal ensures that the CAB and its members are protected from any future overreach on the part of the Executive Branch by outlining terms of office for members, and providing a process to address vacancies and the removal of CAB members.  
Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as HB1626