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Kanawha adopts state rules for approving charter schools

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Kanawha County Board of Education members unanimously agreed Thursday to use locally the process that the state school board developed for approving charter schools.

Much of the state board’s charter school regulations are mandatory for Kanawha and other county school systems anyway. The state has legalized charter schools statewide.

“The process that the state developed was pretty thorough,” county Superintendent Ron Duerring said.

“And I think it’s a process that we can easily follow,” he said.

Kanawha is allowed some customization — something board President Ryan White suggested he would like to pursue in the future.

The state board itself chose not to use its constitutional power to fight the order by the governor and the state Legislature to create a policy legalizing charter schools. That order came in last year’s omnibus education law, House Bill 206.

The policy the state board then created says that if county school boards want to create their own policies for how they will evaluate applications to create charter schools, they have to adopt these policies by the end of this month.

Otherwise, as Kanawha is doing, they must use the state’s evaluation criteria.

Even if counties create their own evaluation policies, the state board ordered that their policies must comply with certain prescriptions that lawmakers ordered in the omnibus.

Nonprofits, including groups newly formed by parents or entire universities, can apply to local school boards to create a new charter school or convert an existing public school into a charter school. Local boards then have to decide whether to approve or deny these creations or conversions.

White said he’s not aware of any attempts to create a charter in Kanawha.

The deadline for the first applications from these nonprofits is Aug. 31. Only three charter schools are allowed to open statewide until fall 2023, when three more can open, and so on and so on with three more allowed every three years.

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