State Board of Education members are set Wednesday to approve their first regulations for West Virginia’s first charter schools.
Charter schools, which are publicly funded but run by private organizations — possibly including companies hired by the schools — can waste money and fail to help kids if they’re not sufficiently regulated.
But what freedoms and restrictions the state Department of Education will ultimately propose Wednesday that the state school board impose on these schools wasn’t clear by press time Monday. The education department still hadn’t published its final proposals.
“We received a significant number of responses to the Charter Schools policy during the comment period,” said Christy Day, a communications coordinator for the department. “The policy will be available prior to the board’s action on it in adherence to all open meeting laws.”
Also at Wednesday’s meeting — 10 a.m. in Room 353 of Building 6 of Charleston’s state Capitol Complex — the board is set for a final vote on proposed changes to Policy 2510.
It was through the department’s initially proposed changes to that central curriculum policy that it suggested reducing high school social studies standards.
Unlike with the charter schools issue, the department has revealed how it’s changing its recommendation to the board on this policy Wednesday. As state Schools Superintendent Steve Paine previously announced, the department is rescinding its previously proposed social studies standards reductions.
The board could, nonetheless, forge ahead with these social studies standards reductions Wednesday, despite the department abandoning the proposal.
The newly recommended Policy 2510 changes would also add a new definition of “self-contained special education classroom.” This may have implications for which classes are required to have cameras recording them.
Also, the board has a broadly worded agenda item Wednesday regarding employment of the state superintendent and a possible search for a new one.
Paine announced last week that he’s leaving June 30, or earlier if the board finds a replacement.
Much of the policy copied requirements from last year’s omnibus education law (House Bill 206), which legalized charter schools. But while that law was silent on whether online charter schools would be allowed, the initially proposed charter school policy would have banned full-time virtual charter schools.
The agenda for Wednesday’s meeting says “124 distinct commenters provided a total of 510 comments.”
But whether, and how, the department has changed the initial proposal to reflect those comments was not revealed by press time.
Generally, here’s how state school board policies, like the one regulating charter schools, are passed:
- the education department presents the board a written proposal for a new policy, or for changes to an existing policy;
- the board votes to publish that initial proposal for public comment, or votes to alter that proposal and then publish it;
- the public does, or doesn’t, comment during the comment period;
- the department changes, or doesn’t change, the proposal based on comments;
- lastly, the board gives its final vote on the department’s final proposal. The board can reject it, approve it, or change it one last time from what the department recommended and then approve it.