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Wolf Administration Develops Regulations to Better Serve Pennsylvania’s Students, Communities, and Charter Schools

02/10/2022

Harrisburg, PA - Secretary of Education Dr. Noe Ortega announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) submitted its final-form charter school regulations to the General Assembly and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) for immediate review. The regulations will assist charter schools by clarifying their responsibilities as taxpayer-funded public schools under the Charter School Law.

“These regulations will promote transparency, equity, quality, and accountability in the implementation of the Charter School Law,” said Secretary Ortega. “Charter schools are supported by commonwealth taxpayers, and these schools will receive nearly $3 billion in publicly paid tuition during the 2021-2022 school year. PDE has drafted these regulations to ensure that parents and taxpayers are fully aware of how these resources are being used.”

The regulations clarify several elements of the state Charter School Law (CSL) that negatively impact school choice for Pennsylvania students and families.

The regulations:

  • Provide clear application requirements for entities seeking to open a charter school, regional charter school, and cyber charter school;
  • Ensure that all Pennsylvania students are able to access charter schools;
  • Clarify the ethics requirements for charter and cyber charter school trustees;
  • Require school districts and charter schools to follow the same fiscal management and auditing standards;
  • Streamline the process for charter schools to request tuition payments from school districts and the state; and
  • Provide a consistent, common-sense method for charter schools to meet the employee health care requirements in state law.

PDE began developing the regulations in August 2019. Nearly 2,000 comments from charter schools, school districts, professional organizations, lawmakers, and the public were considered as part of the process.

“We appreciate the feedback from our stakeholders and have incorporated recommendations from those comments into the final-form regulations,” added Sec. Ortega. “The regulations will benefit our public charter schools by clarifying what is required under the Charter School Law and by providing guidance on their responsibilities to parents, students, and taxpayers as public schools.”

Charter schools are public schools funded by taxpayers through school district and state funds. A school district must grant the school a charter before students from the school district may enroll in the charter school. The Pennsylvania Department of Education authorizes cyber charter schools, since they serve the entire state.

There are 179 charter schools and cyber charter schools operating in Pennsylvania this school year. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have students enrolled in some form of charter school.

Since taking office, Governor Wolf has been committed to addressing the state’s broken Charter School Law, which is regarded as the worst in the country. The Wolf Administration’s plan to fix the law protects students by holding low performing charter schools accountable, protects taxpayers by reining in skyrocketing charter school costs and improves the public trust by increasing transparency of for-profit companies that manage some charter schools.

For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs, please visit the Department of Education’s website. Follow PDE on FacebookTwitterYouTubeFlickr, or Pinterest.

MEDIA CONTACT: Kendall Alexander - kenalexand@pa.gov

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