Charter Bill Continues Treading Water in Senate Committee - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Charter Bill Continues Treading Water in Senate Committee

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Disagreement on whether an amendment is a housekeeping item or a major change to public charter school oversight kept a Senate committee from voting on Gov. Larry Hogan's charter school bill.

The Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on Friday postponed a vote until at least next week after Sen. Paul Pinsky, a Democrat who chairs the education subcommittee, suggested striking language from the bill that would reduce the state board of education's ability to weigh in on the denial of a charter school application at the local level.

"It's completing an effort that was attempted a week ago," said Pinsky, referring to a work session last week in which other language that made the state board a secondary chartering authority was struck from the governor's bill. "Either there was a misunderstanding or incomplete action when this was first proposed, but there was no surprise earlier on when we removed language for secondary chartering authority."

But Sen. James Rosapepe, D-Prince George's County, said there was a difference in eliminating secondary chartering authority and eliminating review authority.

"The fact that there is some power at the state level really has folks paying attention at the locals (county school boards) to look at all sides and be reasonable," Rosapepe said. "When you take away that review it tips the scales in a way that will be very dramatic."

Pinsky's amendment was one of many that have been proposed by education stakeholders in response to Hogan's expansion plan.

The governor introduced his legislation in early February, which he said offered more flexibility and freedom for the schools. Among his changes was exempting employees from state teacher certification, allowing charter schools to have the ability to apply for a waiver that would exempt charter schools from many of the laws that govern public schools, qualifying charter schools for funding through the state's capital improvement program, and employees would not be required to be a part of an existing teachers' union or bargaining agreement.

Recent amendments have essentially removed or reversed those proposals.

In the House, an education subcommittee chaired by Del. Anne Kaiser, D-Montgomery County, is also reviewing the proposed legislation.

Kaiser said Friday the subcommittee would take it cues from the amended bill in the Senate.

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