Senate rejects charter school constitutional initiatives while House narrowly approves them

February 16, 2016

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SJR 6 (Obenshain) was defeated in the Senate on a 21-19 vote. This measure would have granted the Board of Education authority, subject to criteria and conditions prescribed by the General Assembly, to establish charter schools within the school divisions of the Commonwealth. Its House companion, HJR 1 (Robert Bell), passed the House on a 52-47 vote.

SJR 93 (Obenhain) was defeated in the Senate on a 20-20 vote. This resolution authorizes a referendum at the November 8, 2016, election to approve or reject an amendment to grant the Board of Education the authority to establish charter schools within the school divisions of the Commonwealth, subject to any criteria or conditions that the General Assembly may prescribe. The closest House companion measure, HB 3 (Robert Bell), passed the House on a 50-48 vote.

Two related bills, HB 565 (Lingamfelter) and SB 734 (Obenshain), change several provisions relating to the establishment and operation of charter schools. Last week both bills were significantly amended to include language allowing for the state Board of Education to overrule a decision by a local school board to deny the application for a charter school. This provision cannot go into effect unless Virginia’s Constitution is amended in a way that would permit a state-level veto of a local decision. In the Education Innovation Subcommittee of the House Education Committee, VACo spoke against the amended version of the legislation. SB 734 passed the Senate on a 21-19 vote, but HB 565 was defeated in the House by a 53-46 vote.

VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE

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