Charter School Regulations Are About To Change In Pennsylvania

Charter-school regulations developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) are about to shake the foundation of charter schools across the commonwealth.

The PDE and Pennsylvania administration is on track to implement charter-school regulations according to PDE. These regulatory changes include increased transparency, equity, equality, and accountability in Charter School Law (CSL).

“These regulations clearly define for the first time charter schools’ responsibilities to the taxpayers who fund them,” Governor Wolf said. “Parents and taxpayers have a right to know how charter schools used the nearly $3 billion in publicly paid tuition they received in the past school year. With the Legislature’s failure to enact comprehensive reform, we were forced to take this path.”

Several components of state CSL will bring clarity to these forthcoming pending regulations, according to PDE, to public charter schools along with oversight of traditional public schools. These changes were approved in March of 2022 by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) and delivered to the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) for publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

The regulations, according to PDE, include:

  • Providing precise application requirements for entities seeking to open a charter school, regional charter school, and cyber charter school,
  • Ensure that all Pennsylvania students can access charter schools,
  • Clarify the ethics requirements for charter and cyber charter school trustees.
  • School districts and charter schools follow the same financial 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 employee health care requirements in state law.

In August of 2019, the induction of these regulations became a consideration, factoring in roughly 2,000 comments from charter schools, school districts, professional organizations, lawmakers, and Pennsylvania residents, according to PDE.

Charter schools function by being funded by taxpayers and state funds, through the school district, according to PDE. Before any student can enroll, charter schools must receive a grant before any students from the school district can enroll.

The PDE will give authority to cyber charter schools to serve students statewide. During the 2021-2022 year, 179 charter and cyber charter schools were in operation. Among 67 counties in Pennsylvania, students enrolled in some form of a charter school, including both online and offline schooling, according to PDE.

Pennsylvania administration regards our CSL to be some of the worst in the country, according to Governor Wolf. Charter school law is on track to change by holding low-performing charter schools accountable, protecting taxpayers by reducing the rising cost of charter schools, and increasing transparency of for-profit companies that manage these schools.

With Pennsylvania CSL about to change, regulations reinforced, and low-performing charter schools about to be held accountable, the future of Charter Schools is about to look different.