Efforts to make the Public Education Commission (PEC) a stand-alone entity and remove its administrative attachment from the Public Education Department (PED) won approval in the Senate on Friday. Concerns have been raised with regard to locally-chartered charter schools appealing to the PED Secretary who has overruled the local school districts and the PEC. The legislation is now heading to the Governor for consideration.
House Bill 392 as amended, “Public Education Commission as Independent,” sponsored by Rep. Mary Helen Garcia (D-Doña Ana-34), eliminates the authority of the Secretary of PED to review charter school appeals and places the duty with the PEC. This legislation also transfers $375,000 from PED to PEC for FY 2014 for administrative costs. After that, the independent PEC will be responsible for seeking funding from the Legislature.
“I’m happy this legislation is going to the Governor,” says Rep. Garcia. “The proliferation of charter schools in the state has become overwhelming. To grant or review a charter request and render a decision on substantial evidence can be time consuming, and to determine whether the decision is arbitrary or capricious is a great responsibility. These decisions should be made by an independent Public Education Commission comprised of representatives from throughout the state. Decisions like these should not be influenced by the politics of the PED.”
The PEC would be required to prepare an annual budget and report to the governor annually on the commission’s policies, rules and any actions the commission takes to grant, renew, or deny an application for a charter or any actions taken on appeal.