House passes “Virtual Charter School Transparency and Reform Act”

OKLAHOMA CITY – Following up on legislation passed last year regarding transparency in virtual charter schools, State Rep. Sheila Dills (R-Tulsa) passed House Bill 2905 through the Oklahoma House of Representatives today.

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House Bill 2905, the Virtual Charter School Transparency and Reform Act of 2020, addresses transfer, attendance, student engagement and truancy policies. It also directs the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board to promulgate rules for orientation information to be provided to students and parents.

“House Bill 2905 ensures the state is protecting our students while also giving parents the flexibility and information necessary to make the best decision for their child,” Dills said. “Virtual charter schools are a great option for some families, but we need to make sure they’re being transparent about how they spend taxpayer money.”

The measure also adds an orientation piece that will be provided to each family before a student begins instruction to help a student and their guardian understand the type of education in which they are enrolling. The bill also addresses student transfer policies.

Dills said she worked with stakeholders from the two largest virtual charter schools, as well as the Virtual Charter School Board, the Oklahoma State Board of Education, the Oklahoma State School Boards Association and the Cooperative Council of Oklahoma School Administrators.

“We started working on this legislation over the summer and have been revisiting it regularly to ensure it improves our virtual charter schools as well as possible,” Dills said.

Dills said HB2905 is an extension of House Bill 1395, which was signed into law by the governor last May. That bill subjects Oklahoma’s public virtual charter schools to the same financial reporting requirements, financial audits, audit procedures and audit requirements as traditional public school districts. The bill also put virtual charters and brick and mortar charters under the same statutory teacher contract requirements as traditional public schools.

HB2905 passed the House 94-0 and now moves to the Senate for consideration. It is authored in the Senate by Sen. Dewayne Pemberton (R-Muskogee).

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