Senate bill would end DPI oversight of charter schools

Posted July 22, 2015 1:13 p.m. EDT

— A bill rolled out in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday morning would take oversight of North Carolina charter schools out of the hands of the state Department of Public Instruction.

House Bill 334 initially was written to allow charter schools to charge extracurricular activity fees, but the committee subsitute would put the Charter School Advisory Board under the control of the State Board of Education and would eliminate the governor's power to appoint the chairman of the advisory board. The Office of Charter Schools in DPI and its state funding also would be moved to the State Board of Education.

Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, questioned the move, prompting a tense exchange with Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, a longtime charter school advocate.

"What has DPI done wrong?" Stein asked.

"They've never been in love with charter schools," Tillman responded.

"I don't like rearranging the deck chairs without some explanation," Stein said.

Tillman declined to answer, saying that "a good lawyer wouldn't do that in public."

"I thought that's what we do here," Stein replied.

The bill passed the committee on a voice vote and now heads to the Senate floor.