Parents protest bill that would “stifle” charter schools

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Charter Protest PICSAN DIEGO — Dozens of local parents and educators protested outside the office of Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, (D) 80 District, Wednesday in response to her vote for a bill they claim will hurt charter schools’ flexibility.

“You’re going to make life really impossible,” said one protestor to Gonzalez who spoke outside her downtown office.

Charter schools are public but they operate independently.

“The IRS the NLRD have made some decisions in the past few years to really question how public a charter school is, if they have any accountability to voters; if they have any kind of transparency,” said Assemblywoman Gonzalez about the issue.

Without that evidence of transparency, some state pensions are being denied for charter school employees.  Gonzalez believes the solution involves AB1531 which would allow school districts to help select charter school boards, making charter school employees eligible for the benefits.  Many charter school parents and educators say this would stifle them.

“We feel this is an affront to the independence that charter schools have,” said David Sciarretta, Executive Director of Albert Einstein Academies. “The worst case scenario- it could look like really big shifts in the direction that a charter school could take (when it comes to) mission and vision.”

Kimberly Zierman also attended the protest and said the bill is a drastic solution to a small problem considering only nine of the states more than 1100 charter schools have seen benefits denied.

“By taking that small fraction of schools and applying this kind of solution, you’re really doing heart surgery for a hangnail,” she said.

The Charter School Association is negotiating a solution to the denial of benefits but Assemblywoman Gonzalez, a charter school parent herself, said school workers can’t afford to wait.

“That’s not ok,” she said.  “Schools have already been denied. This is an ongoing issue and we want to solve it.”

The bill now goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

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