SPRINGFIELD – Legislation making its way through the Illinois General Assembly could effectively put an end to the appeals process for proposed charter schools that are rejected by local school boards.
Illinois, like many states, requires charter school operators to gain approval from local school boards in the districts where they hope to open a school. Many local school boards view charter schools as competition for students and state funding, and routinely reject applications.
The obvious conflict of interest has led to the creation of special state boards to hear appeals from charter schools rejected by local school boards, and most have the authority to overrule local boards if it’s in the best interests of students.
Illinois lawmakers created the state’s Charter School Commission in 2011 to handle charter school appeals previously reviewed by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). But amid growing animosity toward charter schools in Illinois, driven in large part by the radical Chicago Teachers Union and others, union-loyal state lawmakers are working to pull the rug out from under the charter school appeals process.
Illinois House Bill 3754, introduced by Aurora Democrat Linda Chapa LaVia, was approved by the full House in a veto-proof 78-33 vote March 20. The bill, which has since been introduced in the Senate, would dissolve the charter school commission and transfer responsibilities for hearing charter appeals cases back to the ISBE, which has stated publicly it can only devote one part-time employee to the task.
The state board of education opposes HB 3754 because it struggled to handle appeals cases before the commission took over in 2011, and it has even fewer resources now than it did then.