New Regulations Designed to Increase Transparency and Accountability for Public Charter Schools

Gov. Tom Wolf highlighted the pending implementation of charter-school regulations developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) designed to increase transparency and accountability in implementation of the Charter School Law.

“These regulations clearly define for the first time charter schools’ responsibilities to the taxpayers who fund them,” Governor Wolf said. “Parents and taxpayers have a right to know how charter schools used the nearly $3 billion in publicly paid tuition they received in the past school year.”

The regulations, which clarify several elements of the state CSL to align public charter school operations and oversight with that of traditional public schools, were approved in March by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) and will now be sent to the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) for publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

The regulations:

  • Provide clear application requirements for entities seeking to open a charter school, regional charter school, and cyber charter school;
  • Ensure that all Pennsylvania students are able to access charter schools;
  • Clarify the ethics requirements for charter and cyber charter school trustees;
  • Require school districts and charter schools to follow the same fiscal management and auditing standards;
  • Streamline the process for charter schools to request tuition payments from school districts and the state; and
  • Provide a consistent, common-sense method for charter schools to meet the employee health care requirements in state law.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) began developing the regulations in August 2019. Nearly 2,000 comments from charter schools, school districts, professional organizations, lawmakers, and the public were considered as part of the process.

Charter schools are public schools funded by taxpayers through school district and state funds. A school district must grant the school a charter before students from the school district may enroll in the charter school. The PDE authorizes cyber charter schools since they serve the entire state.

There were 179 charter schools and cyber charter schools operating in Pennsylvania during the 2021-22 school year. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have students enrolled in some form of charter school.