Testimony: Public School Transparency Amendment Act and Public Charter School Closure Amendment Act
Children’s Law Center believes that transparency is an important tenet of democracy because it provides residents and their elected representatives the ability to meaningfully participate. This is particularly critical for a public education system that is a mix of traditional and charter schools and which requires students and parents to make important choices about what school to attend. Children’s Law Center Policy Director Sharra Greer testified in support of the Public School Transparency Amendment Act of 2019 which explicitly requires charter schools to comply with the Freedom of Information Act of 1976 (FOIA). She highlighted how all DCPS schools are subject to FOIA; however, in contrast, only the Public Charter School Board (PCSB) is required to comply with FOIA and only with respect to its own records. The PCSB is not required to obtain information in the possession of individual charter schools, effectively insulating those schools from FOIA. There is no reason both traditional and charter schools should not be accountable to parents, students, and other residents in the same way, and, accordingly, be equally incentivized to do their best by students and families. She also pointed to examples where subjecting charters schools to FOIA is not unusual compared to neighboring states. Read her full testimony here.