Chapter 356, Laws of 2023
68th Legislature
2023 Regular Session
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 23, 2023
Passed by the House April 19, 2023 CERTIFICATE
Yeas 98 Nays 0
I, Bernard Dean, Chief Clerk of the
House of Representatives of the
LAURIE JINKINS State of Washington, do hereby
Speaker of the House of certify that the attached is
1744 as passed by the House of
Representatives and the Senate on
the dates hereon set forth.
Passed by the Senate April 12, 2023
Yeas 49 Nays 0
DENNY HECK Chief Clerk
President of the Senate
Approved May 9, 2023 10:54 AM FILED
May 10, 2023
Secretary of State
JAY INSLEE State of Washington
Governor of the State of Washington
Passed Legislature - 2023 Regular Session
State of Washington 68th Legislature 2023 Regular Session
By House Education (originally sponsored by Representatives Rude,
Santos, Schmidt, and Pollet)
1 AN ACT Relating to clarifying the responsibilities and
2 accountability for the effective delivery and oversight of public
3 education services to charter school students; amending RCW
4 28A.710.030, 28A.710.040, 28A.710.070, 28A.710.100, 28A.710.120,
5 28A.710.140, 28A.710.180, and 28A.710.190; adding new sections to
6 chapter 28A.710 RCW; and creating a new section.
8 NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. (1) The legislature finds that
9 requirements governing the establishment and operations of public
10 charter schools have proven insufficient. These schools have
11 experienced a steady growth in student enrollment and often provide
12 valuable educational opportunities for families in communities across
13 Washington state.
14 (2) However, several of these schools have closed in the decade
15 since Washington voters authorized the establishment of charter
16 schools. As a result, students, parents, and staff in several Puget
17 Sound locations and in Walla Walla were left to make alternative
18 arrangements for school and work, unexpectedly and without adequate
19 notice, when their school closed. Furthermore, in one western
20 Washington school, the disappointment proved especially difficult as
21 the charter school opened and permanently ceased operations within
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1 the span of a few months. Under no circumstances is a disruption of
2 this nature acceptable to the many students, families, and staff that
3 were profoundly impacted by the closure.
4 (3) The legislature also finds that the establishment and
5 operational challenges of some public charter schools are not limited
6 to school closures: Some public charter schools have failed to
7 properly and timely comply with teacher certification requirements,
8 but an additional reporting requirement for charter schools can
9 reinforce existing requirements and help to avoid any future
10 problems; some public charter school boards have demonstrated
11 ineffective leadership and oversight, leading to charter school
12 closures; and the charter school commission has authorized charter
13 schools that were not able to deliver sustained education services in
14 the manner set forth in their charter school application or charter
15 contract, as evidenced by multiple closures and the disruptions they
16 created for students, families, and staff.
17 (4) The legislature authorized the establishment of charter
18 schools in 2016 after the supreme court invalidated charter school
19 laws adopted through a voter initiative. As a result, the legislature
20 has an obligation to ensure that the responsibilities for the
21 oversight of charter public schools are clearly delineated and
22 adequate to ensure the highest standards of practices and public
23 accountability. The legislature is committed to ensuring all
24 authorized public charter schools in Washington are successful in
25 their mission to serve Washington students. The legislature,
26 therefore, intends to clarify responsibilities and increase the
27 accountability measures governing the effective delivery and
28 oversight of public education services to public charter school
29 students.
30 Sec. 2. RCW 28A.710.030 and 2016 c 241 s 103 are each amended to
31 read as follows:
32 (1) To fulfill its duty to manage and operate the charter school,
33 and to execute the terms of its charter contract, a charter school
34 board may:
35 (a) Hire, manage, and discharge charter school employees in
36 accordance with the terms of this chapter and the school's charter
37 contract;
38 (b) Receive and disburse funds for the purposes of the charter
39 school;
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1 (c) Enter into contracts with any school district, educational
2 service district, or other public or private entity for the provision
3 of real property, equipment, goods, supplies, and services, including
4 educational instructional services, pupil transportation services,
5 and for the management and operation of the charter school, provided
6 the charter school board maintains oversight authority over the
7 charter school. Contracts for management operation of the charter
8 school may only be with nonprofit organizations;
9 (d) Rent, lease, purchase, or own real property. All charter
10 contracts and contracts with other entities must include provisions
11 regarding the disposition of the property if the charter school fails
12 to open as planned or closes, or if the charter contract is revoked
13 or not renewed;
14 (e) Issue secured and unsecured debt, including pledging,
15 assigning, or encumbering its assets to be used as collateral for
16 loans or extensions of credit to manage cash flow, improve
17 operations, or finance the acquisition of real property or equipment.
18 However, the charter public school may not pledge, assign, or
19 encumber any public funds received or to be received pursuant to RCW
20 28A.710.220. Debt issued under this subsection (1)(e) is not a
21 general, special, or moral obligation of the state, the charter
22 school authorizer, the school district in which the charter school is
23 located, or any other political subdivision or agency of the state.
24 Neither the full faith and credit nor the taxing power of the state,
25 or any political subdivision or agency of the state, may be pledged
26 for the payment of the debt;
27 (f) Solicit, accept, and administer for the benefit of the
28 charter school and its students, gifts, grants, and donations from
29 individuals, or public or private entities, excluding sectarian or
30 religious organizations. A charter school board may not accept any
31 gifts or donations that violate this chapter or other state laws; and
32 (g) Issue diplomas to students who meet state high school
33 graduation requirements established under RCW 28A.230.090. A charter
34 school board may establish additional graduation requirements.
35 (2) A charter school board must ((contract for an independent
36 performance)) obtain an accountability audit of the school to be
37 conducted: (a) The second year immediately following the school's
38 first full school year of operation; and (b) at least every three
39 years thereafter. ((The performance audit must be conducted in
40 accordance with United States general accounting office government
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1 auditing standards. A performance)) An audit in compliance with this
2 section does not inhibit the state auditor's office from conducting a
3 performance audit of the school.
4 (3) A charter school board may not levy taxes or issue tax-backed
5 bonds.
6 (4) A charter school board may not acquire property by eminent
7 domain.
8 (5) A charter school board, through website postings and written
9 notice with receipt acknowledged by signature of the recipient, must
10 advise families of new, ongoing, and prospective students of any
11 ongoing litigation challenging the constitutionality of charter
12 schools or that may require charter schools to cease operations.
13 (6) Each charter school board shall ensure that its members and
14 administrative staff receive annual training to support the effective
15 operation and oversight of the charter school, including compliance
16 with requirements governing the employment of properly credentialed
17 instructional staff, compliance with the requirements of chapters
18 42.30 and 42.56 RCW, and the permitted uses of public funds.
19 Sec. 3. RCW 28A.710.040 and 2018 c 75 s 9 are each amended to
20 read as follows:
21 (1) A charter school must operate according to the terms of its
22 charter contract and the provisions of this chapter.
23 (2) A charter school must:
24 (a) Comply with local, state, and federal health, safety,
25 parents' rights, civil rights, and nondiscrimination laws applicable
26 to school districts and to the same extent as school districts,
27 including but not limited to chapter 28A.642 RCW (discrimination
28 prohibition) ((and)), chapter 28A.640 RCW (sexual equality), chapter
29 28A.180 RCW (transitional bilingual instruction program), and chapter
30 28A.155 RCW (special education);
31 (b) Provide a program of basic education, that meets the goals in
32 RCW 28A.150.210, including instruction in the ((essential academic
33 learning requirements)) state learning standards, and participate in
34 the statewide student assessment system as developed under RCW
35 28A.655.070;
36 (c) Comply with the screening and intervention requirements under
37 RCW 28A.320.260;
38 (d) Employ certificated instructional staff as required in RCW
39 28A.410.025. Charter schools, however, may hire noncertificated
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1 instructional staff of unusual competence and in exceptional cases as
2 specified in RCW 28A.150.203(7), according to the same limited
3 exceptions that apply to other public schools. Beginning November 1,
4 2023, and annually thereafter, charter schools shall report the
5 employment of all noncertificated instructional staff hired in
6 accordance with this subsection (2)(d) during the current and
7 preceding school year to the executive director of the commission and
8 the state board of education for inclusion in the annual report
9 required by RCW 28A.710.250;
10 (e) Comply with the employee record check requirements in RCW
11 28A.400.303;
12 (f) Adhere to generally accepted accounting principles and be
13 subject to financial examinations and audits as determined by the
14 state auditor, including annual audits for legal and fiscal
15 compliance;
16 (g) Comply with the annual performance report under RCW
17 28A.655.110;
18 (h) Be subject to the performance improvement goals adopted by
19 the state board of education under RCW 28A.305.130;
20 (i) Comply with the open public meetings act in chapter 42.30 RCW
21 and public records requirements in chapter 42.56 RCW; and
22 (j) Be subject to and comply with legislation enacted after
23 December 6, 2012, that governs the operation and management of
24 charter schools.
25 (3) Charter public schools must comply with all state statutes
26 and rules made applicable to the charter school in the school's
27 charter contract, and are subject to the specific state statutes and
28 rules identified in subsection (2) of this section. For the purpose
29 of allowing flexibility to innovate in areas such as scheduling,
30 personnel, funding, and educational programs to improve student
31 outcomes and academic achievement, charter schools are not subject
32 to, and are exempt from, all other state statutes and rules
33 applicable to school districts and school district boards of
34 directors. Except as provided otherwise by this chapter or a charter
35 contract, charter schools are exempt from all school district
36 policies.
37 (4) A charter school may not engage in any sectarian practices in
38 its educational program, admissions or employment policies, or
39 operations.
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1 (5) Charter schools are subject to the supervision of the
2 superintendent of public instruction and the state board of
3 education, including accountability measures such as the Washington
4 achievement index developed by the state board of education under RCW
5 28A.657.110, to the same extent as other public schools, except as
6 otherwise provided in this chapter.
7 Sec. 4. RCW 28A.710.070 and 2020 c 49 s 2 are each amended to
8 read as follows:
9 (1) The Washington state charter school commission is established
10 as an independent state agency whose mission is to ((authorize)):
11 (a) Authorize high quality charter public schools throughout the
12 state, especially schools that are designed to expand opportunities
13 for at-risk students((, and to ensure));
14 (b) Ensure the highest standards of accountability and oversight
15 for these schools; and
16 (c) Hold charter school boards accountable for: Ensuring that
17 students of charter public schools have opportunities for academic
18 success; and exercising effective educational, operational, and
19 financial oversight of charter public schools.
20 (2) The commission shall, through its management, supervision,
21 and enforcement of the charter contracts and pursuant to applicable
22 law, administer the charter schools it authorizes in the same manner
23 as a school district board of directors administers other schools.
24 (3)(a) The commission shall consist of:
25 (i) Nine appointed members;
26 (ii) The superintendent of public instruction or the
27 superintendent's designee; and
28 (iii) The chair of the state board of education or the chair's
29 designee.
30 (b) Appointments to the commission shall be as follows: Three
31 members shall be appointed by the governor; three members shall be
32 appointed by the senate, with two members appointed by the leader of
33 the largest caucus of the senate and one member appointed by the
34 leader of the minority caucus of the senate; and three members shall
35 be appointed by the house of representatives, with two members
36 appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives and one
37 member appointed by the leader of the minority caucus of the house of
38 representatives. The appointing authorities shall assure diversity
39 among commission members, including representation from various
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1 geographic areas of the state and shall assure that at least one
2 member is the parent of a Washington public school student.
3 (4) Members appointed to the commission shall collectively
4 possess strong experience and expertise in public and nonprofit
5 governance; management and finance; public school leadership,
6 assessment, curriculum, and instruction; and public education law.
7 All appointed members shall have demonstrated an understanding of and
8 commitment to charter schooling as a strategy for strengthening
9 public education.
10 (5) Appointed members shall serve four-year, staggered terms. The
11 initial appointments from each of the appointing authorities must
12 consist of one member appointed to a one-year term, one member
13 appointed to a two-year term, and one member appointed to a
14 three-year term, all of whom thereafter may be reappointed for a
15 four-year term. No appointed member may serve more than two
16 consecutive terms. Initial appointments must be made by July 1, 2016.
17 (6) Whenever a vacancy on the commission exists among its
18 appointed membership, the original appointing authority must appoint
19 a member for the remaining portion of the term within no more than
20 thirty days.
21 (7) Commission members shall serve without compensation but may
22 be reimbursed for travel expenses as authorized in RCW 43.03.050 and
23 43.03.060.
24 (8) The commission may hire an executive director and may employ
25 staff as necessary to carry out its duties under this chapter. The
26 commission may delegate to the executive director the duties as
27 necessary to effectively and efficiently execute the business of the
28 commission, including the authority to employ necessary staff. In
29 accordance with RCW 41.06.070, the executive director and the
30 executive director's confidential secretary are exempt from the
31 provisions of chapter 41