Law means Twin Ridges must cut schools off
A Nevada County school district that maintains charters as far away as Ukiah will have to trim its operations under a new state law.
Gov. Gray Davis has signed into law a bill that requires charter schools to operate only under charters issued by a local school district or county board of education. Districts will be able to operate just one charter school under the law.
Twin Ridges School District, which includes Grizzly Hill and Washington schools, operates seven charter schools outside the county and five within.
“It’s difficult for us to swallow,” said David Taylor, superintendent of the district.
Twin Ridges’ charter schools serve about 2,000 children. The district office in North San Juan has nine employees who provide services to its charters. Taylor said he couldn’t estimate how many employees might be laid off.
Five are within the county – Bitney Springs Charter High School, Forest and Yuba River charter schools, Nevada City School of the Arts and Twin Ridges Home Study.
The seven outside the county are River Oak and the Woodlands charter schools in Ukiah, Woodland Star Charter School in Sonoma, the Village School in Santa Rosa, Napa Valley Charter School in Napa, Maria Montessori Charter Academy in Rocklin and Golden Valley Charter School in Citrus Heights.
The bill, written by state Assemblywoman Sarah Reyes, D-Fresno, also requires charter schools with high school programs to declare whether their courses satisfy credit requirements at traditional high schools and colleges.
In addition, the law provides authority for county superintendents to investigate parental complaints against charter schools in their county.
“But it doesn’t tell us what to do when we’ve investigated them,” said Terry McAteer, Nevada County’s superintendent of schools. “It’s not clear. “
McAteer said county charters comply with regulations and codes.
Taylor said he will recommend to Twin Ridges school board trustees that they renew all the charters for five years. After that, charters will have to be sponsored by their local school districts.
Twin Ridges became a model for districts sponsoring charters outside their county, Taylor said.
There are 351 charter schools in California, serving 133,151 students, according to the California Department of Education.
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