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Proposal would require charter schools to follow open meetings laws

Rep. Kelly Townsend

Rep. Kelly Townsend

Rep. Kelly Townsend is taking a first stab at charter school reform with a bill to make charter schools comply with state open meetings law.

House Bill 2032 would require charter schools, their governing bodies, sponsors, holders, operators and boards of directors to comply with state laws that already apply to school districts. State law requires that all meetings of public bodies shall be public and open for anyone to attend, and all legal actions of those bodies must occur during open meetings.

The Mesa Republican’s proposal would also require charter schools to post notices of public meetings, agendas and minutes on the school’s website and that of the State Board for Charter Schools.

Calls for charter school reform have been a rallying cry ahead of the 2019 legislative session, and Townsend said her proposal should be an easy place to start.

“The fact that we have closed-door meetings using taxpayer money isn’t transparent,” she said. “If it’s taxpayer money, it ought to be transparent. I’m all about accountability regardless of what part of government it is.”

She also alluded to potential legislation regarding who can sit on charter school boards.

“If you have a bunch of family members on the board of directors, it’s not really in the public interest, the public benefit,” she said.

But a bill on that subject won’t yet materialize. She said she needs more information before she can move forward with that or any other proposal.

Townsend will sit on the House Education Committee in the 2019 legislative session and chair the House Elections Committee.

“I’m supposed to be focusing on elections, and I keep finding myself looking at education,” she said. .

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