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Texas Democrats Propose New Charter School Regulations

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While school choice has been listed as a legislative priority by the Texas Republican Party, most bills filed on the topic for the upcoming legislative session so far have been by Democrats, with several Democrat representatives proposing new regulations applying to charter schools.

Representative Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin) filed two bills on the topic, HB 97 and HB 108. HB 97 would prohibit charter schools from considering most areas related to disciplinary history when choosing whether or not to accept a student. HB 108 would create new regulations related to expulsion and suspension policies at charter schools.

Representative Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) filed HB 189, which would make existing regulations related to severance payments made to public school district superintendents apply to charter schools.

Representative Nicole Collier (D-Fort Worth) filed two bills on the topic, HB 301 and HB 305. HB 301 would require new charter schools to receive a letter of support or opposition from the state representative from the district the school plans to open in. HB 305 would require charter schools to seek to have a majority of students residing within the boundaries of the school district the charter school is within.

Representative Mary González (D-El Paso) filed two bills on the topic, HB 450 and HB 684. HB 450 would require new charter schools to announce plans to open at least 18 months in advance. HB 684 has two main focuses. One section would require an evaluation to be done on the impact of charter school enrollment characteristics and financial impact on school districts. The other section imposes new regulations limiting the creation of new charter schools.

Representative Leo Pacheco (D-San Antonio) filed HB 794, which would impose new regulations on the hiring of new teachers and principals at charter schools.

Not all Democrats are pushing for new regulations on charter schools though. Representative Harold Dutton Jr. (D-Houston) filed HB 618, which would make students enrolled at charter schools eligible for the Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) Grant Program. Representative Dutton has historically been one of the few Democrats in the Texas House to be supportive of charter schools, with the Texas Public Charter Schools Association noting that Dutton has “authored pro-public charter school legislation” in the past.

With Republicans listing school choice as a legislative priority and holding a majority of seats in the Texas House of Representatives, it is highly unlikely any of the new regulations being proposed will pass.

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