Monday, August 14, 2006
State Law Limits Funding of Online Charter Schools—A.G.
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The state may not fund an on-line charter school for the instruction of pupils who reside outside either the county where the school is chartered or an adjacent county, Attorney General Bill Lockyer said in a published opinion.
Issued Friday in response to a request by State Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, the opinion clarified statutory limitations on distance learning programs conducted via computer and communications technology.
Under Education Code Sec. 51865(a), a charter school—one operating independently from the existing school district structure pursuant to a charter granted by the district’s governing board—may offer instruction to its pupils via the Internet.
There is no a pupil residency requirement in the State Board of Education regulations specifically governing on-line charter schools, Lockyer wrote, but such schools fall within board regulations governing independent study programs.
Regulation 11963.1 obligates all schools providing non classroom-based instruction to follow independent study program requirements, he explained.
“The Board’s regulations require on-line charter schools to comply with the restrictions and conditions placed upon independent study programs,” the attorney general said. “One of these conditions is that the pupils must reside in the charter school’s home county or in an adjacent county in order for the school to receive state funding for the pupils’ instruction.”
Lockyer noted that educational programs using computer and communications technology clearly furthered the Legislature’s policy goals, such as equal access to educational opportunities, expansion of course offerings, and accommodating “high risk pupils” who would likely drop out of traditional classroom programs.
The opinion, No. 06-201, was prepared for Lockyer by Deputy Attorney General Gregory L. Gonot.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company