LANSING, Mich., March 1, 2022 — House and Senate Democratic legislators held a press conference today to unveil a 22-bill bicameral package to provide parents and taxpayers with transparent information about education options.
The School Freedom, Accountability, Choice and Transparency (FACT) Act would shed light on the authorizing organizations that oversee charter schools and the education management organizations that run them.
“Without specific disclosure standards, parents can’t make meaningful comparisons between schools because they lack the information necessary to make an important decision about their children’s education,” said state Rep. Padma Kuppa (D-Troy), sponsor of House Bill 5846. “How can parents truly have freedom and choice in schools without accountability and transparency? The School FACT Act will provide the transparency and accountability needed in all public schools to ensure taxpayer transparency and empower parents to make the right decisions for their kids.”
“Families who choose to attend charter schools should not be forced to sacrifice a quality and stable education at the whim of EMOs managing their schools,” said state Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills), sponsor of multiple bills in the package. “The bills in this package allow us to better track how state funding is being spent by EMOs and ensure our students receive the best possible education.”
“School board members are accountable to the parents, students and taxpayers they represent. EMOs, on the other hand, are not,” said Pamela Pugh, vice president of the Michigan State Board of Education. “It only makes sense to hold EMOs to the same regulations that apply to public schools, including financial, academic, and ethical transparency requirements. Accountability requirements and regular meetings open to the public will not only help parents compare schools but also help ensure every student in this state has a world-class education. The School FACT Act is a major step forward in the push for meaningful reforms for our parents and students.”
Collectively, the comprehensive legislative package would:
- House Bill 5853/Senate Bill 927: Require EMOs to produce annual audited financial statements for authorizers to account for any fees collected to oversee charters. (Rep. Steckloff/Sen. Polehanki)
- House Bill 5846/Senate Bill 928: Require an EMO contract to include annual audited financial statement provisions. (Rep. Kuppa/Sen. Bayer)
- House Bill 5856/Senate Bill 929: Require all schools to post annual student recruitment costs. (Rep. Young/Sen. Bayer)
- House Bill 5850/Senate Bill 930: Establish a due process and rehabilitation process and require state superintendents to suspend authorizers for failing to provide appropriate continuing oversight. (Rep. Koleszar/Sen. Polehanki)
- House Bill 5848/Senate Bill 931: Require the Department of Treasury to notify authorizers of fiscal distress in a school they oversee and require authorizers to notify other charters under their oversight of a fiscally distressed school contracting with the same EMO. (Rep. Cavanagh/Sen. Moss)
- House Bill 5847/Senate Bill 932: Prevent expansion or authorizer shopping by charter schools performing in the bottom 5% of schools. (Rep. Camilleri/Sen. Polehanki)
- House Bill 5851/Senate Bill 933: Establish and strengthen authorizer requirements and school board bylaw requirements. (Rep. Scott/ Sen. Bayer)
- House Bill 5854/Senate Bill 934: Prevent EMOs from making “sweetheart” real estate deals and require the board of directors to ensure the lease or purchase of property reflects fair market rates. (Rep. Stone/Sen. Polehanki)
- House Bill 5855/Senate Bill 935: Prevent conflicts of interest between EMOs and groups or individuals who establish charters. (Rep. Weiss/Sen. Moss)
- House Bill 5849/Senate Bill 936: Subjects EMOs to FOIA. (Rep. Clemente/Sen. Bayer)
- House Bill 5852/Senate Bill 937: Require schools to hold monthly school board meetings subject to the Open Meetings Act. ( Sowerby/Sen. Bayer)
View the School FACT Act one-pager here.