Louisiana’s Edwards vetoes bill that would allow state board of education to approve charters

(The Center Square) – A veto of legislation to allow charter schools approved by the state board of education, rather than local school boards, was one of numerous bills from the 2022 regular…

(The Center Square) – A veto of legislation to allow charter schools approved by the state board of education, rather than local school boards, was one of numerous bills from the 2022 regular legislative session recently approved or rejected by Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Edwards on Monday vetoed Senate Bill 145, sponsored by Sen. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge, that would have allowed any charter school group with a corporate partner to submit a proposal directly to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for approval, bypassing local school boards.

The measure was supported by school choice advocates at the Pelican Institute and Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. Louisiana currently allows corporations to partner with charter school operators for “corporate charters” that serve both children of employees and others in the public school district the schools reside, though only two have formed since the law was approved a decade ago.

SB 145 would have allowed BESE to consider applications for charters to allow students from multiple parishes.

School choice proponents for years have criticized the policy of allowing local public school boards to approve charter schools because public school boards have a financial incentive to limit competition for students.

Edwards alleged in his veto message that “although this bill was couched as necessary to cut through the red tape a charter school has to go through for approval, the consequences of eliminating local approval of charter schools and diverting (state education funding) far outweighs any administrative benefit that may be received.”

LABI lashed out at the governor over his decision on the bill in a series of posts on Twitter.

“This senseless veto is one of several that will punish families simply looking for new options to educate their children” LABI posted. “This action seems especially tone-deaf to the reality we face as a state, especially considering our reading scores are dropping, graduation requirements are being waived and the need for workers is higher than ever.”

Edwards’ veto of SB 145 follows other recent vetoes of education savings account bills that would have allowed students with disabilities or those struggling to read to use state funding to find better non-public educational options.

Other Edwards vetoes announced on Monday include bills related to authority over state buildings during declared emergencies, criminal penalties involving juveniles, implementation of federal directives involving elections and laws detailing authority to arrest certain criminals, among others.

Edwards also signed dozens of bills including measures to establish Ecole Pointe-aux-Chenes, a French immersion school for lower grades in the Terrebone Parish, strengthen protections for tenants in the aftermath of disasters, establish a “hunger-free” designation and grant program for postsecondary education institutions, require water safety for public school students and create a Louisiana Outdoors Forever Program with $10 million for conservation.

Still other approved bills involved admission into teacher education programs, prohibition on arrest for driving on a license suspended for failure to pay taxes, regulations for pharmacy benefit managers, cost sharing for insulin prescriptions, liability associated with Mardi Gras parades and numerous others.

A full list of bills approved and rejected by Edwards is available on the governor’s website.