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Refining charter school provisions

Legislation permitting charter schools in West Virginia was enacted last year, after quite a battle over the matter. In order to overcome complaints about the issue, lawmakers approved a less-than-perfect set of regulations.

As was predicted, it turns out one of the most troublesome is giving boards of education virtual veto power over whether charter schools can be established in their counties. Controversy in that regard has arisen with the very first application for a charter school, in Monongalia County.

There, the West Virginia Academy wants to open a school for students in that county as well as Marion and Preston counties. Last week, academy board President John Treu said that under the law, the new charter’s application has been approved automatically — because Monongalia County officials received it July 24. The law stipulates approval is automatic if a county school board does not act within 90 days.

Monongalia County school officials insist the 90 days started Aug. 31, the deadline for applications. That reasoning seems odd, but the controversy is evidence legislators need to take another look at charter school rules and refine them to prevent such disputes.

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