files bills to increase oversight and accountability of virtual
Thursday, Sen. Ron
Sharp filed legislation to modify several Virtual Charter
School laws in Oklahoma. The 40-year retired educator said his
bills are an effort to increase virtual charter school accountability
“There has been public outcry in recent years to improve
public education and that includes virtual charter schools where
millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent with little to no
accountability of expenditures, attendance or student performance,”
said Sharp, R-Shawnee. “People are tired of low rankings,
poor test scores and high dropout rates yet these problems exist
in our virtual charter schools and the state continues to pour
money into them. Educators around the state are demanding changes.”
Sharp said his bills concerning virtual charter schools were requested
by several district superintendents and school board members from
around the state.
“Among the issues my bills tackle is ensuring students are
actually enrolled in the virtual charter school and successfully
completing their work. Currently, there is no system to track
whether or not students have enrolled or dropped out or are completing
their studies yet these schools continue to receive state funding,”
explained Sharp. “School districts are also upset that state
funds are being wasted on private extracurricular lessons for
virtual charter students and that they’re using state funds
to provide exorbitant bonuses to teachers to recruit other teachers
and students. There must be more transparency and oversight regarding
attendance, student performance, expenditures and other areas.”
SB 52 would prohibit public schools, charter schools and virtual
charter schools from spending state-appropriated funds on private
extracurricular lessons, such as gymnastics or music lessons.
SB 53 would prohibit a dependent school district (K-8th) from
converting all or any part of the district into a conversion school
allowing it to act like a charter school. It also prohibits any
conversion school from contracting with a management organization.
SB 54 would establish a new funding process for virtual charter
schools based on course completion/progress. For the 2019-20 school
year, the school would be provided monthly payments based on enrolled
student performance to be tracked through student surveys that
the schools would submit monthly. Payment would only be provided
if a student makes a D or better in a course.
SB 55 would require all appointed members of the
Statewide Virtual Charter School Board to be appointed by the
Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. Currently,
only two members are appointed by the Governor. It would subject
the Board to the Open Meeting Act and the Open Records Act. Among
other changes, it would require the Board to employ a virtual
charter school director to provide the State Superintendent of
Public Instruction with information about whether the courses
offered by virtual charter schools align with the state subject
matter standards. The State Superintendent would be required to
report twice a year to legislative leadership about the performance
and funding status of virtual charter schools.
SB 56 would require virtual charter schools to submit attendance
records of enrolled students to the student’s resident district.
If a student fails to meet the attendance requirements established
in law, the resident district would be notified, and the resident
district would notify the Department of Human services (DHS) that
the student might not be in compliance with the compulsory attendance
SB 57 would prohibit public schools, charter schools and virtual
charter schools from providing bonuses for the recruitment of
students or teachers.
Sharp held an interim study on Charter School Funding and Its
Effect on the Education Equalization Formula in September. Presentations
from that study can be found on the Senate website at www.oksenate.gov
under “Committees” and “Interim Studies”
(Study 18-27). The bills can also be viewed in their entirety
under “Legislation” and “Basic Bill Search”.
The bills will be up for consideration in Senate committees when
the legislative session begins on Monday, February 4.
For more information, contact:
Sen. Sharp: (405) 521-5566