CLARIFYING STATUTORY REFERENCES TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS AS THEY RELATE TO NEW CENTURY CHARTER SCHOOLS

 

Highlights
  • The purpose of Act 51, Session Laws of Hawaii (S.B. No. 3238, S.D. 2, H.D. 2, C.D. 1 (2004), was to implement comprehensive education reform in Hawaii's public schools that included clarifying the role of charter schools in public education.
  • The Legislature, under Act 51 (which was later amended by Act 221, Session Laws of Hawaii 2004), added new century charter schools to the definition of "public schools" in section 302A-101, HRS, and requested the Bureau to study the ramifications of this change, which is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2005.

  • Changing the definition of "public schools" to include new century charter schools, in effect, makes all sections in chapter 302A containing the term "public schools," necessarily applicable to new century charter schools. This change, in some instances, is not only contrary to section 302A-1184, HRS, which relates to the application of chapter 302A, HRS, to new century charter schools, but is also contrary, in part, to the applicability lists prepared by the Department of Education (DOE) and the Charter School Administrative Office (CSAO). Other terms in chapter 302A, HRS, that are used synonymously with the term "public schools," such as "schools," "high schools," and "public high schools," as well as sections that do not use any of these terms, also present problems for the amendment.
  • The Legislature has four options available to address the "public schools" amendment: (1) Leave the law the way it is without changing the definition of "public schools"; (2) Adopt the definition change; (3) Amend section 302A-1184, HRS, by identifying specific sections in chapter 302A that apply to new century charter schools; and/or (4) Amend all sections in chapter 302A that apply to new century charter schools to indicate their applicability.

II.Anticipated Questions

  1. A.What is the impact of including new century charter schools in the definition of "public schools"?

    Answer:  As explained above, the amendment causes the misapplication of sections in chapter 302A to new century charter schools.

  2. B.What options are available to the Legislature based on the study's findings?

    Answer:  The Legislature can respond in one of four ways, or a combination thereof. First, the Legislature can repeal section 5 of Act 51, Session Laws of Hawaii 2004, to leave the law the way it currently exists, without changing the definition of "public schools." Second, the Legislature can do nothing, thereby allowing the amendment changing the definition of "public schools" to take effect. Third, the Legislature can amend section 302A-1184, HRS, relating to new century charter school exemptions to state law to clarify which specific sections of chapter 302A apply to charter schools. Fourth, the Legislature can amend appropriate sections of chapter 302A, HRS, to indicate their applicability to new century charter schools.

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