Legal Hotline: Charter Schools

  • Jun 30, 2016

Melissa Melewsky, Media Law Counsel

Q: A local charter school passed a budget, but didn't vote at a public meeting and refuses to provide our reporter with a copy. Aren't charter schools covered by the Sunshine Act and Right to Know Law?
A: Yes. Charter schools are subject to the Sunshine Act and Right to Know Law, and they are required to follow these laws in the same manner as traditional public schools.
The Pennsylvania Charter School Law, section 1716(c), expressly requires charter schools' boards of trustees to comply with the Sunshine Act. Further, the Sunshine Act itself covers agencies and defines that term broadly to include school boards and school governing bodies. Further, the Right to Know Law, section 102, expressly includes charter schools and cyber charter schools in the definition of "local agency."
Charter schools must comply with the requirements of Pennsylvania's public access laws, and failure to do so damages the public interest and subjects the charter school, and its officers, to potential liability under the Sunshine Act and Right to Know Law.
 
As always, this is not intended to be, nor should it be construed as, legal advice.Please contact your news organization's private attorney with questions or the PNA Legal Hotline at 717-703-3080.

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