Liz McCormick Published

W.Va. Legislature Approves Expanded Charter School Bill, Sends To Governor

House Education Chair Del. Joe Ellington, R-Mercer, speaks during a House Education Committee meeting on March 2, 2021.

A bill much watched by educators that would increase the number of permitted brick-and-mortar public charter schools in West Virginia, as well as establishing virtual charter school options, is now on its way to the governor.

The West Virginia House of Delegates voted 61-31 Wednesday to concur with the changes made by the West Virginia Senate earlier this week.

Despite division on the issue, mostly along party lines, delegates did not debate the bill following its consideration in the Senate.

House Education Chair Del. Joe Ellington, R-Mercer, was the sole delegate to stand and speak to the bill, simply encouraging the body to agree with the Senate’s changes.

HB 2012 expands on West Virginia’s current public charter school law passed two years ago. It allows for up to 10 physical public charter schools to be established in the state by 2023. The bill also allows for the creation of two, statewide virtual public charter schools, as well as one local virtual charter per county.

The bill also creates a new authorizer called the West Virginia Professional Charter School Board. An authorizer is an entity that has the authority to approve or disapprove a proposed charter school.

The bill also adds some clarification on reasons a charter would be forced to close, such as for misappropriation of funds or for fraud. A charter school can also act as its own Local Education Agency, or LEA, once it has been approved.

West Virginia has not yet approved a charter school.