Governor Nikki Haley, State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais and state lawmakers gathered in the Upstate for the signing of H. 3241 into law. The bill is designed to expand and support the establishment of more public charter schools statewide.
The bill signing was at Greenville Technical Charter High School, a showcase charter school that also allows students to use facilities on the Greenville Technical College campus.
Among other things, the new law authorizes single-gender charter schools and requires traditional schools to open up extracurricular activities to charter school students. It also allows universities to sponsor charter schools.
Zais had called it his top legislative priority this year.
“Charter schools provide freedom for parents to choose an educational environment that’s a good fit for their child,” he told reporters Monday, “Charter schools also have the advantage in that they provide additional freedom for teachers who are able to adjust their teaching style and rely on their professionalism and not a set standard and schedule every day and every minute.”
Haley has also been a vocal supporter of charter schools. “This means our teachers are going to be more empowered,” Haley said. “But more importantly, this says we are not going to punish children who don’t go into your traditional public schools by denying them access to athletics and things that they should automatically have the ability to do.”
There are 48 charter schools across the state with over 17,000 students enrolled overall.
“We recognize with this legislation that every child, every child, deserves the right to go to a school that will positively transform their life,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Phil Owens (R-Easley).
The bill cleared the legislature earlier this year with bipartisan support. The final version passed the House with an 87-15 vote.