Assemblyman drops bill, which called for central review board and local approval for new and expanded charters
By John Mooney
What it is: After considerable discussions, State Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan Jr. (D-Middlesex) this week dropped his bill for revamping the state’s 18-year-old charter school law. Assembly Bill A-4177 includes a host of new procedures and standards for the state’s burgeoning charter school movement. Diegnan was primary sponsor; no other primary or co-sponsors had been posted.
What it means: Diegnan chairs the Assembly’s education committee and is the lower chamber’s most prominent voice on school policy, so his vision for overseeing charters carries a lot of weight with its Democratic leadership. His latest bill contains a few of the ideas he’s been espousing for the better part of a year, including the creation of a new nine-member charter-school review board. It also pushes one of his more controversial positions: local voter approval of all new or expanded charters.
Its prospects: Diegnan has said he wants a consensus measure to be acted on to replace the 1995 law, but he has been saying this for a while. An equally important if not more important voice belongs to his parliamentary equal in the Senate, state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), chairman of the upper chamber’s education committee. She has said that she wants to work with Diegnan on a new charter law, and the two have met over the bill. Still, Ruiz has shown no support for local approval of charters, and she has pressed for multiple authorizing organizations outside the state Department of Education.