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It’s Official:NLRB Says Charter Schools Are Not Public Schools

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Tim Slekar, dean of education at Edgewood College in Wisconsin, alerted me to an important decision by the National Labor Relations Board.

The NLRB ruled that charter schools are private schools, not public schools. This echoes several previous rulings by the courts and the NLRB, which concluded that charter schools are private corporations that contract with government and are not “state actors.” Public schools are “state actors.” Charter schools are not.

The ruling was reported by a blog for the Albany Times-Union:

Here’s an interesting item that touches on the semantics as well as labor issues surrounding New York’s charter school movement.

A recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), concludes that charter schools are private and efforts to start teachers unions in them should fall under their purview, rather than the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) which oversees the public sector.

The decision stemmed from efforts by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) to unionize teachers at the Hyde Leadership charter school in Brooklyn.

PERB had asserted jurisdiction over the school, but the union ended up arguing that organizing efforts should be overseen by the NLRB which administers labor law in the private sector.

The NLRB in its decision, concluded that “Hyde was not established by a state or local government, and is not itself a public school.”

I describe previous rulings by federal courts and the NLRB that charter schools are “not state actors” in Reign of Error. In a criminal case in California a few years ago, the California Charter School Association entered an amicus brief in defense of charter operators accused of fraud and claimed that charter schools are not subject to the same laws as public schools. They are not state actors.

The appropriate analogy would be a corporation like Boeing, which works for the government, is funded by the government, but is not a state actor. It is private.

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