SACRAMENTO — Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita)’s Assembly Bill 1507, which updates the California Charter Schools Act, and Assembly Bill 543, to expand education on school sexual harassment resources, were signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday.
AB 1507 closes a loophole in current law that allows a charter school to operate outside its authorizing district, while AB 543 requires 9th through 12th-grade school sites to display culturally competent, age-appropriate posters in each bathroom and locker room.
Charter School Update
The AB 1507 news comes on the heels of a signing ceremony for Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach)’s AB 1505, which empowers communities to evaluate the fiscal impact of new charter schools on existing schools in their own neighborhoods.
Smith served as a critical partner on the passage and signing of this measure, having introduced the legislation along with Assemblymembers O’Donnell, Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) and Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) in February. Both AB’s 1505 and 1507 are rooted in improving local school board oversight and increasing accountability and transparency in education, while allowing high-quality charter schools to continue to thrive.
“We now have the framework for charter and traditional schools to work together collaboratively in service of their communities and neighborhoods,” Newsom said, regarding the signing of the bill.
“AB 1507 is the result of collaboration with charter and traditional stakeholders across the state to ensure greater transparency and accountability in charter authorization and empower local school boards to make jurisdictional decisions that directly impact the community they serve,” Smith said. “Governor Newsom’s signature on ABs 1505 and 1507 speak to the very heart of prioritizing students across California, and moving all of us onto the same page in improving learning for all.”
AB 1507 will take effect on January 1, 2020.
Sexual Harassment Education
AB 543 dictates that posters contain information pertaining to policy, including rules and procedures for reporting a charge of sexual harassment. School districts and local agencies will be reimbursed by the state for these materials.
“Unfortunately, sexual misconduct happens too often in places of work and learning,” Smith said. “When sexual harassment happens in schools, it can interfere with academics and be extremely debilitating for a student’s ability to thrive. We must equip our young people with the proper knowledge and resources to combat sexual harassment, and that is exactly what AB 543 does. I was so proud to carry this bill, which was a direct result of advocacy from student leaders across California.”
“The enactment of this bill is tremendous,” California State Association of Student Councils State President Avery Reed said. “As a proposal from a delegation of California students, AB 543 will help everyone on campus feel safe, valued and respected. I hope that students see this as a reminder that advocacy does pay off and that no one should endure uncertainty or confusion around their school’s sexual harassment policy.”
“I believe that the bill that my peers and I created, AB 543, will help survivors of sexual harassment or assault obtain assistance and justice, and increase clarity surrounding sexual misconduct in schools,” CASC Region 3 President Kate Heller said. “I feel honored to have worked on it and hope that our efforts will help decrease the dangerous amount of ignorance surrounding these issues. I know that this is a small step, but I’m very excited to see what other reforms this leads to.”
“I am absolutely thrilled to see AB 543 signed by Governor Newsom. This bill was the brainchild of students across the state of California, and I’m eternally grateful that we were able to see it come to fruition,” CASC Alumni Arvin Hariri said. “As a statewide policy, AB 543 will help schools foster a culture of zero tolerance towards sexual harassment and assault, making the students of California feel more protected and educated by the institutions whose core mission it is to do so.”
“I was overjoyed when I heard the news that this bill was being passed because it is an issue that I see prevalent in my own community as well as the community in which my peers live in,” CASC Student Advisory Board Legislation in Education Member Juliana Kim said. “It reaffirms the fact that each student voice matters and can make an impact. So, my hope for AB 543 is to inspire students to voice their opinions while also help them to find comfort in knowing that there are options.”
AB 543 will take effect on January 1, 2020.
Assemblywoman Christy Smith represents California’s 38th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Santa Clarita, Simi Valley, Agua Dulce, Castaic, Santa Susana Knolls and North San Fernando Valley.