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Bill: Charters must disclose salaries

A charter school bill before the state Senate would spell out that charter schools are subject to the same salary disclosure requirements as traditional public schools.

The issue arose in March, when the Observer launched a request for salaries of charter school employees in the Charlotte area. A spokeswoman for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction initially said charter schools, which are run by private nonprofit boards, were not required to disclose salaries, even though those salaries are paid with public money.

In April, top education officials said charter schools are subject to N.C. Public Records law as part of their agreement to receive public money. Failure to disclose salaries and other public information could result in loss of the charter, officials warned.

The Observer has since received salary information from 20 charter schools. Richard Vinroot, a lawyer representing Lincoln and Sugar Creek charter schools, contends the schools are not required to release names with the salaries; those schools have provided lists with most names withheld.

A charter bill introduced Monday by Republican Sens. Jerry Tillman and Bill Cook creates an appeal process for charter applications rejected by the state advisory board, sets the application fee at $1,000 and specifies that charter schools are subject to the same personnel privacy and disclosure law as other public schools.

Read the bill at http://bit.ly/S0Yk9q.

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