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Chartered Clarification

From Cavalier Daily

September 3, 2004

In Wednesday's paper we opined that a lot of questions must be answered about the "Chartered University" proposal before we can fully support it. Most of our contentions were related to current state regulations that would not apply to chartered schools if the bill were to become law, according to a summary of the legislation linked from the University's Web site.

As it turns out, this summary, which was produced by the Division of Legislative Services, a state agency, contains many glaring inaccuracies, with specific regard to the way that a chartered institution would be regulated. The legislation currently is being revised in preparation for the upcoming session of the General Assembly, and so this will not affect the actual consideration of the bill. But the summary is still highly misleading. The University should add a disclaimer to its own site devoted to this effort that warns interested parties of these inaccuracies and clarifies that a new version of the bill is in the works.

For example, the summary states that "political subdivisions," as chartered schools would be deemed, are not subject to certain environmental regulations. According to U.Va. News Services, the newer version of the bill will contain provisions that will require chartered institutions to undergo the same environmental reviews as state agencies.

While the summary states that a chartered institution would not have to report student visa and crime statistics, as universities currently must, we are told as well that a chartered institution, according to the actual legislation, will still be subject to these requirements.

There are several other key errors in the summary composed by the DLS, involving personnel policies, the application of local law to universities, and budget requests. They're too numerous to be listed here, but in many cases the actual legislation will either require chartered schools to continue to abide by state regulations or adopt similar policies of their own.

While this is somewhat comforting, the many errors and inaccuracies in the summary only underscore our original assertion that we need a clear and concise synopsis of the legislation. In the meantime, the University should either remove the link to the faulty summary or add a word of caution to those who visit its site.

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