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NC Rep. Tricia Cotham sponsors first bill as GOP member

House Bill 618 aims for charter school applications, amendments, and other issues to not be handled by the NC State Board of Education.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Days after switching political parties, Representative Tricia Cotham (R-Mecklenburg) is already pushing for legislation aligned with her new party.

Cotham, along with three other Republican representatives, introduced House Bill 618 on Thursday. The bill, known as the "Charter School Review Board," would establish a North Carolina Charter Schools Review Board to handle charter school matters, stripping away that power from the North Carolina State Board of Education.

Currently, the NC State Board of Education is tasked with handling applications, amendments, renewals, and terminations of charter schools. HB 618 would remove that responsibility from the State Board of Education and hand it to a different board. 

The state already has a Charter School Advisory Board but it is limited to making recommendations to the State Board of Education. 

If this bill is enacted, the advisory board members would become members of the Charter Schools Review Board. 

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The State Board of Education has 13 members, 11 of whom are appointed by the governor. The Charter Schools Advisory Board has 11 members, eight of whom are appointed by the General Assembly, two of whom are appointed by the State Board of Education, and one appointed by the lieutenant governor.

Republicans such as Cotham see school choice and charter schools as top educational priorities. Cotham, a former teacher, has long been a proponent of school choice.

“We have to evolve and I believe that the state is changing, especially after what [parents] saw firsthand in their home, with COVID and learning,” Cotham said last week when announcing her party change, according to WRAL. “One-size-fits-all in education is wrong for children.

Cotham switched to the GOP earlier this month after being a Democrat for her entire time in office.

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