CCSA Answers: Compliance with the Political Reform Act

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April 16, 2016 Question: What must a charter school do to comply with the Political Reform Act?

Answer: The Political Reform Act (PRA) is a California law that imposes conflict of interest laws and requires state and local agencies to establish conflict of interest codes, requiring agency officials who routinely participate in decisions to publicly disclose personal financial information. These disclosures are made on the Form 700 Statements of Economic Interest, which must be filed pursuant to each agency's approved conflict of interest code.

While there is no statute or case law definitively holding that charter schools must file conflict of interest codes under the PRA, the Fair Political Practices Commission ("FPPC"), the agency with primary responsibility for the administration, implementation and enforcement of the Political Reform Act, has taken the position that charter schools are government agencies and subject to the conflict‐of‐interest provisions of the Political Reform Act. Charter schools should review their charters, governance documents (e.g., bylaws), petitions, policies, and agreements with their authorizer to determine what commitments have been made regarding compliance with conflict of interest laws. Some charter schools may have their own conflict of interest code, while others may file Form 700s under that of their authorizer. Each agency's conflict of interest code will designate who must file a Form 700, what information those filers are required to report, and the agency to which the completed Forms 700 must be submitted. Filers designated by the school's code should file their Form 700 pursuant to their particular codes.

The Form 700 must be filed by each designated filer within 30 days of assuming or leaving their position, and updated and filed annually by April 1. More information and detailed guidance is available on the FPPC website.