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Zimmerman Bill to Modernize Current Law to Include Online Educational Opportunities Passes House
HARRISBURG – Legislation authored by Rep. Dave Zimmerman (R-Lancaster) to permit the licensure of online schools passed the House of Representatives today by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 190-4 for the second consecutive session

The measure, House Bill 857, would permit the licensure of online schools so that they may issue the same Pennsylvania Department of Education-approved diplomas as other state accredited high schools. Under current state law, the State Board of Private Academic Schools approves applications for private academic schools to be licensed. However, the state law enacted in 1988 did not anticipate the creation of online education, and therefore, does not accommodate licensing for online schools.

“In this new era of education where the progression of technology has made online instruction increasingly prevalent, I believe it is necessary to modernize our state laws to allow Pennsylvanians the option of choosing from the many excellent online educational opportunities now readily available,” said Zimmerman. “Best of all, the final implementation of this legislation would not require a dime of taxpayer money, and in no way would interfere with existing brick and mortar schools.”

To meet the future demands of online schools, House Bill 857 clearly defines “online school” and clarifies that public cyber charter schools are not included in the definition. Additionally, Zimmerman’s legislation would amend certain requirements in the Private Academic Schools Act to accommodate the inclusion of online schools, which are unique due to their lack of any school building or physical classrooms.

House Bill 857 would also require the State Board of Private Academic Schools to promulgate, within 18 months, any rules, regulations, policies, principles and standards necessary to provide for the inclusion of online schools. Finally, the measure prohibits the board from issuing a license to an online school until those rules, regulations, policies, principles and standards are in effect.

House Bill 857 now advances to the state Senate for consideration.

Representative Dave Zimmerman
99th Legislative District

Media Contact: Charles Lardner
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