Native American Charter School Bill Rejected By Committee

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PIERRE, S.D. (AP) – The South Dakota House Education Committee on Wednesday unexpectedly rejected a bill allowing the creation of 4 charter schools based on Native American culture and language.

The 9-5 vote doesn’t officially kill SB 61, it simply delays committee action to the final day of the session when there wouldn’t be enough time for it to get through the House.

The bill proposed by the Education Equity Coalition and supported by all 9 tribes in South Dakota is aimed at Native American students strugging in traditional schools, but is opposed by several education groups because it would divert money from public schools they say have the ability

The opponents were joined at the Education Committee hearing by representatives of the Oglala Lakota County School District, which is against the measure because they weren’t consulted.

Education Equity Coalition spokesman Jonathan Santos Silva Sr said after the committee’s move that he and other members were bewildered on how a measure that had unanimous support at every level of consideration could be denied a fair hearing by just one or two voices.

Backers of the bill are hoping they can revive it through a rarely-used parlimentary procedure informally called “smoke out” that requires the support of a third of the House members. They’re urging supporters to email their Representative to request the smoke out.