Charter School FAQs
What is a charter school? A charter school is a public school that is organized differently than traditional district public schools. A charter public school is governed by an independent school board whose only focus and responsibility is that particular school. This allows charter schools to be hyper-responsive to the needs of students and families enrolled in them. In exchange for this independence and freedom, charter schools operate under contracts (or “charters”) that allow them to be closed or replaced for failing to reach specific academic and non-academic goals, or for failing to operate in a responsible manner. Charter schools are public schools, they are free and open to all students in the districts where they operate, and are accountable for specific results.
Can my child attend a charter school? Charter schools are open to all students residing within the district; however, charter schools are allowed to target students within specific age groups or grade levels, students considered at-risk of dropping out or failing, students wishing to enroll in a charter school-in-the-workplace or charter school-in-a-municipality, students residing within a reasonable distance of the school, students who meet reasonable academic, artistic or other eligibility standards established by the charter school, or students articulating from one charter school to another.
How are charter schools held accountable? First and central to charter school accountability is the charter or contract between the charter school and the sponsor, usually the school district. The sponsor may close a charter school if the school fails to meet the student performance outcomes agreed upon in the charter, fails to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management, violates the law, or shows other good cause.
Charter schools are evaluated and assigned a school grade using the same standards and criteria as traditional public schools.
The Department of Education is statutorily required to annually provide an analysis and comparison of the overall performance of charter school students to traditional public school students. The comparison is to be based on the statewide assessment program and information reported by the charter school to the school district.