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How do charter schools differ from public, private schools? -- II

Last week, our blog began providing some basic background information on charter schools for parents wanting more information about the educational choices for their children and the general public, which has seen this issue garner more headlines as of late. We'll continue these efforts in today's post.

To recap, a charter school is essentially a public school operating under the terms of a performance contract, which allows it to depart from the regulations governing traditional public schools, and also holds it responsible for meeting certain academic and financial objectives.

Enrollment

In general, any child residing within the district of a particular charter school may seek to enroll there. However, charter schools are legally permitted to give enrollment preference (i.e., target) certain student populations, including some of the following:

  • Students of certain ages or grade levels
  • Students at risk of failing or dropping out
  • Students who are the siblings of current enrollees
  • Students who satisfy reasonable academic, artistic or other eligibility standards created by the charter school

Statutory requirements

In addition to abiding by the terms of its performance contract, charter schools are subject to certain requirements set forth in state law.

For example, charter schools cannot charge tuition or fees, must be nonsectarian in all respects (admission, programs, employment, operations, etc.), and must answer for their performance.

Furthermore, they must not discriminate in any capacity (sex, race, nation origin, marital status, disability, etc.), and ensure compliance with applicable local and state regulations concerning civil rights, safety and health.

Finally, charter schools must adopt and abide by an operating budget, maintain the necessary financial records, facilitate annual financial audits, and participate in Florida's education accountability program.

It's worth noting that while charter schools are exempt from the K-20 Education Code, there are certain statutes not covered by this exemption.

Teacher certification

As to the important issue of teacher qualifications, state law mandates that any charter school teacher under contract or employed by a charter school must be certified.

Here's hoping the foregoing information has proven helpful.  

Always remember that if you are a parent, teacher or administrator with questions or concerns about an education law matter pertaining to charter schools to consider speaking with an experienced legal professional.   

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