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Charter School General Information

What is a charter school and information on how to start a charter school.

What is a Charter School?

A charter school is a public school, and it may provide instruction in any of grades K-12. A charter school is usually created or organized by a group of teachers, parents and community leaders or a community-based organization, and it is usually sponsored by an existing local public school board or county board of education. Specific goals and operating procedures for the charter school are detailed in an agreement (or "charter") between the sponsoring board and charter organizers.

A charter school is generally exempt from most laws governing school districts, except where specifically noted in the law. Charter school pupils are required to participate in all statewide assessments that are applicable to pupils in noncharter public schools. Parents have the right to waive, under specified conditions, state testing requirements for the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) System. A charter school cannot disregard or take away this parental right. Further information regarding the CAASPP system can be found at the following link: CAASPP System. The law also requires that a public charter school be nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and all other operations and prohibits the conversion of a private school to a charter school. Public charter schools may not charge tuition and may not discriminate against any pupil on the basis of ethnicity, national origin, gender, or disability.

How Do I Start A Charter School?

You will find more information regarding charter schools throughout the Charter School Web pages. If you are interested in starting a charter school, you can print or download information on the California Department of Education's Web site. The following links have been developed for parties interested in developing a charter school:

Printable Web pages (click on the link and select printer friendly version in top right corner of each page):

  1. Deadline for SBE Numbering and Charter Submission Package
  2. Sources for California Charter School Advocacy & Assistance
  3. California Code of Regulations Charter School Sections
  4. Charter Schools Division Contacts

Printable documents (click on the link and select print from the File Menu of your browser) or download the document (right click and select Save Target As from the pop-up menu):

  1. Sample copy of a Memorandum of Understanding between the California Department of Education and a State Board of Education approved charter school (DOC)
  2. Request for Charter School Number (DOC)
    To be submitted with charter petition.
  3. Request for County-District-School (CDS) Code
    To be submitted to the CDS (County District School) Administrator once a physical school address has been established.

We recommend you bookmark our Web site and periodically check the Charter School's Web page to obtain the most up-to-date information regarding charter schools.

Questions: Charter Schools Division | | 916-322-6029 
Last Reviewed: Friday, April 12, 2019
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