Charter School FAQ Section 4Frequently asked questions regarding general charter school compliance.
Responses to these frequently asked questions are advisory only. Charter schools and charter authorizers are encouraged to review the actual laws and regulations that provide the basis for these responses and consult with their own legal counsel regarding the application of any of these issues to a specific situation.
1. From what laws are charter schools exempt?
Charter schools are generally exempt from California State laws governing school districts, except where specifically imposed by California Education Code (EC) Section 47610:
- State and federal constitutions.
- The California Charter Schools Act (EC Section 47600 et seq.).
- All federal laws (e.g., Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and Rehabilitation Act).
- All laws that are a condition of funding for a specific program for which the charter school chooses to participate.
- Laws establishing minimum age for school attendance.
- Laws governing nonclassroom-based programs (whether defined as independent study, home schooling, distance learning, personalized learning, or virtual).
- Educational Employees Relations Act (California Government Code Section 3540 et seq.).
- State pupil testing programs (e.g., Physical Fitness Test, Standardized Testing and Reporting, California High School Exit Examination, California English Language Development Test).
- Specific provisions of law related to teachers’ retirement and employee relations.
2. Are two-way bilingual immersion charter schools exempt from Proposition 227 requirements?
Yes. Charter schools are exempt from the legal requirements that were added to the California Education Code Section 300 through Proposition 227. For example, a charter school is not required to obtain annual waivers of consent from parents of English learners who have opted to enroll a child in a two-way immersion program, and is not required to place students in an English language classroom for 30 days prior to placement in a two-way immersion program.
3. Does the state monitor charter school programs and services for English learners?
Yes. All federal requirements, and some state requirements, apply to charter schools. Reviews are conducted in the same manner for charter schools as for other public schools under the state’s Categorical Program Monitoring process.
4. Must a school district statutorily take a student that has been expelled from a charter school?
A charter school is required to describe its suspension and expulsion procedures in its charter. Once a student is expelled, the student may return to the jurisdiction of the school district that he or she would be eligible to attend prior to enrolling in the charter school. The district may choose to treat a student expelled from a charter school in the same manner as a student expelled from the district.
5. May a charter school offer, provide, or teach religious curricula? If it does, is the school still eligible for apportionment?
Charter schools and non-charter schools may teach about religion but may not teach a sectarian curriculum, pursuant to California Education Code Section 47605(e).
6. Are charter schools exempt from federal requirements?
No. While California Education Code Section 47610 exempts charter schools from most of the California laws governing school districts, charter schools are not exempt from federal requirements. Some examples of federal laws with which charter schools must comply are the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, and any requirements that are a condition of receiving federal funding.
7. Must charter schools develop a School Accountability Report Card?
Yes. Article XVI Section 8.5(e) of the California Constitution requires that a "school district maintaining an elementary or secondary school shall develop and cause to be prepared an annual audit accounting for such funds and shall adopt a School Accountability Report Card (SARC) for each school.”
8. What health and safety requirements apply to charter schools?
California Education Code (EC) Section 47605(c)(5)(F) specifies that the charter must describe the procedures that the school will follow to ensure the health and safety of pupils and staff. These procedures must include the requirement that each employee of the school furnish the school with a criminal record summary as described in EC Section 44237 and a full description of a school's health and safety policies, which may include a variety of issues, such as immunizations, tuberculosis testing, and disaster procedures. California Health and Safety Code Section 124085 requires children to have a comprehensive health screening and evaluation upon school entry.
9. Can a charter school charge students for summer school programs?
No. California Education Code Section 47605(e) prohibits a charter school from charging tuition. It may charge fees for optional programs and activities that are recreational and outside of regular school programs.
10. Can a charter school assign academic credit for work experience education and issue work permits?
Yes. California Education Code Section 49110 establishes various requirements relating to the assignment of academic credit for Work Experience Education and also addresses the issuance of work permits.
11. Does a charter school that qualifies for the Dashboard Alternative School Status still have to participate in standardized testing?
All public schools in California are required to participate in standardized testing.
12. What accountability provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 apply to charter schools?
All public schools, including charter schools, must comply with the accountability system of the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, and, in California, with the following:
- Provide instruction that leads to mastery of the state-developed content and academic achievement standards.
- Participate in the state assessment system.
13. Are charter schools required to have a School Site Council or a Single Plan for Student Achievement?
Yes, pursuant to California Education Code Section 47634.4 (Chapter 6, Article 2 of the Charter School Act), if a charter school participates in a program, or receives funding for a program requiring the development of a Single Plan for Student Achievement and/or the development of a School Site Council, the charter must comply with those programmatic requirements.