What is a Charter School?

Charter schools are innovative public schools providing choices for families and greater accountability for results. Charter schools are independently operated public schools. These schools are established to provide children with more opportunities for academic success. Charters are non-profit  and non sectarian organizations that are authorized by the local Board of Education ( the chartering school District ). Each charter school has its own Board of Trustees and administrative staff and operates as a separate, independent educational institution from the local school district . The Pennsylvania Charter School Law- Act 22 of 1997- set up charters to operate free of many of the local and state requirements that apply to traditional public schools. Charter schools operate free from many educational mandates, except for those concerning nondiscrimination, health and safety and accountability.

Charter schools hire their own teachers, design the academic program,  select textbooks and other instructional materials, determine the length of the school day and of the school year, decide on the number and kind of extra curricular activities and many, many other school specific decisions.

Charter Schools are independently operated PUBLIC schools that are funded with federal, state and local tax dollars.  These schools are established to provide families with more educational alternatives for their children. Charters are non-profit, non sectarian, organizations that are approved by the local Board of Education   (the "authorizer") or the State Appeal Board. Each charter has its own Board of Trustees and administrative staff and operates as a separate, independent  local educational agency (LEA) within Intermediate Unit 26 (IU 26).  The Pennsylvania Charter School Law - Act 22 of 1997 - set up charters to operate free of many of the local and state requirements that apply to traditional public schools.

Charter schools are accountable to their authorizer, however, for making academic progress, for fulfilling the terms of both its original charter and of its Charter Agreement  and for complying with a number of  applicable federal statutes - such as  No Child Left Behind (NCLB) , Individuals with Disabilities Education Act  (IDEA), Family Educational Rights and  Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Internal Revenue Code for (501)(c)(3) organizations; and state statutes - such as the Public Officials and Employee Ethics Act, the Right To Know Act, the Sunshine Act, the Public School Code of 1949 and the Pennsylvania Non Profit Corporation Act.

Each charter school should have a Parent/Community Handbook which explains the school's rules , how it complies with these statutes, a listing of dates and times for Board of Trustees' meetings , the procedure to be followed for parental inquiries and complaints and many other details about the school's operations.