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Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that have more freedom to design classrooms that meet their students’ needs.



What are charter schools?

A charter school is a tuition-free public school that is independently run. It receives greater flexibility in exchange for increased accountability. The school is established by a “charter,” which is a performance contract describing key elements of the school. 

Do charter schools have admission requirements?

As public schools, charter schools cannot discriminate in their admissions policies. All state and federal civil rights protections remain in place for charter schools, and they are required to comply with special education laws. Charter schools are not allowed to admit students based on previous performance or test scores.

Do charter schools accept students with special needs?

Yes. Charter schools are public schools, and as such, they must abide by federal regulations prohibiting the schools from refusing students because they require special education services. Additionally, public charter schools are expected to meet the demands of all individual education plans.

How do I enroll in a charter school?

Charter schools have an enrollment period when parents can submit applications for the school. If there are more applications submitted than seats available, they will hold a randomized blind lottery. To learn more about applying to a charter school in your area, find a charter school near you and follow the instructions on its website.

Who can start a charter school?

Any nonprofit group that has received or applied for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status may apply to open a charter school. No private or nonpublic school may apply.

Who authorizes charter schools?

Local school boards can choose to serve as authorizers of public charter schools. Where the local school board is not an authorizer, charter schools can apply directly to the Alabama Public Charter School Commission. Additionally, the Alabama Public Charter School Commission can hear appeals from applicants who were denied by the local school system.

How are charter schools funded?

Public charter schools receive 100% of federal funds, 100% of state funds, and the equivalent of 10 mills of local funds for each child enrolled at the public charter school. The State Department of Education will distribute funding to public charter schools for transportation in the same manner as transportation funding is distributed to local school systems.

Learn more about charter schools.

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