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Charter Schools - Frequently Asked Questions

This page contains frequently asked questions about charter schools.

  1. Are charter schools permitted to charge tuition and fees?
  2. Must a charter accept any student?
  3. Are charter schools required to provide meals to students?
  4. Are charter schools required to provide transportation to students?
  5. Are charter schools required to provide a certain number of days of instruction?
  6. Are open-enrollment charter schools required to provide a certain number of hours of instruction?
  7. What are the requirements for student/teacher ratio and class size for charter schools?
  8. My charter school requires that students buy uniforms. Is this okay?
  9. Are the teachers at open-enrollment charter schools required to be certified? 
  10. Is a charter school required to have a full-time school nurse?
  11. What are the qualifications to become a principal or a superintendent of a charter school?
  12. Must charter schools provide a teacher planning period like traditional public schools do?
  13. Must open-enrollment charter schools have written employment contracts?
  14. What are the procedures for filing a complaint against a charter school?
  15. What types of complaints does TEA have jurisdiction over?
  16. How do I file a complaint against a charter? 

  1. Are charter schools permitted to charge tuition and fees?
    An open-enrollment charter school may not charge tuition (except for certain pre-kindergarten classes). A charter school may only charge the same fees that a traditional public school may charge. Texas Education Code (TEC) §11.158(a) lists allowable fees.
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  2. Must a charter accept any student?
    As a general rule, charter schools are open-enrollment and must accept any student who applies. There are exceptions though. A charter is only allowed to serve students in the grades in its approved charter. The school may also only accept students who live in the charter's approved geographic boundary. A charter also will have a cap on the total number of students it may serve.
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  3. Are charter schools required to provide meals to students?
    The charter must provide meals if 10% of the students qualify for free or reduced breakfast. TEC § 33.901 requires the school provide a breakfast program for qualified students.
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  4. Are charter schools required to provide transportation to students?
    A charter school does not have to provide transportation for students. Unless it is a condition in a student's Individualized Education Program (IEP).
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  5. Are charter schools required to provide a certain number of days of instruction?
    No. Open-enrollment charter schools have the discretion to determine the length of their school year. Other public schools must provide at least 180 days of instruction per school year. All schools receive funding based on average daily attendance (up to 180 days). As a result, many charters provide the full 180 days so they can receive full funding.
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  6. Are charter schools required to provide a certain number hours of instruction?
    No. Open-enrollment charter schools have the discretion to determine the length of their school year. Other public schools must provide at least 180 days of instruction per school year. All schools receive funding based on average daily attendance (up to 180 days). As a result, many charters provide the full 180 days so they can receive full funding.
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  7. What are the requirements for student/teacher ratio and class size for charter schools?
    Charter schools are not subject to TEC Sections 25.111 and 25.112 that state such guidelines for districts. Instead, the charter for the school sets any student-teacher ratios or class size limitations.
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  8. My charter school requires that students buy uniforms. Is this okay?
     Yes. 
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  9. Are the teachers at open-enrollment charter schools required to be certified?
    It depends. A teacher at an open-enrollment charter school must have at least a baccalaureate degree. This is unless they are a special education or bilingual education/ESL teacher. These teachers must also have state certification. The governing body of a charter holder may set the qualifications for teachers at a standard above what state law requires.
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  10. Is a charter school required to have a full-time school nurse?
    No. Charter schools are not required to hire a school nurse. If a charter school does hire a nurse, that person is not required to be a full-time employee or to be full-time at any one location. If a charter school wanted to hire one person as a nurse, that person would have to be an RN. This is because an LVN is not allowed to work without supervision.
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  11. Must charter schools provide a minimum teacher planning period like traditional public schools do?
    Because Texas Education Code (TEC) §21.404 does not apply to charters, this is a local issue. Even so, if the school's charter states it will provide a teacher planning period, it must do so.
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  12. Must open-enrollment charter schools have written employment contracts?
    No. State law does not require that charters enter into employment contracts with professional employees. Instead, the governing body of the charter holder makes this decision. They may also set their own salaries for professional employees.
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  13. What are the procedures for filing a complaint against a charter school?
    Parents should begin the process by approaching the campus administrators with their concerns. If the problem is not resolved at the campus, the next level would be the superintendent. If the issue is not solved at this level, approaching the charter holder board is the next step. The charter’s board has the responsibility of ensuring that the charter follows all school laws.

    Charters must have a grievance process. The process will allow the charter’s governing board to address the complaint and make a decision. It is important to follow the steps and the timelines required by the charter’s policies and procedures. School administrators can provide copies of the complaint policies and forms. 
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  14. What types of complaints does TEA have jurisdiction over?
    The legislature has given TEA the authority to investigate issues involving: 
    • student records;
    • teacher service records;
    • admissions and enrollment procedures;
    • tuition;
    • teacher qualifications (non-NCLB matters);
    • criminal history concerns;
    • governance;
    • conflicts of interest;
    • nepotism;
    • financial mismanagement;
    • state testing violations (TAKS, STAAR); and/or
    • special education programs.
     
  15. How do I file a complaint against a charter?
    If your complaint falls into one of the categories in the previous question, visit the TEA Complaints webpage. Instructions and more information are available there.
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If you have any questions about the information on this page, contact the Division of Charter School Administration at (512) 463-9575.


 

Division of Charter School Administration
1701 North Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: (512) 463-9575

 

Page last modified on 8/25/2014 04:29:24 PM.