Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What makes a charter school different from a traditional public school?

A: The Michigan legislature recognizes all Michigan charter schools as public schools and pays State school aid to them based on their enrollment and foundation amount, the same as traditional public schools. Charter schools are non-sectarian, must follow all federal and State regulations and laws, and may not charge tuition or be part of a voucher system. The key difference between the two is:

Charter schools are established through a contract with an Authorizer that specifies the operating procedures of the school and the length of time that the school will receive public support. Charters are granted a specific amount of autonomy (determined by State law and the local charter) to make decisions concerning the structure, curriculum, and educational emphasis of the school. In return for this autonomy, charter schools are held accountable for the academic achievement of the students in the school, and the school faces suspension, revocation, or closure if accepted performance standards are not met.

Q: Is a charter school considered a local school district?

A: Yes, pursuant to MCLA 380.501(1).

Q: Who can propose a charter school?

A: Community groups, parents, teachers, and/or administrators, universities, colleges, intermediate and local school districts as well as for-profit entities can all propose a charter school.

Q: Can a charter school limit enrollment?

A: A charter school may limit enrollment based on the school’s enrollment capacity, but may not limit enrollment based on race, religion, gender, performance scores, or other demographic data. A random selection process (lottery) must be used if the number of applicants exceeds the schools’ enrollment capacity. Students not accepted for enrollment are placed on a “waiting list” and must be given preference when an opening occurs.

Q: Must charter schools employ certified teachers?

A: Yes. Part 6A of the Revised School Code requires that teachers in a charter school have proper certification, the same State requirement as a traditional school.

Q: Must charter schools administer the State required assessment test?

A: Yes. All Michigan charter schools must administer the State required assessment test in the appropriate grades. Additionally, each school usually is required to administer a nationally-normed test such as the NWEA-MAP.

Q: May a PSA be religiously affiliated?

A: No. A charter school must maintain the separation between church and State.

Q: What are the major responsibilities of an authorizing body?

A: Pursuant to MCLA 380.502(4): "An authorizing body shall oversee, or shall contract with an intermediate school district, community college, or state public university to oversee, each public school academy operating under a contract issued by the authorizing body. The oversight shall be sufficient to ensure that the authorizing body can certify that the public school academy is in compliance with statue, rules, and the terms of the contract."

Q: Must a charter school participate in the free and reduced lunch program?

A: The board of a K-12 school district shall operate a program under which lunch is made available to all full-time pupils enrolled and in regular daily attendance at each school in the school district. Therefore, all K-12 PSA’s must participate in the federal free and reduced lunch program.