California Supreme Court ruling to impact charter school boundaries
- A growing number of charter schools in California operate outside of traditional brick-and-mortar settings, giving them the ability to serve students in adjacent districts, but a court ruling limits their freedom to serve students in neighboring districts within the same county.
- EdSource reports the current law says these so-called “independent study charters” can get approval from one district to open and then set up a resource center in adjacent counties to serve more students, but the law didn’t explicitly say it could open such resource centers in neighboring districts within the same county.
- Independent study charters offer remote learning opportunities either through entirely online programs or with limited face-to-face services, and about 38,000 students attend these schools through out-of-district, in-county arrangements that are now prohibited.
Tensions run high when districts can lose students to charter schools they did not approve. That is the case in California, where even with the limited interpretation of the law, charter schools can still recruit students from districts in neighboring counties, where school boards had no say in granting the charter.
Charter authorizing laws vary widely from state to state, with some allowing for-profit organizations to open and run charters while others limit the charter school sector to non-profit entities. Authorizing entities themselves also vary. The vast majority of charter schools in the U.S. were authorized by the local school board, but Michigan is one state where community colleges or state universities can authorize charters to operate in K-12 districts.
- EdSource Court ruling will hinder some charter schools' right to cross district borders
- National Association of Charter School Authorizers On the road to great charter schools: State policy analysis 2016
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