Charter Schools: Does the state specify the types of charter schools that may be given approval preference?

Charter Schools: Does the state specify the types of charter schools that may be given approval preference?

January 2020

This resource contains information about the 45 states, plus the District of Columbia, with charter school laws. It does not contain any information for the five states that have not enacted charter school laws.

Does the state specify the types of charter schools that may be given approval preference?
Alabama Yes. Authorizers are required to give preference to applications that are focused on serving at-risk students, defined as a student who has an economic or academic disadvantage that requires special services and assistance to succeed in educational programs. The term includes, but is not limited to, students who are members of economically disadvantaged families, students who are identified as having special education needs, students who are limited in English proficiency, students who are at risk of dropping out of high school, and students who do not meet minimum standards of academic proficiency. Authorizers may give preference to schools that will be operated on or near the campus of a Historically Black Public College or University (HBCU).

Citations: Ala. Code § 16-6F-6; Ala. Code § 16-6F-7
Alaska No. However, charter schools must be nonsectarian.

Citations: Alaska Stat. Ann. § 14.03.265
Arizona No
Arkansas Yes. The authorizer must give preference to applications for charter schools:
  • Located in school districts where the percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced price lunches is above the average for the state.
  • Where the district has been classified by the state as in need of intensive district level support.
  • Where the district has been classified by the state department of education as in some phase of fiscal distress, provided the fiscal distress status is a result of administrative fiscal mismanagement as determined by the state board of education.

Citations: Ark. Code Ann. § 6-23-304
California Yes. Priority in the approval process must be given to schools demonstrating competency in serving low-achieving students.

Citations: Cal. Educ. Code § 47605
Colorado Yes. Greater consideration must be given to charter school applications designed to increase the educational opportunities of at-risk pupils. At-risk pupils are defined as pupils who, because of physical, emotional, socioeconomic, or cultural factors, are less likely to succeed in a conventional educational environment. A majority of a charter school's students, other than online students, must reside in the chartering school district or in contiguous school districts.

Citations: Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 22-30.5-109; Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 22-30.5-104; Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 22-30.5-103
Connecticut Yes. The state board of education must give preference to the following charter school applicants:
  • Whose primary purpose is the establishment of education programs designed to serve one or more of the following student populations:
  • Students with a history of low academic performance.
  • Students who receive free or reduced priced lunches.
  • Students with a history of behavioral and social difficulties.
  • Students identified as requiring special education.
  • Students who are English language learners.
  • Students of a single gender.
  • Whose primary purpose is to improve the academic performance of an existing school that has consistently demonstrated substandard academic performance.
  • That will serve students who reside in a priority school district.
  • That will serve students who reside in a district in which 75% or more of the enrolled students are members of racial or ethnic minorities.
  • That demonstrate highly credible and specific strategies to attract, enroll and retain students from among those populations.
  • That, in the case of an applicant for a state charter school, will be located at a work-site or that the applicant is an institution of higher education.

Citations: Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 10-66bb
Delaware No

Citations: Del. Code Ann. tit. 14, § 506
District of Columbia Yes. The Public Charter School Board has the authority to approve an application for a public charter school that gives a preference for admission to children of active duty members of the United States Armed Forces (limited to 1 such school at a time).

Citations: D.C. Code Ann. § 38-1802.06
Florida Yes. Authorizers may only deny an application from a high-performing charter school or a high-performing charter school system, both identified pursuant to state law, if the sponsor demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence specified in state law that any of the following has occurred:
  • the application does not materially comply with state law requirements
  • the proposed charter school's educational program does not replicate that of the applicant or one of the applicant's high-performing charter schools
  • the applicant has made a material misrepresentation, a false statement, or has concealed an essential or material fact during the application process.

Citations: Fla. Stat. Ann. § 1002.33
Georgia No
Hawaii No
Idaho No
Illinois Yes. In evaluating submitted charter school proposals, the local school board is required to give preference to proposals that:
  • Demonstrate a high level of local pupil, parental, community, business, and school personnel support.
  • Set rigorous levels of expected pupil achievement and demonstrate feasible plans for attaining those levels of achievement.
  • Are designed to enroll and serve a substantial proportion of at-risk children.

Citations: 105 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/27A-8
Indiana No
Iowa No
Kansas No
Kentucky Yes. An authorizer is encouraged to give preference to applications that demonstrate the intent, capacity, and capability to provide comprehensive learning experiences to:
  • Students identified by the applicants as at risk of academic failure
  • Students with special needs as identified in their individualized education program.
No charter school may be a virtual public charter school.

Citations: Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 160.1594; Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 160.1591
Louisiana No. However, meeting the needs of student bodies consisting primarily of economically disadvantaged and students with exceptionalities (not including gifted and talented) is emphasized throughout the charter schools law. Schools with an established mission to meet the needs of pupils who are dependent children of military personnel appear to stand out in importance also.

Citations: La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:3991
Maine Yes. Authorizers may give preference to proposals that expand opportunities for children who are not realizing their full potential, who may be disaffected or disengaged in their current education situations and who may be at risk of failure academically, socially, economically or personally.

Authorizers may encourage proposals that include a specific academic approach or theme to address the diverse educational needs of communities in the State.

Citations: Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. 20-A § 2406
Maryland Yes. A county board may give approval preference to:

1) A converted public charter school that:
  • Provides guaranteed placement through a lottery to students who live within the geographic attendance area established by the county board.
  • Is a low-performing school as identified by the county board.
  • Is above the county average rate for the percentage of students who are eligible for free and reduced price meals.
  • Meets a strategic need of the local school system that includes at least one of the following elements: serving a high-need population, increasing student performance, increasing enrollment; or increasing student diversity.

2) A converted public charter school that is seeking renewal of an existing charter contract.

Citations: Md. Code Ann., Educ. § 9-102.3
Massachusetts Yes. At least 2 of the new charters approved by the state board of education in any year are required to be granted for charter schools located in districts where overall student performance on the statewide assessment system is in the lowest 10 percent statewide in the 2 years preceding the application. Charter schools located in low performing school districts do not apply to the statewide limit on the number of charter schools. The state board of education may give priority to charter applications that have demonstrated broad community support, an innovative educational plan and a demonstrated commitment to assisting the district in which it is located in bringing about educational change.

Citations: Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 71 § 89
Michigan Yes. Priority may be given to applications that would replace charter schools closed due to poor performance.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.503
Minnesota No
Mississippi No. However, authorizers must consider expedited approval for charter school applications submitted by a public historically black college or university (HBCU) or applications for charter schools that would be operated on or near an HBCU campus.

Citations: Miss. Code Ann. § 37-28-19
Missouri Yes. Authorizers must give priority to applicants that propose a school oriented to high-risk students and the reentry of dropouts. If a sponsor grants 3 or more charters, at least one-third of the charter schools must be to schools that actively recruit dropouts or high-risk students as their student body and address the needs of dropouts or high-risk students through their proposed mission, curriculum, teaching methods, and services.

Additionally, charter schools may be operated only in the following areas or circumstances:
  • A metropolitan school district.
  • An urban school district with a population of over 350,000.
  • A school district declared unaccredited
  • A school district classified as provisionally accredited and that has received scores consistent with provisionally accredited or unaccredited for 3 consecutive school years.
Mayors of certain cities may request charter school authorizers to consider sponsoring a workplace charter school in the city to target prospective students whose parents are employed in the cities' business districts.

Citations: Mo. Ann. Stat. § 160.405
Nevada No
New Hampshire No
New Jersey No. However, state law directs the commissioner of education to actively encourage formation of charter schools in urban areas with the participation of higher education institutions.

Citations: N.J. Stat. Ann. § 18A:36A-3
New Mexico No
New York Yes. Charter entities - which review charter school applications but do not issue charters - are encouraged to give preference to applications that demonstrate the capability to provide comprehensive learning experiences to students identified by the applicants as at risk of academic failure. In a school district where the total number of resident students attending charter schools is more than 5% of the school district's total enrollment, the applicant must demonstrate how the proposed charter school would have significant benefit to students expected to attend or the school district in which the school would be located must consent to the application.

The board of regents - which issues charters - and the board of trustees for the state university of New York are required to issue request for proposals for charter schools and may not consider applications under this process unless the school has demonstrated it will meet established enrollment and retention targets and the applicant has conducted public outreach on the proposed charter school. The board of regents must grant priority to applications that best demonstrate how they will meet the following objectives, plus any objected established by the organizations:

  • Increase student achievement and decrease achievement gaps in reading and mathematics.
  • Increase graduation rates among at-risk students.
  • Focus on academic achievement of middle schools.
  • Use of high quality assessments.
  • Increase use of local instructional improvement systems.
  • Partner with low-performing schools to share best practices and innovations.
  • Demonstrate management and leadership techniques to overcome start-up issues.
  • Demonstrate district support for the school.

Citations: N.Y. Educ. Law § 2852
North Carolina Yes. In reviewing charter school applications, the state board is encouraged to give preference to applications that demonstrate the capability to provide comprehensive learning experiences to students identified by the applicants as at risk of academic failure. Within one year after it begins operation, the charter school is to make efforts for the school population to reasonably reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the same population that the school seeks to serve that resides in the local school administrative unit in which the school is located. The school is subject to any court-ordered desegregation plan in effect for the administrative unit.

Citations: N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 115C-218.5, N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 115C-218.45
Ohio No. However, new charter schools may only be started in "challenged school districts," meaning school districts that meet certain criteria, including low performance.

Citations: Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3314.02
Oklahoma Yes. All authorizers but school districts must give priority to opening charter schools that serve at-risk student populations or students from low-performing schools. In addition, all authorizers - except for school districts - must give priority to charter school applicants with a demonstrated record of operating at least one school or similar program with academic success and organizational viability and that serves student populations similar to those the proposed charter seeks to serve.

Citations: Okla. Stat. tit. 70, §3-132
Oregon No. However, criteria for charter approval includes the ability of the charter to serve academically low-achieving students.

Citations: Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 338.055
Pennsylvania No

Citations: 24 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 17-1723-A
Rhode Island Yes. Priority consideration must be given to charter school applications designed to increase the educational opportunities of educationally disadvantaged and at-risk pupils, and half of the total charter schools in the state must be designed to serve at-risk students.

Citations: R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 16-77-3.1; R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 16-77-6.1
South Carolina No. However, authorizers may designate schools serving a high-risk student populations as an alternative education campus.

Citations: S.C. Code Ann. § 59-40-111
Tennessee No.
Texas Yes. Open-enrollment charter schools: The authorizer must give priority to applications proposing a charter school in the attendance zone of a school designated as low-performing in the 2 preceding school years.University charter schools: When considering applications for college or university charter schools, the authorizer must consider the location of the services to avoid duplication of services and the needs of the community where the proposed charter school would be located.

Citations: Tex. Educ. Code Ann. § 12.110; Tex. Educ. Code Ann. § 12.152
Utah The state board is directed to request applications to establish the following charter school types:
  • military charter school
  • charter schools to enhance learning opportunities for students at-risk of failure
  • a career and technical education charter school
  • a single-gender charter school
  • a charter school with an international focus

When approving charter school enrollment capacity and charter school expansions, the state board of education must give high priority to approving new charter schools or a charter school expansions in a high-growth area.

Citations: U.C.A. 1953 § 53G-5-301 U.C.A. 1953 § 53G-6-504
Virginia Yes. Preference is given to charter school applications that would serve at-risk students. At least half of charter schools per division must be designed for at-risk students, although this does not apply to conversion charter schools.

Citations: Va. Code Ann. § 22.1-212.11
Washington Yes. The Washington state charter school commission has a statutory emphasis on authorizing schools that are designed to expand opportunities for at-risk students, and authorizers must give priority to applications for schools designed to enroll and serve at-risk student populations.

Citations: Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 28A.710.070; Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 28A.710.140
West Virginia No

Citations: W. Va. Code, § 18-5G-6
Wisconsin Yes. Charter school authorizers must give preference to charter school applications for schools that serve at-risk students.

Citations: Wis. Stat. Ann. § 118.40
Wyoming No

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