Charter Schools: Does state law explicitly allow virtual charter schools?

Charter Schools: Does state law explicitly allow virtual charter schools?

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 state law explicitly allow virtual charter schools?
Alabama No
Alaska No
Arizona Yes. The state board of education and state-approved charter authorizers are required to develop standards for the approval of online course providers and online schools based on itemized criteria.

Citations: Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 15-808
Arkansas No. However, the Open-enrollment Public Charter School Facilities Funding Aid Program prohibits participation from charter schools for whom virtual technology is the primary method of delivering instruction.
California Between January 2020 and January 2022, inclusive, the approval of new nonclassroom-based charter schools is prohibited.

Citations: Cal. Educ. Code § 47612.7; Cal. Educ. Code § 47612.5
Colorado Yes. State law defines "online pupil" as a child who receives educational services predominantly through a multi-district online school. The state charter school institute may authorize a multi-district online school but is first required to apply to the online division within the department of education for certification of such a school.

Citations: Colo Rev. Stat. Ann. § 22-30.5-103(6); Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 22-30.7-101; Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 22-30.7-106; Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 22-30.7-103
Connecticut No
Delaware No
District of Columbia No
Florida Yes. A virtual charter school may:
  • Contract with the Florida Virtual School.
  • Contract with an approved provider.
  • Enter into an agreement with a school district to allow the participation of the virtual charter school's students in the school district's virtual instruction program. The agreement must indicate a process for reporting of student enrollment and the transfer of funds.

The department is required to annually publish online a list of providers approved to offer virtual instruction programs.

Citations: Fla. Stat. Ann. § 1002.33; Fla. Stat. Ann. § 1002.45
Georgia Yes. State law specifies allotment of funds for state chartered schools and state chartered special schools that offer virtual instruction.

Additionally, state law relevant to determinations of approving or renewing a charter state that nothing in that code section "shall preclude the use of computer or Internet based instruction for students in a virtual or remote setting."

Citations: Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-2068.1; Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-2089; Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-2065
Hawaii Yes. The definition of a charter school includes virtual instruction as a potential alternative framework for a charter school.

Citations: Haw. Rev. Stat. § 302D-1
Idaho Yes. “Virtual school” means a school that delivers a full-time, sequential program of synchronous and/or asynchronous instruction primarily through the use of technology via the internet in a distributed environment. Schools classified as virtual must have an online component to their school with online lessons and tools for student and data management.

A virtual charter may be approved by any authorizing entity (including the state board of education) except a local board.

Citations: Idaho Code Ann. § 33-5202A; Idaho Code Ann. § 33-5203; Idaho Code Ann. § 33-5205; Idaho Code Ann. § 33-5207
Illinois Yes. “Virtual-schooling” is defined as a cyber school where students engage in online curriculum and instruction via the Internet and electronic communication with their teachers at remote locations and with students participating at different times.

Citations: 105 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § 5/27A-5
Indiana Yes. A charter school is not prohibited from delivering instructional services through the Internet or another online arrangement or in any manner by computer if they follow the department of education's procedures governing online and computer instruction.

Citations: Ind. Code Ann. § 20-24-8-2; Ind. Code Ann. § 20-24-7-13
Iowa No
Kansas Yes. However, the virtual schools act does not refer to such schools as charter schools. A virtual school is defined as any school or educational program that:
  • Is offered for credit.
  • Uses distance-learning technologies which predominately use internet-based methods to deliver instruction.
  • Involves instruction that occurs asynchronously with the teacher and student in separate locations.
  • Requires the student to make academic progress toward the next grade level and matriculation from kindergarten through high school graduation.
  • Requires the student to demonstrate competence in subject matter for each class or subject in which the student is enrolled as part of the virtual school.
  • Requires age-appropriate students to complete state assessment tests.

Citations: Kan. Stat. Ann. § 72--3712
Kentucky No. State law explicitly states that a public charter school may not be a virtual charter school.

Citations: Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 160.1591
Louisiana Yes. However, specific terminology used is "course providers." “Course provider” is defined as an entity that offers individual courses in person or online, including but not limited to online or virtual education providers, postsecondary education institutions, including any postsecondary institution under the management of the Board of Supervisors of Community and Technical Colleges, and corporations that offer vocational or technical course work in their field, and have been authorized to provide such courses by the state board.

"Virtual school" is also defined in statute as a public school, including a charter school, which has a unique code and delivers all or a majority of the instruction provided through the internet or other electronic medium.

Citations: La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:4002.1 to La. Rev. Stat. Ann.§ 4002.6; La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:236.3
Maine Yes

Citations: Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. 20-A § 2401
Maryland No
Massachusetts No. However, state law does allow education collaboratives - which are associations of 2 or more school committees or boards of trustees of charter schools - to submit proposals to establish common wealth virtual schools. Other persons and entities eligible to submit a proposal include, but are not limited to, school districts, 2 or more school districts, an institution of higher education, a non-profit entity, 2 or more certified teachers, and parents.

Citations: Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 71 § 94
Michigan Yes. Cyber charter schools are classified as "schools of excellence." Cyber charter schools are issued a contract to be organized and operated as a cyber school that provides full-time instruction to pupils through online learning or otherwise on a computer or other technology, which instruction and learning may be remote from a school facility.

An authorizing body may issue a contract to establish a school of excellence that is a cyber school.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.551; Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.553a
Minnesota Yes

Citations: Minn. Stat. Ann. § 124D.095
Mississippi No. However, a charter school may contract with an accredited online course provider to deliver online courses, subject to approval from the authorizer.

Citations: Miss. Code Ann. § 37-28-43
Missouri No
Nevada Yes. Full-time virtual schools may be authorized by the state public charter school authority or school districts. A charter school authorized by a district that provides a full-time virtual school program may not enroll students from outside of the district. Charter schools may provide a program of distance education under that state's distance education program. Charter school applications must indicate if the school provide a program of distance education. Students enrolled in a charter school may enroll in a full-time distance education program only if the charter school in which the student is enrolled provides a program of distance education.

Citations: Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 388A.366; Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 388A.246; Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 388.838 Senate Bill 441 (2019) Legislation is "undesignated" as of 12/2019
New Hampshire Yes. The Virtual Learning Academy Charter School is a statewide virtual school.

Citations: N.H. Rev. Stat. § 194-B:11
New Jersey No
New Mexico No. However, regulations for distance learning, including online schools, encompass charter schools and charter schools offering distance learning programs must be located in the state.

Citations: N.M. Admin. Code 6.30.8, N.M. Admin. Code
New York No
North Carolina No
Ohio Yes. There is a limit of 5 new virtual charter schools each year, and applications require the approval of the superintendent of public instruction.

Citations: Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3314.013, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3314.02, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3314.03
Oklahoma Yes

Citations: Okla. Stat. tit. 70, § 3-145.1; Okla. Stat. tit. 70, § 3-145.3
Oregon Yes

Citations: Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 338.005; Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 338.120
Pennsylvania Yes

Citations: 24 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 17-1703-A; 24 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 17-1741-A through 24 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 17-1751-A
Rhode Island No. The Statewide Virtual Education Act does not include any provisions specific to charter schools.

Citations: R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-22.1-1 et al.
South Carolina No. Charter schools may offer virtual instruction but may not provide more than 75% of core academic instruction in K-12 grades via online or virtual instruction. The remaining 25% of core academic instruction may be met through regular instructional opportunities in real time directly related to the school's curricular objectives, such as meetings with teachers and educational outings. Charter school students may enroll in the department of education's virtual education program.

Citations: S.C. Code Ann. § 59-40-40; S.C. Code Ann. § 59-40-65
Tennessee No. State law specifically prohibits virtual charter schools.

Citations: Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-13-106
Texas No
Utah Yes. A charter school created exclusively for the purpose of serving students online may offer online courses to eligible students through the statewide online education program.

Citations: U.C.A. 1953 § 53F-4-504
Virginia No
Washington No
West Virginia No.
Wisconsin Yes

Citations: Wis. Stat. Ann. § 118.40; Wis. Stat. Ann. § 115.001
Wyoming No

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