What is a Charter School?

Charter schools are unique public schools that are allowed the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Because they are public schools, they are open to all children, do not charge tuition, and have to take all state standardized tests.

Myths & Facts

Myth: Charter Schools are private schools.
Fact: By law, charter schools are publicly-funded, open enrollment, free public schools operated by non-profit organizations.

Myth: Charter schools are for-profit companies
Fact: All charters, by law, must be governed by a non-profit board of directors. A charter school may choose to contract out the management of the school to another nonprofit or for-profit management company. These contracts must be reviewed by the charter school’s authorizer.

Myth: Charter schools “cherry-pick” their students.
Nevada charter schools are required by law to admit students who apply on a first-come, first-served basis. The only priorities given are to siblings of students already in the school and children of employees or governing board members of the school. If there are too many applicants for available spots, the law requires the school to admit students by lottery.

Myth: Charter schools do not have to take special education students.
Fact: The responsibility to make free appropriate public education available to all students with disability applies to ALL public schools under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Charter schools are public schools and bear must take any special education student who applies. However, if a charter school determines that it is unable to provide an appropriate special education program and related services for a particular disability (typically low-incident, high-cost), the charter school may request that the board of trustees of the school district in which the pupil resides transfer that pupil to an appropriate school.

Myth: Teachers at charter schools do not have to be licensed.
Fact: Nevada law requires a teacher to be licensed if they are teaching a core subject (reading, math, science, etc.), and requires at least 70 percent of teachers at the school to be licensed. The other 30 percent gives the charter school freedom to bring in people with specialties who may not be a licensed teacher, like having a graphic designer teach a graphic design class, or an artist to teach an art class.

Myth: Charter schools are part of a scheme to privatize public education.
Fact: The charter law is designed to give communities the power to create public schools that serve their needs. Charter schools are privately operated, but they are not privately owned. The charter holder is always a non-profit organization, and the charter school is always a public school.