'Unregulated' Charter Schools? 13 Things You Did Not Know

All the accountability of regular public schools – plus parents can pull their kids out any time

Michigan charter schools are among the most regulated schools in the country, according to the Michigan Association of Public School Academies. Here are 13 rules and laws the association says charter schools in this state must follow:

  • Michigan law requires a charter school to be closed if it is in the bottom 5 percent of state public schools in academic achievement three years in a row.
  • Charter school authorizers hold charter schools accountable to the requirements spelled out in a legally binding contract. The contract covers expectations and goals for the school.
  • Charter schools can limit enrollment based only on building capacity. Here's a list of some of the grounds upon which charters may not discriminate: a student’s previous academic performance, special needs, race and home address. If a charter school has more applicants than it has the capacity to serve, it must select its students by random, using a lottery.
  • Charter schools operate under the same legal requirements for providing special education services as any other public school.
  • Michigan charter schools must participate in standardized testing.
  • Michigan charter schools must hire state-certified teachers and administrators.
  • Michigan charter schools must evaluate their teachers and administrators each year.
  • Michigan charter schools must comply with the Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act.
  • Charter schools must post extensive financial information online.
  • Charter schools in Michigan have a tougher conflict of interest law than conventional counterparts. The law states that charters must prohibit any conflict between a public board member and a person or entity with which the board would contract. Conventional public school board members only have to recuse themselves from the vote. Charter school board members are prohibited from serving on the board when such a conflict occurs.
  • Michigan charter schools must pay for their own facilities out of money they receive from the state for operations. Unlike conventional public schools, they cannot ask voters to approve bonds or millages to pay for facilities, technology or anything else.
  • Michigan charter schools are legally defined as public school districts, which means that any law that applies to a conventional district automatically applies equally to them.
  • Michigan charter schools are organized by law under the Non-Profit Corporation Act. They are public schools and nonprofit entities.

The information for these bullet points was provided by the Michigan Association of Public School Academies.

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