What is a charter school?
A charter school is a public school open to all students on a space-available basis that operates independently of the district board of education under a charter granted by the Commissioner. Once the charter is approved by the Commissioner, the school is governed by a board of trustees deemed to be public agents authorized by the State Board of Education to supervise and control the school. A charter school is a body corporate and politic with all powers necessary for carrying out its charter program.
How many charter schools are operational and where are they located?
There are a total of 61 approved charter schools in 15 counties. For the 2006-2008 schoolyear, 56 charter schools served approximately 16,000 students. Four charter schools are scheduled to open in September 2008.
Is transportation provided for charter school students?
Yes, transportation to and from a charter school is provided for students who reside in the district of residence or region of residence of the charter school on the same terms and conditions as transportation is provided to students attending the schools of the district board(s) of education. The New Jersey Administrative Code, Student Transportationsection outlines specific procedures and responsibilities regarding the transportation of students from the district of residence or region of residence, as well as non-resident students. The code addresses charter school transportation at N.J.A.C. 6A:27-3. In addition, transportation will be provided to students with disabilities as required by each individual education program (IEP).
Who may attend a charter school?
A charter school must be open to all students on a space-available basis. If there is a greater number of qualified applicants who seek enrollment than there are spaces available, the charter school is required to use a random selection process (lottery). Preference is given to students from the district of residence or region of residence before non-resident students may be admitted.
Must a student be registered in the school district to be considered foradmission to a charter school?
Yes, a student must first be registered in the school district in order to be enrolled in a charter school.
Must preference for admissions be given to the students in the district ofresidence or region of residence?
Yes, preference for enrollment in a charter school must be given to students who reside in the district or region of residence.
How will students be admitted to the charter school?
The charter school may not discriminate in its admission policies or practices on the basis of intellectual or athletic ability, measures of achievement or aptitude, status as a handicapped person, proficiency in the English language or any other basis that would be illegal if used by a district board of education. The charter school’s admissions policy must, to the maximum extent practicable, seek the enrollment of a cross-section of the community’s school-age population including racial and academic factors.
Will any students be given preference for admission to a charter school?
Yes, the Charter School Program Act of 1995 requires a charter school to give enrollment preference to students who reside in the district of residence or region of residence of the charter school. The act also requires a charter school to allow students who are currently enrolled to continue enrollment in the next school year in the appropriate grade level, unless the appropriate grade is not offered at the charter school. A charter school is also given the authority to give enrollment priority to siblings of enrolled students.
May a charter school recruit students from its district of residence or region of residence concurrently with students from non-resident district boards ofeducation?
Yes, a charter school may recruit students from its district of residence or region of residence concurrently with students from non-resident district boards of education. Should there be more applications than spaces available and a random selection process is needed at the conclusion of the recruitment period, the applications for students from the district of residence or region of residence would be separated from applications for students from non-resident district boards of education. Preference for admission must be given to the students from the district of residence or region of residence.
What is the random selection process (lottery) and when must it be used.
A random selection process (lottery) is one that places all eligible applicants per grade level into one pool and then selects applicants in a nondiscriminatory manner. This process must be activated during each enrollment period when the number of eligible applicants exceeds the number of enrollment slots available for a grade level.
Is there a deadline for age eligibility for a student to enter kindergarten in acharter school?
Yes, a charter school must enroll a student selected for admission to kindergarten based on the student reaching the age of five in that school year by:
· October 1 in accordance with N.J.S.A. 18A:38-5; or
· A date earlier than October 1 that is established by the district board of education in which the student resides.
Are students with educational disabilities, English language learners (ELL) and at-risk students eligible to attend a charter school?
A charter school is a public school open to all students. Students with educational disabilities, ELLs or at-risk students are eligible to attend a charter school on the same basis as all other students. The Charter School Program Act of 1995 provides that any categorical aid attributable to students be paid to the charter school. It also requires charter schools to comply with current law and regulation regarding the provision of services to students with educational disabilities, ELLs or at-risk students.
May a student withdraw from a charter school?
Yes, a student may withdraw from a charter school at any time and have his/her records transferred to the district board of education, state district superintendent, another charter school or a private school.
May a charter school expel a student?
Yes, student may be expelled from a charter school. The charter school must comply with the current law regarding expulsion and due process including N.J.S.A. 18A:37 and N.J.A.C. 6A:16.
Do charter schools have to participate in the statewide assessment program?
Yes, charter schools must participate in the required statewide assessment program and will be monitored to assure compliance with statute and regulations concerning assessment and testing. In addition, all charter schools must comply with federal and state NCLBregulations and participate in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) testing if selected.
Will charter schools be required to meet the academic performance standardsrequired of public schools?
Yes, the Charter School Program Act of 1995 requires all charter school students to meet the same testing and academic performance standards as established by law and regulation for public school students. A charter school will also identify in its 2008 New Jersey Charter School Application any non-mandated tests and/or assessment measures that will be implemented.
· Submit data on student composition no later than April 15 of the school year in which a charter school is approved or no later than January 15 of the school year following the school year in which a charter school that elects to take a planning year;
· Submit data on student composition no later than January 15 in subsequent years;
· Conduct an enrollment count October 15 and the last day of the school year;
· Provide a copy of the monthly financial reports submitted to the board of trustees to the county superintendent within 30 days after the end of September, December and March;
· Submit evidence of a uniform system of double-entry bookkeeping in conformance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) by July 31 and prior to final approval of its charter; and
· Submit annual independent audit (Consolidated Annual Financial Report) each November 5.