Considering Opening a Charter School? Here's What You Need to Know

California is a leader in charter school development. The state boasts more than 1,000 charter schools that serve more than half a million students. Educators praise the charter school model because it provides for greater flexibility in approach, curricula, and assessment. Of course, opening a non-traditional public school is not without its challenges. Educational law is complex. Before you start looking for real estate for your new school, you need to speak with a lawyer who handles these types of cases.

Basic Structure

Contrary to popular belief, charter schools are not private schools. They are public, non-sectarian, tuition-free academic institutions. In California, all charter schools are subject to the collective bargaining laws outlined in the Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA). According to the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA), roughly 30% of all charter schools in the state have a collective bargaining arrangement. Nearly all charter schools in California are run by non-profit public benefit corporations.

Admission Policies

Since charter schools are public schools, they must have an open admission policy. Any child may attend the school and no child may be denied admission on a discriminatory basis. As the popularity of a local charter school grows, there may be more children seeking enrollment than there are seats available. When this happens, the school must use a lottery system as required by law. It’s common practice for charter schools to maintain waitlists.


Oversight is a common area of concern for educators and parents alike. It should be noted that charter schools are required to abide by all applicable federal and state laws, including health and safety laws. Charter schools are subject to financial oversight and academic outcome evaluations. If a charter school is not meeting the terms of its charter, is fiscally mismanaged, or has poor academic outcomes, its authorizers can choose not to renew the charter at the end of the term.

The seasoned lawyers at The Law Offices of Jon Webster are committed to providing unsurpassed legal guidance and support to educators. We are uniquely qualified to counsel new and established charter schools on all legal issues, including application drafting, policy development, and charter drafting. Take the first step to open your charter school by calling our law office in Concord, CA, at (925) 609-7600.

Categories: Education Law


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