What are charter schools?
Charter Schools are independent public schools that are free to be more innovative and are held accountable for improved student achievement. They foster a relationship between parents, teachers, and students to create an environment in which parents are more involved, teachers can be more innovative, and students are provided the structure they need to learn.
Charter schools operate from 3 basic principles
There are five different types of charter schools
Charter with local school board (new start-up)
Charter with BESE (new start-up or conversion)
Charter with local school board (conversion)
School Board Charter with BESE (new start-up or conversion)
Charter with BESE (pre-existing public school under the jurisdiction of the RSD)
History of Louisiana’s charter schools
Louisiana’s Charter School Law was originally enacted in 1995 (Act 192) as a pilot program allowing up to eight school districts to volunteer to participate. These districts could either grant charters to eligible groups or apply to the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to operate a charter school themselves.
The law was substantially revised in 1997 (Act 477) to allow all school districts to participate, but the number of charter schools statewide was capped at 42. The 1997 act also allowed an “appeals-type” procedure under which an eligible group could submit its charter proposal directly to BESE if a local school board failed to approve it or if the local school board placed conditions on the approval of the charter which were unacceptable to the group.
In 2003, a constitutional amendment (Act 1293) and four bills (Act 9, Act 260, Act 381 and Act 944) impacted the operation of charter schools. The constitutional amendment authorized the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to take over failing public schools or provide for others to do so; it also authorized BESE to receive, control and spend the state and local per pupil share of the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) for those schools. Companion legislation (Act 9) spelled out the procedure BESE is to follow to implement the provisions of the constitutional amendment; created a new “Type 5” category of charter schools as one option BESE has for providing for the operation of a failing public school it takes over; and includes special provisions for the creation and operation of Type 5 charter schools.