The Alabama School Choice and Student Opportunity Act enacted as Act No. 2015-3, was effective March 19, 2015, to provide for public charter schools as a part of the public education system of the state of Alabama. A public charter school shall not be established in Alabama unless authorized by the Act and the rules and regulations of the Alabama State Board of Education.
According to Section 3 of this Act, the Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
- It is in the best interests of the people of Alabama to provide all children with access to high quality public schools.
- It is necessary to continue to search for ways to strengthen the academic performance of elementary and secondary public school students.
- Different students learn differently and public schools should have the ability to customize programs to fit the needs of individual students.
- Those who know students best, parents and educators, make the best education-related decisions regarding their students.
- Parents and local educators have a right and responsibility to actively participate in the educational institutions that serve the children of Alabama.
- Public school programs, whenever possible, should be customized to fit the needs of individual children.
- Students of all backgrounds are entitled to access to a high quality education.
- Therefore, with this act, the Legislature intends to accomplish all of the following:
- Provide school systems and communities with additional tools that may be used to better meet the educational needs of a diverse student population.
- Encourage innovative educational ideas that improve student learning for students at all academic levels.
- Empower educators to be nimble and strategic in their decisions on behalf of students.
- Provide additional high quality educational options for all students, especially students in low performing schools.
- Create public schools with freedom and flexibility in exchange for exceptional results.
- Foster tools and strategies to close achievement gaps between high-performing and low-performing groups of public school students.
What is a Charter School?
A public charter school:
- Has autonomy over key decisions including, but not limited to decisions concerning finance, personnel, scheduling, curriculum, instruction, and procurement.
- Is governed by an independent governing board that is a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt organization.
- Is established and operating under the terms of a charter contract.
- Is a school to which parents choose to send their student.
- Shall be responsible for meeting the requirements of LEAs under federal, state, and local laws, including those relating to special education.
Charter schools provide an educational program that may include any grade or grades from prekindergarten to 12th grade. They may include a specific academic approach or theme. A charter school shall be open to any student residing in the state. Admission may not be based on ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, income level, disability, proficiency in English, or academic or athletic ability. A public charter school shall not charge tuition and may only charge such fees as may be imposed on other students attending public schools in the state. All public charter schools in the state established under this act are public schools and are part of the public education system of the state.
Charter schools may be categorized as start-up public charter schools or conversion public charter schools. A start-up public charter school is a school that did not exist before as a non-charter public school. A start-up public charter school shall function as a local educational agency (LEA). A conversion public charter school is a school which existed as a non-charter public school before becoming a public charter school. A conversion public charter school shall adopt and maintain a policy giving enrollment preference to students who reside within the former attendance zone of the public school. A conversion public charter school shall remain a part of the LEA in which the non-charter public school existed prior to its conversion to a public charter school.
For further assistance, contact Logan Searcy, Education Administrator, at email@example.com (334) 694-4908.