Application Process

STEPS IN THE APPLICATION PROCESS:

Step One: The process for starting a charter school begins with understanding the two types of charter schools that can be created in Alabama: conversion charter schools and start-up charter schools.

A conversion charter school is one in which a traditional school system identifies one of its existing schools to be converted into a charter school that will operate with an independent school board but will remain a school within the system. Local school systems must register with the Alabama Department of Education to become authorizers of conversion and start-up charter schools. The Alabama Public Charter School Commission (APCSC) does not serve a role in the conversion charter school process since the local school system serves as its authorizer.

A start-up charter school is a new public school established by a nonprofit organization to operate independently from any other school system. Start-up charter schools can have one of two possible authorizers: a local school system authorizer or the APCSC serving as an authorizer. If an applicant chooses to locate the school in the geographic location of a local authorizer, the applicant must apply to that school system. If the local school system is not an authorizer in that area, the applicant applies to the APCSC. If an applicant is denied by a local school system authorizer, the applicant can appeal to the APCSC. The APCSC cannot be the authorizer of a conversion charter school.

Local school systems who serve as authorizers are Athens City School System, Birmingham City School System, Greene County School System, Macon County School System, and Montgomery County School System. All authorizers must release the request for proposal by November 1st of each year.

Step Two: Obtain federal 501(c)3 nonprofit status for your organization and identify a geographic location and engage the community in the process. 

Step Three: Find a facility. Although this step is not required for the application, it is strongly recommended. 

Step Four: Understand funding for charter schools: local, state, federal, and philanthropic. 

Step Five: Respond to the request for a proposal (RFP) from the APCSC by completing the application located online at http://charter.tools/. The APCSC has two application cycles. One application is released in September and due in December. The second application is released in January and due in March. Decisions are made within sixty days of the submission date.

 

The Appeals Process:

Step One: A local authorizer that denies a charter school applicant must send a report with findings, the denied application, and all other submitted documents to the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE). The local authorizer has thirty days from the date of the denial to submit the report.

Step Two: The denied charter school applicant files an appeal with the Alabama Charter School Commission (APCSC). The appeal should contain the denied application and other documents submitted to the local authorizer. It should explain the reasons for the appeal.

Step Three: The APCSC informs the local authorizer that an appeal has been filed. The local authorizer appoints an eleventh member from the local school system to serve on the Commission through board action.

Step Four: The timeline begins after the report has been received from the ALSDE from the local authorizer and after the APCSC receives the appeal from the denied applicant. The APCSC will strive to work within 60 days of the submitted materials; however, the APCSC reserves the right to modify dates for full and thoughtful consideration.

Step Five: The APCSC will hold an open community hearing opportunity for public comment within the local school system where the application was denied.

Step Six: The APCSC will hold a capacity hearing for clarifying questions.

Step Seven: The APCSC will meet for the consideration of the appeal.

In order to overrule the decision of the local authorizer, the APCSC must do the following:

  • Find evidence of a thorough and high-quality application from the applicant based on authorizing standards.
  • Hold an open community hearing within the local school system where the application was denied.
  • Find that the local authorizer’s denial was not supported by the application and exhibits.
  • Take into consideration (1) the existing charter school applications (2) the quality of school options in the affected community (3) the existence of other charter schools, and (4) any other factors considered relevant to ensure the establishment of high-quality charter schools.
  • Find evidence that the local school board erred in its application of nationally recognized authorizing standards.

Technical assistance can be requested by emailing Mrs. Logan Searcy at lsearcy@alsde.edu .

Charter School Appeal and Application Spring Submissions 2021

Alabama Aerospace and Aviation High School- Birmingham

Alabama Aerospace and Aviation High School with Attachments

I Dream Big Academy- Montgomery

Empower Community School- Bessemer