In 1992, California’s legislature passed a bill allowing for the creation of charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately managed. Almost three decades later, the state has the country’s largest charter school sector, with more than 1,300 charter schools serving around 10 percent of California’s student body, some 630,000 students.
One reason for this immense growth is the state’s charter appeals process, which has helped allow charter schools to rapidly increase in number in many local school districts.
The California Charter Schools Act currently enables prospective charter school operators to appeal a local school district’s decision to deny a charter application. Operators first appeal to the local county board of education and then to the State Board of Education (SBE). If either grants the appeal, they become the charter school’s authorizer.
This report summarizes a number of instances when a charter school closed after being granted an appeal by a county board or the SBE. Its aim is to shed light on the students, families, educators, and school staff harmed by an appeals process that takes decision-making power away from local communities.