What is a Charter School?
Charter schools are public schools. They operate in much the same way as traditional public schools.
They are free, open to all, and operate under the direction of a publically-appointed board of directors.
Charter schools are constituent districts of Michigan’s intermediate school districts (ISDs) and operate
under the leadership of the State Board of Education. They must comply with essentially the same
statutory and regulatory requirements as other k-12 public schools, including No Child Left Behind and
Education Yes! accountability programs and special education laws. While each charter school is unique
based on location, teaching staff, student population, educational program and curricula, each is legally
organized as a Michigan, not-for-profit, public school academy corporation, governed by a board of
Michigan’s charter school law was passed in 1993. It introduced choice and competition into the system
of public education. Guiding principles of the statute are (1) all students and parents, regardless of
socioeconomic status or geographic location, should have the ability to choose the school that best
meets their needs; (2) charter public schools support education reform by infusing the system with
competition and market forces; and (3) charter public schools can test new approaches to academics,
instruction, governance, finance, and management leading to new learning and leadership models. The
state’s charter school law is consistently recognized as one of the nation’s strongest.
The system of oversight established by the legislation is both distinct from and complementary to
conventional education structures. The charter school must have a valid legal contract, or charter, from
its authorizer, which provides an additional level of accountability. A series of academic and operational
performance measures must be met to continue the contract.
Balanced Leadership for Lasting Change. (2006). Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers & Dykema Gossett PLLC.