Are charter schools public ?
Yes—we shout this from the rooftops! Charter schools are public schools, and there is no cost to attend.
What’s the difference between the categories of public schools: traditional, magnet, and charter?
The large majority of public schools are traditional, meaning your student is zoned to a particular school and receives free transportation to and from the school. Some school districts have magnet schools, which are choice programs that a student can apply for and may or may not be accepted/invited to attend.
Charter schools are also public schools, but unlike magnet schools, they cannot have any admissions criteria outside of the requirement to be a resident of South Carolina. Charter schools usually have some sort of “innovative theme,” such as language immersion, environmental studies, or Montessori programming. In addition, charter schools have elected boards at the school level that decide on policies and make decisions that are normally addressed at the district level in the traditional school setting.
What are your attendance boundaries?
Unlike a traditional school district, the South Carolina Public Charter School District boundaries are state-wide. As long as the student lives in South Carolina and has a way to get to the school, he or she is eligible to attend.
There’s a charter school in my neighborhood, but it’s not listed on your website. Why is that?
In South Carolina, several entities are allowed to “authorize” or “sponsor” charter schools. A local school district, like the one in your county, may open charter schools. A college or university that has State Department of Education approval may open a charter schools.
And of course, we may open a charter school. If there is a charter school in your neighborhood that isn’t listed on our website, it is sponsored by either the local school district or a college/university, and you should contact the school for more information.
I see you have two virtual schools — can you tell me more about what those are?
We separate our schools into two groups—virtual schools and brick-and-mortar schools. Brick-and-mortar schools have school buildings that the students attend daily to be taught by their teachers.
Our virtual school students are still taught by teachers meeting all the certification requirements for charter school personnel, but the students attend class at home through their computer and an internet connection.
Do students at charter schools learn the same state standards that students in traditional schools are taught?
Absolutely—while a charter school has the freedom to choose its own curriculum, it must align with the standards established by the South Carolina State Board of Education.
If my student attends a charter school, does he/she have to take the state standardized tests?
Yes—the federal government does not exempt charter school students from taking standardized tests. In fact, all public schools (charter, magnet, and traditional) can face severe financial penalties if at least 95 percent of the student population is not tested.
Are charter schools accredited?
Yes—the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) acknowledged in a 2015 memo that all charter schools are considered accredited if they are in good standing with their sponsor/authorizer. All of our schools are currently in good standing.
The SCDE publishes a list of accredited charter schools on its website. When a charter school is accredited, it means that credits earned by students are eligible for transfer to any public school, that diplomas are issued by the State of South Carolina the same way they are for traditional schools, and are considered valid by colleges and universities. In addition to state accreditation, many of our schools choose to go through AdvancEd accreditation, a nationally-recognized accreditation process. See the individual school websites for more details.
My child has special needs — can he/she attend a charter school?
Without a doubt! All disability categories are welcomed in all charter schools. In addition, our schools also serve English Language Learners and students meeting the poverty criteria. Everyone is welcome!
Do your schools offer transportation?
As no funding is given to charter schools for transportation, it is the parent’s/guardian’s responsibility to get to and from school every day. Some schools do offer transportation on a limited basis.
Every school is required in its governing document to identify how a lack of school-provided transportation would not pose a barrier for student enrollment.
Many of our schools coordinate carpools to address the transportation issue. Make sure you ask the school what options parents have regarding transportation.
Do your schools offer meals?
Many of our schools do, but they are not required to. Be sure to ask the individual schools you are considering.
My child was just expelled from another public school – can i enroll them in a charter school?
Each school has its own policy regarding this issue, but charter schools are not required to allow students currently serving an explusion to enroll.
Some may make exceptions, so you are welcome to contact the individual school in which you are interested.