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About Charter Schools

Charter schools are tuition-free, public schools.

Independently run by a nonprofit volunteer board, charter schools are free to be more innovative and are held accountable for improved student achievement. They foster a relationship between parents, teachers, and students to create an environment in which parents are more involved, teachers can be more innovative, and students are provided the structure they need to learn.

Charter schools operate from three basic principles:

  •        Choice: Parents select the school their child attends. Teachers & principals choose to work in the school.
  •         Flexibility: Charter schools are free to make timely decisions about developing curricula, structuring the school day, and hiring teachers who meet the needs of their students.
  •        Accountability: Charter schools are held to the highest standards. They are obligated to their authorizer via a performance-based contract and held to all state and federal accountability laws. Authorizers in Louisiana are local school boards or the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, whose members are elected officials.


Charter Schools in Louisiana

There are seven types of charter schools in Louisiana:








Charter with local school board (new start-up)

Charter with local authorizer (new start-up)

Charter with BESE (new start-up or conversion)

Charter with local school board (conversion)

Former Type 5 charter transferred from RSD back to local school system

School board charter with BESE (new start-up or conversion)

Charter with BESE (pre-existing public school under the jurisdiction of the RSD) 

History of Charter Schools in Louisiana

Louisiana’s Charter School Law was originally enacted in 1995 (Act 192) as a pilot program allowing up to eight school districts to volunteer to participate. These districts could either grant charters to eligible groups or apply to the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to operate a charter school themselves.

The law was substantially revised in 1997 (Act 477) to allow all school districts to participate, but the number of charter schools statewide was capped at 42. The 1997 act also allowed an “appeals-type” procedure under which an eligible group could submit its charter proposal directly to BESE if a local school board failed to approve it or if the local school board placed conditions on the approval of the charter which were unacceptable to the group.

In 2003, a constitutional amendment (Act 1293) and four bills (Act 9, Act 260, Act 381 and Act 944) impacted the operation of charter schools. The constitutional amendment authorized the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to take over failing public schools or provide for others to do so; it also authorized BESE to receive, control and spend the state and local per pupil share of the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) for those schools. Companion legislation (Act 9) spelled out the procedure BESE is to follow to implement the provisions of the constitutional amendment; created a new “Type 5” category of charter schools as one option BESE has for providing for the operation of a failing public school it takes over; and includes special provisions for the creation and operation of Type 5 charter schools.