Frequently Asked Questions

What are Educational Service Providers?
Education service providers (ESPs), or education management organizations, are organizations that contract with new or existing public, charter, or private schools to help them implement comprehensive reforms.

What are charter schools?
Charter schools are independent public schools that are open to all students, regardless of income, gender, race or religion. Charter schools extend the privilege of choice to all families. They provide options for parents and students in pursuing their ideal educational experience. Charter schools are open to all children free of charge who are eligible to attend traditional public schools in the state of Michigan. Charter schools are governed by a local Board of Directors and are required to meet and often exceed the standards of its Authorizer and the State Board of Education

How are charter schools governed?
Charter schools are governed by a Board of Directors appointed by the Academy’s Authorizer. Bylaws of the Board of Directors outline its role and responsibilities. Some charter schools employ an education service provider/management company to provide executive leadership and management services. Other charter schools choose to go it alone with the Board and Academy Director.

What kind of oversight do charter schools have? How are charter schools held accountable?
Michigan’s charter schools file more than 100 reporting forms with state agencies. Their authorizers collect reams of information and review each page. The state Department of Education has two people monitoring financial reports from 800 school districts and ISDs. Central Michigan University, in contrast, has three auditors for 58 charter schools. At Grand Valley State University, staff (including two former traditional school superintendents) attend each charter school board meeting and routinely evaluate over 60 items on a charter checklist. Charter schools in Michigan can and have been closed if they do not meet requirements.

Who can authorize a charter school in Michigan?
Universities, community colleges, intermediate school districts and local school districts can authorize a charter school in Michigan.

Can charter schools be organized by a church or religious organization?
No. Charter schools may not be organized by a church or religious organization in violation of the state or federal constitutions.

Are charter schools required to have Michigan certified teachers?
Certification requirements for charter school teachers are identical to those of local school district teachers.

How are students enrolled in a charter school?
If a charter school has more student applicants than available seats, they are required to run a random lottery to enroll students. After the lottery, the school has to work from a waiting list.

How much does it cost to attend a charter school?
Charter schools have no tuition because they are a public school.

Who is eligible to enroll in charter school Academies?
Any student eligible to attend public schools in Michigan is eligible to enroll at a charter school Academy. To enroll in kindergarten, your child must be at least five years of age on December 1st of the school year of enrollment.

Do charter schools “accept” special education students?
Yes. Charter schools cannot discriminate in admissions based on these needs. A charter school is also required to adhere to Michigan statutes and rules for special education, as well as the federal requirement.