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Applying to become a Charter School in PA

Charter School Procedures

Individuals interested in establishing a new, conversion or regional charter school must complete a charter application and submit it to the local school district board of directors where the public charter school is to be located per §1717-A(c). The Charter School Law provides specific timelines for the application process. Charter school applications are approved or are denied by a majority vote of the chartering district's board of school directors. It is the responsibility of a charter applicant to demonstrate how the proposed charter school will enhance student learning opportunities and offer substantively unique and innovative educational options for the community. Each chartering district may identify criteria for the evaluation of a charter application.

A review of charter school research and literature and the practices of the states that have charter schools, reveals that planning for charter schools should have the following components:

  • School Design
  • Needs Assessment
  • Description of Founding/Management Team
  • Finance and Facility
  • Implementation and Administration
  • Charter Template


This provided application format serves as the framework for the final report for a state charter school-planning grant, a possible format for an application from a charter applicant to a school Board.


Cyber Charter School Procedures

Cyber charter schools are established when the Pennsylvania Department of Education ("PDE") grants the cyber charter applicant a charter. Section 24 P.S. §17-1745-A of the Charter School Law identifies who may establish a cyber charter school.

PDE is responsible for the oversight of cyber charter schools that it has chartered, including decisions whether to renew, non-renew or revoke the charter. The charter of a cyber charter school, approved by a school district under Sections 1717-A or 1718-A of the Charter School Law, that provides instruction through the Internet or other electronic means, remains in effect for the duration of the charter. Cyber charter schools that had their charter initially approved by a school district must seek renewal of their charter from PDE.

In developing this format, the research-based components that are identified as essential in the planning process for the creation of a cyber charter school serve as the basis for this framework. The five essential components are:

  • School Design
  • Needs Assessment
  • Governance
  • Finance/Facility
  • Administration


This application format serves as the framework for the official 2012 application, submitted by a cyber charter school applicant to the Department of Education.


Revision and resubmission of denied cyber charter school applications

Pursuant to Act 88 of 2002, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has the responsibility to review cyber charter school applications and decide whether to grant or deny a charter to the applicants. Act 88 provides that if the Department denies a cyber charter school's application, the applicant may appeal the denial to the Charter School Appeal Board or revise and resubmit the denied application to the Department. The Department must grant or deny the revised application within 60 days after its receipt.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education interprets Act 88 as allowing an applicant to revise and resubmit its application to the Department one time. In the event the revised and resubmitted application is denied and the applicant still wants to pursue a charter, the applicant must appeal the Department's decision to the Charter School Appeal Board.

For additional information, please contact:

Charter Schools Office |
Pennsylvania Department of Education
333 Market Street, 10th Floor | Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
Phone: 717.787.9744 | Fax: 717.787.7222
charterschools@pa.gov | www.education.state.pa.us